As a medical school admissions consultant and as the former director of both the Johns Hopkins and Goucher Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Programs, I have extensive experience guiding medical school applicants. I am fortunate that many of my former advisees have been admitted to top-ranked schools. Recently, Harvard medical students weighed in regarding what it takes to get into Harvard medical school.

What qualities and experiences did they have that allowed them to stand out in the application process amidst thousands of other applicants? How did they get into schools like Harvard, Stanford, UCSF, Penn, Yale, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and Johns Hopkins?  In an effort to provide information to prospective medical school applicants, I list below the distinguishing traits of those who were admitted to the top schools. Here’s a list that captures the essential qualities of these applicants:

1. Academic excellence + honors/awards: Without exception, all of the applicants who were admitted to the top-ranked schools had the academic goods. This translates into a solid MCAT score (usually above the 90th percentile) and good grades (3.7+ on average). These numbers prove that these applicants are likely to succeed in medical school. Moreover, their grades were consistently excellent (good grades in both the humanities and science, without significant dips in performance at any stage). Past academic success usually predicts future academic success; applicants with outstanding academic credentials pose little risk to medical schools in terms of academic success.  These schools also favor applicants who have won national awards/honors, such as Phi Beta Kappa, Truman/Goldwater/Rhodes Scholarships, etc. Continue reading

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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 2019-2020 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
  • 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)

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.

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checklist

 

Spring will be here soon. What does this mean for medical school applicants about to enter the upcoming medical school application process?  It means planning in advance so you can submit your application during the optimal timeframe, which is early.

The AMCAS application (for MD applicants) will open the first week of May for applicants to start entering information; submissions will begin in late May or the first week of June. The AACOMAS application (for DO applicants) will open the first week of May. The TMDSAS application (for TX public schools) will open on May 1.

What should you do now to be sure you’re ready to submit your application when the time comes? Continue reading

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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 school is on probation:

Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine (Puerto Rico) Continue reading

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The Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) provides academic enrichment, professional development, clinical experiences, and financial planning workshops to freshmen and sophomore undergraduate students who are underrepresented in medicine. There are SHPEP programs at Columbia, Howard, Rutgers, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, UCLA and Drew University (combined), University of Florida, University of Iowa, University of Louisville, University of Nebraska, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, University of Washington, and Western University of the Health Sciences.

According to the SHPEP website, “these students include, but are not limited to, individuals who identify as African American/Black, American Indian and Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino, and who are from communities of socioeconomic and educational disadvantage.”

The deadline for applying to the SHPEP is February 5, 2020.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

Originally posted in 2013, 2014, 2016 and updated on December 2, 2019.

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Prospective medical school applicants might wonder whether they should use a medical school admissions consultant to help them in the medical school application process. There are many reasons why it might be helpful to get medical school admissions consulting.

Premedical advisor(s) at your college or university will know the curriculum at your school and can advise as to how courses at your school will fulfill premedical requirements; often this information will also be listed on the premed advising office’s website. However, premedical advisors may not have time to advise you on each particular component of the medical school application process. This includes:

  • making a cogent list of schools to apply to;
  • brainstorming ideas for and finessing your personal statement so that it captures your path to medicine;
  • reviewing your personal statement IN DETAIL so that the final product is stellar—the personal statement is the centerpiece of your application;
  • helping guide you in writing the best possible activity descriptions in the primary application;
  • advising as to the strengths/weaknesses in your application and how to rectify any weaknesses;
  • advising on MCAT strategy/preparation;
  • reviewing secondary application essays–secondaries are as important as the primary application!
  • medical school interview preparation by doing mock medical school interviews;
  • advising as to med school waitlists/holds;
  • whether to take a gap year/what to do for a gap year before medical school;
  • advising regarding update letters/letters of interest/letters of intent.

Medical school admissions consultants can be enormously helpful. I am akin to a medical school coach and love my job in med school admissions consulting. If you’d like to discuss your situation or want to ask about any of the ways in which I could assist you please send me an email at liza@thompsonadvising.com.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

Originally posted in 2017 and updated in 2019

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As the former director of the Johns Hopkins and Goucher Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Programs, I have extensive knowledge regarding post-bac programs around the country. There are two kinds of post-bac programs, “career-changers” and “academic record-enhancers”.  “Career-changer” programs are for those who have not completed the required science courses for medical school admission. The “record-enhancer” programs are for people who need a boost in their credentials to gain admission to medical school.

For those seeking information about post-bac programs, start with the database of post-bac programs on the website of the Association of American Medical Colleges. It’s the go-to resource for any prospective post-bac student. Visiting each program’s website and getting a feel for the program’s structure, curriculum, size, advising resources, student:advisor ratio, and other important factors is also important for prospective students. You would, of course, also want to scrutinize programs’ track record of getting students into medical school.

I have written several articles and recorded a podcast on post-baccalaureate premedical students and programs. One article is titled, “Career-Changer Post-Bac Programs: The Ideal Applicant” and describes the components these programs seek in their applicants; those who are considering post-bac programs will likely find it helpful. Continue reading

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The cost of applying to medical school is expensive. Primary and secondary applications, along with the expense of traveling to and from interviews, add up to a significant sum of money usually running in the thousands of dollars. One way to potentially cut down on the cost is to consolidate interviews in a particular location, especially for those who are traveling from coast to coast. Writing an “in the area” email is the best way to approach this.

If you have been invited to interview in a city or location where there are multiple medical schools (Philadelphia, Chicago or New York, for example), you can contact other medical schools in the area to let them know that you will be in the vicinity. This should not be done with any expectation that you will get an interview—but rather with courteousness. You would send an email to the school informing them that you will be “in the area”; IF they deem your application strong enough to warrant an interview, it would help with your travel expenses if you could interview during this time frame.

You should send this with plenty of advance time since medical schools’ interview calendars are very busy and often hard to change. Finally, make it clear that you would still be willing to interview at another time if they cannot accommodate your travel plans.

If you have questions about your particular circumstances, reach out to me via email at liza@thompsonadvising.com.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

Post updated in October 2019

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Prospective medical school applicants often ask me whether a certain college major will curry favor with admission committees.  I advise students to choose a major based on their genuine interest. You don’t have to major in the sciences to be prepared for medical school or to stand out in the application process.

Having advised thousands of medical school applicants, I have seen non-science majors achieve great success. Medical schools value applicants who have studied the humanities, in particular. They bring an important perspective to patient care since they have encountered the human condition in their reading of literature.

An article attests to this by describing the number of doctors who were English majors.  It also points out that non-science majors demonstrate that they are able to juggle this with the demands of completing the science prerequisites for medical school along with extracurricular activities. They show that they can multitask, which is obviously important for any medical student and future physician. These applicants also add diversity to a medical school class.

Recent data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows the following acceptance rates for applicants who majored in the following fields:

47% humanities

46% physical sciences

44% math and statistics

40%  biology and social science majors

36%  specialized health sciences (kinesiology, etc.)

While the raw numbers show that the vast majority of applicants major in the biological sciences, the percentage of accepted applicants is highest for those who majored in the humanities.

Follow what you love. If you genuinely love the sciences, major in a science field. If you have a passion for literature, history, music or art, study it in college.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

Originally posted in 2017 and updated in 2019.

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Scholarships

Paying for medical school is costly but there are scholarships and loan repayment programs to help students defray the cost. Some schools offer merit aid, such as the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, Washington University, the University of Michigan, Mayo, UCLA, and Emory. Applicants do not apply for merit awards; they are plucked out of the pool and notified that they have been selected or are under consideration.

For students interested in pursuing MD-PhD training the Medical Scientist Training Program provides full-tuition support.

An article in US News  describes additional scholarships. The American Medical Association provides some funding for medical students. The website for the Pritzker School of Medicine provides a list of outside scholarships . In addition, Mayo provides a list of available resources. The American Medical Women’s Association also lists funding sources. The University of Virginia also maintains a list of scholarship possibilities.

In addition, some schools have announced that they will be either tuition-free or that students who qualify for loans will graduate with no debt. Such schools are Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Columbia, NYU, Washington University, Kaiser Permanente, and the University of Houston.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

Originally posted in 2013 and updated in 2019.

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