Medical School Admission Reform - what would you change?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Adcadet, Nov 3, 2002.

  1. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    we all know the medical profession is all about helping people. Yet the medical school application process is perhaps the most rediculous, financially costly, time consuming, painful application process ever conceived.

    What do you dislike about the current system? What would you change?
     
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  3. isidella

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    I would eliminate AMCAS.

    I am sure we are all capable of copying and pasting the basic application info into each secondary. What do you think?
     
  4. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    Good point.
    Hmm...perhaps just eliminating the need for us to repeat large portions of AMCAS for each school. It would be nice for schools to actually use AMCAS. Afterall, why do we pay so much money for it?
     
  5. Woots32

    Woots32 kinda funky, kinda fine

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    I don't know - I think we should keep AMCAS, and ditch all the secondaries. Some of them ask questions already answered on the AMCAS app, like coursework. Did they just not see that section of the AMCAS? :rolleyes: I'm sure it probably has something to do w/ the school's specific requirements, but it sure seems redundant to me. God bless Loyola, which allowed students to put "Already answered on my AMCAS application" for some of the secondary questions.

    And I'm also sure schools with really crappy, impossibly long secondaries, Duke for example, use it as a tool to screen out the people not serious about their school. It just seems like there could be a better way to do this without inflicting this kind of punishment on already over-stressed premeds.

    As for additional questions the school might have about a student's background or motivations, isn't that kinda what the interview is for?

    I dunno, just my $.02. :)
     
  6. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    But then you'd have to pay for all the secondaries. AMCAS provides a first level of screening for some schools, so that you don't need to pay that extra secondary fee.
     
  7. relatively prime

    relatively prime post happy member

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    Oh no way!! AMCAS stays for sure!! I'm so not filling out 15+ different applications. I know there are a lot of horror stories from last year... but so far AMCAS has given me no serious problems (the no-paragraphs things was annoying... but that's not a huge deal).


    I would make this rule:

    All medical schools must notify applicants of their status (accept/reject/waitlist) within 4 weeks of interviewing.

    and this one....

    All medical schools must have online secondaries and status check webpages... basically, every medical school should have webpages like Duke and UPenn where you can do everything from pay your ap fee to select your interview date online!
     
  8. isidella

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    But if each school's secondary only cost $30 they would have more applicants. The extra money could pay the wages of the extra personnel it would take to process the apps. I think it would also be helpful if more schools would have online apps and notifications just to cut down on the unnecessary use of paper.
     
  9. dpy

    dpy Senior Member

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    I've mentioned this before in another thread, but I think this process should be almost identical to applying to residency programs. That way, everyone finds out on exactly the same day and no one has to deal with waitlists. It doesn't make sense that if one person gets accepted to a higher choice school from waitlist and withdraw from another, that a whole chain reaction occurs and a lot of other schools have to go to their waitlist to fill the spot. I haven't experienced waitlists yet, but I can imagine the pain of not being able to make plans for your next year (like whether or not to reapply) just because you're still on one waitlist. Also saves us the trouble of checking our mail/email/calling their office every 5 minutes!

    oh yea...eliminate secondaries!

    another thing...have us send LORs to AMCAS instead of sending them individually to all the schools.
     
  10. mountainlander

    mountainlander Junior Member

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    I say, keep AMCAS, and make everyone USE it. Secondary app can only consist of no more than one essay. Shorten the time period during which applications are accepted, speed everyone through and get those acceptance letters out!!!!
     
  11. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    what if medical schools were prohibited from automatically sending secondaries to every applicant. As much as it sucks to get rejected pre-secondary, it's better than going through a ton of work and paying a bunch of money just to get rejected based upon GPA/MCAT alone.
     
  12. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    This sounds flawed. Lowering a secondary application fee to $30 might get more people to apply, but I don't think you would have an extra money as you are implying because I don't think a significantly larger number of people would apply. And certainly an increase in apps would raise the burden on the adcoms, and as I said, I doubt there would be extra cash to hire more personnel. As I said in the other thread, there's a reason the secondary apps are priced as they are.

    Online apps, sure. Good call. :) Although you have to print out anything anyway, just for backup. And they print it out on their end, so you're really just saving stamps. (the Postmaster General wouldn't appreciate this--remember, he's not only a Postmaster, he's also a General!)
     
  13. ItNeverEnds

    ItNeverEnds Senior Member

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    Shorten the friggin application process! Why should it take a YEAR!?
     
  14. isidella

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    Okay, okay, If AMCAS stays, I think dpy is right on about LORs. So you could send AMCAS a pool of LORs, and then you could pick which school gets certain letters.
     
  15. MD2b06

    MD2b06 Senior Member

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    If I could change one thing about the application process, I'd require all potential applicants to spend at least one week with a first year medical student. Doing everything they do in terms of going to class, lab, studying, taking exams, attending preceptorships, etc. I can guarantee you that applications would plummet at least 30%. :laugh: Oh, it's been a long week. Back to studying gross.
     
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  17. relatively prime

    relatively prime post happy member

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    Oh this is so true.... why in God's name applying for anything should take close to A YEAR is beyond my understanding. Hell, the presidential campaign lasts a year!
     
  18. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    It takes time to read applications, give interviews, evaluate, etc. etc. etc. This application process has the most paperwork of probably any grad/professional school. There's a reason it takes time. It's not like they're just sitting on their a$$es...
     
  19. Woots32

    Woots32 kinda funky, kinda fine

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    At least what I think so far -

    1. Keep AMCAS, but also have them do some sort of centralized LOR distribution service. Also, standardize the submission dates so all the schools are operating on the same timetable.

    2. Screen pre-secondary, so people can save $$$ if they don't have a shot at getting into a particular school. The secondaries should have one essay MAX, and shouldn't just be a form where you regurgitate everything you've already spent hours typing into AMCAS.

    3. Secondaries should be on-line, complete w/ status check pages.

    4. Applicants should be notified of their status w/in 4 weeks of interviewing. (I also think it would be nice to update the status page of people on waitlists, so it doesn't read "As of 10/18" until March.)

    5. Keep the acceptances somewhat grouped together chronologically to avoid some of the post-May 15th nonsense. A possible solution could be something like residency match day. Any way, this should shorten the app cycle to something more reasonable.

    Did I forget anything? ;)
     
  20. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    Eh. People are just impatient. I don't see anything wrong with having one day where they tell people, or telling people on a rolling basis. It's frustrating, but is there really a difference between waitlisted after 4 weeks or re-evaluated for possible admission every week? It's basically the same, but you just don't have a label placed on your status.

    See, I'm not sure about this #5. I don't think doing a match is the answer. First of all, doing the match requires that you have an established 1st choice/2nd choice/etc, and people don't necessarily (and don't necessarily want to) have that. Furthermore, the actual first choice may depend on financial aid/grants/scholarships/etc so it's not that practical to advocate having a match.

    Also, I don't see any problems with rolling acceptances, as I stated above.
     
  21. Femtochemistry

    Femtochemistry Skunk Works

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    One Word:

    MCAT!! +pissed+ +pissed+

    Well, I can dream can't I? :laugh:
     
  22. Samoa

    Physician Pharmacist

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    I think we need more medical schools.
     
  23. Nefertari

    Nefertari Undercover Premed

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    Yup, I agree--definitely make schools stop asking repetitive questions @ info already on AMCAS (i.e. EC listing) & then cap the amount schools can charge for 2ndaries.

    I like the match idea--maybe it can be modified somehow to incorporate a financial aid announcement date. If it can be effectively implemented, it would significantly cut down on waitlists.

    With a match system, of course, all the popular schools would be inundated, but then at least they know which apps are serious @ matriculating. Maybe a match system might reduce the # of apps to schools such BU, so that people who really want to attend will be matched. Who knows, it might also reduce the total # of schools applicants need to apply to (esp. for us CA folks).

    Also, offer mcat more than twice a year (& during months that make more sense @ to the application cycle). It would be a relief also to standardize requirements for LORs & science prereqs (I've found this to be the most pain in the butt!! :mad: ).

    Lots of great ideas, sdners! OK, so do we have a rep to take this thread to AAMC? :D
     
  24. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    Why would a match system lower the number of apps to schools? And why would it reduce the number of schools to which people apply?

    I'm opposed just because it takes away more choice for applicants, in my opinion. I think a binding system like that really sucks.

    What would be the purpose of this? You're not allowed to take it more than 3 times without permission anyway. Twice is year is perfectly adequate for this constraint.

    While this would be convenient for applicants, I think schools should be given this freedom. They should be able to choose their requirements and their standards. Just because it's easier for you doesn't mean it's a good reform.
     
  25. cardiosurg

    cardiosurg Senior Member

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    TOO BAD YOU CAN'T APPLY TO MED SCHOOL AS WE APPLIED TO UNDERGRAD. REMEMBER HOW SIMPLE THAT WAS. YOUR ACT/SAT SCORES WERE SENT TO THE SCHOOL OF YOUR CHOICE (NOT TERRIBLY EXPENSIVE, EITHER). SOME PLACES CONTACTED YOU JUST BASED ON THOSE SCORES. YOU CALLED FOR APPLICATION PAPERS, WROTE YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT, GOT A LETTER FROM YOU COUNSELOR, AND -BAM!- IT WAS A YES, COME INTERVIEW; YES, YOU ARE ACCEPTED; NO, YOU ARE ON A WAITING LIST; NO, WE ARE TOO GOOD FOR YOU (JUST KIDDING). THERE WAS NO, COME FOR UP TO 2 INTERVIEW (AND THEN YOU MAY NOT GET ACCEPTED), SPEND TOO MUCH TIME WITH AMCAS, LET AMCAS MISCALCULATE YOUR GRADES (TO A LOWER SCORE). :laugh:
     
  26. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    What's wrong with med school being somewhat exclusive? I think I'm more comfortable knowing there are high standards for someone who has my life in his/her hands.

    It also takes a lot of money and resources to run a med school, as well as hospital facilities and faculty. It's not exactly easy to start a new med school.
     
  27. tryingagain

    tryingagain Soon to have no life

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    I think it would be cool if the whole thing were like a giant online fantsy-sports draft. The med schools would log on to the net a specific time and "draft" their applicants in turn. Harvard would get the lottery pick. We could all have our own trading cards with an action pose on the front and our Mcat, gpa, extracurrics on the back. The cards would have holograms to deter copying. At the end of the draft, each school would have its "team". We would then remain on this "team" throughout the rest of our careers. Points would be given for patient satisfaction, new procedures learned, lives saved, etc. After everyone in the class retired the class would be tallied and ranked.

    In this way we can continue to be ranked and scrutinized by the system for the rest of our lives. Not to mention those cool cards.

    Just kidding.
     
  28. DoubleDoctor

    DoubleDoctor Ceder Dog's Daddy

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    Lets do away with the whole app process and make the schools recruit us and then we could send testy letters telling them that although qualified, we had to go with the better qualified school, and wishing them luck in their search for students.

    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
     
  29. Lebesgue

    Lebesgue Senior Member

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    I agree except #5

    And I think we could beef up #1 a bit, by requiring that all AMCAS employees have at least a B.A. or B.S. and that they employ more than 5 people to deal with the phones and verification, based on performance, that's maximum number that could possibly work there. Also, it seems that everytime I contact those people and have to deal with them, I feel like I am "afloat in a sea of morons...":wow:

    Second to that, eliminate AMCAS and rebuild it correctly.

    Additionally, cut the cost of applying so that going to interviews seem a bit more reasonable.
     
  30. Nefertari

    Nefertari Undercover Premed

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    Just rip me apart, RA! ;)
    OK, mr. devil's advocate, to address your questions. The app process now is like a stab in the dark. I'm not advocating an exact adoption of the residency match process--it can be modified so that maybe applicants can be matched to a FEW schools & be notified of financial aid before having to make a binding decision. I believe that once something like this is established, it would eliminate the need to apply to a crazy # of schools (i.e. the CA average of 20 something). Schools like UCSD & UCI have long hold lists b/c they don't know if folks are sincere @ matriculating. Matching would reduce this guessing game & waitlists significantly. Stellar apps can be considered @ schools they're serious @ and avg apps can have a better chance @ low/moderate range schools.
    RE mcat, there were many apps who took mcat in april, didn't do as hot as they hoped, decided to retake in aug, & now have their apps delayed b/c of that. If mcat was offered earlier in the year, i.e. Jan/Feb, then in May/June instead of Aug, then a 3rd time in the fall, that would help.
    Some schools don't care what kind of bio you take, some want molecular bio, some want biochem, some want statistics, etc. . . Same deal w/ LORs. Just look @ the multitudes of threads @ LORs & prereqs. I don't believe that these details really make a difference in the long run. Schools have the freedom to mold their curriculum as they like, but if app requirements were standardized, it would save both apps & schools a lot of grief & time. Just think of the secretary who has to answer LOR & prereq questions everyday & also of those of us running @ like crazy chickens trying to get that letter or trying to figure out which schools want which prereqs.

    Btw, don't take me too seriously. ;) Just brainstorming here.
     
  31. relatively prime

    relatively prime post happy member

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    I understand that... but a year is still a bit too long in my opinion. Considering all the money they get from our ap fees... they should be able to get it all done in 8 months.
     
  32. DW

    DW Fix me some sandwiches
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    definitely keep amcas, and make those bastards send out our LORs too. force every med school to screen, or just get rid of the "secondary" in general. I'll tell you why I'm thinking about your school at the interview.
     
  33. siempre595

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    make the secondary app fees a standard, or send them through an amcas-like service also. or just make the amcas app longer and more detailed so we wouldn't have to deal with secondaries at all. i also agree with a match day similar to residency. a year is ridiculous, i think schools could get this done in a semester if they got more selective from the start and stopped giving out about 3000 secondary notices when they were only going to take about 100 people. (just random numbers i'm pulling from nowhere as an example).
     
  34. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out
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    Rather than have it cost money to apply, make the process free but limit the number of schools that you are allowed to send apps to. This way, schools don't have to worry about being flooded with apps, and students don't have to worry about being too poor too apply to schools that they are reaching for (though they must waste one of their applications).

    ~AS1~
     
  35. Perseverant 1

    Perseverant 1 Senior Member

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    Hi Guys-
    dont' know if you have already seen this letter from the AAMC president. It is about this very subject...admissions reform. Take a look, it is interesting. i would like to get some feedback. Is anyone buying this idea? Do you think the med schools will take any of this into consideration?
     
  36. heelshmeel

    heelshmeel Tar Heel Bred

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    there are good reasons to have and not have amcas...

    however, one thing needs to be done... amcas needs to have a toll free number!!!! :) :) :)
     
  37. JScrusader

    JScrusader Senior Member

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    I think there is too much emphasis on numbers that attempt to reflect intelligence. A better way to conduct admissions would be with violence, gladiator style. The online fantasy draft was also a good idea, but you forgot to add free agency.
     
  38. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    This is a great idea, IMO. But when would good times be? I think the August MCAT is just way too late. If you want to take the MCAT apply right before applying, I think a June or July test would be much better. But then you'd probably want to move the April test earlier - perhaps to right after Fall semester in January.

    Does AMSA care about pre-meds? Perhaps we should start our own advocacy group.
     
  39. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    Another thought:

    Interviews. I really appreciated my Wake Forest interview (I was in the top group), because you are either accepted or waitlisted - and eventually, about half are accepted each year. In contrast, I didn't really like my GW interview, because only about 35% of those interviewing get accepted (even off the waitlist). I don't see why schools like GW should be allowed to interview so many people. I think schools should be required to accept a certain percentage of those they interview. This would save money (the schools and applicants), make things faster, and more humane. The downside is that the guy with so-so numbers but a great personality who might currently get in will probably not even get interviewed. I guess it's the same story with the proposal to force all schools to be more selective about who gets secondaries.

    Speaking of secondaries:
    has anybody thought about requiring schools to accept a certain percentage of those that complete the secondary? This seems like a more intense version that the idea to simply force schools to screen.
     
  40. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    Sorry, wasn't try to "rip" you apart. Just trying to question, because I wanted to know. :)

    I think you'd still need to apply to a lot of schools though. Even if you aren't completely sincere about matriculating, you might if it was the only choice. I also feel like it might discourage people with slightly lower stats from applying to higher ranked schools, which could be a Bad Thing(tm), because it's not that they have no chance at all.

    For the case of UCSD/UCI, doesn't at least one of them have Regent's Scholarships (or something like that)? That might make a difference too and skew stuff.

    Makes sense I guess. The timing would have to be messed with though. Jan isn't so hot because of the holidays. August is good because it's either before school starts or right at the beginning. April is chosen because it's before finals and you have most of spring term to study. Maybe if they had a November test, to mimic the April's timing, but it would have to be at least 1 or 2 weeks before the weekend before Thanksgiving.

    Hmmm... I don't think making med applicants run around like crazy chickens is a bad thing, actually. If you're truly interested, you should be willing to do your homework in applying.

    Just what you wrote above about the requirements seems really straight forward. It would say such things on applications and viewbooks, so I don't see this as a problem, unless there's something I'm missing.

    Don't take me too seriously either. I just want to know what rationales people have. :)
     
  41. Perseverant 1

    Perseverant 1 Senior Member

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  42. geneman

    geneman The Transgenic Hobo

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    If you really want to fix the system, make it play off of human nature.

    After standardizing the application along AMCAS lines, allow other companies to compete against AAMC. Each company, while keeping the core application constant, can vary on price, support, reliability, speed, etc.

    May the best services survive...

    PS - Match system for applications is a bad, bad idea. Saves time but destroys freedom/flexibility.
     
  43. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    From
    http://www.aamc.org/newsroom/pressrel/2001/011104a.htm
    "I know how tough this issue is. And please don't misunderstand me; in no way am I suggesting that native intelligence and academic prowess are anything less than essential for success in medical school, or for becoming an effective physician or scientist. What I am suggesting, however, is that our admission processes do not project to prospective applicants the degree to which we value, in addition to GPAs and MCAT scores, those other essential attributes we prize: altruism, fervor for social justice, leadership, commitment to self sacrifice, empathy for those in pain.


    I think this would argue against my idea of schools disclosing their cut points, limiting the number of secondaries that can be sent out, and a limited number of interviews. My idea is to reduce the number of people who make it deep in the application process yet stand nearly zero chance getting admitted. But until I see some proof of what the AAMC's president is saying, I think my proposals deserve consideration.
     
  44. NatureGirl

    NatureGirl Junior Member

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    Hmmm.......interesting article, now let's see if they practice what they preach! :rolleyes:
     
  45. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    hey all - the AAMC article mentioned a paper in Academic Medicine. I think I found it, but my university doesn't have access to it. Can anybody download this article and post it or email it?

    America's Best Medical Schools: A Critique of the U.S. News & World Report Rankings
    William C. McGaghie and Jason A. Thompson
    Acad Med 2001 76: 985-992. [Abstract] [Full Text]

    http://www.academicmedicine.org/content/vol76/issue10/index.shtml
     
  46. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    From the article:
    "However discomforting those perceptions may be, the fact remains that we do appear to systematically replace some of the nascent virtue evident in our matriculants with a lot of cynicism by the time they finish their residencies - cynicism arising both from the way they are treated and from the way their mentors model - or fail to model - the avowed values of the medical profession. We have tended to assume that the good people we admit to medical school will remain good no matter what kind of behavior we visit on them or parade in front of them. All the evidence points the other way.

    I think this guy is on to something. But he seems to miss the number of pre-meds who begin to get cynical.
     
  47. Woots32

    Woots32 kinda funky, kinda fine

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    Hey RA, I'm not sure if you're playing devil's advocate, or if I've misunderstood the intent of your posts, but I'm under the impression that you think some of the hassles associated with the application process might be a good thing. Possibly as a way of proving your dedication to going to med school or becoming a physician?

    My thought is - isn't this what the years of difficult undergrad coursework, volunteering, and ECs are about? I just don't see why we need to add bureaucratic hastles like inefficinet AMCAS policies, redundant secondaries, and a drawn-out interview/acceptance procedures to an already stressful process. This logic kind of relates to the "I had to go through hell in residency, so you should have to as well" thoughts on working long hours, sometimes to the detriment of the patient.

    I think you've brought up some very good points - but why make this process harder than it needs to be? What is accomplished?
     
  48. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    Well, certainly applicants would need to prove dedication. I just don't see some of these things as "hassles." Meeting requirements? That's just a way of life.

    I'm not saying that it's because everyone went through hell that the policies aren't that bad. I just think people are impatient and lack the desire to do the necessary work sometimes. It's not that hard to verify that you meet requirements. And while the redundant parts of secondaries are annoying, I think secondaries in general are good, and I don't think they should be limited to one essay. Like I said, I think schools should be able to do what they desire, rather than having a standardized system.

    Yeah, the procedure is drawn out, but would you really feel better being officially waitlisted instead of having to wait? The end result is really the same. You're not actually going to feel any better if you're officially on a waitlist, so I think this 4 week thing isn't really that great.
     
  49. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    it's sad that med schools have to test our dedication to medicine by having us complete long application forms, multiple essays, and other hassles. Would you prefer your doctor to have gotten into medical school because he/she showed great compassion as a volunteer, or because he/she was tenacious in filling out paperwork and following up with admissions offices?
     
  50. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    Have to show one before you can show the other.

    You act like these requirements have no purpose. The essays do matter. I don't think med school applicants are being overburdened by them.
     
  51. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

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    Random Access -
    while a few essays here or there, a few rude admissions offices, a few strange LOR requirements, etc in and of themselves don't bother me. It's when an applicant has to deal with so many of these inconveniences. Just think how much better the application process would be if the amount of required staff and applicant time could be reduced significantly and put towards more useful purposes.

    Case in point: why do I go through the time, hassle, and financial expense of telling AMCAS about every course I've ever taken, and then have to repeat the same information on secondary for many schools? I'd much prefer to spend my time writing a good essay. (I never objected to essays unless they are redundant and far too short to provide a meaninful answer or there are simply a huge number of them that are probably not considered for most applicants). And I'm sure adcoms and adoffices would prefer to eliminate redundancies so they can work on more meaninful stuff.
     
  52. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member

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    I've never said that repeating AMCAS on secondaries is a good thing. People here have said to eliminate secondaries entirely or only have one essay (out of laziness, really, that latter suggestion), which I think is a bad idea.
     

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