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jdspring

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Alright, so I know I'm in good shape overall. Not fishing for compliments. I do, however, want some input on where I can strengthen my application. My stats and ECs are strong, but I have my eye on highly competitive programs (Duke, Columbia, Stanford).

I graduated undergrad in 2010, finished my MA in 2011. I am working in research (psychiatry) for a couple of years. I plan to take a year off to travel/live prior to entering med school in 2014.

So here we go:
3.92 gpa (basically dead even science/overall)
Phi Beta Kappa
35S (13PS, 11BS, 11V)
3 years research cellular neuro; 2 years research clinical psychiatry
Year round D3 athlete/captain
Hope to grab a couple publications & volunteer work by the time I apply
EMT certified (no experience yet)

So what are my priorities? Do I shadow? Do I go work in a hospital/on an EMS service? Do I take biochemistry or some sort of cellular biology course to show that the 11 in BS is a fluke?

Again, just looking for some fresh perspectives.

Thanks.
 

sliceofbread136

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Alright, so I know I'm in good shape overall. Not fishing for compliments. I do, however, want some input on where I can strengthen my application. My stats and ECs are strong, but I have my eye on highly competitive programs (Duke, Columbia, Stanford).

I graduated undergrad in 2010, finished my MA in 2011. I am working in research (psychiatry) for a couple of years. I plan to take a year off to travel/live prior to entering med school in 2014.

So here we go:
3.92 gpa (basically dead even science/overall)
Phi Beta Kappa
35S (13PS, 11BS, 11V)
3 years research cellular neuro; 2 years research clinical psychiatry
Year round D3 athlete/captain
Hope to grab a couple publications & volunteer work by the time I apply
EMT certified (no experience yet)

So what are my priorities? Do I shadow? Do I go work in a hospital/on an EMS service? Do I take biochemistry or some sort of cellular biology course to show that the 11 in BS is a fluke?

Again, just looking for some fresh perspectives.

Thanks.

Maybe can get into a top 20 if you get really lucky... but that won't happen if you don't get any clinical experience and shadowing.

Honestly your ECs are kind of light, expand on them.

And an 11 on bio is fine.
 

Jamie561

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Maybe can get into a top 20 if you get really lucky... but that won't happen if you don't get any clinical experience and shadowing.

Honestly your ECs are kind of light, expand on them.

And an 11 on bio is fine.

I'd say you're a very vanilla candidate for the top schools, stats wise. Consequently your chances at an elite school are mediocre to poor without something to distinguish you. Lack of clinical experience, shadowing, and volunteerism is a big negative.

Sent from my HTC Sensation Z710e using Tapatalk
 
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Alright, so I know I'm in good shape overall. Not fishing for compliments. I do, however, want some input on where I can strengthen my application. My stats and ECs are strong, but I have my eye on highly competitive programs (Duke, Columbia, Stanford).

I graduated undergrad in 2010, finished my MA in 2011. I am working in research (psychiatry) for a couple of years. I plan to take a year off to travel/live prior to entering med school in 2014.

So here we go:
3.92 gpa (basically dead even science/overall)
Phi Beta Kappa
35S (13PS, 11BS, 11V)
3 years research cellular neuro; 2 years research clinical psychiatry
Year round D3 athlete/captain
Hope to grab a couple publications & volunteer work by the time I apply
EMT certified (no experience yet)

So what are my priorities? Do I shadow? Do I go work in a hospital/on an EMS service? Do I take biochemistry or some sort of cellular biology course to show that the 11 in BS is a fluke?
Top schools aim to train future leaders in medicine. Your chances of an acceptance by one of them lies with whether your application supports this potential, backed up by your LOR writers. Ways in which you can show this capability for making a difference might be with substantive research (possibly with publications), with strong community service, and/or with above-and-beyond leadership.

You had good leadership as a team captain in college. Carry the skills learned from this forward and look for something new to take on that will make a difference.

Publications aren't required, but add luster to an application.

Nonmedical community service is very beneficial. This could potentially be the venue from which you take on a leadership role. Teaching (TA, tutor, coach, mentor) is also valued.

Clinical experience could be gained at 3-4 hours per week. The average person lists 1.5 years, so get this started. Alternatively, you might get a job in a medical environment. More hours doesn't make it better; it's the longevity that is considered more important. In whatever position you choose, you should meet physicians. As they get to know you, you can ask for a shadowing opportunity, if it is not possible to shadow your own doc or those of other family members. The average listed is 50 hours. I consider 40 the minimum, but prefer 60-80.
 

jdspring

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Perhaps strong is the wrong word; I mean to say that my stats are "in the range". What do I pursue first among ECs? Volunteer? Shadowing? Do I need more clinical experience beyond my full time research? Also, does my master's help at all?

Thanks for the posts.
 
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1) What do I pursue first among ECs? Volunteer? Shadowing? Do I need more clinical experience beyond my full time research?
2) Also, does my master's help at all?

Thanks for the posts.
1) What interaction with sick people did you have during your research?

2) It helped give you stronger research experience. If it gave you teaching opportunities, also, it benefited your application in two ways.

Having the MA is more helpful when it comes to applying for residency programs, though it is considered a "nice EC" by med school adcomms.
 

mikesheree

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Curious about shadowing and "clinical" experience. when did these become central to the application/acceptance process and why? i graduated med school in 1977 and they were not an issue at all. for me, personally, shadowing a GP probably would have turned me off of medicine but i have thrived in pathology. there are so many very, very different specialties. also, we were generally told---get a good liberal education, major in anything you like but take the required math, science,physics and become well rounded. you will get all the "clinical" experience you need in med school. it was this, your GPA and MCAT. seemed a lot easier back then. current system seems almost crushing ( as if it wasn't tough 35 years ago)
 

jdspring

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Research in college was purely animal-based. When I apply, I will have worked for 2 years with participants suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and other comorbid psychiatric conditions. Probably the most fitting example of my interaction with a given patient is sitting down with them for 2 hours and asking them to recount and describe in detail their traumatic experience(s). Lots of tears.

Do admission committees consider psychiatric illness "on par" with someone conducting research on heart disease patients, for example? If not, I've certainly considered going and using my emt certification to volunteer in a hospital.
 
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Research in college was purely animal-based. When I apply, I will have worked for 2 years with participants suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and other comorbid psychiatric conditions. Probably the most fitting example of my interaction with a given patient is sitting down with them for 2 hours and asking them to recount and describe in detail their traumatic experience(s). Lots of tears.

Do admission committees consider psychiatric illness "on par" with someone conducting research on heart disease patients, for example? If not, I've certainly considered going and using my emt certification to volunteer in a hospital.
Hypothesis-driven research in any discipline is on par for Research. But for clinical experience, some adcomms might like to see broader experience that includes physically ill folks too. I think that using the EMT certificate to get a volunteer gig in a hospital is a good idea. You won't be starting from scratch though, as the patient exposure you already have is certainly of value.
 
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TheMightySmiter

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If you have two years of clinical research with patient interaction, I'd say you are on great shape for patient contact. Psychiatric patients absolutely provide a valuable clinical experience! The chief importance of patient contact as a pre-med, IMO, is learning how to constantly and appropriately deal with people on their worst day. It seems like you've done this in your clinical research.

The EMT by itself won't help your application, you have to use it for it to mean anything. With your past clinical experience, though, I'd say only use your EMT if you want to.

The important things I do NOT see on your application are volunteering and shadowing. Try to shadow a couple different physicians for maybe 15-20 hours each. It's a good idea to include a primary care physician. Volunteering doesn't have to be clinical. You mentioned you were an athlete in college. Is there an organization you know of that works with kids in your sport? Like volunteer coaching or mentoring?
 

Pattycake25

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Your (excellent) GPA - is that from undergrad or the Masters coursework? If that's an "overall" GPA (i.e. both components of your education), you need to calculate the two separately. I'm going to assume your GPAs are all around 3.9 though - if there was a strong deviation from that average, I imagine you would have mentioned it in your post.

Assuming so, your raw numbers are where they need to be for your targets, so further coursework is unnecessary and in fact detrimental (you need the time for ECs). I think a good strat for you is to find ONE EC that stands out like a beacon, and bulwark it with strong baseline ECs. Top 20s get apps from all the very best, many of whom will have some championed achievement to catch adcoms eyes. Even if you are an all-around exemplary candidate, you run the risk of slipping through their fingers without a "hook" to latch on with. I agree that, at the moment, you are somewhat vanilla. GOURMET vanilla, but vanilla. =P

I have no doubts you will be where you need to be to start class in 2014, so long as you use a sound strategy. Good job on your work so far - the hard part is in the bag for you!

One more small suggestion - maybe it's just me, and I'm a bit oversensitive to it, but for me, you teetered on the edge a bit between well-grounded self-confidence and abrasive arrogance. Not enough that I suspect you have a substantial problem ahead of you in writing essays and completing interviews, but I'd say you should ask some close friends or family to take a look at your essays before you send them in, and see if they think you come across as a hotshot know-it-all at all (which is never pleasant for an adcom). Again, it's a faint perception, and I may even be alone in feeling it, but it doesn't hurt to be cautious.
 

jdspring

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I truly appreciate the honesty. I am actually afloat in a sea of self doubt, and looking for guidance. An impulsive post, and I see how I may have come across. Apologies to those who took offense; I mean to say that my stats are strong enough to grant a look from top tier institutions. It is clear to me that I am in the range but unremarkable, which is why I appreciate your suggestions on how to fill my non-working hours.

What's done is done as far as stats go. Undergrad science and overall gpa were 3.92; same for master's, although the program was heavily research-based (i.e. small course load). My ECs have never been numerous, but we're typically high commitment. Not all listed above:

4yrs cross country/track; 3yrs research plus summers (excluding masters); 3yrs senior interviewer/tour guide; 2yrs psych journal; 2yrs chemistry tutoring

That was college, though. Now, I'm working as an RA full time and:

On a frisbee team; on a running club; consulting on forensic psychiatry cases (on the side with boss); mentoring in a youth science program through the hospital.

Again, sorry for coming across as a jerk before. I just got my scores back so I'm feeling relieved to have a decent score. I think that volunteer coaching and shadowing are great ideas; there's also a homeless healthcare program I'm looking into. I guess my question is, even if I do these things, how does one stop being vanilla? Where do i find a hook, if not in my statement or interview? Publish a paper in Nature? Found an charity? Win a Fulbright? I'm a white male of middle class background, good education, extremely driven, who tries to keep busy. With 1 year before I start applications, what do I add? Does anyone have good examples of effective but achievable beacons/hooks that grab attention?
 
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examples of effective but achievable beacons/hooks that grab attention?
Sometimes it's as easy as getting involved in a unique hobby or artistic endeavor.

Having a hook: 2/2510
However, what you need is a "hook". Something that makes us say, "how interesting! It would be fun to talk to this applicant, let's invite 'em to interview." Then when you are interviewed you need to show some enthusiasm and passion for something you've done as this draws people in makes them believe you are an interesting person.

So, let's say that you like to cook and you asked your grandmother to teach you to make a traditional dish and then you and your grandmother made 12 dozen of them for a special occasion. Now you might write in your PS that you learned your dumpling making skills from your grandmother but that she also provided your first introduction to [some chronic disease]. Then you go on about your mad dumpling making skills but also about how your interest in grandma's condition led you to do x, y, and z culminating in applying to medical school. Now you might get labeled as "the dumpling maker". Are you the only applicant who knows how to make dumplings? Of course not but that with your other stuff is going to be a memory aid to the adcom as your application makes its way through the system.
 

jdspring

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I see, thanks for digging up that post :) so even a top 20 institution might be swayed by something clever like that, assuming the other essentials are there?
 

JustMeditate

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Your numbers are stellar, but numbers alone do not a good application make. The research is wonderful, especially since top tier schools tend to value it quite a bit, but you NEED clinical experience. Most adcoms I've talked with, or heard presentations from, straight up tell us that while high numbers are certainly helpful, they mean nothing without clinical experience. How can you expect adcoms to believe that you know what being a doctor entails, and sincerely want to go to medical school, if you've never shadowed a doctor or volunteered in a clinical setting? Not having clinical experience is almost on par with a sub 30 MCAT or a sub 3.0 GPA, from what I've gathered.

Go volunteer at a local hospital for at least 100-150 hours, shadow 2-3 doctors (at least one in primary care) for ~50-60 hours, and try to fit in some nonclinical volunteering as well, to show that you're a really nice guy. Leadership and some teaching also looks good, but as a grad student, my guess is that you've done some TAing, right? Focus on the clinical first and foremost, though. While you may have had patient interaction as a researcher, you need patient interaction at the healthcare level and from the healthcare perspective. Two totally different experiences.
 

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Curious about shadowing and "clinical" experience. when did these become central to the application/acceptance process and why? i graduated med school in 1977 and they were not an issue at all. for me, personally, shadowing a GP probably would have turned me off of medicine but i have thrived in pathology. there are so many very, very different specialties. also, we were generally told---get a good liberal education, major in anything you like but take the required math, science,physics and become well rounded. you will get all the "clinical" experience you need in med school. it was this, your GPA and MCAT. seemed a lot easier back then. current system seems almost crushing ( as if it wasn't tough 35 years ago)

It still is. Only now the latter is indefinitely more important to top tier programs. OP, the best hook you can have for a top 10 or whatever you are shooting for is a 35+ MCAT. From there it depends on whether you fit the school's demographics (remember they want to build a class of HIGH MCATers with diverse backgrounds).

The MCAT comes first and everything else second. You have the first so you are good to go. The reason that some people don't get in with ridiculous MCATs is because they fit the profile of someone else the dean already has in mind and who already took their seat.

Let me explain:

Have you ever seen the movie the "Cabin in the Woods"...well the movie sucks but the point is this. The adcoms are like the wardens, they select out the top MCATers in the nation to fit certain profiles. You have the ridiculously good looking girl (why do you think Hopkins wants you picture on your application and why they interview...). You have the jock (this is why NCAA div 1 sports count). You have the naive peaceful girl. You have the really nerdy, computer geek who may be doing illegal substances (but hey, he could invent some really cool medical device and profit big time and donate back to the school...$$$$ cha ching).

So it all comes down to your numbers (MCAT being more important) and if you fit into the class profile (the nerd, the jock, the girl every guy in the class is going to drool over, ect.). Shadow a few hours if you want to, but in the end all ECs are secondary. Life experiences and how you differentiate will factor in AFTER the MCAT (which you got, so congrats). Just apply to all the top 20s and I am sure you will fit in with one class demographic for something. There is nothing you can change now, well unless you overly elaborate about a trait you don't have (don't recommend this route).
 

sliceofbread136

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It still is. Only now the latter is indefinitely more important to top tier programs. OP, the best hook you can have for a top 10 or whatever you are shooting for is a 35+ MCAT. From there it depends on whether you fit the school's demographics (remember they want to build a class of HIGH MCATers with diverse backgrounds).

The MCAT comes first and everything else second. You have the first so you are good to go. The reason that some people don't get in with ridiculous MCATs is because they fit the profile of someone else the dean already has in mind and who already took their seat.

Let me explain:

Have you ever seen the movie the "Cabin in the Woods"...well the movie sucks but the point is this. The adcoms are like the wardens, they select out the top MCATers in the nation to fit certain profiles. You have the ridiculously good looking girl (why do you think Hopkins wants you picture on your application and why they interview...). You have the jock (this is why NCAA div 1 sports count). You have the naive peaceful girl. You have the really nerdy, computer geek who may be doing illegal substances (but hey, he could invent some really cool medical device and profit big time and donate back to the school...$$$$ cha ching).

So it all comes down to your numbers (MCAT being more important) and if you fit into the class profile (the nerd, the jock, the girl every guy in the class is going to drool over, ect.). Shadow a few hours if you want to, but in the end all ECs are secondary. Life experiences and how you differentiate will factor in AFTER the MCAT (which you got, so congrats). Just apply to all the top 20s and I am sure you will fit in with one class demographic for something. There is nothing you can change now, well unless you overly elaborate about a trait you don't have (don't recommend this route).

Only part of the post I agree with. Search through MDapps and look at the ECs of the people who get into top 10 schools. They are without fail, completely ridiculous.
 
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