Apr 3, 2010
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I'm finishing up my Sophomore year at Hofstra University (Long Island). My science GPA is 3.90, overall is 3.92.

I have or am finishing up all of my pre-requisites, with the exception of the second semester of physics, which I will do this summer at University of Virginia. I am planning on taking the MCAT in August. The reason for the acceleration is that I am doing a study abroad trip to London, where I will be taking two courses and doing a medical internship, either in Pharmaceuticals or something in chemistry.

My major is Biochemistry; my minor is Ancient Greek, and I do French Horn on the side in the University Band, random ensembles and performances, and private lessons.

I have taken two AMCAS practice tests. The first one, number 3, I took in December and got a 30 (9 PS, 9 BS, 12 V) with one semester of organic, no physics. I just took number 10 and got a 31 (8 PS, 10 BS, 13 V), with half a semester of physics 1 and organic nearly completed, though there seemed to be a lot of physics on it that I haven't yet covered. I know the PS is low, but I'm getting the Berkeley Review Physics books and I have TPR Hyperlearning for Biology, with which I am very pleased. My goal is to get a 35 (11 PS, 11 BS, 13 V), and I'm not concerned about the writing.

My volunteering is a little thin, but I've done some shadowing and will do more, and have done some volunteering at a free clinic. I have a very good mentor who is guiding me through the process, whose alma mater is Emory. My hope is that the research in London will be the main attraction.

Here are my top schools, in vague order:

Mayo
Emory
Hopkins
Washington University (St Louis)
Baylor
University of Virginia
Stony Brook
Hofstra
EVMS

I will be back in the States by Christmas 2010, and want to know how soon I can apply to the medical schools. Obviously, "as soon as I can", but specifics would be appreciated.

Any advice or comments are welcome.

EDITED: Took out the word "safety". My apologizes.
 
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MilkmanAl

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No med school is a "safety" unless you're an absolute superstar, and a low 30's MCAT with "thin" volunteering and clinical experience definitely does not qualify you for superstar status. Even if you achieve the 35 you're hoping for, that list of schools is quite top-heavy. You should include quite a few more schools with average acceptee MCATs in the 30-32 range. Bone up on the volunteerism and clinical experience, and you'll have a strong application.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Seriously, some schools are safety schools. I'm a Virginia resident. EVMS is a safety. I'm at Hofstra right now in undergrad. Hofstra is a safety (when it opens in a year or so). Perhaps safety is too strong of a word - how about, I do not see getting into these schools as too much of a struggle?

All that aside, my MCAT is a little low because I haven't finished all of the required courses yet. I'm studying on a good plan, I have the right books, and everyone's bane, verbal, is my bread and butter.

For volunteering, I've done about 15 hours of shadowing so far in different specialties, and this summer and next I am looking on getting much more in at the local hospital. I'm in my second year as a substitute teacher in my county, so I have teaching/leading experience.

Back to the meat of my question - how important is the study abroad program, considering that it is clinical research 25+ hours a week for 10 weeks. Also, I'll make sure to check out the different health clinics and hospitals while I am there, so that will be something interesting to talk about in interviews, especially considering recent events.

Also, how soon is too soon for applications, and would they ask why I took the MCAT so early, or would my explanation suffice?
 
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A lot of people take the MCAT the fall before they apply the following spring, so no explanation is needed. The AMCAS application opens up sometime in May and can be submitted in the first week of June 2011.

Is ten weeks of research all you'll have on your application? Those applying to the research giant med schools generally have 2+ years to list. Across the board, having a year of research experience seems about average. A disadvantage of going to another country is that you can't continue with the same project for a longer period of time.

"Clinical research" to remind you, also counts as clinical experience if you are interacting with with patients to collect data.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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That much research? I suppose that's a disadvantage to applying before Senior year, as opposed to post-bac or after graduation. There's nothing I can do about that this summer, because I need to finish my physics before the fall, but I will have enough time to put something together in the following spring, and I suppose it could be possible to continue that into the summer. That's more difficult, as I am way out of state, but not an impossibility.

I am honestly not sure whether the internship is 10 or 12 weeks. I didn't look it up before I posted, but either way, I completely see your point. I am going to ask to be placed where I can get some clinical experience - good point there.

What are some options for people looking to intern or get clinical experience? The easiest avenue of research is through my university, but I know that patient contact is much preferred if possible.
 

drizzt3117

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Seriously, some schools are safety schools. I'm a Virginia resident. EVMS is a safety. I'm at Hofstra right now in undergrad. Hofstra is a safety (when it opens in a year or so). Perhaps safety is too strong of a word - how about, I do not see getting into these schools as too much of a struggle?
There really isn't such a thing. I interviewed at and got into most schools in the top 25, just getting an interview at BU "shouldn't have been a struggle" right? After all, I did UG at a top 5 school in Boston and were way above their average stats... Pre-interview rejection FTL... You just never know.



All that aside, my MCAT is a little low because I haven't finished all of the required courses yet. I'm studying on a good plan, I have the right books, and everyone's bane, verbal, is my bread and butter.

For volunteering, I've done about 15 hours of shadowing so far in different specialties, and this summer and next I am looking on getting much more in at the local hospital. I'm in my second year as a substitute teacher in my county, so I have teaching/leading experience.

Back to the meat of my question - how important is the study abroad program, considering that it is clinical research 25+ hours a week for 10 weeks. Also, I'll make sure to check out the different health clinics and hospitals while I am there, so that will be something interesting to talk about in interviews, especially considering recent events.

Also, how soon is too soon for applications, and would they ask why I took the MCAT so early, or would my explanation suffice?
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Point taken. Sometimes schools can be fickle, hence the reason I plan on applying from top to bottom, to many schools.
 
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What are some options for people looking to intern or get clinical experience? The easiest avenue of research is through my university, but I know that patient contact is much preferred if possible.
How many hours will you have volunteering at the free clinic (projected up to the day you submit)?

You can get clinical experience with sick people through the workplace, for class credit, data gathering for a clinical trial, or via volunteerism. It can be gained at a free, family-planning, or private clinic, hospice, hospital, VA, residential home, rehabilitation facility, nursing home, as a first responder, among others.

Clinical patient experience is not always gained in a clinical environment, eg EMT, battle field medic, home hospice care, physical therapy aide, special camp environments. In such a case, you also should acquire some experience in a clinical milieu where doctors work, like a hospital, surgicenter, clinic, nursing home.

The advantage of gaining clinical exposure through volunteerism, is that it also is looked on as community service, another unwritten requirement for your application.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Since mid-high school, I've done about 100 hours of volunteering at the free clinic, but none of it was patient contact, and I'm not sure I can count the hours I put there unless I use it as a continuing service. I do clerical work, filing, organizing, etc.

Since I'll apply in over a year, I can get many more hours there, but again, no patient contact. I do know the head of the clinic very well, so maybe I can do something more patient-related, instead of back-office.

I have done some shadowing, but not much so far. I do have a great contact at the local hospital, so I am planning that this summer, I do 80-100 hours of shadowing different specialties - cardio, GI, anesthesiology, pediatrician, plus medicare vs private patients - and then do a bit more the summer later to show continuity.
 
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I do know the head of the clinic very well, so maybe I can do something more patient-related, instead of back-office.
I agree with taking advantage of the connections you already have.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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I am lucky in that I do have people I can go to to help, but what about the hours I did in high school?

Can I include those hours if it's a continual volunteering, or is it a pretty strict cut-off between high school and college?
 

mspeedwagon

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I apologize in advance, but I laughed so hard at the word "safety" after a medical school. Be careful, you never know what to expect. One of my best friends got rejected from your safety "Stony Brook" (as a NY resident) and is currently at Cornell. She also applied with way more research, volunteering and clinical experience than you have and around a 33 MCAT (I believe she got straight 11s).

Unless you are planning on taking some time off or really start working hard to obtain community service, work in a clinical setting and do research (preferably resulting in a publication or two), you're wasting your money applying to research heavy schools like Hopkins, Washington U, Mayo (go to mdapplicants.com and look at the admitted students). Also, I think your list has too few school. Your hours and awards from high school are worthless for this process (they were meant to help you get into college and they served that purpose. Now the question is what did you do in college to make you a great med school applicant). Of course if you started them in high school and continued through college then the start date would obviously be high school onward.

Finally, a lot of new schools offer a lot of incentives to students and the stats end up being much higher than expected. UCF offered a full-ride to their first class and have very comparable stats to other state FL schools.






[/QUOTE]Here are my top schools, in vague order:

Mayo
Emory
Hopkins
Washington University (St Louis)
Baylor
University of Virginia
Stony Brook (Safety)
Hofstra (Safety)
EVMS (Safety)

I will be back in the States by Christmas 2010, and want to know how soon I can apply to the medical schools. Obviously, "as soon as I can", but specifics would be appreciated.

Any advice or comments are welcome.[/QUOTE]
 
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drizzt3117

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I don't think having publications is a pre-requisite to applying to research-heavy schools. I think it helps, but the vast majority of matriculants at schools don't have pubs as an undergrad. Significant research experience, though, actually helps a lot. For me, it's more dependent on the circumstances and how involved you were in the research and how much you know about it. You better believe you'll be asked detailed questions about your research on interviews!
 

mspeedwagon

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Funny you say that, because I went back and forth editing my post on that very note. But, I think we can both agree to apply to research the OP need way more research than he/she currently has for the research heavy schools.


I don't think having publications is a pre-requisite to applying to research-heavy schools. I think it helps, but the vast majority of matriculants at schools don't have pubs as an undergrad. Significant research experience, though, actually helps a lot. For me, it's more dependent on the circumstances and how involved you were in the research and how much you know about it. You better believe you'll be asked detailed questions about your research on interviews!
 
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Apr 3, 2010
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This is why I am posting this now - I will not apply to schools for over a year, so I have time to acquire the necessary hours and the like. Better early than later.

I do feel that the people on this site devalue the value of researching abroad - everyone who I have asked (by "everyone" I mean doctors, including two who have served on adcomms) informed me that doing this alone vastly improves my chances, both because of the research and because it gives a great topic to talk about during interviews.

I could do research and start this fall and work through spring and summer, but because of the trip, I cannot. I do know it's a trade-off, but I feel that it is more important to do the trip.

Is my application weak right now?
Of course.

Will I attempt to start more research when I return in the spring? Absolutely.

Will I do more volunteering/shadowing this summer and next?
Absolutely.

Will I study my butt off to get a 35+ on the MCAT?
Absolutely.
 
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Can I include those hours if it's a continual volunteering, or is it a pretty strict cut-off between high school and college?
IMO, provided a HS activity continued into the college years, it is acceptable to list it on the med school application.
 

mspeedwagon

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We do not undervalue studying abroad. It's a good experience and it'll give you something else to talk about at your interview. But, this needs to be an addition. And, your action plan sounds reasonable. You are right, you have a year at least to continue to build your application. Good luck.


This is why I am posting this now - I will not apply to schools for over a year, so I have time to acquire the necessary hours and the like. Better early than later.

I do feel that the people on this site devalue the value of researching abroad - everyone who I have asked (by "everyone" I mean doctors, including two who have served on adcomms) informed me that doing this alone vastly improves my chances, both because of the research and because it gives a great topic to talk about during interviews.

I could do research and start this fall and work through spring and summer, but because of the trip, I cannot. I do know it's a trade-off, but I feel that it is more important to do the trip.

Is my application weak right now?
Of course.

Will I attempt to start more research when I return in the spring? Absolutely.

Will I do more volunteering/shadowing this summer and next?
Absolutely.

Will I study my butt off to get a 35+ on the MCAT?
Absolutely.