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Jan 27, 2010
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I would like to offer advice to California residents applying to medical school, or to anyone applying to a California medical school.

After following threads on this forum for a while I am aware that some people who comment regularly here are quite skeptical about the credibility of anyone who claims to be a medical school administrator.

That in itself, I believe, is a good reason for an administrator to weigh in on issues that concern so many of you. I think you could use some frank commentary from someone who is responsible for judging your applications.

I have served on the admissions committee of a California medical school for the last twelve years. I currently serve as one of the deans in our clinical education program and recently authored a book about going to medical school. I believe I am very well aware of the dynamics of medical school admissions in general, and California issues in particular.

I welcome your questions and will do my best to keep up. My job is quite consuming and I have young children, which might explain why a day or so might go by without a response from me. But I'll try.

California residents in general are up against odds that do not pertain to residents of other states. I want to help you understand those odds and put your best applications forward.
 
Dec 30, 2009
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I would like to offer advice to California residents applying to medical school, or to anyone applying to a California medical school.

After following threads on this forum for a while I am aware that some people who comment regularly here are quite skeptical about the credibility of anyone who claims to be a medical school administrator.

That in itself, I believe, is a good reason for an administrator to weigh in on issues that concern so many of you. I think you could use some frank commentary from someone who is responsible for judging your applications.

I have served on the admissions committee of a California medical school for the last twelve years. I currently serve as one of the deans in our clinical education program and recently authored a book about going to medical school. I believe I am very well aware of the dynamics of medical school admissions in general, and California issues in particular.

I welcome your questions and will do my best to keep up. My job is quite consuming and I have young children, which might explain why a day or so might go by without a response from me. But I'll try.

California residents in general are up against odds that do not pertain to residents of other states. I want to help you understand those odds and put your best applications forward.
Could you elaborate? Thank you. :)
 

JaggerPlate

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Could you elaborate? Thank you. :)
CA's state schools are kind of absurd. Places like UCLA and UCSF have average matric MCATs of 35-36ish and very, very low acceptance rates, and because of this, CA applicants don't have that state school luck that many in other states do. Because of this, CA applicants usually end up applying to a lot of schools out of state, but are usually pretty competitive applicants.
 

hopefulCC

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CA's state schools are kind of absurd. Places like UCLA and UCSF have average matric MCATs of 35-36ish and very, very low acceptance rates, and because of this, CA applicants don't have that state school luck that many in other states do. Because of this, CA applicants usually end up applying to a lot of schools out of state, but are usually pretty competitive applicants.

Yeah, I hate that CA is so competitive. I went to a pretty "cut-throat" undergrad university full of pre-meds (or pre-law students) and it totally wrecked my GPA. :(
 

hopefulCC

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Doctor School-

Since CA schools are so competitive to get into, how difficult would it be to come back for residency after going out of state for med school? I know there are a lot of factors that need to be accounted for, but is it VERY difficult? Western U is my #1 choice, but if it doesn't work out... I'd like to mentally prepare myself. :p

If it helps you address the question- I have my heart set on primary care (family medicine).

Thanks for your time and insight!
 

JaggerPlate

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Yeah, I hate that CA is so competitive. I went to a pretty "cut-throat" undergrad university full of pre-meds (or pre-law students) and it totally wrecked my GPA. :(
Yup ... I went to a sister school, a few hours North, known for the exact same thing. I feel your pain. My advice - rock the MCAT. Even though UC's are a pain in the ass ... you learn from the best and it helps during prep.
 

DbDan

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Yup ... I went to a sister school, a few hours North, known for the exact same thing. I feel your pain. My advice - rock the MCAT. Even though UC's are a pain in the ass ... you learn from the best and it helps during prep.
Agreed.

To Doctor School,

In your opinion how favorable do California admissions committees look upon performance in Special Masters Programs. Essentially, in your opinion, what do you consider the best way to recover from a poor undergraduate performance or do Ca residents even stand a chance?
 
Jan 27, 2010
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JaggerPlate has it exactly right, in a nutshell. Around 4500 residents apply each year to a maximum of about 800 allopathic seats, including those at the three private programs. The two DO programs offer about 270 more seats and both programs are keenly interested in California residents. But even at that the ratios are way worse than those in other states. From an ADCOM perspective the reason is clear. It is not a dearth of seats relative to the state population. It is the unusual strength (as measured quantitatively) of first and second generation immigrant applicants. California has a large pool of well-qualified applicants relative to the pools of other states.

On the question of coming back for residency, California primary care residencies are fairly eclectic in terms of where their matched candidates went to medical school. One of the most prestigious unopposed family medicine residencies in the country is the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency (I think you will get there just by using those terms in Google). You will see from their roster that their residents come from everywhere, both MD and DO. [Just as a point of clarity, 'unopposed' means that no other primary care fields have a residency in those same facilities, and thus family medicine doctors provide all primary care patient contact.]

According to the 2008 data, of the approximately 280 MD family medicine residency positions in CA, 46 went to DO students and 33 went to foreign medical grads. If you seek a DO residency the matching issues are quite different and both more favorable but less desirable compared to what the unopposed MD programs offer. Key to matching in general, no matter the field or state, is to develop the clinical skills that resonate with the specific PROGRAM. Residency websites are extremely thorough about what skills they value and what they are looking for in their residents. It is no accident that you can see pictures of the residents on virtually every site.

On the question of special masters programs or poor undergraduate performance, your best hedge is to show that you are peaking at the time of your application. We look for evidence of momentum. And nothing speaks to momentum more than having very strong letters of recommendation from the spectrum of authorities that work closely with you NOW. From our point of view the logic is straightforward. If you are not the person now who accrued the less than stellar record THEN, then surely you are impressing everyone around you to the point of affirming that you are right for medicine and/or for our program. In my experience it is the best way for someone with a compromised record to be admitted from within a population of people without those same compromises. Fit to mission can also help you, but it would need to be specific (consider the bases of Loma Linda and Touro, for example).

Time for bed. Best wishes.
 
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