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MCATs and Doctor Shadowing

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by midn, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. midn

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    Hey guys, I posted here months ago, but I have a general pre-med question which I hope won't be out of place.
    How does one prepare adequately for the MCATs? I have the option of graduating college early but I'm very unconfident about taking the MCATs. I just seem to suck it up on standardized testing though I have managed to keep a 4.0. My own acceptance of suckage at standardized testing comes from the SATs which I just had no will to study for so I am hoping the MCATs will have some subjects that are of interest to me. I will be gone for CORTRAMID and all those lovely summer cruises for my NROTC stuff so I can't really take those extensive MCAT classes over the summer. Any advice on preparation is helpful.
    Lastly, USUHS (I think I got the U's and the S's in the right place :confused: ) requires that one has prior doctor shadowing before applying to the med school. I want to do doctor shadowing anyways since I still have yet to get a even the vaguest of ideas of what I want to do in medicine. How does one acquire doctor shadowing positions aside from joining ridiculous professional fraternities that drain your money and time just to allow you to pair up with a doctor that they work with? Once again, a summer internship maybe difficult if it is more than a month long because of my cruises. Also, how is the quality of USUHS's education? I wanted to choose a school that will develop me professionally for the rigors of being a medical officer and give me adequate medical knowledge. Is that what USUHS does?
    Thanks.
    Ankit
     
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  3. RichL025

    RichL025 Senior Member
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    USUHS class of 2006 here. That whole doctor-shadowing stuff must be new, I sure didn't have to do it.

    My suggestion? As stupid as this may sound, go up to a doctor and ask them. I'm serious. They're people just like you and me ;). Maybe a few will say no, can't afford the time, don't like people, whatever, but if it's just an informal shadowing experience you need it shouldn't be too much of an imposition.

    Remember, the world of medical training is BUILT on apprenticeship-style learning (if that's the right term) - all through a doctor's training, he's used to having people trail along (or be one of those trailers) through the machinery of modern medicine. It's really not that out of the ordinary for you to ask one of them to shadow.

    If you don't know any personally, try your local school's student health center. If you have an inkling what kind of physician you want to be, hop on the internet and find the email address of your local med school's department of whatever and ask him (or her). Actually, you'll get mucho cool points if you find that person's secretary and ask her (or him ;) ) because they're the one who would set it up anyway.

    Hope that helps.

    Oh, about USUHS, it's hard to compare medical schools because, well, each one of us only goes to one of them, right? As far as objective numbers, we seem to do pretty well on step 1 & 2. And when I was on rounds with students from other medical schools, I felt like I was at least as well prepared as they were for the clinical years (which is all about self-directed learning anyway).

    Of course, USUHS will definitely prepare you as a military officer better than other school. How important that is in the grand scheme of things is what people may disagree on...
     
  4. usnavdoc

    usnavdoc Senior Member
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    USUHS im sure is a fine school just like all med schools are fine schools. You need to look at tangible differences. At USUHS the majority of your clinical education will be at the MTFs(Military treatment facilities). This amounts to a lower patient acuity level b/c they all have access to care on a fairly regular basis. You do get more experience becoming an officer. But that is not really the point of medical school is it.

    At civilian medical schools that are associated with a large inner city hospital/level 1 trauma centers. You will see the worst of the worst. That is what I wanted when I chose my medical school. I didnt look at USUHS b/c I didnt want the lengthy committment that comes with it. SO my decision was between civilian medical schools and out of the ones I got into the choice was simple. I chose the place where i would be exposed to the most volume and the highest patient acuity.

    FOr the MCAT. Well I took the princeton review course. this was back in 96 so things may have changed a bit. It gave you the book knowledge in a fairly well layed out scheme, but their practice tests were too easy. Ive found that all of the practice tests were too easy whether you are studying for USMLE or MCAT. I would routinely score 14s on the subsections for the MCAt. So I went in to the real test with a ton of confidence but was brought back to reality when my scores were posted. Still did fine mind you but not 14s across the board. lol

    I would look at the commercial review courses for structure and take as many practice tests and questions as you can get your hands on. The harder the better. And read novels/history books and newspapers for you writting sample. Which actually doesnt mean anything at all. But for completeness sake.
     
  5. Monty Python

    Monty Python Icelandic (see avatar) doesn't translate well.
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    I'd like to give a slightly different perspective. I took the MCAT in 8/05 after being away from chemistry/biol/physics for 25 years. I read the Princeton study book cover to cover, then did likewise with Kaplan's similar product.

    However, 75% of your success on that $(%*@ test is NOT on your pre-existing knowledge. It's from your ability to read. Most of the questions are passage-based and all the correct answers to the questions are right there in front of you, somewhere in the passage. There are very few free-standing questions. And the MCAT is coming up for another major re-write, to make it even more relevant and shorter timeframe.

    Your best bet is to just take as many practice tests as possible, to get a feel for the time crunch. You can take Princeton or Kaplan practice tests, or you can take free practice tests on the MCAT website itself.

    You are also well served by reading newspapers daily (especially editorials and opinion pieces). This will help you immensely on the reading comprehension test. (Interestingly my MCAT had one reading passage on the ASA's development of the pulse ox and ETCO2 monitors and how it relates to improved pt safety). The current version of the test also has a writing section. You're given two topics and have 30 minutes per topic to respond to it. There's no right/wrong answer - they want to see how you organize your thoughts, assemble them on paper coherently, and logically support/defend your opinion. I actually found it to be fun, but others said they hated it. So, take time to actually have a friend give you a debatable topic de jour, and write a 30 minute "letter to the editor" in response.

    Good luck. Let me close by saying Princeton knocked out sufficient rust to get me accepted. I allowed one month per topic (bio, inorganic, organic, and physics) at 2-3 hours/day for study.
     
  6. midn

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    Thanks for the replies.
    As far as going up to a doctor and asking them to shadow, aren't there legal issues to that because of the doctor and patient confidentiality? I didn't think I could just walk in with a doctor without the patient agreeing to it which may cause a bit of a headache for the doctor.
    And about the MCATs, you studied 2-3 hours per day over the course of a few months?! Wow, how did you find the time (if you did this during school)? This MCAT is sounding like a beefed up SAT. I hate time crunching tests, but I guess I might be able to improve with practice. If I start studying for the MCAT earlier (say maybe even a year earlier), will it do me any good, or will I just forget the stuff over the school year and have to start over either way?
    Thanks again all.
     
  7. Monty Python

    Monty Python Icelandic (see avatar) doesn't translate well.
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    Shadowing: you'll sign a HIPAA-related promise of confidentiality. Break that promise and you'll be very sorry, courtesy of Uncle Sam's severe penalties.

    MCATs: I work fulltime, and just make studying a priority. Also, regarding your dislike of time crunch tests: one intent of the MCAT-writers was to simulate the amount of high-tech information you must read and comprehend while a medical student, in the same volume/time continuum. If you do reasonably well on the MCAT, there's a strong correlation between that and doing reasonably well in med school and on the licensing exam.
     
  8. midn

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    Ok, as long as the test is pertinent to your performance in the field. The SATs, I felt, said nothing about how one can do in college hence my hatred for that test. Thanks for all the info. I am thinking about buying the Kaplan MCAT book for review (it's gotten both extremely positive and negative reviews aside from the other books which largely get mediocre to poor ratings). I have forgotten alot of biology, so do you think it will be in my best interest to buy a biology textbook and review specific subjects or will an MCAT review book provide me with enough depth?
     
  9. tlotek

    tlotek New Member

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    There are all sorts of issues with having medical and pre-medical students shadow physicians in practice. That being said, I would guess that there are very few physicians that aren't willing to put up with the hassles. I routinely have medical students shadow me in various clinical settings, and have had pre-med students and even high school students shadow me on more than a few occasions. It can slow down my day, and I have to ask each patient's permission for the student (by the way, there is no difference between a high school student, a college student and a medical student with respect to this requirement) to come in the room during the visit (to answer the next question 95%+ of patients agree), but I find it very rewarding to have any students shadow me in practice. Most of my colleagues agree.

    So, bottom line, just ask! :D
     
  10. RichL025

    RichL025 Senior Member
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    Possibly, but at most you would need to sign a waiver or something. Actually, you probably wouldn't even need to do that, but realize that you would still be bound by HIPAA.
     
  11. RichL025

    RichL025 Senior Member
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    Wow, we were able to get an answer form the horse's mouth! Glad you posted this, it's always nice for beginners to get that kind of feedback from established people. Since I'm still in training, all of my encounters are in an academic hospital, where we don't have to worry about informing each patient, etc etc...
     

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