The Liaison Committee on Medical Education accredits medical schools in the US and Canada. Accreditation ensures that medical schools meet standards set by the LCME. Medical schools are required to “demonstrate that their graduates exhibit general professional competencies that are appropriate for entry to the next stage of their training and that serve as the foundation for lifelong learning and proficient medical care.”

Most state medical boards require that U.S. medical schools be accredited by the LCME as a condition for graduates’ licensure. US medical students cannot take United States Medical Licensing Examinations unless they are enrolled at an accredited school.

Each medical school periodically goes through a review and re-accreditation process. Occasionally schools are put on probation and must make changes to maintain their accreditation.

Medical school applicants should be cognizant of the schools on probation. If they apply to those schools they should find out what the schools are doing to rectify the situation to be taken off probation.

At this date the following schools are on probation:

California Northstate University College of Medicine

Meharry Medical College

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

Updated in 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023

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The Multiple Mini Interview format is spreading rapidly among US medical schools. Here is a list of schools using MMI in the 2021-2022 application cycle. “Hybrid” means a combination of a traditional interview with MMI stations and sometimes a group exercise:

MD Schools:

  • Albany Medical College
  • California Northstate
  • Central Michigan University
  • Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University
  • Duke University
  • Geisinger Commonwealth
  • Hofstra
  • Kaiser Permanente (hybrid)
  • Medical College of Georgia
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (hybrid)
  • New York Medical College
  • New York University
  • Nova Southeastern (hybrid)
  • Oregon Health and Science University (hybrid)
  • Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • San Juan Bautista (hybrid)
  • Stanford University
  • SUNY Upstate
  • TCU (Fort Worth, Texas)
  • Universidad Central Del Caribe (Puerto Rico)
  • University of Alabama (hybrid)
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California-Davis
  • University of California-Riverside
  • University of California-San Diego
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Colorado (hybrid)
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Michigan (hybrid)
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • University of Nevada
  • University of North Carolina (hybrid)
  • University of South Carolina Greenville (hybrid)
  • University of Texas – Austin (hybrid)
  • University of Toledo
  • University of Utah (hybrid)
  • University of Vermont
  • Virginia Commonwealth
  • Virginia Tech
  • Wake Forest
  • Washington State (hybrid)
  • Wayne State (hybrid)
  • Western Michigan University (hybrid)

DO Schools:

  • AT Still
  • Marian
  • Michigan State
  • Pacific Northwest
  • University of North Texas
  • University of the Incarnate Word
  • Western University of Health Sciences (hybrid)

For information about how to best prepare for the MMI, please refer to a previous blog post here or contact me to do a mock MMI session. Good luck!

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

Originally posted in 2019 and updated in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

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Medical school applicants often wonder whether they should update schools. An “update letter” can keep medical schools informed as the application process unfolds.

Applicants often wonder what merits sending an update. Only significant additions to an application should be reported and/or information that was not provided previously.

The following list includes items of interest for the medical schools.

Honors or Awards:  If an honor or award is achieved since submitting the application, the medical schools should be informed.

Publications/Presentations: If there is a new publication, abstract, poster, or presentation, this information should be conveyed.

Changes in Classes:  If courses change, and a class which was included in the application is dropped, it should be reported to the medical schools, especially if the course is a requirement at a particular school.

New Jobs or Responsibilities in the Workplace:  If you switch jobs or assume more responsibilities/roles in a job it is worthwhile to update the schools. Continue reading

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Medical school admissions personnel have identified core competencies that are necessary to be a successful medical student and physician. The competencies are grouped into four categories: interpersonal, intrapersonal, thinking/reasoning, and science. The 15 competencies that are considered essential are:

1. Service orientation

2. Social skills

3. Cultural competence

4. Teamwork

5. Oral communication

6. Ethical responsibility to self and others

7. Reliability and dependability

8. Resilience and adaptability

9. Capacity for improvement

10. Critical thinking

11. Quantitative reasoning

12. Scientific inquiry

13. Written communication

14. Living systems

15. Human behavior

An article in Academic Medicine explores how competencies can be assessed. Over the last five or so years, I have noticed a shift in secondary applications and the questions they ask. More prompts/questions are focused on digging into the competencies; schools want evidence that applicants are aware of and have honed these competencies in preparation for a career in medicine. Premed students should be aware of these competencies; it can be constructive to keep a journal or log of experiences and reflect on how these experiences have helped sharpen the competencies. Applicants can then use their reflections in secondary application essays.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

First posted in 2015 and updated in 2022

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Receiving an invitation to interview is an exciting step in the medical school application process. If you’ve been selected to interview it means that the medical school has vetted your application and you have passed the academic threshold for enrollment. Congratulations!

Now the medical school wants to meet you to gather more information through an interview. To prepare fully, you should understand the purpose of the interview, which is multifaceted. During the interview the following elements are assessed:

  • Communication skills. Are you comfortable interacting with others, both students and faculty? Would you be a good member of a team and work well with your peers and others?
  • Personal traits and characteristics. Do your interpersonal skills project that you would be comfortable caring for patients? Do you add depth and breadth to a medical school class? Are you mature and able to handle the responsibility of patient care?
  • Experiences and knowledge of the medical profession. Can you speak convincingly about your past experiences and how they have informed your goal of a career in medicine? Do you truly know what you’re getting into?
  • Good fit. Are you a good “fit” for that particular medical school?  Do your goals and personality align with the school’s ethos?

The medical interview is also used as a recruitment tool; it’s a chance for the school to showcase its offerings and to entice you to enroll if admitted. Also remember that the interview is your chance to decide whether it’s a good fit for you.

While the prospect of a medical school interview is incredibly exciting for medical school applicants, it can also induce fear. Rest assured that the vast majority of medical school interviews are not stressful. Think of the interview as an opportunity to have a conversation with someone who is interested in learning more about you, your background, and your motivation for a career in medicine. Continue reading

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July is an incredibly busy month in the medical school application process. This is the time when secondary applications are in full swing. Having read thousands of secondary application essays over my career, which has spanned almost 30 years, I have tips for writing the best possible secondary essays:

  1. Read the prompt carefully. Don’t gloss over the prompt and write a general response. Instead, scrutinize every word and make sure you understand what the school wants to know about you. Some prompts can seem very similar from one school to the next—but there can be subtle differences. Tailor your response accordingly and be sure you have answered the prompt precisely.
  2. Be direct.  In your essays, be as direct as possible. Most prompts are asking for specific pieces of information. Give it to the schools in a clear and concise way. Don’t be vague.
  3. Don’t mindlessly reuse essays from one school to another. I have often seen applicants try to reuse essays—verbatim—to save time. This rarely works well. While you may be able to use the gist of one essay from one school to another, the prompts are often subtly different—as such, they need to be read very carefully (see #1 above!) and answered with precision.
  4. Tailor your response to each school.  If you do your due diligence, and learn about each school to which you apply, you will be able to create much more effective secondary essays. You’ll be able to show what you know and write more meaningfully about why you wish to attend a particular school or what you would contribute to its environment. If there’s one aspect of the curriculum that particularly appeals to you or a program you would want to participate in, cite this in your response.
  5. Help the schools get to know you.  Secondary essays offer a chance for you to help each school get to know you better. The secondary prompts are thoughtfully created by each school because they want to know key pieces of information about you. As such, secondaries present a golden opportunity to elaborate on challenges you have overcome, particular passions you have, interests you hold dear, or goals for your future.

Applicants rarely anticipate accurately the extensive time and thought it takes to write secondary application essays. This is an extremely important aspect of the medical school application process; secondary applications should be given the time and effort they require to produce stellar and effective essays. If you have questions about secondaries or want help with yours please send me an email at

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

Originally posted in 2016 and updated in 2017 and 2022

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As described in another blog post, secondary applications are an enormously important component of the medical school application process. Secondaries are designed to suit the needs of individual medical schools. As such, medical schools pay as much attention to the secondary applications as they do to the primary. Give the secondaries the attention they warrant and be sure to write carefully composed and thoughtful essays. Always be sure to answer the prompt given. Don’t let your essay meander from the question posed; these are targeted questions, requiring specific answers.

While secondary application prompts may vary from school to school, there are some general themes/questions that are common. The most common questions involve the following topics, with examples of secondary prompts given:


Discuss what you might contribute to the diversity of our school.

Describe a situation in which you were not in the majority.

Our school values diversity. Please share unique or challenging factors in your background and how they have influenced your preparation for a career in medicine.

Overall Experiences:

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

Medical Experience and Future Intentions:

Describe your most meaningful clinical experience.

Discuss what areas of medicine interest you. Why do you feel you are particularly suited for this practice scenario? What knowledge, skills and attitudes have you developed that have prepared you for this career path?

Professional Intention:

What does it mean to be entering a profession?

What do you consider to be the role of a physician in the community?

Personal/Professional Hardships Encountered:

Please share a difficult or challenging situation and how you handled it. Identify the coping skills used to resolve the dilemma and the individuals from whom you sought help or advice.

What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with peers and future patients?

What is the most difficult feedback you have ever received? Why was it difficult and how did you handle it?

Good Fit for Our School:

Describe the characteristics and values that make you a good candidate for medicine. How will X School foster these traits and nurture your development in becoming an outstanding physician?

Please read our mission statement, which is an expression of our purpose and philosophy. Reflect on its content and write an essay describing why you’re a great “fit” for our school.

Describe your personality and personal characteristics and why you think they will lead to success in our curriculum and learning environment. Continue reading

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The Casper test has been around for several years and is now required at many medical schools. It is open-ended in terms of the responses (no multiple choice questions).  Casper is changing in 2022, as follows:

  • the number of scenarios is increasing from 12 to 15
  • 10 scenarios will be videos to view, 5 will be word-based (situations to read)
  • responses are changing from all essay format to a blend of essays and video responses
    • 9 scenarios require a written response (essay)
    • 6 scenarios require a response via video (no essay)

New in 2020 was the AAMC’s Situational Judgment Test (SJT). It was piloted at a few medical schools, and was expanded in 2021 to six medical schools (Geisinger Commonwealth, Morehouse, University of California-Davis, University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Des Moines University).

In 2022 it was renamed the AAMC PREview.  Here is the list of schools, from the AAMC’s website, that are offering it, as of 4/4/22. Check on the PREview website throughout the spring since more schools may be added.

Medical School AAMC PREview Exam in the 2023 Admissions Cycle
Carle Illinois College of Medicine Research Only
Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science Recommended (Research Only)
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University Recommended
Des Moines University Medicine & Health Sciences Recommended
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine Recommended
George Washington University School of Medicine Recommended
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Required (either PREview exam or CASPer)
Morehouse School of Medicine Recommended
Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine Recommended
Saint Louis University School of Medicine Required
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Recommended
University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine Recommended
University of California at Davis School of Medicine Required
University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine Required
University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine Required
University of Oklahoma College of Medicine Recommended (Research Only)
University of Virginia School of Medicine Recommended


This test assesses pre-professional competencies that medical schools value:  social skills, cultural competence, teamwork, reliability/dependability, resilience/adaptability, service orientation, capacity for improvement, ethical responsibility to self and others. The PREview is designed to promote holistic review of applicants such that schools can assess them more broadly. It is a remote proctored examination that tests applicants’ understanding of effective preprofessional behaviors; they are not expected to have mastered these behaviors. The PREview is a scored exam with results between 1 and 9 (9 being high); the score is reported on a scale with a rank. Continue reading

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What are medical school “letters of intent” and what role do they play in the medical school admission process? A letter of intent is like a love letter that’s sent to a medical school: it expresses an applicant’s fervent wish to enroll at that one particular school, stating why the applicant feels so strongly about the school, its environment, student culture, and curriculum—and articulating in clear terms what they might contribute to the school if admitted.

The ultimate purpose of the letter of intent is two-pronged:

1. To let the school know that it is, without question, your top choice.

2. To inform the medical school that you will accept their offer if given the chance.

When weighing one applicant over another—and if they are equal in all other measures—a letter of intent may make a difference.If the admissions office believes that one applicant is more enthusiastic about the school and would therefore join the incoming class, she may have a better chance of being accepted. An admitted applicant who enrolls affects the school’s “yield,” the percentage of admitted applicants who opt to enroll. This is often one of the measures used to assess a school’s rank and prestige. So admissions officers care whether admitted applicants accept their offer.

A letter of intent should only be written for one school. It would obviously be unethical for an applicant to state that she would enroll at every school where she has not yet been admitted; that can only be true for one school. However, applicants can still write “letters of interest” to other schools, stopping just short of stating they would enroll if admitted. But the letter of intent should be reserved for the true top choice.

What’s the proper format for a letter of intent?  The letter should be passionate, eloquent, direct, and relatively brief (no more than one page). In general, this format works well: Continue reading

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A study from Tulane and Thomas Jefferson shows the distinctive benefits of engaging in the arts and/or the humanities while in medical school. The results, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, showed that such activities helped to promote medical students’ empathy and emotional intelligence, while also warding off burnout.  For the study, the humanities were defined as music, literature, theater and the visual arts. Almost 800 medical students were surveyed. The more students were involved in the humanities, the more their scores rose for openness, visual-spatial skills, and emotional acuity. Those who were less involved in the humanities had some negative factors—they scored higher in measurements of “physical fatigue and emotional exhaustion.”

Jefferson is fostering medical students’ involvement in the arts through its medical school’s curriculum. The medical school has a Medicine + Humanities Scholarly Track. Tulane also promotes the humanities by offering an elective in the medical humanities. Most notably, almost half of their first-year medical students have degrees in the liberal arts, which is unusual—they clearly value the humanities. More and more medical schools are following suit, as described in this blog post. A recent addition to the fold is a new program at Dell Medical School. 

Every now and then, articles appear about the importance of the arts and the humanities in medicine. The Journal of the American Medical Association has a poetry editor; in a recent article he discusses the “healing power of the arts.” And a medical student at Weill Cornell-Qatar describes her artwork and how/why she thinks being an artist will make her a better physician. An article on the Association of American Medical Colleges’ website states that focusing on the humanities helps to develop well-rounded physicians and a new initiative, titled The Fundamental Role of Arts and Humanities in Medical Education (FRAHME), has taken shape.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

Posted in 2019 and updated in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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