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 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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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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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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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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