Icahn Mount Sinai Flex Factors

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Greetings. This is question to Adcoms, successful flexmed matriculants and anyone that has a good knowledge about the Flexmed program. Please respond when you get a moment, appreciate your time.

What are the typical flex factors that the flexmed program value? Is community service through Americorp one of them? How about continuing the clinical research an applicant started doing in high school years? Any masters program?

Any helpful information is greatly appreciated!!!

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Flexmed is offering you the flexibility to pursue your passions in your undergraduate years without worrying about checking boxes (e.g., the MCAT and all the traditional science requirements) that may thwart, or at least in inhibit, you from pursuing those passions. I suspect that almost all students who apply (with any realistic hope of getting accepted) are excellent students, with excellent standardized test scores, and a demonstrated a commitment to the sciences and serving others. (These are table stakes.) However, I suspect that the defining characteristic of those who gain admission is a demonstrated long-term passion outside of medicine and a track record of excellence in that area--a concert pianist who has done well in competitions, a glass-blower with an impressive body of work, a playwright who with several productions to her name, etc.
 
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Full disclosure, applied in 2021, interviewed and was rejected. According to feedback I got from them, the decision was largely because of my lack of clinical experience at that point. So take my advice with a grain of salt.

The whole point of the program is to give you extra time to pursue interests outside of medicine so that, when you eventually matriculate to medical school, you bring a diversity of lived experiences and perspective to contribute to their medical school class.

I've often found a question of what is a typical flex factor to be misguided. Unlike the rest of what goes into a good application for medical school that is usually common among applicants, like good clinical experience and service and grades, the flex factor should be highly individualized and unique to you. Whenever I work with students who are applying for this program, I encourage them to consider why they are applying in the first place. To be blunt, I know a lot of people apply to this program because it's a way to get a guaranteed admission to a T20 as a sophomore and not have to take the MCAT. I totally understand it, but if that is your only motivation for applying to this program I would recommend you at least reconsider once. Their admissions committee is really good at screening out people who are applying for those reasons instead of having a genuine flex plan.

Now, if that doesn't apply to you then why are you applying to this program? What do you hope to get out of it? What potential things can you accomplish by having 2 years in college to do stuff that a traditional pre-man student has little chance of being able to do? What things interest you about medicine and what unique aspects of your background and your passions, do you want to combine with your desire to become a doctor? Some of the flex factors that I have heard people do is add a major in theater and perform on Broadway, which they said would allow them to have a better understanding of human expression and better connect them with patients. Stuff like health technology, entrepreneurship, and global health are really common. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's very saturated.

My flex factor was that I wanted to do national security internships with the FBI and CIA and learn how to bring surveillance techniques and informatics structures from counterterrorism and national security over to how we practice public health. My idea was that our pandemic monitoring and medical data sharing is pretty archaic in the United States, but our national security is the best in the world in terms of the technology we use, so why not try to adapt tactics from the latter to the former.

Also, keep in mind that the committee will review how your flex factor relates to your current activities. If you say you're interested in doing health technology work, but you have no background or previous experiences in tech type stuff, they're going to know you're making up fluff. My flex factor worked because I had a lot of previous research/experience in infectious diseases and public health. So, if you're having trouble coming up with a flex factor, you can also look at what prior activities and experiences you have and see if there is a common theme there that extends beyond medicine.

Also, keep in mind that Mount Sinai is giving you a significant amount of flexibility with this program. I would lean away from flex factors that are along the lines of wanting to do more clinical research or get more involved in community service. These are activities that traditional premeds do a lot, and many students can take Gap years to pursue this more. From the perspective of the admissions committee, why would they accept someone 2 years earlier who plans on doing the kind of stuff that they have several regular MD applicants already applying with? A little cynical of a take, but just my opinion.

That's a lot, but hope that was at least somewhat helpful. Good luck!
 
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The people I know who got into the program were either (1) outstanding and had some remarkable achievement in high school, or (2) weren’t that outstanding but had extremely wealthy parents
 
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The people I know who got into the program were either (1) outstanding and had some remarkable achievement in high school, or (2) weren’t that outstanding but had extremely wealthy parents
This is true. I know a friend whose parents are alumni of a top institution that has a BS/MD program, donated every year during my friend's high school career, and was accepted. Was surprising before they admitted it, since they didn't meet some of the requirements/thresholds, though not at all surprising after the context was revealed.

I'd imagine the same goes for FlexMed (never applied) -- you either have donor parents who are alumni, you identify with one of the demographics that ISMMS prioritizes, or really have an "X-factor" outside of medicine that the program would allow you to further pursue.
 
The connection of many BS/MD programs to being an additional way to admit privileged applicants, especially legacy applicants, is a reason many will likely be undergoing significant review over the next few years. FlexMed will likely have to figure out a way to adjust for this.
 
Full disclosure, applied in 2021, interviewed and was rejected. According to feedback I got from them, the decision was largely because of my lack of clinical experience at that point. So take my advice with a grain of salt.

The whole point of the program is to give you extra time to pursue interests outside of medicine so that, when you eventually matriculate to medical school, you bring a diversity of lived experiences and perspective to contribute to their medical school class.

I've often found a question of what is a typical flex factor to be misguided. Unlike the rest of what goes into a good application for medical school that is usually common among applicants, like good clinical experience and service and grades, the flex factor should be highly individualized and unique to you. Whenever I work with students who are applying for this program, I encourage them to consider why they are applying in the first place. To be blunt, I know a lot of people apply to this program because it's a way to get a guaranteed admission to a T20 as a sophomore and not have to take the MCAT. I totally understand it, but if that is your only motivation for applying to this program I would recommend you at least reconsider once. Their admissions committee is really good at screening out people who are applying for those reasons instead of having a genuine flex plan.

Now, if that doesn't apply to you then why are you applying to this program? What do you hope to get out of it? What potential things can you accomplish by having 2 years in college to do stuff that a traditional pre-man student has little chance of being able to do? What things interest you about medicine and what unique aspects of your background and your passions, do you want to combine with your desire to become a doctor? Some of the flex factors that I have heard people do is add a major in theater and perform on Broadway, which they said would allow them to have a better understanding of human expression and better connect them with patients. Stuff like health technology, entrepreneurship, and global health are really common. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's very saturated.

My flex factor was that I wanted to do national security internships with the FBI and CIA and learn how to bring surveillance techniques and informatics structures from counterterrorism and national security over to how we practice public health. My idea was that our pandemic monitoring and medical data sharing is pretty archaic in the United States, but our national security is the best in the world in terms of the technology we use, so why not try to adapt tactics from the latter to the former.

Also, keep in mind that the committee will review how your flex factor relates to your current activities. If you say you're interested in doing health technology work, but you have no background or previous experiences in tech type stuff, they're going to know you're making up fluff. My flex factor worked because I had a lot of previous research/experience in infectious diseases and public health. So, if you're having trouble coming up with a flex factor, you can also look at what prior activities and experiences you have and see if there is a common theme there that extends beyond medicine.

Also, keep in mind that Mount Sinai is giving you a significant amount of flexibility with this program. I would lean away from flex factors that are along the lines of wanting to do more clinical research or get more involved in community service. These are activities that traditional premeds do a lot, and many students can take Gap years to pursue this more. From the perspective of the admissions committee, why would they accept someone 2 years earlier who plans on doing the kind of stuff that they have several regular MD applicants already applying with? A little cynical of a take, but just my opinion.

That's a lot, but hope that was at least somewhat helpful. Good luck!
Thank you so much for such a detailed response. Very helpful indeed.
 
Full disclosure, I'm a parent of a recent applicant.

First, I encourage you to apply. The process of bringing together all of the documents, preparing a competitive narrative, and then the reflection will have a big impact on your future med school apps.

In order to support my kid I did a ton of research trying to understand the characteristics of a successful Flexmed applicant. The first thing that was obvious is how much the program has changed over the years. It was originally aimed at humanities majors that lacked the prereqs, next it focused on freeing up premed's time so they could focus on a flexfactor activity, and finally it has moved towards being more like a traditional early acceptance program. Currently an applicant has to take almost all of the usual prereqs and complete an additional 100+ hours of clinical exposure after acceptance.

I believe the big shift away from the flexfactor is a reaction to NYU offering free tuition and other NYC med schools increasing their scholarship $ to woo the most competitive applicants. It's no secret that the negative aspect of the Flexmed program is the cost of attending Mt Sinai. Also, I asked people who were accepted last month how impactful they thought their flexfactor was, and they all said they felt theirs was weak or nothing special. They wanted to spend the time playing a sport, volunteering, or doing research. Nobody cured cancer, made the Olympic team, or brought clean drinking water to a remote village.

You need a great application, and that includes weaving in a flexfactor that fits your narrative. The rest is the normal holistic admissions review you expect at a top med school. The people I talked to who were just accepted seemed like the type of people that would've had a successful admissions cycle if they would have applied during regular admissions.
 
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I guess I shouldn't be surprised if FlexMed evolved to being so similar to a guaranteed admission track. If that's the case, I guess I do have enough experience to help FlexMed applicants from my experience with admitting and advising similar BS/MD candidates. (Yay!)
 
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Full disclosure, I'm a parent of a recent applicant.

First, I encourage you to apply. The process of bringing together all of the documents, preparing a competitive narrative, and then the reflection will have a big impact on your future med school apps.

In order to support my kid I did a ton of research trying to understand the characteristics of a successful Flexmed applicant. The first thing that was obvious is how much the program has changed over the years. It was originally aimed at humanities majors that lacked the prereqs, next it focused on freeing up premed's time so they could focus on a flexfactor activity, and finally it has moved towards being more like a traditional early acceptance program. Currently an applicant has to take almost all of the usual prereqs and complete an additional 100+ hours of clinical exposure after acceptance.

I believe the big shift away from the flexfactor is a reaction to NYU offering free tuition and other NYC med schools increasing their scholarship $ to woo the most competitive applicants. It's no secret that the negative aspect of the Flexmed program is the cost of attending Mt Sinai. Also, I asked people who were accepted last month how impactful they thought their flexfactor was, and they all said they felt theirs was weak or nothing special. They wanted to spend the time playing a sport, volunteering, or doing research. Nobody cured cancer, made the Olympic team, or brought clean drinking water to a remote village.

You need a great application, and that includes weaving in a flexfactor that fits your narrative. The rest is the normal holistic admissions review you expect at a top med school. The people I talked to who were just accepted seemed like the type of people that would've had a successful admissions cycle if they would have applied during regular admissions.
This is actually very true, I've noticed applicants over the last two cycles that have been success felt more like applicants who were almost ready to apply traditional MD sans an MCAT score.

I remember my whole interview day also had only one question about why I am interested in the flexmed program (so between 2 30 min interviews just 1 q), and that too wasn't directly aimed at learning more about my flex factor or anything like that.

I would still recommend that these trying to come with the decent flex factor, but it is worth mentioning that a fantastic flex factor does not make up for deficiencies in other areas of your application, like low stats or lacking clinical exposure.
 
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Full disclosure, I'm a parent of a recent applicant.

First, I encourage you to apply. The process of bringing together all of the documents, preparing a competitive narrative, and then the reflection will have a big impact on your future med school apps.

In order to support my kid I did a ton of research trying to understand the characteristics of a successful Flexmed applicant. The first thing that was obvious is how much the program has changed over the years. It was originally aimed at humanities majors that lacked the prereqs, next it focused on freeing up premed's time so they could focus on a flexfactor activity, and finally it has moved towards being more like a traditional early acceptance program. Currently an applicant has to take almost all of the usual prereqs and complete an additional 100+ hours of clinical exposure after acceptance.

I believe the big shift away from the flexfactor is a reaction to NYU offering free tuition and other NYC med schools increasing their scholarship $ to woo the most competitive applicants. It's no secret that the negative aspect of the Flexmed program is the cost of attending Mt Sinai. Also, I asked people who were accepted last month how impactful they thought their flexfactor was, and they all said they felt theirs was weak or nothing special. They wanted to spend the time playing a sport, volunteering, or doing research. Nobody cured cancer, made the Olympic team, or brought clean drinking water to a remote village.

You need a great application, and that includes weaving in a flexfactor that fits your narrative. The rest is the normal holistic admissions review you expect at a top med school. The people I talked to who were just accepted seemed like the type of people that would've had a successful admissions cycle if they would have applied during regular admissions.
That’s so assuring!! Thank you very much,
 
Recently admitted applicant. I’d say I had a fairly strong flex factor, but I also was definitely even a strong enough applicant to apply to medical school normally right now. Also, unlike popular belief we were told that multiple flexmed students get a scholarship to the medical school every year. Being in flexmed doesn’t exclude you, but just like regular applicants there are looking at if you did some great things after your acceptance and looking at your secondaries and etc in your AMCAS submission. Icahn’s average debt of graduating students is also below the median national debt which I take as a good sign.
Thank you very much. Can I PM you?
 
This is actually very true, I've noticed applicants over the last two cycles that have been success felt more like applicants who were almost ready to apply traditional MD sans an MCAT score.

I remember my whole interview day also had only one question about why I am interested in the flexmed program (so between 2 30 min interviews just 1 q), and that too wasn't directly aimed at learning more about my flex factor or anything like that.

I would still recommend that these trying to come with the decent flex factor, but it is worth mentioning that a fantastic flex factor does not make up for deficiencies in other areas of your application, like low stats or lacking clinical exposure.
Thank you very much. Very helpful.
 
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