Medical *student* adcom member, AMA!

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Hollow Knight

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Hello all! SDN was super helpful to me when I was applying. I'm in medical school now and on my school's admissions committee. I interview candidates and rank/review applications. Ask me anything!

A few points to remember- I'm not faculty, I don't know everything about medical school admissions, and I'm not going to dox myself, so I can't tell you my school or specific processes. But I can give you general advice (shadowing is good, etc etc).

I'll check this thread over the next few weeks. If I can help in any way, I'm happy to!

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How did you go about joining the adcom? Did you have to apply, be there for a certain amount of time, have some particular certification?
 
How much does when you submit your secondary influence your chances of an interview?
 
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How did you go about joining the adcom? Did you have to apply, be there for a certain amount of time, have some particular certification?
At my school, you apply, and the big wigs decide who gets it. I'm sure many schools are similar in this regard, although the minute details will differ. Maybe some places you get nominated?

it seems to me there are student admissions members at most or at least many medical schools.
 
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How much does when you submit your secondary influence your chances of an interview?
I mean, most places are rolling admissions, so earlier always is better (assuming your essays aren't full of typos and whatnot). When I was applying, the rule floating around was two weeks to submit. I'm not sure if that's "real" or if that's just what someone made up, but that seems reasonable to me.

What I can tell you with certainty: apply as early as possible. Submit secondaries as early as possible, ASSUMING THEY'RE GOOD. But when I was doing this I remember having SOOO many essays to write, so yeah, it's OK for it to take a couple/few weeks.

One thing to help with this is prewriting your secondaries- check out the school-specific threads on here to get the questions in advance from applicants who were a little earlier than you:


I also think that premeds tend to over-stress over these things. Just get them in within a reasonable time frame. I don't think if you're a few days under or over two weeks that it matters that much in the end.
 
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I mean, most places are rolling admissions, so earlier always is better (assuming your essays aren't full of typos and whatnot). When I was applying, the rule floating around was two weeks to submit. I'm not sure if that's "real" or if that's just what someone made up, but that seems reasonable to me.

What I can tell you with certainty: apply as early as possible. Submit secondaries as early as possible, ASSUMING THEY'RE GOOD. But when I was doing this I remember having SOOO many essays to write, so yeah, it's OK for it to take a couple/few weeks.

One thing to help with this is prewriting your secondaries- check out the school-specific threads on here to get the questions in advance from applicants who were a little earlier than you:


I also think that premeds tend to over-stress over these things. Just get them in within a reasonable time frame. I don't think if you're a few days under or over two weeks that it matters that much in the end.
In a similar vein, how much does secondary writing actually matter for getting an interview and Acceptance vs. Stats and ECs
 
After the interview, what do interviewers I report to the committee? What are they looking for?

Also, how soon after the interview do you think schools make a decision on an applicant?

Thank you!
 
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In a similar vein, how much does secondary writing actually matter for getting an interview and Acceptance vs. Stats and ECs
Whether you're a generically competitive applicant or not comes mostly from your ECs and stats. Most med schools are looking for similar things (volunteering, shadowing, research, clinical exposure, academic excellence, etc). Each school has their own priorities obviously.

I think secondaries are more for establishing school fit/mission fit; at least that's how I use them personally. Ideally, you'd want to be a strong, well-rounded applicant who fits a school's mission to a T. Because all schools are different, you can't possibly match each school perfectly. But research each school and see what about them makes you excited. Just to give an example, if you're applying to Hopkins, you probably shouldn't say that you want to be a community FM doc who has no interest in research (I'm not at Hopkins, I'm generalizing here. Maybe I'm wrong, it's just an example).

You can use these essays to tell your story (you want to work with x underserved population because y), and this narrative/theme helps, but it usually won't make up for a very weak app. You kinda have to have it all.

Alternatively, if you're a 4.0/528 person who has 5 pubs, but you tell me in your secondaries that you're a serial killer (or insert some other faux pau), You aren't getting an A (or even an II) at that school. I hope this makes sense.
 
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When I was applying, I had this idea in my head that if I wrote the best essay an adcom had ever seen or interviewed outstandingly, it would make my application. In reality, I think your essays/interviews are considered in the context of your whole app. So when places say "holistic review" they actually mean that, in my experience.
 
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After the interview, what do interviewers I report to the committee? What are they looking for?

Also, how soon after the interview do you think schools make a decision on an applicant?

Thank you!

What interviewers report is school-dependent. Obviously, work on your general interview skills. Most schools have a scoring rubric of some kind (I think Goro has written a post generally describing this process). Some schools' interviews are literally vibe checks. I'd tell you my process but ya know..... anonymity and of course they want that stuff internal. Of course, I have my own personal things I look for, or if I really connect with an applicant during my interview, I make sure to go to bat for them at the committee meeting/in my comments. But just my words won't make or break your app (unless, of course, you tell me you're a serial killer).

As far as decision timing- this is super school dependent, to the point I won't even comment. But please try not to stress. I have friends who got in on October 15th and friends who got in the week before class.

As far as what interviewers look for- It's different for each interviewer. I would advise all of you to sit up straight, look your interviewers in the eye, and answer questions honestly and intelligently. And, tell your story. Be your authentic self. If you try to do that thing where you guess what the interviewer wants to hear, you'll come across as phony, or you might just guess wrong and say the opposite.

My only exception would be political questions- try to stay in the middle or slightly left of center. Everybody gets so dang offended these days.

Unless the political thing is part of your story/identity, in which case.... be your authentic self, and if that school doesn't want you because of that, you'd be miserable at that school. Take the L.

Edit: sorry for @ tting you Goro, although of course I'll defer to his thoughts on literally everything haha
 
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After an interview, do adcoms look at all aspects of an application or is the interview the single determining factor in an A, R, or WL? I know this can be school specific but I have heard so much differing info.
 
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As far as what interviewers look for- It's different for each interviewer. I would advise all of you to sit up straight, look your interviewers in the eye, and answer questions honestly and intelligently. And, tell your story. Be your authentic self. If you try to do that thing where you guess what the interviewer wants to hear, you'll come across as phony, or you might just guess wrong and say the opposite.
Thank you for that!

Quick follow up, for zoom interviews, should I just look at the camera when I am talking?
 
Thank you for that!

Quick follow up, for zoom interviews, should I just look at the camera when I am talking?
Sure!

Haha, relax. I don't think there's a right answer here. If you look at the camera, it looks like you're making eye contact, but you can't see your interviewer's expressions. If you just look at your interviewer's eyes onscreen, it looks like you're looking down slightly.

Dude it doesn't matter. Don't worry about it :) I personally alternated between camera and interviewer's face but hopefully interviewers aren't this neurotic that they worry about this.

Now, you SHOULD look in the general direction, don't stare at the floor, slouch, etc
 
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Sure!

Haha, relax. I don't think there's a right answer here. If you look at the camera, it looks like you're making eye contact, but you can't see your interviewer's expressions. If you just look at your interviewer's eyes onscreen, it looks like you're looking down slightly.

Dude it doesn't matter. Don't worry about it :) I personally alternated between camera and interviewer's face but hopefully interviewers aren't this neurotic that they worry about this.

Now, you SHOULD look in the general direction, don't stare at the floor, slouch, etc
Thoughts on NVIDIA's eye contact tech (NVIDIA Broadcast)?
 
Thoughts on NVIDIA's eye contact tech (NVIDIA Broadcast)?
I had to Google that. I have no thoughts.

Actually my initial reaction was "Dang that's neurotic" haha. If it makes you feel better go for it! Not sure it matters.
 
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After an interview, do adcoms look at all aspects of an application or is the interview the single determining factor in an A, R, or WL? I know this can be school specific but I have heard so much differing info.
At my school, the interview performance is a piece of the overall puzzle. It's not like once you get to the interview stage nothing else matters.

We think you're impressive, you get an interview invite, then eventually at a committee meeting we look at your overall picture, not just your interview. Does that make sense? I assume almost all schools are like this, but I can't speak for all medical schools.

When I was in your shoes recently, I also heard this idea that once you make it to the interview, it's a level playing field and you get in off your people skills. That doesn't really make sense to me. What makes more sense is for schools to consider interview performance along with grades, ECs, etc.

Now, if I'm interviewing you and you knock my socks off, I'll make sure to go to bat for you at the committee meeting. Or, if you tell me you're a serial killer, I'll make sure you don't get in here or any medical school. Make sense? But most interviews are average and don't make or break your app.
 
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Just out of curiosity, do adcoms talk to other schools' adcoms? Do red flags get discovered that lead to the global ban?
Medicine is a super small world. There aren't that many opthalmologists, dermatologists, etc, especially not in academic medicine. Just to give you an example, an adcom member at one school who met me in college and thought highly of me called his adcom buddy at another school to put in a good word.

Now, as far as a universal ban- I've never seen this in real life. Just to give you an example, if I see an institutional action because you went to a bar and you were a student at a Christian school- I couldn't care less, that just seems like religious nonsense to me. I try to be as lenient as possible because I know that no student is perfect. If you have a specific situation you'd like to discuss, use the SDN confidential advice thread: Confidential Expert Advice. You're welcome to DM me too, but those guys at that thread have more experience than I.

Now, if you look at me during an interview and say "I'm a serial killer," or "I don't think [insert ethnic group] should be allowed to access medical care," then yeah, I'm going to email my whole adcom and be like "Hey, we shouldn't admit homie, because homie is racist."

Edit: removed a decent amount of speculative rambling on my part.
 
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I assume at most medical schools, the interview performance is a piece of the overall puzzle. It's not like once you get to the interview stage nothing else matters.

We think you're impressive, you get an interview invite, then eventually at a committee meeting we look at your overall picture, not just your interview. Does that make sense? I assume almost all schools are like this, but I can't speak for all medical schools.

When I was in your shoes recently, I also heard this idea that once you make it to the interview, it's a level playing field and you get in off your people skills. That doesn't really make sense to me. What makes more sense is for schools to consider interview performance along with grades, ECs, etc.

Now, if I'm interviewing you and you knock my socks off, I'll make sure to go to bat for you at the committee meeting. Or, if you tell me you're a serial killer, I'll make sure you don't get in here or any medical school. Make sense? But most interviews are average and don't make or break your app.
Thanks! I think there is a misconception with premeds that the interview is make or break, and it's good to hear this is not the case.
 
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What are your thoughts on MMI-style interviews vs the traditional interviews? Do you prefer one or the other?
 
What are your thoughts on MMI-style interviews vs the traditional interviews? Do you prefer one or the other?
Ehh, in a traditional interview, if you don't vibe with your interviewer, you're screwed. I think the MMI mitigates this risk and is more objective. Which is probably especially good for mitigating discrimination as well.

But personally, I'm a people person, and I prefer a typical interview. When I was an applicant doing MMIs, I felt like I was playing a video game. And some of the questions were just dumb. I like an old-fashioned conversation.
 
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Ehh, in a traditional interview, if you don't vibe with your interviewer, you're screwed. I think the MMI mitigates this risk and is more objective. Which is probably especially good for mitigating discrimination as well.

But personally, I'm a people person, and I prefer a typical interview. When I was an applicant doing MMIs, I felt like I was playing a video game. And some of the questions were just dumb. I like an old-fashioned conversation.
I think that interviews are about making a connection, i.e. befriend the interviewer.

Dunno how MMI "mitigates" the risk of that tho! :lol: Maybe if you have multiple personalities?

People are not video games to be stared at and played. I am glad that you had good luck however! :)
 
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I think that interviews are about making a connection, i.e. befriend the interviewer.

Dunno how MMI "mitigates" the risk of that tho! :lol: Maybe if you have multiple personalities?

People are not video games to be stared at and played. I am glad that you had good luck however! :)
It's precisely for that reason that MMIs mitigate risk. Not everyone you come across will like you, no matter what you do. That's more likely to matter if you're in a trad interview with only 1 person providing input. If you have 6 people, then the bias is 1/6 as strong
 
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I think that interviews are about making a connection, i.e. befriend the interviewer.

Dunno how MMI "mitigates" the risk of that tho! :lol: Maybe if you have multiple personalities?

People are not video games to be stared at and played. I am glad that you had good luck however! :)
I'm not sure befriend is the best word, but I get what you mean. I want the applicant to connect with me. Eye contact, welcoming posture, calm, warmth, are things I would initially notice. I would at the end ask an open ended question. After their initial reply, I would take the opposite point of view and argue with them, looking for authentic replies, not some canned response. Are they saying what I want to hear or what they truly believe? I want to take them a little outside of their comfort zone and further out their decision making tree at the end. After all, the applicant is applying for the job of being MY doctor.
 
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Can you point us to the MMI rubric from @Goro or others, or give us guesses on how they "score" you. My MMIs ranged from "what is wrong with medicine today" to teach this other applicant to do something via Zoom. So weird and I dunno if I should feel good about being able to teach another applicant how to do some random task in under 8 minutes.
 
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Can you point us to the MMI rubric from @Goro or others, or give us guesses on how they "score" you. My MMIs ranged from "what is wrong with medicine today" to teach this other applicant to do something via Zoom. So weird and I dunno if I should feel good about being able to teach another applicant how to do some random task in under 8 minutes.
Sorry... such rubrics are proprietary and confidential. I can say that having seen or developed about a dozen of those. They also vary by type of station.
 
Can you point us to the MMI rubric from @Goro or others, or give us guesses on how they "score" you. My MMIs ranged from "what is wrong with medicine today" to teach this other applicant to do something via Zoom. So weird and I dunno if I should feel good about being able to teach another applicant how to do some random task in under 8 minutes.
I have no such rubric
 
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Hello all! SDN was super helpful to me when I was applying. I'm in medical school now and on my school's admissions committee. I interview candidates and rank/review applications. Ask me anything!

A few points to remember- I'm not faculty, I don't know everything about medical school admissions, and I'm not going to dox myself, so I can't tell you my school or specific processes. But I can give you general advice (shadowing is good, etc etc).

I'll check this thread over the next few weeks. If I can help in any way, I'm happy to!
As a student application reviewer, were you able to look up old applications from every student who has every applied to that school ? I’m curious about how ethically managed it is.
 
As a student application reviewer, were you able to look up old applications from every student who has every applied to that school ? I’m curious about how ethically managed it is.
So my school has a VERY strict policy on this, it's basically treated like Hipaa. No, I can't. And I wouldn't. And if someone I know applies I have to recuse myself. And, applicant data is kept in a secure fashion and I believe gotten rid of in a couple of years.
 
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Hello all! SDN was super helpful to me when I was applying. I'm in medical school now and on my school's admissions committee. I interview candidates and rank/review applications. Ask me anything!

A few points to remember- I'm not faculty, I don't know everything about medical school admissions, and I'm not going to dox myself, so I can't tell you my school or specific processes. But I can give you general advice (shadowing is good, etc etc).

I'll check this thread over the next few weeks. If I can help in any way, I'm happy to!
hello question,
I do need of advice
My cumulative gpa is 2.66 and my MCAT score is 515.
I have eight years of clinical experience as a nurse and as a nurse practitioner
I volunteer at Red Cross once monthly as a blood donor ambassador.
My dream is to get into University of Maryland medical school. there’s no auto screen and they would look at me holistically my cumulative GPA is what worries me, because my score goes up by .2 for every A I get in a course…I calculated that I need 17 courses and I do not have time in my life to do that.

I’m 34 years old. My gpa as undergrad years ago was 1.6. but I do have an upward trend because I just completed my post bacc this spring 2024 with 3.97, with 33 credits

I cannot do SMP because I’m a sole provider of my family and I have a kid.

by your experience as an Adcom. What are my chances? Is there any point of me applying to a medical school given my status? Please advise
 
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Honestly I'd ask this to some more experienced forum members. I personally would consider you to be a great applicant. The trick like you say is getting past the screens.

There's a thread on here for confidential expert advice; check that out. Also posting a "WAMC?" what are my chances thread.

Also, nothing wrong with reaching out to schools personally in this situation either. Or going on tours if they give those to applicants. Getting your face out there would help.

Edit: @rnwskim123
 
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Are there certain hours that can screen you out for example having less than 150 non-clinical volunteering hours completed(have 140), but projecting that you will have more complete by time of matriculating?
 
Are there certain hours that can screen you out for example having less than 150 non-clinical volunteering hours completed(have 140), but projecting that you will have more complete by time of matriculating?

You're really overthinking this. Stop being so neurotic. You're gonna be fine!

To answer your question- not at my school. Even at other places, I doubt they'd set a screen above like 100 hours. But my school doesn't screen for anything actualy, a real human reads your app. I don't think this is super common though
 
With secondary essays, I know that you said they are there to see if you fit the school mission to a T. When writing your responses, should you bring each response back to why X school?

Example: when given a prompt something like "Tell us about a time when you did X, Y, or Z," do you need to somehow reference the school and why your experience with XYZ fits there? Or is it better to just tell a story about XYZ?
 
With secondary essays, I know that you said they are there to see if you fit the school mission to a T. When writing your responses, should you bring each response back to why X school?

Example: when given a prompt something like "Tell us about a time when you did X, Y, or Z," do you need to somehow reference the school and why your experience with XYZ fits there? Or is it better to just tell a story about XYZ?
Nah I'd just answer the question.

Now if they ask you something along the lines of your career goals, and you're applying to a med school that's big on rural primary care, and you also like rural prmary care, emphasize it.

But don't try to bend the essay into something it isn't
 
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Nah I'd just answer the question.

Now if they ask you something along the lines of your career goals, and you're applying to a med school that's big on rural primary care, and you also like rural prmary care, emphasize it.

But don't try to bend the essay into something it isn't
Hey Mr. Knight! You helped a lot with my essays so, for starters, thank you :)

In line with the other poster's question, how do I know if I'm forcing the school into an essay? Oftentimes, I'll answer the question and sneak in a few lines to paragraph about how can I achieve that through their school's offerings (courses, student orgs, clinic, research, etc.), mostly because they're things I AM excited to do! Forgive the naivete, I thought it was fine, but now I worry it'll come off as unnatural/fake. Any advice?
 
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Hey Mr. Knight! You helped a lot with my essays so, for starters, thank you :)

In line with the other poster's question, how do I know if I'm forcing the school into an essay? Oftentimes, I'll answer the question and sneak in a few lines to paragraph about how can I achieve that through their school's offerings (courses, student orgs, clinic, research, etc.), mostly because they're things I AM excited to do! Forgive the naivete, I thought it was fine, but now I worry it'll come off as unnatural/fake. Any advice?
I think you're being neurotic. It's probably fine.

Just make sure you answer the question at hand.
 
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I think you're being neurotic. It's probably fine.

Just make sure you answer the question at hand.
At this point, neurotic is my middle name, along with a good chunk of premeds; something to work on. Anyway, makes sense and your time and help is much appreciated
 
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