10+ Year Member
- Feb 12, 2012
- Reaction score
Who I Am:
Before Applying - What I Would Have Done Differently:
Applying - What I Did Right:
Reviewing Your Application
- Canadian 4 time re-applicant to U.S. M.D. schools.
- I received 8 interview invites, attended 7 interviews, was accepted to 5 D.O. schools and 1 M.D. school thus far. I am waiting to hear back from 1 M.D. school.
- First generation to have obtained a bachelor’s degree; the only one in my family to have obtained a master’s degree or be admitted to medical school.
- My cumulative uGPA was 3.8x and my cumulative gGPA was 4.0
- I took the “old” MCAT 4 times with cumulative scores ranging from 26-34 with a mostly upward trend
- Employment: golf course, research assistant, receptionist, intramural sport official, manager and medical assistant of family medicine clinic.
- Volunteering: hospital volunteer (2 different departments), eye clinic volunteer.
- Shadowing: observership at a U.S. hospital, shadowed paediatrician, shadowed interventional cardiologist.
- Research: undergraduate thesis project, Master’s research project, volunteer clinical research projects, several publications and poster presentations.
- To give distilled advice to future U.S. medical school applicants from the perspective of a Canadian re-applicant by highlighting where I went wrong and where I went right.
- To encourage others with similar experiences to contribute to the conversation.
- I have some time before matriculating and wanted to create a resource that could help prevent others from spending unnecessary time, effort, and money trying to get into a U.S. medical school.
- I specifically wanted to help Canadian and other non-U.S. residents given that:
- It’s rare for Canadians (and other non-U.S. residents) to matriculate at U.S. M.D. schools. According to AAMC, only 112 of 21,030 total matriculants had a legal residence outside of the U.S. for entering 2016-2017 classes (https://www.aamc.org/download/321462/data/factstablea4.pdf) AND
- The expectations for Canadians (and other non-U.S. residents) are higher compared to U.S. residents. For 2016-2017 entering classes, average matriculant MCAT for U.S. residents was 506 ( 73rd percentile) compared to 512 (88th percentile) for non-residents; average matriculant GPA for U.S. residents was 3.69 compared to 3.74 for non residents (https://www.aamc.org/download/321502/data/factstablea20.pdf)
- The thoughts in this post are based on my opinions.
Before Applying - What I Would Have Done Differently:
- I wish I knew that freshman year was not a write-off. The medical school that I was originally interested in attending only looked at the most recent 2 years of study to calculate GPA and I assumed that all other schools did something similar. If I made myself aware of this incorrect assumption, it would have changed my academic habits in my first year. I would have been less apt to skip my 8:30 am calculus classes, slack off on my gen chem homework, and more motivated to make adjustments to my overall study habits.
- I wish that I made more of an effort to get to know my professors outside of the classroom. I knew that I would eventually need to ask for letters of recommendation but I wan’t willing to make an effort to regularly speak with many of them. I didn’t want to be known as a “suck up” and I felt like I might have said something that would have made them think less of me. However, by failing to make an effort, it was difficult to find professors that were willing to write me letters of recommendation.
- I wish that I became more involved in clubs and committees. Only after graduating did I realize how many opportunities exist on university campuses.
- I wish that I studied abroad for a semester. I used to think that studying abroad was only possible for wealthy students and I failed to realize that there were institutional subsidies available to students who applied. It would have been an amazing opportunity to experience another culture and to have had something else interesting to talk about during interviews.
- I wish I made more of an effort to shadow physicians either during the school year or during my summers.
- I wish that I created a log of activities and recorded details like: the number of hours, contact information, responsibilities, dates, and any key lessons that were learned. When it came time to filling out my application, it would have made my life a lot easier.
- I wish that strictly focussed on studying for the MCAT full time instead of working full time in a very physically demanding job and being left with very little time/energy for studying.
- I wish that I had made myself aware that rewriting the MCAT can reduce your chances at being admitted to medical school. I incorrectly thought that if I did poorly on my first attempt, I could simply rewrite it the following year without any consequences.
- I wish that I planned more time to complete all full length AAMC practice tests after reviewing all material.
- I wish that I was more realistic with my chances as an applicant. In retrospect I should not have applied before I achieved a “good” MCAT score (30+ for the old scale which equates to 79 percentile and above), obtained clinical experience, or obtained more shadowing experience.
- I wish that I applied to both D.O and M.D schools the first time - D.O.s ultimately have the same scope of work and similar salaries to M.D.s
Applying - What I Did Right:
- Here’s how I selected allopathic schools using MSAR (https://services.aamc.org/msar/home#null)
- First I filtered schools that both say that they accept international student applications and have had international students matriculate in the previous year. Some schools don’t actually have any international students that matriculated although they will accept payme… I mean applications from international students so check MSAR just to be safe.
- Second I filtered schools based on GPA and MCAT scores. I only applied to schools in which my MCAT and GPA coincided with at least the tenth percentile of previous year matriculants. Pay attention to how your MCAT and GPA are screened but keep in mind that all scores will show up and that they will all have an unpredictable impact on any admissions decisions made by the school - call or email the school in order to determine how MCAT scores are screened.
- Next I filtered schools by mission statement and made sure that I aligned with their respective missions.
- Next I filtered by letter of recommendation requirements and required course work.
- Keep in mind that the application process can be expensive.
- For osteopathic school selection, use the free Osteopathic Medical College Information Book: (http://www.aacom.org/news-and-events/publications/cib)
- I dedicated enough time to make a compelling personal statement and consulted this post (https://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/depakotes-personal-statement-guide-tips.536199/)
- Entering activity descriptions is controversial but I found useful information here (https://forums.studentdoctor.net/th...-tips-thread-2016-2017.1189311/#post-17545539)
- The number of activities that you can enter in AACOMAS is virtually unlimited compared to AMCAS which only allows you to enter 15 so when deciding, try to make sure that you enter activities that a) were/are truly meaningful to you and b) activities that might demonstrate qualities that are highly sought after by admissions committees
- Put yourself in admission committee members’ shoes. Would you really want to read essays full of fluffy cliches? Wouldn’t you eventually get fed up with the sheer volume of applications that you had to read?
- Only say what needs to be said in a succinct, organized, and eloquent way.
- Do not feel the need to meet character or word limits.
- Use simple language instead of fancy words when possible.
- There might be a delay between the time that you submit your primary AMCAS or AACOMAS applications and when you receive secondary applications. Don’t just wait for secondaries to arrive - secondary prompts rarely change year to year so look up previous year’s prompts using SDN and begin drafting answers while paying attention to character/word limits. Once secondaries are released, you will be prepared for a quick turnaround.
- Sometimes it isn’t possible to pre-write all essays. If this is the case, you should prioritize the schools that you want to attend or the ones in which you think that you have the best chance at. Play to your strengths.
- Prepare to submit your applications early
- Order and send transcripts to AMCAS and/or AACOMAS as soon as possible
- Gathering letters of reference may very well be the rate limiting step of completing a submitted application for a few reasons. For one, you cannot send reference requests until AMCAS opens. If you wait until this time to send requests to professors etc, it is likely that others will have also requested the same and this might delay your progress. To avoid this, I used Interfolio (https://www.interfolio.com) where I was able to request, store, and send letters of reference electronically to both AMCAS and individual D.O. schools. This way, I was able to request letters during quiet times and send them electronically with few delays. An added bonus is that I could use these letters in future application cycles should I have needed to re-apply.
- Preparation is key - know your application well, be prepared to answer questions about personal strengths and weaknesses, and about why you want to get into medicine
- Know about the activities that you were involved with and how they have changed you as a person, or what you have learned from participating. Use specific examples.
- During a traditional interview, you have control over the conversation (for the most part) and you can use this control to touch on a few key points that you want to convey about yourself.
- Some useful resources that I used included:
- The Premed Playbook Guide to the Medical School Interview: Be Prepared, Perform Well, Get Accepted by Ryan Gray
- Multiple Mini Interview (MMI): Winning Strategies From Admissions Faculty by Samir Desai
- Using the SDN “Interview Feedback” section to figure out which questions to expect at different schools
- Canadian banks will only allow up to $250k - $275k CAD loans. Given the exchange rate which sits currently at about 0.77 along with the high tuition rates of ~50k USD per year, plus living expenses, required health insurance, and loan fees (among others), U.S. medical school is very expensive.
- In fact, it is impossible to pay for a U.S. medical education if one were to rely solely on bank loans. I am one of the lucky few who managed to get help elsewhere
- Point is: make sure that you can get access to funds before matriculating.
- Some schools offer scholarships to Canadian matriculants
Reviewing Your Application
- Make calls and send emails to the admissions committees asking for feedback. Even though most schools say that they don’t have the resources to do something like that, I still managed to speak with admissions committee members from multiple schools to help me identify weak areas so that I could improve them in the following year.
- Address your weaknesses before re-applying. This usually (but not always) means foregoing the next application cycle and using that time to improve your application.