I'm incredibly fortunate to have been accepted to some great schools this cycle - I am still waiting to hear back on a few (Pitt, Cornell, Duke, and Mount Sinai) but as of right now my heart is struggling to decide mostly between UCSF and UChicago. My decision may change depending on remaining financial aid offers (and UCSF has not given me their financial aid package yet, although I'm not expecting merit aid). I am very social justice/public health advocacy focused, hope to be heavily involved in health services research, and am committed to working with urban underserved populations. Specialty wise, I'm pretty open-minded but I think I'll naturally gravitate towards primary care/internal medicine (general IM, but also interested in endocrinology & nephrology) or emergency medicine.
- UCSF is without a doubt one of the best, if not THE best, medical school in the country. It ranks #1 in terms of reputation by residency program directors, it is ranked top 5 in pretty much any specialty program you can think of, brings in tons of NIH funding, and excels in primary care as well as specialty care. This is a MAJOR pro for me.
- I really liked the San Francisco area when I visited. It's beautiful and I particularly appreciate the culture. The weather seemed right up my alley, and I don't really mind gloominess too much as long as it's not super duper cold.
- The vibe I got from students and faculty there seemed very relaxed and chill, which I like a lot
- I like that there is outdoorsy things to do nearby - I love hiking and generally interacting with nature so this is a definite plus
- Early clinical exposure with its curriculum (integrated in pre-clin, and also they start clerkships earlier)
- While tuition itself is low, I just can't fathom paying up to $2000/month in rent. I have a dog so I won't be able to stay in student housing, so that's the price of rent I'd be looking at if I moved to San Fran. I just can't rationalize using the majority of my loans for cost of living. Also, I would be paying about $120K more in loans if I go to UCSF compared to U-Chicago (MAJOR CON)
- I live on the East Coast and don't have any family/friends in the area
- San Francisco is gloomy, and I don't really like gloominess but like I said, it's not a huge con for me
- The new curriculum - I truly can't decide whether this is a pro or con for me. I like how each week is structured a little bit differently for students, because it spices things up and keeps it exciting. But it also feels slightly disorganized and may be confusing/too hectic for me.
- Students take Step 1 after clerkships - some say it's beneficial to have time on the wards before taking Step 1, but I worry that I will forget the foundational material (e.g. basic science of medicine) if I wait that long to take Step
- 1/2 tuition scholarship plus the relatively low cost of living in Hyde Park makes this school a much better option for me economically (MAJOR pro)
- I really love Chicago and think it's a very hip and cool city. I think there is a ton to do and I will have a lot of fun there (when I'm not studying, of course)
- I don't have friends/family in the immediate area, but everyone is within a (cheaper) 2 hour plane or car ride distance from me.
- Strong research focus that is well integrated within the curriculum- particularly like that the research experience is longitudinal rather than clustered in a 5-6 month block. Also, I find that they are doing a lot of the research I want to do in my career (health services/disparities focused)
- I always dreamt of providing care for the Chicago Southside population so training at CCD/Mitchell would be awesome. Their new trauma center/ED makes it even more enticing for me to train at UChicago
- I really vibed with the students that I met there. Something in particular I really liked was that students seemed very free to express themselves how they choose. I honestly wouldn't have guessed any of them were med students!
- -Proximity to Wisconsin Dells, Indiana Dunes, Lake Michigan activities
- Brutal Chicago winter. I have seasonal affective disorder and I really worry that this will become a problem for me (MAJOR con)
- Chicagoland is not ideal for hiking - super duper flat. I'd say this is a minor con
- I am not entirely sure if this is true but students seemed to be in class 8-4/8-5 each day, and I really prefer having downtime during my day to review/study. I did also interview while the M1s were taking anatomy, so I think that is the only time in the curriculum where you are in class all day.
- I'm used to attending schools with larger class sizes, so I don't know how I feel about having a class size of ~88. A pro for me would be being super connected with my class and also knowing that because my class is small, I have more opportunity to get closer to faculty and develop stronger relationships with them. A con for me is that I don't want to feel like I'm being examined under the microscope by the administration.
- Standard 2 year pre-clinical curriculum - I'm fine with it but I guess there could be an advantage to having a shorter pre-clinical curriculum?