Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, California is opening a new medical school in 2020; they will begin accepting applications in the 2019-2020 cycle. They announced recently that they will waive tuition for the first five classes; this will undoubtedly create a surge in applications. Information about the admissions process for the first class of 48 students can be found here. The school has preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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There are several written parts to the medical school application but the central component—and the one in which applicants have the most open space to convey their past experiences and future goals—is the personal statement. In the AMCAS application the prompt for the personal statement is:

Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school.” 

Prompts in the other applications (TMDSAS and AACOMAS) are similar. The space allotted in the AMCAS application is 5300 characters, including spaces, which is approximately one single-spaced page. In that short amount of space you must articulate clearly your reasons for wanting a career in medicine. Your medical school personal statement should be a convincing piece of prose: through your writing you need to convey your excitement about your chosen profession, along with evidence that you’ve tested the profession through clinical experiences.

I have read and helped applicants refine their personal statements for 25 years. To write the most effective possible statement adhere to these basic principles:

Draw in the reader:  The personal statement should have both immediacy—drawing in the reader instantly—and big-picture goals. It should help the reader understand what you’ve done to learn about the medical profession and convey your broad interests and what you eventually hope to accomplish as a physician.  Continue reading

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The Association of American Medical Colleges is hosting a virtual medical school fair on Feb. 21st from 11am – 8pm EST. Click the above link to register. Enjoy!

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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UCLA’s School of Medicine has raised the bar on its GPA and MCAT scores for applicants to be eligible for admission, sparking some controversy about the effect this might have on holistic review of applicants and the resulting diversity of the medical school’s student population.  The new cutoff numbers will be 3.4 and 512, according to the proposal that will be implemented in the 2019-2020 application cycle. Students offered a different proposal to counter the proposed policy change.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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As a premedical advisor for the last 25+ years, I have ample experience guiding students through the challenging science prerequisites for medical school admission. At Johns Hopkins and Goucher, where I directed their postbac programs, I helped non-science students transition to full immersion in science courses and I encouraged students to adopt study skills suitable to science. As a medical school admissions consultant, I guide students through their premedical courses and the medical school application process. The following basic tips will help premed students master the sciences.

1. Details, details, details. Learning science is like learning a new language. When learning a new language you must pay attention to detail. Trying to learn science without memorizing formulas or reactions is like trying to learn a language without paying attention to vocabulary.

2. Read ahead. Premeds are pressed for time, but this technique reaps rewards. Prior to a lecture, skim the chapter/s to familiarize yourself with the material and any terms, graphs, charts or formulas; the lecture will be much more understandable, and you’ll learn and understand more.

3. Take good notes. You don’t have to write down everything that’s said in class. But pay attention to the important details, especially examples that will help you remember concepts later, when studying.

4. Review class notes. Reviewing—and perhaps rewriting—your notes will help reinforce material. This should be done within a day or two of the lecture to be most effective. If something is not clear from your notes, look up what you don’t understand. Continue reading

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New this year, AMCAS has instituted the “Choose Your Medical School Tool“. This is designed to help medical schools shape their incoming class with more precision. The tool will also push applicants to refine their choices according to a timeline imposed by AMCAS. In its explanation of the tool, AMCAS emphasizes strongly that the tool does not replace normal communications between schools and applicants. You should always keep schools notified regarding your decision to accept an offer of admission, stay on a waiting list, or withdraw from consideration. The Choose Your Medical School Tool is intended to supplement individual communications between applicants and medical schools. This is how it will work:

February 19:  Starting on this date, applicants will be able to select “Plan to Enroll” for the school you like best from amongst those where you have been admitted. You can still hold other acceptances elsewhere.

April 15:  By this time AMCAS wants you to have narrowed down your school options to three from amongst those where you have been admitted or waitlisted, and then you will ultimately narrow it to one by April 30th (see below), unless you remain on several waitlists. If you are certain of your choice at this point you can opt for “Commit to Enroll” for that school.

April 30:  By this date you should have made a final decision about where you will enroll, choosing “Commit to Enroll” — unless you want to remain on a waitlist (or more than one).  You will withdraw all other applications (including waitlist positions) if you select Commit to Enroll. In essence, if you select Commit to Enroll you are guaranteeing a medical school that you will matriculate.  If you choose one school but want to remain on a waiting list you would leave the selection as “Plan to Enroll.”  Only after you’ve made your final decision will you switch to “Commit to Enroll.”

Refer to the AMCAS information (link above) for the exact wording and instructions.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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Leapfrog, an organization that tracks hospitals’ safety records, has given UCSD top honors for having the best teaching hospital in the nation. Information about UCSD School of Medicine can be found here.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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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.

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

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
  • Duke University
  • Hofstra
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (hybrid–MMI + one individual interview with a medical student)
  • New York Medical College
  • New York University
  • Oregon Health and Science University
  • Patel College of Allopathic Medicine—Nova Southeastern
  • 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 Colorado (hybrid)
  • 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 North Carolina (hybrid—traditional plus five MMI stations)
  • 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
  • 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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The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown has made changes to its curriculum to help medical students prepare to treat LGBTQ+ patients. The school has also added a scholarly concentration in LGBTQ+ Healthcare and Advocacy.

A Stanford study showed that most medical schools do not incorporate enough content to prepare medical students adequately to care for patients who identify as LGBTQ+. More on Stanford’s leadership in this area can be found here.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admission Consultant

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