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Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by zeppelinpage4, Sep 27, 2011.
Please refer to my most recent post, as I am reviving this thread rather than making a new one.
Your research, leadership, artistic involvement look good.
You've correctly assessed your weaknesses:
1) Ideally, you would be applying in the early summer of 2012 (June), so waiting until then to do your shadowing isn't a good idea, since you want it on your application. Since it's fine to do this by putting in many hours in a short timeframe, why not get it done over fall, winter, and spring breaks as much as possible? Include a primary care doctor. Observing surgeries is fun, but gives you no idea of physician-patient interaction. About 50 total hours is average, split among 2-3 specialties.
2) Same problem for volunteering in the summer. It needs to be done by early summer so your application gets the best consideration. It is not desirable to do a lot of hours in a short time, as the longevity is more important than total hours. About 1.5 years of clinical experience is the average listed, for a total of 150 hours. Get as close to those numbers as you can, and continue to gain clinical experience after submitting, so you can discuss it in future update letters, which will boost your chances. And also it will give you a much better shot if you end up reapplying.
Planning to re-engage with your home hospital as mentioned is a good plan, but you need some regular weekly volunteering now, unless waiting an additional year to apply is OK with you. Surely you can fit 2-3 hours a week at the hospice into your schedule? I'd start now. (A bit less sleep won't hurt you.)
You didn't discuss Teaching (includes coaching, TA, tutoring, mentoring), but possibly you can mention that element, if applicable, in relation to one of your Arts activities? I also don't see any service to the poor (nonmedical community service). These catagories aren't required, but the more well-rounded you are, the more likely a weakness will be overlooked.
Hobbies, no matter how mundane, should be mentioned as well.
Merged related threads.
Thank you so much Catalystik, I will try my best to follow through with your post.
If I did.
1) Sign up with the Hospice ASAP and start putting 2-3 hours a week over the next two semesters.
2) Volunteer at my home hospital over winter break
3) Shadow a primary care doctor over winter break and try to get another specialty during Spring break.
I should be okay for clinical volunteering?
The music club I head is a school guitar/stringed instrument club. We organize and play at on campus events, but I also teach newcomers how to play guitar. Would this count as teaching?
I received offers to be a personal science tutor through the school, but I do not know if I can handle that commitment. Would risking a small drop in grades be worth it to do this? Or is teaching guitar okay too?
I always wanted to tutor, but I put my grades and classes as top priority in my first two years. But now I want to focus on the rest of my application. Also is one semester of tutoring before I apply sufficient, if I do follow through with it? I might not be able to do it until Spring classes begin if I apply to be a tutor now.
I would hope to continue all of these activities into my senior year either way.
a) You will be much closer to the norm if you get all that done before applying. Continuing during the application year will be reasuring to adcomms. What was your job in the hospital in the HS years that you refer to in the post that now appears in the #1 position?
b) Absolutely. How many semesters have you taught guitar?
d) If the guitar teaching is of greater longevity, stick with that. If you had time for something else, I'd rather see it go to some service to the poor, than a second teaching activity.
Hi Catalystik sorry for the late reply. I wanted to post once I got some of the activities in order.
I got the application for the Hospice together and submitted this week, so I am hoping to start once they call me back. I also contacted the hospital at home and they said that they would let me volunteer at the same ED over winter break.
a) My hospital job was in medical records for a vascular surgery office. I also did various office tasks like filing and organizing papers as needed. It was not clinical, but I felt like I got to experience another side of medicine and get an idea of the administrative aspects involved. I stopped working their once I reached college, and focused on shadowing surgeons to try and see the medical side of things the following summer.
b) I started the guitar club spring of my freshman year. Being a junior, this is my fourth semester running the club. I taught as needed, but most of my time in the club was spent organizing events and leading the meetings rather than teaching. The other officers taught usually. So I'd guess maybe teaching once a month for more than two years.
d) Your comment just reminded me of a volunteer opportunity I have wanted to participate in since my freshman year, but never could make the time for it as it's a bigger commitment. There is a local organization that teaches piano/guitar to kids who cannot afford to buy instruments/receive music lessons. I've kept contact with the organizer over the years and was planning to teach guitar for them as a senior. If I could contact him now and they have a position open for me. Could this fulfill the role of both teaching and community service?
I just feel like this would be perfect for me if I could get the position, since I could give back by teaching/playing what I enjoy.
Thanks so much again Catalystik, please let me know if I would be okay with the Hospice and hospital volunteering. I will let you know if I can get the position as a guitar teacher too.
It's nice to see your plan shaping up and moving forward.
a) I agree this was valuable experience. I'd try to work mention of it into the PS somehow.
d) Yes, it would be teaching and community service, and further, it carries through a music theme in your ECs, which is nice to see.
e) I am feeling more satisfied about what you'll have to list on your application. I hope you will continue with the hospice after you submit, so as to mention it in update letters, in case any adcomms would feel you needed more clinical exposure.
Hi Catalystik, I just finished my semester and wanted to give you an update of how my plans went.
I managed to get that position as a volunteer guitar teacher. However, getting the practices set up and arranging times for my student took several weeks. So I was only able to get two guitar lessons in with him this Fall. I hope to continue it this spring however, and hopefully will get a lot more lessons in because I can start as soon as I get to school and meet with him weekly.
Also, I was chosen among four students by my college to apply for the Goldwater scholarship. I got more involved with my research and have had to put some of my extra time into working on the scholarship application and writing the Goldwater paper. Even if I do not get the scholarship, would it be worth mentioning that I was selected by my school to apply for it, because only four get picked from the entire campus?
I am applying to some research programs for this summer, as I really seem to enjoy that and have been getting more involved with research I'm doing now.
The guitar club I am an officer for also held an open mic night which the other officers and I set up. This took a lot of time as the vice president and I did most of the work involved in getting the event going. We obtained grants to fund it, arranged for food, handled advertising, got performers, and set up the venue for it.
I also got signed up with the Hospice and attended the training session. However, I was going through some emotional issues mid semester and with all the other things going on, plus my classes, and the dance team I just couldn't handle it and did not volunteer there.
I know this extra clinical volunteering would have helped a lot, but I was incredibly overloaded and a little uncomfortable with the environment at the Hospice. I was dealing with a lot of stress as is and it was affecting my health, so with all that combined I felt that I was not emotionally able to deal with the heavy nature of Hospices. I want to try volunteering on occasions this spring if I can, but I honestly do not know if I can emotionally handle being there. And if I do go, it might be irregularly.
But I am returning to volunteering at the emergency department at my home hospital. I will be starting next week and volunteering about 10 hours weekly over this winter break.
Last thing, I did volunteer at that same hospital back in 10th grade of high school before I worked their. I did not get to do nearly as much I do now, because i was a junior volunteer, but should I add those 40 hours to the volunteering i have now? Or should I ignore it because it is from high school?
Most of the meaningful experiences I've had were from this past summer. I'm just really worried about my seemingly lack of clinical experience. I don't have many hours, but I really feel like I've had some meaningful experiences to talk about that have helped strengthen my desire to pursue medicine. The strongest one involving my own experience as a patient who had to go through this same ER a year ago. I just haven't done clinical work during my semesters because of my other involvements and commitments at the school and I do not feel quite ready for the Hospice.
I contacted my primary care physician as well, and he told me he is willing to let me come in and shadow him for a day.
So going into the Spring semester, how do I look? Academically I was surprised to find that my grades were stellar this semester, my cum GPA went up to a 3.89 and my science GPA is around 3.86 I think. Despite the grades, I was pushed to my limits with ECs and school work this semester and I am really trying my best.
Thanks again Catalystik, I appreciate any insight you could give me.
1) You could mention this under Honors and Awards or at the end of the Research entry.
2) This makes the leadership component much beefier than just participating in meetings. Good.
4) You can include the HS hours in the same listing, making the dates clear, since it is a continuation of the same activity (more or less). Rather than listing hours/week, you'd list the total hours for each date span, since there is such a huge gap in time between them.
Since the hospice is to intense for you right now, is there a local nursing home by your school youmight consider? They are usually easier to get into (no training needed) and there are many levels of care provided that you might participate in.
You could also consider submitting your primary application at the end of June when you'd be able to list more hours at the hospital. I don't think this woulds seriously decrease your chances, considering your excellent stats.
5) Excellent. And maybe if your presence is not too intrusive, you will be invited back to watch further with your doc or even a partner, over winter or spring break.
6) Well done.
Thank you so much Catalystik, I do hope I can get invited back to do more shadowing. It has finally hit me that I will be applying, and I really want to make sure this is right for me.
As for nursing homes, unfortunately all we have is the Hospice near my college. A few friends of mine work at a community health clinic a little further away, but I only found out about it several weeks ago and I do not know exactly what they do or how regular the hours are.
If I can, I will give it a try, and maybe I can go back to the Hospice on occasions. It is uncertain at the moment as to what I will be able to do, but I'll try to do what I can with these opportunities at my school. Even if I can make it once or twice the whole semester, I might gain some personal experience from it. For sure though, I will take your advice and continue work in the hospital emergency department when I am home. Hopefully I can volunteer there again between May and early June. If I do summer research, I might need to stop volunteering at the end of May, but I will see how things go.
Many thanks, and I really appreciated a link to that excel spreadsheet you posted in my other thread. I will try to follow your advice as best as I can, and hopefully I'll be ready to apply.
Oops one more thing I wanted to ask about.
My MCAT is really uneven and I know my verbal is quite low. Should I mention that English is my second language as an explanation for the 8 VR?
I'm afraid to mention this because, my family moved to the U.S. when I was 5 years old, and Bengali is my first language. But I was fluent in English by the age of 7 and had little to no issues with English by the time I entered the third grade. I still speak Bengali fluently, but if anyone heard me speak English they wouldn't know I learned it second as I have no accent or speaking issues. So I almost feel that it would seem like I'm using it as an excuse and that I'm not truly what an admissions committee would consider to be ESL.
It may have affected my reading, since I have always been a pretty slow reader and needed an extra summer to work on reading with my teachers back when I was learning English/reading. However, I have had no communication issues and I seem to do great in writing and paper based classes in college. So I feel like it would come off as an invalid excuse for me to say that, rather than a valid explanation for my 8.
If you had moved to the US 3-5 years ago, ESL as an excuse might help you. Your birthplace will be evident from your application and I feel that calling more attention to the issue won't help you beyond that. On the plus side, an 8 is not a deal killer at many schools. Keep in mind that all schools don't regard the subscores. Also, there are schools with a bottom tenth percentile of 7 (though not many taking OOSers).
Thanks Catalystik, I won't draw attention to the verbal or mention anything about ESL.
I tried really hard to find schools with bottom tenth percentile of 7, but the lowest I can find for northeast schools have 8 VR as the bottom tenth. Are there any north east schools that you know of that have the 7 VR in the bottom tenth?
I have a list made right now but all my schools have 8VR or 9VR in the bottom tenth percentile. If a school lists 9VR for the bottom tenth percentile, should I automatically consider it a reach because my verbal is below their bottom tenth? Or would my 13 PS and 13BS be able to counter that? My cumulative is 40th-70th percentile for a lot of these schools, but most of them have 9VR at the bottom tenth.
Appreciate the insight, and Merry Christmas!
1) I usually suggest adding UIC and RFU. EVMS and Commonwealth in Pa don't look at subscores. FIU and oakland put more emphasis on composite. Look for more like those.
2) Probably. Sometimes. A difficulty is that you don't know for sure how schools will view your 8 (unless you call and ask or their website indicates a sharp cutoff), so just apply broadly, and include schools where you're a good fit in every other way.
Thank you, looks like I'll just need to hope for the best.
I will try to see if I can add Rosalind Franklin to my list.
Do you think I would be at a large disadvantage if I applied to UIC, EVMS, Virginia Commonwealth, FIU, and Oakland because they are all public schools and being from NY I would considered an OOS applicant?
From that google chart, you can see that all have a OOS acceptance rate of > 15% which is my personal cutpoint for "OOS friendly". UIC is appallingly expensive for OOSers, so be aware of that.
Sounds good, I was unsure about where to place my cut off point, but that really opens up the number of schools I can apply to.
Thanks so much for the help Catalystik. If it's alright, I might post a new thread up in the next couple days with my initial list and updated ECs. I'd like to know what you think.
If you want to be sure I see it (before I go on an away mission for two weeks), I suggest updating this old thread instead. It's easier to get a full picture when the back story is readily available.
Sounds good I'll try to post the list I have right now.
Ideally, I want to narrow this down to 20 schools so that I can do the secondaries. But I'd be glad to know if you think I should apply to more or less than that. All of these reported verbal scores of either 8, or 9 in the bottom 10th percentile.
Albany Medical College
SUNY Stony Brook
University of Buffalo
University of Vermont
Common Wealth at Pa
University of Rochester
University of Illinois
Many thanks =]
Columbia seems a bit reachy for you, but I'm not against including a dream school or two, especially if your research is of the substantive quality that a top research school would find appealing. Mayo seems unlikely, considering their mission statement and your current paucity of "service". And Commonwealth seeks to train docs who would practive in rural Pa, so if you are OK with that, be sure to get in some rural shadowing, unless you grew up in a rural area. You might include the NJ schools if they are close to home. Even though it looks like they are not OOS friendly on paper, if you are a NYer, I have heard you are looked on as sorta in-state-ish. And personally, if I were you, I'd include RFU.
Thank you Catalystik, that's really good to know.
I wanted to apply to NJ but felt that being OOS would automatically keep me out. I will try to fit the NJ schools in also.
I'll have to consider the rural medicine emphasis, at this point it's something I'd be interested in but I haven't given it much thought, so I might remove commonwealth.
RFU, I definitely will add. I originally had it on my list but I guess I forgot to paste it.
I wanted to have one or two reach schools, I know my verbal will probably hurt a lot. But I thought my cumulative MCAT, high GPA, and research background might make it worth applying at the least.
Just out of curiosity, I had given some thought to MD/PhD programs due to my research interests, but with my stats, I felt like I would be uncompetitive for these and risk not getting accepted anywhere.
I am happy with either so long as I am a doctor at the end, but do you think I could try applying to the MD/PhD programs of some of these schools?
Also, I've wanted to apply to UNC Chapel Hill for a long time, my stats seem to fit it okay. But I don't know if I would suit their mission, or if they are more community service oriented or research oriented. Plus they seem to give a lot of preference to in state students.
I don't consider MD/PhD programs to be my area of expertise, but I've seen someone with stats like yours get into the UIC MD/PhD program in Urbana. I'm sure that other non top-twenty programs would also greet you with open arms. You might poke about in the Physician Scientist Forum and see what you can find.
Edit: Just to add: your weaker volunteerism would not be an issue for MD/PhD programs.
Sounds good, I'll lurk around in those forums and see what I can find. Perhaps my stronger research background would help for those programs if volunteerism isn't as big of an issue.
Hi Catalystik and all other users. =]
I was going to make a new thread, but thought it would be better to just revive my old one. I have made a new list of schools (~22) and need some guidance.
Update on my stats as of this semester.
cGPA: 3.89 sGPA: 3.84 if I calculated right...
MCAT: 13PS/8VR/13BS (34Q)
ECs: You can refer to my first few posts for details of them, but in short...
-Hospital volunteering, mostly in ED (126 hours) I volunteered one summer in high school, and got most of my hours over the summer and winter breaks in college
-Worked as a temp in the same hospital for two summers in high school.
-Volunteered at a Hospice this semester at school (18 hours). I got over my anxiety about it and hope to continue this, as it turned out to be quite meaningful for me. Probably will be a meaningful experience on my app.
-Observed various surgeries one summer at the same hospital (maybe ~20 hours? )
-Shadowed my pediatrician for a day (doesn't seem like much, but I was by his side the entire time and learned/saw quite a bit) He didn't invite me back though, so this is about all I have.
-Founder and President of a guitar club (2.5 years) I officially stepped down, to allow for new younger officers, and so I can help the club transition. This will be my most meaningful experience.
-Volunteer guitar teacher for a local community camp for families that might not be able to afford lessons. I really got to know my student and his family well (once a week for one semester, hope to continue)
-Competitive Dance Team (2 years), lots of time goes into this but I love it. Definitely another meaningful experience.
-Directed Study/Independent Research (2 years, and going) I presented two posters at our school, and applied for grants to fund it each year.
-Goldwater Nominee for my campus (only 4 selected, but I ended up not winning the scholarship)
-I'll hopefully be doing 10 weeks of research for an REU this summer
-Orgo I tutor in the Fall
-Picking up a second research project with mitochondria my senior year
So, I would like to get some opinions on the current list I have. Specifically, if there's any that are not OOS friendly, or would reject me flat out for my low verbal. Also I think I have too many reach schools.
Definitely prefer to stay in northeast, with Ohio, and some reach schools being an exception.
Sticking to MD programs for the time being, but want to go with more research heavy schools. Or at least ones that tend to favor research.
If it helps for verbal, I've taken a 200 level English, as well as a writing seminar and two western civ classes, all of which I got As in. My English professor has also offered to be one of my letter writers. I honestly think the 8 is not representative, but I don't want to retake.
Albany Medical College
New York Medical College
SUNY Stony Brook
University of Vermont
New Jersey Medical College
University of Rochester
Hopefully, you have gone trhough each of the Reach schools' websites looking for evidence of firm subscore cutoffs.
I've been trying, but the websites haven't been too helpful in suggesting a cutoff. Just some averages. They all list VR of 9 as the bottom 10th percentile in the MSAR though. I plan to call them tomorrow and ask if any have a strict cut off below 9.
I can let you know what they say after I call the offices.
However, assuming they don't screen out my 8 immediately and the app gets looked at, do you think it would be worth applying to these? Or am I aiming too high?
I wanted to add some of the schools you suggested to me earlier, but I don't know if I want to go to the Midwest or too far south. Unless, it was a really good school.
I do think some of your choices are unrealistic, but if you don't try, you won't get in. And some just want to be able to say that they tried. My advice tends to be fiscally conservative, as most applicants don't have application dollars to spend on dreams. If you can afford them (and their Secondary fees), then by all means, help to boost the American economy. I will admit, that occasionally it pays off.
Thanks for the honest opinion Catalystik.
I definitely don't expect anything from the high reach schools, but I wanted to give it a try.
Also, I called Albert Einstein, University of Rochester, and Ohio State, all of whom told me I would not be immediately screened out, but looked at even with the low verbal (it'll depend on whether my other activities and GPA are enough to make up for it). Would these be unrealistic as well?
I am more concerned about my match schools as those are the ones I hope to get acceptances from. Would having twelve be sufficient?
All of those schools have verbal scores with 8 in the bottom 10th percentile.
1) I think those are reasonable.
2) I should think so.
Great, thanks so much for the continual guidance. I know it's impossible to make any predictions from this process, but I really appreciate the feedback.
Gonna hope for the best.
Hey Catalystik, I had a quick question.
The hospital temp job I held for two summers in high school. Would it be better to leave that out of my AMCAS since it was a high school activity? I presumed it was okay, but I've been reading that anything from high school should be left out of the application.
There's no AMCAS rules about whether you can include HS activities, it's just that adcomms are unlikely to consider them, so why waste the space on something that doesn't enhance your appeal. An exception would be when you continue the activity into the college years. What did you do exactly when you were a "temp"?
My first summer, I worked in medical records, mostly putting patient records together and organizing them.
The second summer, I organized older office files and bills.
Truthfully it wasn't very meaningful, but it gave me some exposure to the administrative side of medicine.
I didn't continue the temp job after high school, but I observed surgeries there my first summer in college, and I volunteered at the same hospital my second summer in college. So it might show some continuity with me returning to the same hospital each summer, but not with the job itself.
I have 12 activities total right now, but my only clinical experience is hospital volunteering over the summer, hospice volunteering over last semester, one day of shadowing, three weeks of observing surgeries, and two days shadowing/helping my ophthalmologist uncle in Bangladesh. So it might look like I'm padding my application with the temp job.
Do you have room in one of the the spaces where you discuss the other positions you held at that hospital where you could just slip it in? Alternatively (and better), you could fit it into your PS somehow.
I considered the PS, but I don't think my work there was significant enough to put in there.
I definitely have room to mention it in the section where I talked about observing surgeries though.
I could just change the activity title from "Observing Vascular surgeries" to "Vascular Office/ Surgery Observation".
Would that be a better alternative?
I think that's fine. But maybe you'd want to include the word "Shadowing" in the title so that element isn't overlooked. Like, "Shadowed Vascular Surgeons/Vascular Office Clerical Worker," maybe.
Thanks Catalystik! Sorry it took a while to update, I finally got hold of my contact for the activity.
Now I have one activity, with both my clerical work, and my shadowing under it.
If you don't mind, I used the exact title that you suggested. It works well.
I see that you've listed three very nice acceptances on your MDApps profile. Congratulations.