Profile Questions and Answers
|Why medicine? What is your story?||I was around medicine alot as a child, suffering from fairly serious asthma and an orthopedic problem, both of which required continual monitoring and doctor's appointments. My mother is also an RN and my father a social worker, so I learned early the value of helping others in your work. I guess these experiences along with a natural interest in science and a need for a challenging career path made medicine a good fit for me.||read other replies on this topic|
|Are you in any special circumstances? Anything unique?||I received my acceptances to medical school as a reapplicant, so I have a somewhat unique outlook on the application process from that angle.||read other replies on this topic|
|What was the hardest part in preparing for med school?||Knowing exactly what the process entailed. I really had only a vague understanding of the application process even months into my first application cycle. Websites like this one really help out in understanding where you stand and what you are up against.||read other replies on this topic|
|How much did you work while going through pre-med?||I worked an average of 12-15 hours/week during the semester, and worked full-time over the summers. My part-time jobs included being a lab assistant in a hematology lab at a vet hospital, caring for mentally ill and mentally disabled adults in a group home setting (also full-time for two summers), and working in an evolutionary biology lab (also full-time for 2 years following undergrad).||read other replies on this topic|
|What did you do for MCAT preparation?||I took the August MCAT in 2002. My first advice would be to avoid the August MCAT at all costs. It really puts you behind on submitting your applications to schools, and I found that the earlier the applicant submitted, the better.
I spent the 2-3 months during the summer prior to the MCAT preparing for the test. I had purchased two books to review material for the test: a comprehensive review of the material and a book with practice tests and questions for each section. I did not opt for taking a review course due to monetary concerns and my personal learning style, which is geared towards teaching myself material.
I probably spent about 6-8 hours/week during the better part of that summer reviewing for the MCAT, and amped up studying the week prior to the test to about 6 hours/day. In retrospect, I may have studied harder, and would have probably spent more time on the biology section of the test, which (being a Bio major) I really ignored. I found that taking 2-3 practice tests in environments as close to those found at testing centers was useful, and also gave me an idea of where I might score. If I were to retake the test, I probably would have taken one of these practice tests every month leading up to the exam.
All told, I feel like my preparation was adequate, and I thought my score reflected my capabilities pretty well. (33R-10 Bio, 11 Physical, 12 Verbal)||read other replies on this topic|
|How much did you shadow physicians?||I treated shadowing as a mere formality in my application, and wasn't sure I agreed with the idea that it was valuable for everyone to do. I simply shadowed two different family doctors for 5 hours each. I believe that this helped my application at least a little bit, because I was able to talk in my interviews about what I learned through the experience.||read other replies on this topic|
|How much did you volunteer?||I volunteered at a local emergency room for approximately 4-5 months an average of 4 hours a week. I thought that my time spent volunteering was below average for pre-meds, but the necessity of my working in a paid job for many hours and my ability to extract meaningful lessons from my volunteer experience made up for it.||read other replies on this topic|
|What clinical exposure did you have?||My clinical exposure was limited to my volunteering in an emergency room and my very limited shadowing experiences. See those sections for more info.||read other replies on this topic|
|What did you do for research?||I worked in an evolutionary biology research lab part-time during my final year in undergrad, completing a mini-project for which I applied for a grant offered through my school during that time. I continued working full-time in that lab during my first year following my undergrad work, and worked in a different evolutionary biology lab during my second year off from school.||read other replies on this topic|
|Do you have any leadership experience?||Nope. Overrated in my opinion...as Karl Rove has shown, people in leadership roles can be manipulated quite readily from the sidelines ;-)||read other replies on this topic|
|What suggestions do you have for the personal statement?||It is absolutely necessary to treat this as one of the most important parts of your application. It may not make or break you, but it will certainly influence how your interviewers approach you going into the interviews, and gives you a chance to show aspects of your personality that are impossible to convey through your stats. Spend at least a month writing the PS and have as many people (medical and otherwise) as you can go over it carefully.||read other replies on this topic|
|What suggestions do you have for the secondary applications?||Fill them out carefully but quickly, remember time is of the essence as many schools have rolling admissions. Make sure to use any additional essays required to present unique aspects of yourself that have not been covered elsewhere in your application. Strive to give them as complete a picture of yourself as possible.||read other replies on this topic|
|What suggestions do you have for the interview?||Relax! Really, the horror stories you have heard about interviewers being jerks are few and far between, and even if you are put in this situation (I was!) you simply have to maintain a professional demeanor and come out the other side having not freaked out on your interviewer.
Interviews are mostly about making sure you have at least minimal social skills, so be prepared for some small talk. Also, have an idea going in of what aspects of your application you would like to highlight, explain, or downplay (e.g. poor grades in certain subjects). Also objectively look at your application and determine at least one weakness, personality-wise or scholastic that you can talk about, and explain how this can be converted to an advantage or has already been addressed. They eat that stuff up!||read other replies on this topic|
|Describe your pre-med schedule, typical day and week||I always took approximately 15 credits (12 credits was full-time at my university) and worked an average of 12-15 hours/week. I usually studied outside of class between 2-3 hours per day, much more just prior to tests.||read other replies on this topic|
|Did you do any other extracurricular activities?||My biggest extracurricular activity was playing bass guitar in a local indie rock band, which took up an average of 5-10 hours per week. We had weekly rehearsals, writing sessions, and also tried to play at least one show per month. Other than that, I played in a few intramural leagues for various sports.||read other replies on this topic|
|How did you choose your med school?||I gained acceptances to three schools, which were also my top three choices due to geographic considerations. Ultimately, I felt comfortable at all three schools and chose the one where my wife would be closest to her family (to offer her another support system while I am in school) and where we would not be forced to move after two years--the University of Minnesota-Duluth does not offer years 3 and 4 in Duluth at this time...you have to move to the Twin Cities.||read other replies on this topic|
|Did you take any extra coursework in preparation for med school?||I was lucky enough to qualify for a scholarship offered to University employees during my 2 years "off" from school, so I took several classes to pinpoint my interests and try to get comfortable heading into medical school. I took several graduate level genetics courses, an undergrad-level anatomy course--complete with prosections, an introductory course to pharmacology, and was certified as an EMT-Basic.||read other replies on this topic|
|Any open-ended advice?||No matter what, don't give up. If medicine is your dream, you can make it happen. The route may be longer than anticipated, and you may find that the process forces you to look at yourself and your accomplishments and truly evaluate your shortcomings, but it is worth it in the end.||read other replies on this topic|