Medical school applicants often ask me whether they should write a letter of interest.  If applicants haven’t heard from schools they get anxious. Waiting to hear from medical schools is difficult. The question arises as to whether writing a letter of interest would be helpful and applicants want to know when they should write one.

Writing a letter of interest before or right after submitting the secondary application is not necessary. You need to give the school time to read your application before sending a separate letter.

Before the interview:  If it’s been three months since you submitted your secondary you may want to consider writing a letter of interest. This will give you the chance to reiterate your interest in the school. In the letter cover other aspects of the school that appeal to you if the secondary asked “why our school”.  A letter of interest will also get you back on the school’s radar screen if they’ve overlooked you.

After the interview:  It can be helpful to write a letter of interest (or a letter of intent) after an interview. However, you wouldn’t write one before AND after an interview in most cases. You don’t want to haggle the admissions office. If you write a letter of interest after the interview it should be sent several weeks afterwards. This way it won’t be in close proximity to the thank you notes.

Be sure to follow the each school’s directions. Some schools specifically request no letters of interest or intent.

If you want to discuss your situation please feel free to send me an email at

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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As the former director of the Johns Hopkins and Goucher Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Programs and with 25+ years of experience advising students, I have deep knowledge regarding post-baccalaureate premedical education. I published an article in Premed Life Magazine (starting on page 29) written from the viewpoint of prospective post-bac students.

The article covers the important elements students should consider when weighing different programs. Since post-bac programs have proliferated wildly in recent years, the choices can often be confusing to students. For any student considering post-bac programs this article will shed some light on important aspects to consider.

Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School and Post-Bac Program Admissions Consulting

Post originally written in 2013, updated on September 9, 2019

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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. At the very least, you should review common questions and think about how you would answer them. Then you should PRACTICE answering them and do a mock interview with someone who understands the interview process. 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 the most common 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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Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) is an interview format spreading with increasing frequency in US medical schools. Started in 2001 at McMaster University in Canada, the MMI has caught on due to studies which have validated its use in predicting medical school students’ performance. Since the MMI seems to be more effective in assessing students’ non-cognitive factors and their future success in medical school, the technique is being adopted at more schools.

The MMI format usually entails a number of stations (usually 6-8) which applicants visit one after the other. The applicant is typically given a few minutes to read a written scenario; she would then enter the room and describe how she would handle the situation. Each station normally takes about 8 minutes to complete; two minutes to read the scenario and 6 minutes to respond to it. The interviewers rate applicants on their handling of the situation. In some cases, “traditional” interview questions may be posed in a few of the scenarios.

What is the best way to prepare for the MMI format?  The following skills are usually assessed during MMI; knowing what’s assessed can help you prepare effectively. Continue reading

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The Multiple Mini Interview format is spreading rapidly among US medical schools. Here is a list of MD schools using MMI in the 2019-2020 application cycle. “Hybrid” means a combination of a traditional interview with MMI stations and sometimes a group exercise:

  • Albany Medical College
  • California Northstate
  • Central Michigan University
  • Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University
  • Duke University
  • Hofstra
  • Kaiser Permanente (hybrid)
  • Medical College of Georgia
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (hybrid)
  • New York Medical College
  • New York University Long Island (hybrid)
  • 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 and UNTHS (Fort Worth, Texas)
  • Universidad Central Del Caribe (Puerto Rico)
  • University of Alabama (hybrid)
  • University of Arizona–Tucson and Phoenix
  • University of California-Davis
  • University of California-Los Angeles (hybrid)
  • 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–Reno campus
  • 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 (hybrid)
  • Wake Forest
  • Washington State (hybrid)
  • Wayne State (hybrid)
  • Western Michigan University (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

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For those interested in global health, there is an upcoming Global Health and Innovation Conference at Yale (April 4-5, 2020), which promises to be outstanding. This is one of the largest global health conferences, with many different topics and speakers.

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. In addition, a study was done at Columbia and Cornell to assess the effect of an observational art course on medical students’ ability to reflect, tolerate ambiguity, and other traits.

Finally, in an article titled “The Art Museum and Medical Education” the author writes about the benefits of having medical students and medical professionals see art and reflect.

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

Having the opportunity to participate in such classes may help medical students reflect and see more clearly, perhaps providing better care for your future patients. The Association of American Medical Colleges recently had a forum to discuss the arts and humanities in medical education, and the benefits they bring. Another article extols the benefits of art in medical education. And finally, medical educators at Johns Hopkins are developing an app that prompts medical students, residents to look at art to hone their empathy with patients.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

Post updated June 19, 2019 and July 11, 2019

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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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Gaining admission to medical school in the United States is challenging for non-US citizens, as described in another blog post. Not all schools admit international applicants. As of this writing, these MD schools admit non-citizens:

Boston University School of Medicine

Brown (Alpert School of Medicine)

Case Western School of Medicine

Columbia (Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons)

Duke School of Medicine

Emory School of Medicine

Dartmouth (Geisel School of Medicine)

Georgetown School of Medicine

Harvard Medical School

Howard University College of Medicine

Jefferson (Sidney Kimmel Medical College)

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Morehouse School of Medicine

Mt. Sinai (Icahn School of Medicine)

Northwestern (Feinberg School of Medicine)

Penn State College of Medicine

Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

St. Louis University School of Medicine

Stanford University School of Medicine

Stony Brook (Renaissance School of Medicine) 

SUNY Upstate

Tufts University School of Medicine

Tulane University School of Medicine

U of California, Davis School of Medicine

UCLA (Geffen School of Medicine)

UCSD School of Medicine

U of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

U of Colorado School of Medicine

U of Connecticut School of Medicine

U of Hawaii School of Medicine

U of Illinois College of Medicine

U of Louisville School of Medicine

U of North Carolina School of Medicine

U of Pennsylvania (Perelman School of Medicine)

U of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

U of Southern California (Keck School of Medicine)

U of Utah School of Medicine

U of Virginia School of Medicine

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Washington University School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Weill Cornell Medicine

West Virginia University School of Medicine

Yale School of Medicine

I have extensive experience guiding international applicants through the application process to US medical schools.  Please send me an email at if you have questions about your particular situation.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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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 MD schools requiring CASPer as part of the admissions process. Please check the CASPer website frequently, as the list of schools changes:


Central Michigan


East Tennessee State (Quillen)

Florida Atlantic



Indiana University

Kaiser Permanente

Medical College of Georgia (Augusta)

Medical College of Wisconsin



Michigan State

New York Medical College

New York University

Northeast Ohio

Rosalind Franklin

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson

SUNY Upstate

Stony Brook (Renaissance)

Temple (Katz)

Texas A&M

Texas Tech


U of Colorado

U of Illinois

U of Miami (Miller)

U of Michigan

U of Mississippi

U of Nevada, Reno

U of North Carolina

U of North Dakota

U of Rochester

U of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

U of Texas, San Antonio (Long)

U of Vermont (Larner)

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 Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

Post updated May 22, 2019

Post updated June 7, 2019

Post updated June 14, 2019

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