BEFORE APPLYING TO MEDICAL SCHOOL
Since the day my husband was accepted into medical school, we have often been (and still are) asked for advice on how to get into medical school. Even as the doctor's wife, people think I can offer some valuable tips. So, here are some things my husband and I learned during the application process.
1. Find a Passion
2. Find a Mentor
To endure the training that physicians go through, one must have passion. Medical schools want to see and actually feel that passion on students' applications. Some one can be passionate about genetic research, humanitarian work, or even snowboarding, (it really is a bit irrelevant), but the application should reveal what the applicant's passion is and what it has led them to accomplish. Medical schools want to see that a person can work hard and achieve goals.
A mentor is able to provide guidance and support. This is essential as the application process becomes more detailed and complex, and acceptance becomes much more competitive each year. A mentor really can be anyone, as long as they provide encouragement, despite setbacks, and have some knowledge regarding the process (which can easily be found on-line).
THE MEDICAL SCHOOL APPLICATION ESSAY
My husband and I have also been asked to edit multiple application essays to medical schools, physician assistant schools, and universities. The essay is a very important part of the application. It is the only part of the application where you can show the school your personality, in addition to your characteristics and talents that will enable you to be an excellent student and physician.
Two questions to think about in the essay:
1. What is the most important thing the applicant wants the committee to know about them, and is it the most important thing? For example, does the applicant relay effectively that s/he is a hard worker (or compassionate, or dedicated), and is this their most valuable characteristic that they can relay?
2. Can I feel how passionate the applicant is after reading their essay?
After writing your essay, ask tons of people for help to edit and change it. Try to find people to help you that really know you well and can help you illustrate your strengths and passion in the essay. For most people it is difficult to boast about themselves, so ask people for help if you need. Leave enough time to really make this part of your application as perfect as possible.
The MCAT, or medical school entrance exam, is a huge determining factor for acceptance into medical school. Certain classes must be taken prior to taking the MCAT, and ideally a course specifically tailored to prepare for the MCAT is recommended.
SURVIVING THE APPLICATION PROCESS
The stress of the application process is enough to weed out plenty of people from medical school. It costs a lot of money to apply and the applications take hours to complete, not to mention the secondary applications and fees that the schools later individually request after your initial application comes in. The anticipation and emotional struggles during the pre-med years are real.
And above all else: don't give up. There are many ways around the obstacles that will seem to set you back. In college, a counselor told my husband to forget about becoming a doctor and pursue a career in business. My husband had so many reasons to take other paths. We already had two children and did not have any money. He was determined to become a doctor though. Medicine fascinated him and he knew it was a career that he would love. His determination showed on his medical school applications. Instead of shadowing other physicians for the recommended 20 hours, my husband shadowed for over 50 hours. He never settled to merely meet the minimum requirements. Even now he seeks to excel above and beyond what is required of him, and because of this he continues to have neat opportunities and experiences throughout this entire process.