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Suggested questions to ask at each school, from a 4th year.

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jbar

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Hi all, I used to give tour for my medical school. Now that I'm finishing fourth year I realized that I have a list of questions that I'd tell people on my tour they should be asking all their schools on interview day. Some of this stuff you might be able to figure out online, but much of it you need to be talking to an actual person so more useful for interviews. Hope this helps.



1: Don't ask about match rate, look at match lists.
- Everyone says "oh, 95% of our students match at one of their top 2 choices." This is a BS stat since if you barely passed step 1 you don't apply to neurosurgery at Hopkins, or you don't get an interview. So getting your top choice after choosing a field and having been to places where you interviewed (and "clicked at") doesn't tell the applicant much about how competitive the students are at that school in the match process. Look at the match list for:
A: What fields people matched into, both for competitiveness and a match for your interests. If 90% of the students are going into primary care IM or Peds, and you want to be a ophthalmologist, maybe not a good fit for you. If you see the list for two or three years and no one has matched into the field you are interested in, red flag.
B: If people stayed at the same place for residency as med school. If no one is staying it means either the residencies are bad, or the city sucks or something that you should figure out. When 50% of the class is staying it means something special is going on there.

2: When you get a great lunch on interview day, ask what students normally eat. Just because they catered lobster and steak for the interview day, know if the normal lunch sucks.

3: Be aware of the year medical student you are talking to. Many of the tour are given by first or second year medical students. Which is great when you have questions about the pre-clinical years, but often they are mis-informed about 3rd and 4th year. Some of the stuff that they think happens in the hospital or rotations is just plain wrong. If you are really interested in a school get the email of some 3rd or 4th year students to ask questions.

4: Ask how much time you get off to study for Step 1 and for interviews. At my school people rock step 1, it's not that we're super smart, it's that we get 8 weeks from the end of second year to the start of 3rd year to study. Some places give you 2 days off to take the test, and expect you to study while working on the rest of your classes. Same goes for interviews, some places expect you to do most of your interviews during easy rotations.

5: Ask about the structure of 4th year. If you think you want the chance to travel, do a bunch of electives, try out different fields with Sub-Is you need to ask about 4th year. Some places have 4-5 months of required rotations. That plus step 2 plus interviews leaves you like a month or two to do what you want. If you have your heart set on surgery you should be aware if there is a required internal medicine Sub-I.

6:When people brag about early clinical contact, ask what that means. Some places you are interviewing real patients, some places you shadow a doctor first year and only get to talk to standardized patients (actors) or do simulations. If you want to see real patients ask about this. Also ask about shadowing opportunities (ER, OR) or student run clinics.

7: Ask the students if they are happy. Just like that. If people need to think about if they are really happy, or hedge with some sort of "I guess so" or "I don't want to quit yet," that is different from being "happy."

8: Ask the students what they do besides medicine. If they can't think of anything besides study and drink the night after a test, be aware of that. Some places you can learn medicine and not give up playing ice hockey or singing or being an actor. Have students break down their typical week, how much time in class, how much lecture, how much small group.

9: If you can't imagine living in that state/city, why are you applying? Sure if you got a 20 on your MCAT and are applying to all 150 schools, or you have a good reason, apply somewhere that you hate. But for most applicants if you don't want to live down south or in the Midwest or certain cities, save your money.

10: When they say the grades are pass/fail, ask what exactly that means. Some places are High honors, honors, high pass, pass, fail. That's ABCDF. Which I think is fine for clinical years, if you rock your OB/GYN rotation and want to match in that it's good to show that off. But I think it doesn't really help having grades the first two years. If you want that great, but know what you are getting into.

11. Find out how they do PBL. Some places do problem based learning well, with structure and a good moderator teaching you by going through a case. Some places have 5 med students sitting around with books trying to teach themselves to read EKGs. You could do that for free on your own. Ask how much time is PBL, especially if it's not very structured. If the school is 80% PBL and people hate it, know that.

12. Write down something after each school you visit. You tell yourself that you love that place so much you will remember. But 6 interviews later you will struggle to come up with which place had the really nice student gym. This will really help 4 months later when you are deciding between schools and are trying to think about what you really loved and hated at each one.
 
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vanillabear55

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bookmarking this haha

thanks!
 

DrBowtie

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Also important stuff in day to day making your life better:

Ask about Printing/Copying and if it is free.

Ask about study room facilities for small group or secluded studying.

Ask about cafeteria discounts (I spent 1k at the cafeteria each year.)

Ask about parking. If you have to park and shuttle it can add 20-30 minutes to your commute.
 
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lpmarcus010

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Also, be on the lookout for med students walking around in bowties. They think it is cool, but they really just look like they are dressed each day by their mothers. Not sure what this tells you, but was a complete turn-off for me at some schools...:laugh:
 

DrBowtie

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Also, be on the lookout for med students walking around in bowties. They think it is cool, but they really just look like they are dressed each day by their mothers. Not sure what this tells you, but was a complete turn-off for me at some schools...:laugh:
Good. Please stay away from the south.
 
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lpmarcus010

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I'm actually from the good ole' ATL and never, ever saw a bowtie on a physician growing up. Don't know what you are talking about
 
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bucks2010

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Thanks for posting. Always appreciate insight like this.
 

Tapepsi

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1: Don’t ask about match rate, look at match lists.

If people stayed at the same place for residency as med school.

When you get a great lunch on interview day, ask what students normally eat.

Ask how much time you get off to study for Step 1 and for interviews.

These were questions that were most important to me on my interview day. I'm glad that the answers I received from the students were what I wanted to hear, but I was not aware that some schools barely give you any time off to study for USMLE. How do they expect their students to do good? :confused:
 

NickNaylor

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I definitely agree with writing down comments. I used my MDApps for that purpose and it was extremely helpful for remembering my initial impressions about schools, because by the time I was done interviewing I couldn't distinguish any of the interview days from each other.

Take note, current applicants!
 
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HAV000

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I definitely agree with writing down comments. I used my MDApps for that purpose and it was extremely helpful for remembering my initial impressions about schools, because by the time I was done interviewing I couldn't distinguish any of the interview days from each other.

Take note, current applicants!

That's kind of true lol.

Excellent questions OP!
 

rhesuspieces

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I definitely agree with writing down comments. I used my MDApps for that purpose and it was extremely helpful for remembering my initial impressions about schools, because by the time I was done interviewing I couldn't distinguish any of the interview days from each other.

Take note, current applicants!

I "only" went to 5 interviews and after that I had a hard time remembering which was which. I can't imagine how tough it was to keep track of all your interviews, Nick!
 

JOHNNYCAGE

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Also, be on the lookout for med students walking around in bowties. They think it is cool, but they really just look like they are dressed each day by their mothers. Not sure what this tells you, but was a complete turn-off for me at some schools...:laugh:

ahaha wish i had seen this months ago before school started. so true...
 

phltz

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Also, be on the lookout for med students walking around in bowties. They think it is cool, but they really just look like they are dressed each day by their mothers. Not sure what this tells you, but was a complete turn-off for me at some schools...:laugh:

I agree that it looks kind of goofy, but it may well be better for patient care not to have a long dangly thing on your neck that you can use to inadvertently inoculate patients with bacteria from who-knows-where in the hospital.
 

1stmeds

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Solid points. Thanks for this
 

chronicidal

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B: If people stayed at the same place for residency as med school. If no one is staying it means either the residencies are bad, or the city sucks or something that you should figure out. When 50% of the class is staying it means something special is going on there.

If everyone is staying, it could also mean that the school is bad at placing students in other strong residencies / lacks a wider reputation.
 

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funny-pictures-cat-is-amazed.jpg
 
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AlQassim

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I don't know what you guys are whining about, I think bowties are very handsome and respectable on a physician of any age.
 

link2swim06

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My top questions

Ask if you have 24 hour access to the library.

Ask if class attendance is mandatory

Ask if lectures are recorded

Ask about the social life of the school from the tour guides (NOT your student interviewers)

Ask where students have to park

Ask how often they have tests and quizzes
 
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mmmcdowe

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If everyone is staying, it could also mean that the school is bad at placing students in other strong residencies / lacks a wider reputation.

The flip side of it is, for a lot of schools, their hospital is the best one in the area. Since a lot of folk choose to settle down for a lot of reasons in the area of their medical education, it is hard to say if people are really stuck there vs choosing the best residency program within the limits of their life goals. For example, lot of people stay at U Mich for residency.
 

cyanide12345678

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Hi all, I used to give tour for my medical school. Now that I’m finishing fourth year I realized that I have a list of questions that I’d tell people on my tour they should be asking all their schools on interview day. Some of this stuff you might be able to figure out online, but much of it you need to be talking to an actual person so more useful for interviews. Hope this helps.



1: Don’t ask about match rate, look at match lists.
- Everyone says “oh, 95% of our students match at one of their top 2 choices.” This is a BS stat since if you barely passed step 1 you don’t apply to neurosurgery at Hopkins, or you don’t get an interview. So getting your top choice after choosing a field and having been to places where you interviewed (and “clicked at”) doesn’t tell the applicant much about how competitive the students are at that school in the match process. Look at the match list for:
A: What fields people matched into, both for competitiveness and a match for your interests. If 90% of the students are going into primary care IM or Peds, and you want to be a ophthalmologist, maybe not a good fit for you. If you see the list for two or three years and no one has matched into the field you are interested in, red flag.
B: If people stayed at the same place for residency as med school. If no one is staying it means either the residencies are bad, or the city sucks or something that you should figure out. When 50% of the class is staying it means something special is going on there.

2: When you get a great lunch on interview day, ask what students normally eat. Just because they catered lobster and steak for the interview day, know if the normal lunch sucks.

3: Be aware of the year medical student you are talking to. Many of the tour are given by first or second year medical students. Which is great when you have questions about the pre-clinical years, but often they are mis-informed about 3rd and 4th year. Some of the stuff that they think happens in the hospital or rotations is just plain wrong. If you are really interested in a school get the email of some 3rd or 4th year students to ask questions.

4: Ask how much time you get off to study for Step 1 and for interviews. At my school people rock step 1, it’s not that we’re super smart, it’s that we get 8 weeks from the end of second year to the start of 3rd year to study. Some places give you 2 days off to take the test, and expect you to study while working on the rest of your classes. Same goes for interviews, some places expect you to do most of your interviews during easy rotations.

5: Ask about the structure of 4th year. If you think you want the chance to travel, do a bunch of electives, try out different fields with Sub-Is you need to ask about 4th year. Some places have 4-5 months of required rotations. That plus step 2 plus interviews leaves you like a month or two to do what you want. If you have your heart set on surgery you should be aware if there is a required internal medicine Sub-I.

6:When people brag about early clinical contact, ask what that means. Some places you are interviewing real patients, some places you shadow a doctor first year and only get to talk to standardized patients (actors) or do simulations. If you want to see real patients ask about this. Also ask about shadowing opportunities (ER, OR) or student run clinics.

7: Ask the students if they are happy. Just like that. If people need to think about if they are really happy, or hedge with some sort of “I guess so” or “I don’t want to quit yet,” that is different from being “happy.”

8: Ask the students what they do besides medicine. If they can’t think of anything besides study and drink the night after a test, be aware of that. Some places you can learn medicine and not give up playing ice hockey or singing or being an actor. Have students break down their typical week, how much time in class, how much lecture, how much small group.

9: If you can’t imagine living in that state/city, why are you applying? Sure if you got a 20 on your MCAT and are applying to all 150 schools, or you have a good reason, apply somewhere that you hate. But for most applicants if you don’t want to live down south or in the Midwest or certain cities, save your money.

10: When they say the grades are pass/fail, ask what exactly that means. Some places are High honors, honors, high pass, pass, fail. That’s ABCDF. Which I think is fine for clinical years, if you rock your OB/GYN rotation and want to match in that it’s good to show that off. But I think it doesn’t really help having grades the first two years. If you want that great, but know what you are getting into.

11. Find out how they do PBL. Some places do problem based learning well, with structure and a good moderator teaching you by going through a case. Some places have 5 med students sitting around with books trying to teach themselves to read EKGs. You could do that for free on your own. Ask how much time is PBL, especially if it’s not very structured. If the school is 80% PBL and people hate it, know that.

12. Write down something after each school you visit. You tell yourself that you love that place so much you will remember. But 6 interviews later you will struggle to come up with which place had the really nice student gym. This will really help 4 months later when you are deciding between schools and are trying to think about what you really loved and hated at each one.

How do we turn this into a sticky?
 

ponyo

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Also, be on the lookout for med students walking around in bowties. They think it is cool, but they really just look like they are dressed each day by their mothers. Not sure what this tells you, but was a complete turn-off for me at some schools...:laugh:

I think only people who can pull this off should be allowed to wear bowties:

images


Anyway on topic: I'm not even applying this cycle, but I've found that seeking out alums of your undergrad who have gone on to med school is really helpful. They seem to somehow feel more comfortable about being honest with you about things that suck.
 
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grsonn

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My first interview was, I believe, a bit of an epic fail. I had all sorts of good questions like the ones listed above to ask my interviewer. But when the doctor asked me if I had any questions I froze and stupidly asked about some arcane magazine that the medical school used to publish - a literary journal with poems and stories written by med students. I asked about poetry. Poetry . . .
 
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487806

My first interview was, I believe, a bit of an epic fail. I had all sorts of good questions like the ones listed above to ask my interviewer. But when the doctor asked me if I had any questions I froze and stupidly asked about some arcane magazine that the medical school used to publish - a literary journal with poems and stories written by med students. I asked about poetry. Poetry . . .

Good for you! I'm sure that the members involved in this thread a year ago will be excited to hear about your interview!

When I get excited about something, I'll search for old threads and bump them to express my views. Good idea...
 

red7

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Good for you! I'm sure that the members involved in this thread a year ago will be excited to hear about your interview!

When I get excited about something, I'll search for old threads and bump them to express my views. Good idea...

Hey man, why do you spend so much time on this site policing others? Just relax - go outside and breathe some fresh air if it bothers you that much
 

grsonn

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Good for you! I'm sure that the members involved in this thread a year ago will be excited to hear about your interview!

When I get excited about something, I'll search for old threads and bump them to express my views. Good idea...
Sorry - new to this and didn't realize that this thread was from a year ago. Jeez. I don't even know what bumping is . . .
 
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487806

Hey man, why do you spend so much time on this site policing others? Just relax - go outside and breathe some fresh air if it bothers you that much

:confused:

This thread came on front page dated 2011. Scrolled down thinking someone posted something interesting. Guess not. It's not good to bump old threads just to join the conversation.
 

mimelim

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Hey man, why do you spend so much time on this site policing others? Just relax - go outside and breathe some fresh air if it bothers you that much

Necro-bumping is annoying as posts from 1 year go don't make for good conversation starters. It is one thing if the poster is adding new information to a topic, but it is pointless to just add your own commentary to something and not further it along if it has been dead for a year.
 

typicalindian

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Necro-bumping is annoying as posts from 1 year go don't make for good conversation starters. It is one thing if the poster is adding new information to a topic, but it is pointless to just add your own commentary to something and not further it along if it has been dead for a year.

Unless you bump the poop hotdog thread. Then it's ok. Actually, I'd probably thank them.
 

CarlATHF

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Great original post by OP. I'll add a few more:

1. How well are concerns of the student body addressed by the administration? Some schools are not receptive to student feedback, while others adjust and evolve according to the needs of the students. Try to pick the latter.

2. What is the rotation schedule like during 3rd year? If you're interested in surgery and you get 6 weeks of surgery on just 1 service, that's not very helpful. Another important question is Do you get to do much during 3rd year? If all you do is shadow, again, that's not very helpful. Granted, it is your first time on the wards and your first time taking care of actual patients so oversight of your activities is to be expected, but if you never get to write H&Ps, deliver babies, or assist with procedures, you won't be ready for increased responsibility during 4th year and as an intern.
 

Favour517

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Also important stuff in day to day making your life better:

Ask about Printing/Copying and if it is free.

Ask about study room facilities for small group or secluded studying.

Ask about cafeteria discounts (I spent 1k at the cafeteria each year.)

Ask about parking. If you have to park and shuttle it can add 20-30 minutes to your commute.
Wow, im in college, and i spend 4k per academic year.
 

Favour517

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My first interview was, I believe, a bit of an epic fail. I had all sorts of good questions like the ones listed above to ask my interviewer. But when the doctor asked me if I had any questions I froze and stupidly asked about some arcane magazine that the medical school used to publish - a literary journal with poems and stories written by med students. I asked about poetry. Poetry . . .
haha:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:
 
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