The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accredits medical schools in the US and Canada. The accreditation process ensures that medical schools meet certain 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.”

Accreditation is important since most state medical boards require that U.S. medical schools be accredited by the LCME as a condition for licensure of their graduates and US medical students cannot take United States Medical Licensing Examinations unless they are enrolled at an accredited school. Each medical school goes through a review and re-accreditation process periodically. Occasionally schools are put on probation and required to make changes if they want to maintain their accreditation.

Medical school applicants should be cognizant of the schools which are 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. As of this writing there are no schools on probation. St. Louis University was recently on probation but was approved in October 2018.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

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Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan School of Medicine

Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan School of Medicine

Congratulations!  You’ve landed the interview!  What’s the best way to prepare for a medical school interview? You should practice with someone who is very familiar with the medical school interview process, whether your premedical advisor or some other knowledgeable individual, such as an experienced medical school admissions consultant. At the very least, you should review typical questions you might get asked and think about how you would answer them. Then you should PRACTICE answering them. You should be comfortable discussing your experiences and your motivation for a career in medicine.

Medical schools offer a range of interview types:  traditional (one on one), group interviews (panels of either applicants or interviewers, and sometimes both), or multiple-mini interviews in which hypothetical scenarios are posed.

Here are some typical interview questions for the traditional interview. Review these to get a good idea as to the types of questions you might be asked: Continue reading

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The CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is a test that is increasingly being used in the medical school admissions process. It is an online exam that assesses an applicant’s situational judgment in various scenarios. According to the organization that administers the CASPer, it “increases fairness in applicant evaluation by providing admissions and selection committees with a reliable measure of traits like professionalism, ethics, communication, and empathy.” For more information about why admissions committees find it helpful, read this blog post from the company that administers the CASPer.

Here is the most recent list of medical schools requiring CASPer as part of the admissions process:

Albany

Central Michigan

Drexel

East Tennessee State

Florida Atlantic

Medical College of Georgia

Medical College of Wisconsin

Mercer

New York Medical College

Rosalind Franklin

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson

SUNY Upstate

Temple

Texas A&M

Texas Tech

Tulane

U of Colorado

U of Illinois

U of Miami

U of Michigan

U of North Carolina

U of Texas Medical Branch

U of Vermont

U of Washington

Virginia Commonwealth

West Virginia U

To get ready for the CASPer, read about the format of the exam and what to expect. Here are tips to help you prepare for the exam, provided by Altus, the company that administers the test. A webinar for those taking the CASPer was held in June 2018. Samples of CASPer scenarios are provided here.  To discuss how best to prepare for the CASPer please contact me via email at liza@thompsonadvising.com.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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thankyou

Should you write a thank you note after your medical school interview?  Yes!  It’s common courtesy to thank interviewers for taking time out of their very busy schedules to read your application and interview you. Most medical schools appreciate receiving thank you letters from applicants as a gesture of their appreciation for having the opportunity to visit the school and share their story. As the former director of both the Goucher and Johns Hopkins Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Programs, I routinely received thank you notes following interviews I conducted with applicants. Some were eloquently expressed and helped advance an applicant’s candidacy while others were such a poor reflection of the applicant that they caused harm. So be mindful of how you express yourself in your thank you letter and be sure to include the right content.

Here are some tips regarding medical school interview thank you letters:

  • Follow any instructions set forth by the school in question. The vast majority of schools welcome thank you notes but a few schools state unequivocally that they do not want to receive notes from applicants.
  • Be relatively brief. This is not an opportunity to restate your life story.
  • Stick to three paragraphs, no more. The thank you note should do the following:
    1. Thank the interviewer for his/her consideration and time; express your appreciation and convey what you enjoyed about the visit.
    2. Reiterate a topic that was discussed in the interview, thereby reminding the very busy interviewer of your conversation.
    3. State your interest in the school (and why) and what you would contribute to it; thank the interviewer again in the closing words.

The medical school interview thank you note should express gratitude but it is also an opportunity to make it clear why you’re interested in a particular school. Remember that schools want students who are excited to be there—show both your appreciation and your enthusiasm in your note.

In regard to whether the note should be hand written or sent via email, either is acceptable. What’s important is the sentiment expressed, and sending the note quickly (within 1-2 days) to help convey your excitement and enthusiasm for the school, along with your appreciation for being interviewed.

If you have questions about thank you notes feel free to email me at liza@thompsonadvising.com.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

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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 for the interview you should understand its purpose, 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 vet the school and 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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Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

The Multiple Mini Interview format is spreading rapidly among US medical schools. Here is a list of MD schools using MMI in the 2018-2019 application cycle:

  • Albany Medical College
  • California Northstate
  • California University of Science and Medicine
  • Central Michigan University
  • Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University
  • Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (hybrid—traditional + MMI)
  • Duke University
  • Hofstra
  • Medical College of Georgia
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (hybrid–MMI + one individual interview with a medical student)
  • New York Medical College
  • New York University
  • Nova Southeastern
  • Oregon Health and Science University
  • Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • San Juan Bautista (hybrid–MMI + one individual interview)
  • Stanford University
  • SUNY Upstate
  • Universidad Central Del Caribe (Puerto Rico)
  • University of Alabama (hybrid–MMI and one traditional interview)
  • University of Arizona–Tucson and Phoenix
  • University of California-Davis
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of California-Riverside
  • University of California-San Diego
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Michigan (hybrid–MMI and two traditional interviews)
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • University of Nevada–Reno campus
  • University of South Carolina Greenville (hybrid–MMI and two traditional interviews)
  • University of Texas – Austin (hybrid–MMI, one traditional interview, one group problem-solving exercise)
  • University of Toledo
  • University of Utah (hybrid–MMI, video interview, situational judgment test)
  • University of Vermont
  • Virginia Commonwealth
  • Virginia Tech (hybrid–one traditional interview and MMI)
  • Wake Forest
  • Washington State
  • Wayne State (hybrid–MMI and traditional interviews)
  • Western Michigan University (hybrid–one MMI and one traditional)

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

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For those interested in global health, there is an upcoming Global Health and Innovation Conference at Yale (April 13-14, 2019), which promises to be outstanding. This is one of the largest global health conferences, with many different topics included, ranging from educational initiatives to maternal and child health to social entrepreneurship to health policy.

This conference has been held for a number of years and the speakers are engaged in global projects that are compelling. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more and to speak with like-minded individuals about challenges in global health. Visit this website for more information and to register.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

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Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does studying art enhance your observation skills as a physician, thereby allowing you to pick up subtle signs of illness? In recent years, there has been a general acknowledgment that studying art–and fine-tuning the art of seeing–helps medical students hone their skills. More medical schools are incorporating gallery visits and art classes into their curricula in an effort to sharpen students’ observational acuity. Arts Practica was founded by Alexa Miller to help medical professionals gain more skill in what they see. Arts Practica offers training programs, gallery visits, and classes which encourage med students to “learn to see.”  An article in the New York Times describes a forum that took place at the Museum of Modern Art which convened educators and doctors to discuss teaching strategies in programs melding art with medical education. An additional article in the Times describes “What Doctors Can Learn From Looking at Art.” A study which found that studying the arts and humanities in medical school promotes empathy was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and referenced in an article on incorporating the arts into medical education.

More medical schools are adding an arts component to their curriculum, and some examples are below:

Continue reading

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books

As a premedical advisor and medical school admissions consultant I encourage prospective medical students to read books that will expand their view of the medical profession. Reading literature allows us to better understand the human condition which, in turn, makes doctors better practitioners. In addition, during medical school interviews applicants are sometimes asked about books they have read about the medical profession; interviewers want to know whether the applicant has been curious enough to read about his or her chosen profession.

The books I have selected cover different aspects of the medical profession, from practicing medicine to understanding global health challenges to navigating the complexities of cultural competency. I have compiled a list of helpful books for premed and med students. Out of that list of 38 books, I have chosen 10 as essential reading material:

  1. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
  2. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
  3. How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
  4. Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande
  5. My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story by Abraham Verghese
  6. Caring for Patients from Different Cultures by Geri-Ann Galanti
  7. Strong at the Broken Places by Richard Cohen
  8. On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  9. The Citadel by A.J. Cronin
  10. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

Continue reading

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study published in 2016 the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the number of medical students with disabilities is nine times higher than originally estimated. The article points out the difficulty in capturing an accurate view of the number of med students with disabilities. In all, 2.7 percent of medical students were found to have one or more disability. Another study in Academic Medicine found that most medical schools seem unwelcoming to those with disabilities. More recently, a report in 2018 by the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that progress has been made for medical students with disabilities.

The most common disability was ADHD, followed by unspecified learning or psychological disabilities. Those with physical or sensory disabilities were much less common, perhaps because of the technical standards in place at medical schools. Some students also cited chronic health issues as a disability.

Experts believe that further studies need to be conducted to assess how students with disabilities perform in medical school. Of those in the study, 98% received some sort of accommodation. The founders of the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education comment on the current situation for those with disabilities in an article on Student Doctor Network.

Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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