SDN Article: Beyond MSAR: Additional Resources for Building Your School List

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Emil Chuck

The Student Doctor Network publishes articles weekly. Check out this article or other pre-medical articles at Student Doctor Network.


Compilations like the MSAR, the ChooseDO, the VMSAR, or the ADEA DSE are essential tools to compare your application profile against historical trends, and I’ve given instructions previously on how to build your best school list. However, many applicants don’t take full advantage of everything schools and the internet offer to help select the right schools to target. Here are some additional resources that well-prepared students can seek before and during their school list creation process that you may not have accessed.

  1. National Student Associations. See how active students at your target schools are in their AMSA, ASDA, APHA, AAPA, etc. chapters – specifically regional or national conferences and leadership. You can search the regional/national websites online to see what schools are represented among those voted into leadership positions and have presented at conferences. Reach out to these leaders as they should know the importance of developing strong prehealth students and future colleagues. Ask if you are welcome to attend any seminars or webinars they may host.
  1. National Affinity Student Associations for Underrepresented Students. Students who self-identify as potential members of national affinity associations can research the campus chapters. For medical school applicants, SNMA, LMSA, and APAMSA should appeal to African-American, Latino, and Asian candidates respectively. Those identifying as LGBTQI+ should look up resources from AMSA and the Medical Student Pride Alliance (MSPA) to see how truly welcoming a medical school community is.
  1. University Student Resources. For schools affiliated with a larger university, I recommend reviewing the student resources website, not just the health professional school website. Many health professions programs rely on centralized student services resources for testing accommodations or counseling services. Check out the main university student services offices to see which ones are available to all graduate/professional students (not just undergraduates) and don’t hesitate to contact those administrators.
  1. National Health Education Associations. National health education associations such as AAMC, ADEA, AACP, APTA, and AACPM have sections on their websites for interested students like yourself. Take the time to go through the resources they may provide you about the opportunities in their professions. Note how student-written blogs and articles describe the community culture.

    Professional journals of these associations also can be very revealing about the culture of the profession as well as some individual schools. AAMC’s Academic Medicine podcast complements many published articles, including reflection essays from students and faculty. Take a peek at some of the peer-reviewed articles in these journals that focus on curricular changes that specific schools are testing that may affect your education and training.
  1. Recently-Graduated Alumni. Residents or current professionals who graduated within the last 5 years will provide great insight in reflecting on the impact of their education on their current training. Health professions schools should have good relationships with these “young alumni”. Run through the school’s alumni services website for online copies of past alumni engagement magazines and see how these young alumni are highlighted. You can also utilize the power of social networks like LinkedIn to see where alumni currently practice and determine how connected they still are with the school of your interest.
  1. Student Doctor Network. SDN has been the “go-to” resource for insider perspectives, especially regarding formal training and key concerns you should be aware of. Insight about clinical placements, student support, and preparation for residency and a future career may be taken at face value, and it helps applicants develop a more sophisticated lens when looking at and developing their tiered school lists (as well as looking at other information on the internet).
  1. Influencers, Blogs, and Podcasts. Social media is an essential part of most applicant’s lives, and many follow “influencers” as role models or encouraging faces on the road to becoming a healthcare professional. Does your influencer network highlight multiple perspectives along the training timeline (student, resident/fellow, new professional)? Figure out whether there are other influences on the influencers: Is anyone financially benefiting from their influencer account? Is it being supported/authorized by the school, university, or practice?
  1. Invitations to Talks or Social Events. A school often may have open forums for the community which may be appropriate for prospective applicants. See if a school has an education seminar or forum that you may attend so you can see alumni and some faculty (maybe students).

These additional resources can provide key insights for your school list creation. Targeting the right schools can increase the odds that you are accepted and have a great professional school experience.

The post Beyond MSAR: Additional Resources for Building Your School List appeared first on Student Doctor Network.

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