Pakora

2+ Year Member
Jan 9, 2017
13
14
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi all -

I just finished my sophomore year at a Canadian school. My MCAT went quite a bit better than expected, and so I've started considering the states. As I think I'd have a pretty good shot at getting into some Canadian schools, and given the high quality of education in Canada and how much more expensive US schools are, it seems to make sense to only consider 'top' US schools where I think it might be worth it to go on the basis of prestige, strength in research, and connections.

Given that I have just started considering US schools, I'm quite unfamiliar with the process, with the things that schools look for, and with what the profile of an accepted student at a top school might look like.

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on how competitive I am for top schools. Also, as I have a full year left before I can apply, I'd like to hear what you think I should focus my time on during my junior year to maximize my chances.

---
Basic Information

cGPA: 4.00
sGPA: 4.00
MCAT: 526 (132/132/130/132)

Residency: Canadian. Not a US Citizen or permanent resident.
Ethnicity: South Asian - so ORM?

Undergraduate School: Local research university, affiliated with medical school. Not a top institution or a top Canadian institution, but a respectable one - think decent state school.

Experiences and Awards
  1. Clinical experience (volunteer and non-volunteer)

    Very limited - next to none beyond shadowing. Much of my research is clinical and I'm working on a clinical trial protocol, if that counts. Also working with a local seniors' care organization to improve their community and resident engagement practices - which could contribute, as it'll likely involve engaging their residents. Clinical experience isn't really emphasized in Canada, so it's not something I've considered much if at all.

  2. Research experience and productivity

    This is one of my strengths. Currently: 3 summers research experience, 2 academic years. 3 2nd-author papers, 1 middle-author. Two presentations at national conferences - one poster, one poster discussion.
    Fingers crossed, will have 2 first author papers by the time I apply. Might have a successful grant application, and possibly plus additional non-1st author papers and presentations.

  3. Shadowing experience and specialties represented

    Limited shadowing experience, confined to family medicine and one internal medicine subspecialty. Looking to do a lot more in my junior year.

  4. Non-clinical volunteering

    Mostly back in high school - but 500 hours leading volunteer groups at various local organizations then.

  5. Other extracurricular activities (including athletics, military service, gap year activities, leadership, teaching, etc)

    Three years leading a national education non-profit with a presence in 5+ cities.
    Helped start, led, and now consult for another large national science education non-profit. Focused on developing programming for disadvantaged students.
    Building a summer research education program at the local medical school.
    Significant mentoring experience - two years, 5+ mentees.
    Paid group facilitation and teaching experience for introductory physics.
    Course construction experience for an online MOOC.
    VP of a club for two years.

  6. Relevant honors or awards

    Full ride to undergrad; other community service and academic scholarships; research studentships. Collectively, about $90k.

School List

For this school list I've constructed, I'm curious whether I'm aiming too high, and if there are schools at the top end that I ought to be considering but am not!

Harvard
Stanford
Hopkins
UCSF
UPenn
Weill Cornell

Possibly:
Columbia
NYU
Yale
Vanderbilt

For MD/PhD: (it's hard to find schools that will fund Canadians!)
Harvard MD/PhD
Tri-I (Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/MSK) MD/PhD
UPenn MD/PhD

Thank you for taking the time to read through - and, for those of you reply, thanks so much in advance for your thoughts.
 
Last edited:

Dox4lyfe

2+ Year Member
Feb 7, 2017
602
482
Holy crap, if you add more clinical shadowing/volunteering this could be the greatest medical school app ever
Not necessarily. I've seen a few very similar apps (near perfect stats and spectacular ECs). But accomplishing this much by end of sophomore year is an amazing feat. Well done OP!

I'd spend junior yr gaining as much clinical experience as possible!

I'll let the experts give you school suggestions since I'm not familiar with how Canadian applicants are seen. @WedgeDawg @Goro @Faha
 
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Pakora

Pakora

2+ Year Member
Jan 9, 2017
13
14
Status
Pre-Medical
Holy crap, if you add more clinical shadowing/volunteering this could be the greatest medical school app ever
Not necessarily. I've seen a few very similar apps (near perfect stats and spectacular ECs). But accomplishing this much by end of sophomore year is an amazing feat. Well done OP!

I'd spend junior yr gaining as much clinical experience as possible!

I'll let the experts give you school suggestions since I'm not familiar with how Canadian applicants are seen. @WedgeDawg @Goro @Faha
You two flatter me! Thanks so much for your thoughts. I agree with both of you that clinical experience is definitely an area that I should focus on this next year.

Would love to hear from @Goro, @WedgeDawg, @Faha, and/or anyone else seeing this if you happen to have the time!
 

cossackdoc

2+ Year Member
Dec 28, 2016
26
32
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi all -

I just finished my sophomore year at a Canadian school. My MCAT went quite a bit better than expected, and so I've started considering the states. As I think I'd have a pretty good shot at getting into some Canadian schools, and given the high quality of education in Canada and how much more expensive US schools are, it seems to make sense to only consider 'top' US schools where I think it might be worth it to go on the basis of prestige, strength in research, and connections.

Given that I have just started considering US schools, I'm quite unfamiliar with the process, with the things that schools look for, and with what the profile of an accepted student at a top school might look like.

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on how competitive I am for top schools. Also, as I have a full year left before I can apply, I'd like to hear what you think I should focus my time on during my junior year to maximize my chances.

---
Basic Information

cGPA: 4.00
sGPA: 4.00
MCAT: 526 (132/132/130/132)

Residency: Canadian. Not a US Citizen or permanent resident.
Ethnicity: South Asian - so ORM?

Undergraduate School: Local research university, affiliated with medical school. Not a top institution or a top Canadian institution, but a respectable one - think decent state school.

Experiences and Awards
  1. Clinical experience (volunteer and non-volunteer)

    Very limited - next to none beyond shadowing. Much of my research is clinical and I'm working on a clinical trial protocol, if that counts. Also working with a local seniors' care organization to improve their community and resident engagement practices - which could contribute, as it'll likely involve engaging their residents. Clinical experience isn't really emphasized in Canada, so it's not something I've considered much if at all.

  2. Research experience and productivity

    This is one of my strengths. Currently: 3 summers research experience, 2 academic years. 3 2nd-author papers, 1 middle-author. Two presentations at national conferences - one poster, one poster discussion.
    Fingers crossed, will have 2 first author papers by the time I apply. Might have a successful grant application, and possibly plus additional non-1st author papers and presentations.

  3. Shadowing experience and specialties represented

    Limited shadowing experience, confined to family medicine and one internal medicine subspecialty. Looking to do a lot more in my junior year.

  4. Non-clinical volunteering

    Mostly back in high school - but 500 hours leading volunteer groups at various local organizations then.

  5. Other extracurricular activities (including athletics, military service, gap year activities, leadership, teaching, etc)

    Three years leading a national education non-profit with a presence in 5+ cities.
    Helped start, led, and now consult for another large national science education non-profit. Focused on developing programming for disadvantaged students.
    Building a summer research education program at the local medical school.
    Significant mentoring experience - two years, 5+ mentees.
    Paid group facilitation and teaching experience for introductory physics.
    Course construction experience for an online MOOC.
    VP of a club for two years.

  6. Relevant honors or awards

    Full ride to undergrad; other community service and academic scholarships; research studentships. Collectively, about $90k.

School List

For this school list I've constructed, I'm curious whether I'm aiming too high, and if there are schools at the top end that I ought to be considering but am not!

Harvard
Stanford
Hopkins
UCSF
UPenn
Weill Cornell

Possibly:
Columbia
NYU
Yale
Vanderbilt

For MD/PhD: (it's hard to find schools that will fund Canadians!)
Harvard MD/PhD
Tri-I (Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/MSK) MD/PhD
UPenn MD/PhD

Thank you for taking the time to read through - and, for those of you reply, thanks so much in advance for your thoughts.
Wow...pretty impressive academics! I have no idea how Canadian applicants might do, but based on your resume, seems like you'd be pick of litter!
 
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efle

not an elf
5+ Year Member
Apr 6, 2014
11,670
15,445
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1) bolster the clinical time. Shadow, clinical volunteering, etc.

2) I'd apply to more like the top dozen or so, unsure if these all take Canadian apps but worthwhile imo if they do:

Johns Hopkins University
Harvard University
University of California—San Francisco
University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)
Stanford University
Washington University in St. Louis
Duke University
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
Columbia University
University of California—Los Angeles (Geffen)
Yale University
Vanderbilt University
Cornell University (Weill)
Northwestern University (Feinberg)

Especially WashU out of the above - they are notoriously focused on high stats so they'll love your 4.0/40+, and they offer at least a dozen full tuition merit scholarships per year.
Similar for Vanderbilt - not as well known by laypersons as some of the other names but very well regarded within medicine, and more importantly very generous with merit aid (most people get offered a merit scholly for ~75% of tuition) and very focused on high stats
Yet again similar for Northwestern - not as well recognized as a name like Yale or Cornell but similarly well regarded in medicine, they like high stats, and they tend to offer full tuition scholarships to recruitment targets

3) Have you already looked into the financial aspect of being an international applicant? My understanding is that because you are not eligible for federal loans, the schools expect you to have huge amounts in the bank at the time of matriculation (like 100k+) so they know you can afford to attend.
 
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Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
53,612
78,838
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
Hi all -
Harvard MD/PhD
Tri-I (Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/MSK) MD/PhD
UPenn MD/PhD

Thank you for taking the time to read through - and, for those of you reply, thanks so much in advance for your thoughts.
IF you can get int the clinical experiences, you'd be a golden candidate for those schools that take internationals. IF the Canadian schools don't take you, then something is very wrong int eh Great White North.
 
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Willy38

you're killin' me smalls
5+ Year Member
Aug 17, 2013
826
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Medical Student
A significant portion of our class at Yale is Canadian. Would def encourage an application here. Best of luck!
 
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Pakora

Pakora

2+ Year Member
Jan 9, 2017
13
14
Status
Pre-Medical
Wow...pretty impressive academics! I have no idea how Canadian applicants might do, but based on your resume, seems like you'd be pick of litter!
Thanks so much for your confidence, @cossackdoc !

1) bolster the clinical time. Shadow, clinical volunteering, etc.

2) I'd apply to more like the top dozen or so, unsure if these all take Canadian apps but worthwhile imo if they do:

Johns Hopkins University
Harvard University
University of California—San Francisco
University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)
Stanford University
Washington University in St. Louis
Duke University
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
Columbia University
University of California—Los Angeles (Geffen)
Yale University
Vanderbilt University
Cornell University (Weill)
Northwestern University (Feinberg)

Especially WashU out of the above - they are notoriously focused on high stats so they'll love your 4.0/40+, and they offer at least a dozen full tuition merit scholarships per year.
Similar for Vanderbilt - not as well known by laypersons as some of the other names but very well regarded within medicine, and more importantly very generous with merit aid (most people get offered a merit scholly for ~75% of tuition) and very focused on high stats
Yet again similar for Northwestern - not as well recognized as a name like Yale or Cornell but similarly well regarded in medicine, they like high stats, and they tend to offer full tuition scholarships to recruitment targets

3) Have you already looked into the financial aspect of being an international applicant? My understanding is that because you are not eligible for federal loans, the schools expect you to have huge amounts in the bank at the time of matriculation (like 100k+) so they know you can afford to attend.
@efle, thanks for the detailed and thoughtful response. Agree that the clinical time could use some work! I especially appreciate your school suggestions.

Complicating my choice slightly is my confidence that I could be accepted into a good Canadian school. To be worth it to attend a US institution, it would have to be tangibly better than my home institution in some way. Do any particular advantages of attending a top US school come to mind for you?

And yes, I've looked into the financials of this a bit. Between student lines of credit, money I've saved up from work and scholarships, and some parental support, I think it'd be manageable. I'd ideally be seeking out schools which are willing to offer me merit-based aid.

IF you can get int the clinical experiences, you'd be a golden candidate for those schools that take internationals. IF the Canadian schools don't take you, then something is very wrong int eh Great White North.
@Goro, thanks for your thoughts! Absolutely do need to work on clinical time, but a plan for that is starting to come together. I do think that I have a great shot at Canadian schools, which is what is complicating my choice to consider the US - that school would have to be worth it over my home institution, where I have a strong personal and professional base, and they are also generally quite a bit more expensive. What particular advantages of studying for my MD at a top US institution would come to mind for you?

A significant portion of our class at Yale is Canadian. Would def encourage an application here. Best of luck!
@Willy38, thanks for the insider information! Do you know about how many of your classmates are Canadian - that is, do you have a number or percentage estimate? I'd also be interested in hearing more about how you've found your experience at Yale so far, if you happen to have a chance!
 

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
53,612
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Somewhere west of St. Louis
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@Goro, thanks for your thoughts! Absolutely do need to work on clinical time, but a plan for that is starting to come together. I do think that I have a great shot at Canadian schools, which is what is complicating my choice to consider the US - that school would have to be worth it over my home institution, where I have a strong personal and professional base, and they are also generally quite a bit more expensive. What particular advantages of studying for my MD at a top US institution would come to mind for you?

Chances are greater for residency at better programs; research opportunities are better; networking is better
 
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NotASerialKiller

2+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2015
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Complicating my choice slightly is my confidence that I could be accepted into a good Canadian school. To be worth it to attend a US institution, it would have to be tangibly better than my home institution in some way.
It's really not a matter of "better" schools, it's where you want to practice. If you want to stay in Canada, you'd be putting yourself at a disadvantage applying for residency in Canada regardless of whether or not you went to a top US school. If you go to med school in Canada you can still take the USMLE, but I imagine it wouldn't be ideal that you didn't spend your clinical years at US hospitals. I suspect just because of the number of spots (if you do well on the USMLE as well) it'd be a bit easier to go Canada-->US than US-->Canada, for residency anyway.

Also keep in mind that your application is great, but you're definitely not guaranteed to get in your first cycle in Canada. You'll almost certain get some interviews, but it still greatly depends on how you interview. So because the US system seems to frown upon reapplicants, make sure that you don't put yourself in a position where you get into a US school but get waitlisted in Canada, unless you're completely certain you'd just go to the States. If you get close but don't get in your first cycle in Canada, you may want to give it another try for cheaper tuition and an easier path to stay in non-Tumpland.

With your application I'd be shocked if you didn't get in here within a couple cycles, but remember 4.0s are turned away all the time. Your MCAT is more impressive, in my opinion, but several of Canada's few schools either don't look at it or don't use it post-interview, so just be careful that you aren't assuming that you'll get in first try even with rockstar stats. You want to think carefully about where you want to live long-term and when to apply to the US.

I'm a Canadian med student FYI
 
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Willy38

you're killin' me smalls
5+ Year Member
Aug 17, 2013
826
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Medical Student
Thanks so much for your confidence, @cossackdoc !



@efle, thanks for the detailed and thoughtful response. Agree that the clinical time could use some work! I especially appreciate your school suggestions.

Complicating my choice slightly is my confidence that I could be accepted into a good Canadian school. To be worth it to attend a US institution, it would have to be tangibly better than my home institution in some way. Do any particular advantages of attending a top US school come to mind for you?

And yes, I've looked into the financials of this a bit. Between student lines of credit, money I've saved up from work and scholarships, and some parental support, I think it'd be manageable. I'd ideally be seeking out schools which are willing to offer me merit-based aid.



@Goro, thanks for your thoughts! Absolutely do need to work on clinical time, but a plan for that is starting to come together. I do think that I have a great shot at Canadian schools, which is what is complicating my choice to consider the US - that school would have to be worth it over my home institution, where I have a strong personal and professional base, and they are also generally quite a bit more expensive. What particular advantages of studying for my MD at a top US institution would come to mind for you?



@Willy38, thanks for the insider information! Do you know about how many of your classmates are Canadian - that is, do you have a number or percentage estimate? I'd also be interested in hearing more about how you've found your experience at Yale so far, if you happen to have a chance!
Happy to talk more about the wonderful experience I've had here. As far as numbers go, I'd say something like 15 so 15% of our class is from Canada. We have other internationals too.
 
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Pakora

Pakora

2+ Year Member
Jan 9, 2017
13
14
Status
Pre-Medical
Chances are greater for residency at better programs; research opportunities are better; networking is better
Thanks, @Goro. All of this seems to optimize for career success down the road, so I'll need to clearly define my career goals to decide whether those advantages are worth it.

It's really not a matter of "better" schools, it's where you want to practice. If you want to stay in Canada, you'd be putting yourself at a disadvantage applying for residency in Canada regardless of whether or not you went to a top US school. If you go to med school in Canada you can still take the USMLE, but I imagine it wouldn't be ideal that you didn't spend your clinical years at US hospitals. I suspect just because of the number of spots (if you do well on the USMLE as well) it'd be a bit easier to go Canada-->US than US-->Canada, for residency anyway.

Also keep in mind that your application is great, but you're definitely not guaranteed to get in your first cycle in Canada. You'll almost certain get some interviews, but it still greatly depends on how you interview. So because the US system seems to frown upon reapplicants, make sure that you don't put yourself in a position where you get into a US school but get waitlisted in Canada, unless you're completely certain you'd just go to the States. If you get close but don't get in your first cycle in Canada, you may want to give it another try for cheaper tuition and an easier path to stay in non-Tumpland.

With your application I'd be shocked if you didn't get in here within a couple cycles, but remember 4.0s are turned away all the time. Your MCAT is more impressive, in my opinion, but several of Canada's few schools either don't look at it or don't use it post-interview, so just be careful that you aren't assuming that you'll get in first try even with rockstar stats. You want to think carefully about where you want to live long-term and when to apply to the US.

I'm a Canadian med student FYI
@NotASerialKiller, appreciate your thoughts. Could you elaborate on why going to a top US school would disadvantage an application to a Canadian residency? My impression was that Canadian citizens who graduate from a LCME-accredited school, be it in Canada or the US, still match in the first CARMS iteration.

My top choice in Canada would be one of our three-year schools, and I've heard it's quite a bit more difficult to write the USMLE at one of those schools, further complicating things. I'm also not sure what it looks like to practice in the US after completing a Canadian residency or vice versa. All of this emphasizes that I do really need to think more about where I'd like to practice and my career goals.

You're right - I definitely shouldn't get ahead of myself in assuming I'd get in here. You know just how competitive it is, and I've heard myself and had friends go through the process. While my stats give me a good shot, and I tend to interview alright, that's far from a guarantee. I'd only want to apply to US schools where I'd prefer to go over Canadian schools, which might mitigate the situation you're mentioning.

Happy to talk more about the wonderful experience I've had here. As far as numbers go, I'd say something like 15 so 15% of our class is from Canada. We have other internationals too.
@Willy38, thanks for the info! I've sent you a PM.
 

NotASerialKiller

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Jul 7, 2015
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@NotASerialKiller, appreciate your thoughts. Could you elaborate on why going to a top US school would disadvantage an application to a Canadian residency? My impression was that Canadian citizens who graduate from a LCME-accredited school, be it in Canada or the US, still match in the first CARMS iteration.

My top choice in Canada would be one of our three-year schools, and I've heard it's quite a bit more difficult to write the USMLE at one of those schools, further complicating things. I'm also not sure what it looks like to practice in the US after completing a Canadian residency or vice versa. All of this emphasizes that I do really need to think more about where I'd like to practice and my career goals.

You're right - I definitely shouldn't get ahead of myself in assuming I'd get in here. You know just how competitive it is, and I've heard myself and had friends go through the process. While my stats give me a good shot, and I tend to interview alright, that's far from a guarantee. I'd only want to apply to US schools where I'd prefer to go over Canadian schools, which might mitigate the situation you're mentioning.
Yes you're first match CaRMS, but you haven't been to any of the hospitals/programs you'd be applying to. It's not lethal, but you have a much better chance at a competitive program if you did an elective there so they already know you (or did an elective at a hospital in that province with staff they know and can call). On top of that they might be less inclined to take a US grad who hasn't been learning in the Canadian system. When there are only a few spots, someone they worked with who impressed them is a hell of a lot more appealing than an unknown Harvard grad. Not insurmountable issues at all, but if you decide on an especially competitive specialty like ortho... well you don't need any additional barriers, especially self-inflicted ones. That plus the much higher tuition means that you'd have to have a pretty compelling reason to want to study in the US to make it worth it. I'm not sure what would be involved in staying in the US either, you'd have to ask around to find out how easy that is for a non-citizen.
 
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Pakora

Pakora

2+ Year Member
Jan 9, 2017
13
14
Status
Pre-Medical
Yes you're first match CaRMS, but you haven't been to any of the hospitals/programs you'd be applying to. It's not lethal, but you have a much better chance at a competitive program if you did an elective there so they already know you (or did an elective at a hospital in that province with staff they know and can call). On top of that they might be less inclined to take a US grad who hasn't been learning in the Canadian system. When there are only a few spots, someone they worked with who impressed them is a hell of a lot more appealing than an unknown Harvard grad. Not insurmountable issues at all, but if you decide on an especially competitive specialty like ortho... well you don't need any additional barriers, especially self-inflicted ones. That plus the much higher tuition means that you'd have to have a pretty compelling reason to want to study in the US to make it worth it. I'm not sure what would be involved in staying in the US either, you'd have to ask around to find out how easy that is for a non-citizen.
@NotASerialKiller - great points! It seems like it might be a bit pointless to study towards a MD in the US if I plan to return to Canada for residency and beyond, especially given what you've mentioned and the strong quality of education here. There are cases in which it might make sense, if I want to stay down south or pursue research training there. Much of what this thread has taught me is that I'm in for some serious introspection about my future.
 
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