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What makes the difference?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ThucydidesLazar, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. ThucydidesLazar

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    So, thinking about this is interesting to me. The question is simple enough.

    Reading the Adcoms, it seems they feel like they have read all of the various essays before, and there are only a relatively small number of types out there, such as "The Victim". It sounds to me like these people are suffering from compassion burnout. But, they are the ones making the decision, so we will take their viewpoint as "accurate".

    Then consider that everyone is supposed to have the same volunteer activities, and the same extracurriculars. I have even heard of multiple competitive eaters admitted to the same year in one medical school.

    Furthermore, every applicant is supposed to be around 3.8 - 4.0 GPA (or probably at least 3.6 or so). For the MCAT, somewhere between the low 30's to high 30's, with very few in the 40's. But then the Adcoms say that such high scorers can be arrogant, and so it may be that they either enter the interview with too much confidence for what they want from applicants, or the Adcoms resent an applicant having scored higher than them. Either seems probable, for certain personalities. The point is, it doesn't seem like the Adcoms are super-impressed with high MCATs if they don't already like the candidate beforehand.

    So. To them, the personal essays are all the same, the activities are all the same, and the scores are all generally the same.

    Now, I'll grant you that a social mercantilism is obviously in effect in this society and the admissions committees seem to generally have absorbed that through their socialization. That would make a difference, but there are also people who are not part of any group that practices political lobbying or possesses political organization--and yet they still get in. So, although this is, statistically, quite obviously a factor, group sympathies don't quite explain everything.

    When I look at it, what on earth are the Adcoms making their decisions based upon if everyone really is so similar?

    I have had a lot of unique experiences, etc, and I am sure there are other people like that too, but for reasons of burnout, experience, or whatever, the Adcoms don't seem to speak like there is much uniqueness in the applications they read. What then is the origin of a decision? Flipping a coin, or a process about as random?
     
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  3. Temporary Superman

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    I think you've been on this website too long bud. Not everyone applying has stats like those at all. Everyone's experiences are different. And they do look at them.
     
  4. NewHorizons

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    You greatly underestimate the unique experiences people have despite similar grades (which is questionable in itself since the grades seem to vary greatly... so too does the success).
     
  5. Goro

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    OP, you have read everything we have written here, and have read nothing.
     
  6. Doctor Dream

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    I see a ton of generalizations and assumptions in your post OP, and although I'm just an undergrad, I guarantee you adcoms are not as thick-headed or dense as you feel they are. I'd imagine they can spot differences in applicants pretty easily, and can therefore select those which they feel will make great additions to their classes. Let's be real here, coin flipping to determine an admission? C'mon.
     
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  7. ThucydidesLazar

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    Hmm...I'll address the replies in general.

    From the fourth reply: "Let's be real here, coin flipping to determine an admission?" You did know that I didn't literally mean a coin was flipped, right? I meant that there was some slight and little element in one application versus another that seemed, from an outside perspective, to be practically random chance. Which the flip of a coin is often used as an example of. Actually, if you are familiar with programming, not even a random-number generator is truly random--but it has the appearance of being so. And you don't need to use charged words about adcoms. I have read at least several adcoms--not 100s, but who has?--write about the experience, and I picked up on elements of burnout (because they read so many) and sarcasm. I don't necessarily think they are dense, but I don't necessarily believe that they can easily choose between two or twenty highly qualified applicants.

    Now, for the third reply: The sentence has a usual rhetorical contrast in it. I assume you are saying I did not comprehend anything. If you understand these things, then post what makes the difference between multiple qualified candidates.

    For the second reply: Yeah, I admit the truth of some of what you are saying--let me be clear, I am not really "underestimating". But, for example, if they see multiple people who had to live through the death of a relative, or multiple people (such as myself) who had to struggle and overcome rare and life-threatening issues, they seem to tend to categorize these experiences. I fully believe unique experiences are valuable: in fact, my struggles (which ultimately had to rely upon my efforts, because the doctors weren't interested in the difficulties of obscure diagnosis) obviously did increase my compassion towards others who suffer from rare afflictions. At the same time, it is entirely realistic to think that some adcoms simply view any criticism of medicine or another doctor as a criticism of them personally, thus making unique experiences of that nature to be harmful rather than helpful. It depends upon personality, ultimately.

    For the first reply: You probably gave the most productive answer. And, that's a Pokemon avatar, right? It looks neat. You're right that not everyone has those statistics. But the admitted applicants seem to cluster among those scores. And I have read multiple adcoms that just said they scanned the activities. I do believe that some of them look carefully, though. But with such a large volume, I don't know, maybe it tends to foster quick scanning behavior.

    Well, barring hearing from an adcom, I suppose it would be difficult to actually get some insight on what causes these schools to admit one high-scoring candidate and to dismiss another. Or...maybe so few people get these high scores that they actually do tend to admit the ones that apply early enough...?
     
  8. WonderGrill

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    Yeah, Goro has a bad habit of having underlying condescending tones in most of his posts in an attempt to sound witty and get likes.
     
  9. beeboops

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    Well, if it makes you feel any better, OP, Penn State asks you straight up on the secondary what unique aspect of your application you would like them to consider.

    In all seriousness, I understand your sentiment, and I agree that many pre-meds have fairly similar stats and experiences. What I imagine adcoms are looking for is your ability to speak about these experiences in a way that demonstrates how they have uniquely impacted your life/your decision to become a doctor. Surprisingly, I feel like this introspection and insight is absent in many applicants, so whenever someone has it, the adcoms will take notice.

    Disclaimer: Totally not an adcom. Just a fellow pre-med that happens to work for a pre-med program and gets to look at/critique some apps.
     
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  10. Axes

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    The similarity of applicant pool you are describing is relevant in considering how adcoms decide between the already narrowed down applicant pile at a top medical school-- it is not relevant when considering the process as a whole. The 50th percentile MCAT score is a 26. Most medical school applicants don't have GPAs in the mentioned range. This is why 60% or so don't get an acceptance anywhere. You just have to be in the top 40%, which, let's be honest, is not that difficult of a task. Even for top schools, stats are a powerful elimination tool, since no matter what you read here or elsewhere, MCAT scores in the high 30s and similalry impressive GPAs are rare. So the number of people that are numerically indistinguishable is small. And for those who are, experiences and interviews top off the process. It is not random
     
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  11. NotASerialKiller

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    Why the quotation marks? Even if you're right about them, do you have any reason to believe that this is just a phenomenon of being an Adcom and posting on SDN? If not, their perspectives are likely similar to those who will be judging you, in which case it doesn't really matter if you agree with that point of view, you still have to acquiesce. In that way, their statements accurately represent what Adcoms look for regardless of any legitimate or illegitimate objections, so the "accuracy" that you seem want is irrelevant.
     
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  12. WedgeDawg

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    Here are some numbers:

    140,000 people apply to medical school every year.

    We will say our "sphere of competitiveness" is encompassed by 3.60+ GPA and 30+ MCAT. This pool of applicants consists of 40,600 people (we've already eliminated over 70% of the applicant pool). If we want, we can include people with 3.40+ and 36+ MCATs to be in this competitive pool as well, so we'll add an additional 1400 applicants. This increases our pool to 42,000 applicants, a mere 30% of the original applicant pool. 32,200 are accepted, which is ~77%, meaning more than 3 in every 4 applicants in these categories are accepted! At this stage, it's more like who isn't going to be accepted than who is and we've so far only considered stats! More people will be screened out by lack of clinical exposure, red flags, late applications, applying to only Harvard, Hopkins, and Stanford, bad letters of recommendation, exceptionally poor writing skills, and so much more. Then, once people get to the interview stage, a poor interviewer will be screened out. These are a lot of things that work to screen out a mere 10,000 people from our "sphere of competitiveness", which can be done very easily.

    Now, does this give you insight as to how the minds of adcoms work? No, probably not, and since every adcom and adcom member is different, you're going to be hard-pressed to find a way to get into the heads of every single one.

    My point here is to show you that 1) this process is not random and 2) in the aggregate, it's more about "screening out" than "letting in" for the vast majority of applicants; the letting in part happens for the last few to survive these screens.

    Hopefully this provides a different perspective on your musings.

    Edit: Numbers from AAMC Table 24 (https://www.aamc.org/download/321508/data/factstable24.pdf)
     
  13. WonderGrill

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    Really great post. What's your source for those numbers? Really enlightening and I would like to see more.
     
  14. WedgeDawg

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    Sorry - I should have cited my numbers!

    Table 24 AAMC
     
  15. NewHorizons

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    Do you come from a math background ? Please do tell !
     
  16. WedgeDawg

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    Lol, not at all. I just like looking at data, and the conclusions I drew here didn't require anything except +,-,*, and /
     
  17. NewHorizons

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    *MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM DATA
     
  18. ThucydidesLazar

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    Which was pretty much what I was saying.
     
  19. Goro

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    LizzyM has eloquently reported in these pages on how Adcoms screen and choose candidates to interview, especially at top schools. Do a search on her posts.

     
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  20. ThucydidesLazar

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    Damn, man! Consider me impressed. I love this sort of analytical writing. Also, your avatar picture looks cool as well. (Charizard as a doctor.)

    So, that aside, this seems to confirm to me the notion I had developed that medical school admissions is more like a negative process than a positive one. It seems like they go through a checklist and mainly see if you fail to meet a criteria, and then they exclude you.

    But to see the actual numbers was incredible. I had no idea so many people applied. That must partially account for the large wait times.

    I suppose you are right about the adcoms. That said, there are certain influences that stem from a common material situation and mutual self-interest that can be used to help predict behavior and mindset even when one isn't limiting things to a particular personality type. I believe Tocqueville in The Ancien Regime said something to the effect that there were always individual exceptions, but history was mainly concerned not with outliers but with the general tendency of classes. Certain professions tend to attract a certain sort of person, etc. Here is the quote, which I have found:
    Well, your post really helped solidify in me an understanding of the exact nature of the process. I think I'll just put on one of those ninja outfits from Kabuki (Kuroko) when I go to the interview in order to slip past, undetected, all of their negative criteria. Or I could go with Aragoto face paint on so that they would be able to quickly tell that I am a good guy. I wonder if they would get the reference.

    (I'm joking, by the way. Unless someone actually did this and got in, and then that would be awesome, ha.)
     
  21. avgn

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    I recommend going with Kuriboh
    [​IMG]
     
  22. GiveMeThatMD

    GiveMeThatMD Consider this thread DERAILED.
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    :wow::troll:
     
  23. avgn

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    It's not troll so much as misinformed. Big difference
     
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  24. GiveMeThatMD

    GiveMeThatMD Consider this thread DERAILED.
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    I apologize if that came off a bit rash, just teasing at the situation :) OP, a 3.6(ish) is the average acceptance. There will be a multitude of exceptions, completely dependent on other ECs.
     
  25. Law2Doc

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    Im grossly generlizing, but basically things work like this. There will be three groups of applicants in the applicant pool for every school. Those with both good stats and some distinguishing "wow" factor. Those with good numbers and cookie cutter premed stuff. And those who fall short in one or more categories. The second group is largest, and that's who OP is referring to when suggesting that everyone looks about the same. But in fact the first group exists and tends to be the group most likely to distinguish themselves and avoid the dreaded wait list.

    How can you be in this first group? There's no one right answer. Good numerical stats and the basic required ECs are really the baseline above which these candidates exceed. They tend to include people with extensive research, national recognition in some non-medical aspect of their lives (eg Olympians, Rhodes scholars), advanced degrees, prior prestigious employment, military service, or public service/peace corps type stuff. Sometimes multiple of the above. There are some pretty amazing people at the top med schools. But certainly not enough to fill up even just the top schools. So the classes are rounded out with people in the second group, and OP is correct that these folks have a harder time distinguishing themselves. If you have some sort of wow factor, you are better off and should play it up.
     
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  26. ThucydidesLazar

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    I have a question. This concerns an activity in my AMCAS. I spent about a year-and-a-half studying the Law on my own (seemed like a good thing to know at the time). Later, I bought a car at a large, professional dealership, that ended up selling me one without a clean registration, or something like that. In hindsight, they probably knew this. I couldn't get insurance for it.

    So, I prepared a legal brief, and went into the big, very open and public office and told them the situation and that I needed to speak to the owner over legal matters. The whole business was filled with "driver"-type personalities. They all suddenly got quiet and meek when the boss appeared. We went into a private room and he began to attempt to emotionally bulldoze me. I kept calm, and the clever thing I did was to anticipate every single one of his arguments, and bring evidence for it. So every time he began to try something he thought was a good angle, I showed him that I had already predicted his move, and was prepared for him. I then showed him, citing two cases that were recent and in a nearby geographic region, that I could actually recover a large sum of money from all this. However, I told him I just wanted back what was owed to me.

    In the end run, not only did I get my money back, but I even got him to pay for all of my gas over the period I had owned the car, citing a legal technicality that I was entitled to any of the "associated costs to move the merchandise".

    I already submitted my AMCAS, and am still waiting for it to be processed, so there is perhaps not much I can do, but was it a good thing or a bad thing that I put this in there? And does this qualify (if I have several other incidents that are unusual) as being sufficient to put one in the first group? Or do you need something more "official" to be placed in the first group? I could honestly see committees going either which way. This incident demonstrates "courage under fire", the ability to work with people of different personality types, and the ability to do research, plus the detail about even getting the guy to pay for my gas is cool. But, they could also choose to interpret that this guy is argumentative and sues everyone, which is not true, I was being frauded, but they may still choose to interpret it that way.

    Post Script: Wouldn't it be funny if someone put in their application that they were abducted by aliens, as one of their activities?
     
  27. canttellmenothin

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    I think this is something that would be great to write about in secondaries, perhaps for the many prompts that ask you to give an example of a time you failed or were challenged.
     
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  28. doc_mcd94

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    Not sure if you actually meant this but you know that was the summation of all applicants over those three years, right?
     
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  29. ThucydidesLazar

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    Is Kuriboh trying to seduce Téa?
     
  30. Law2Doc

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    Given that you are asking advice after the fact, you'll just have to wait and see how this is going to be received. Medicine, like law, has had a lot of issues with people who read a few articles and think they know how to practice medicine (much as you feel like you taught yourself law). We regularly deal with patients who come in in a panic because they've used internet resources to self diagnose leprosy and the like. People outside of the field have no clue what is involved in learning the craft, and regularly underestimate the training. Often the most important thing you can learn in early professional school (and what you don't get through self education) is how little you really know and how much you have to learn. It's a humbling experience, and honestly, the guy who spends time reading on his own and thinks he knows what he's doing is going to scare a lot of administrators (and should). In medicine we don't want people with a couple of years of reading under their belt thinking they know more than they do -- that is truly dangerous. In medicine, by design, you do four years of school and 3-7 years of residency, and in some cases 1-2 years of fellowship, only to emerge as a very green novice. In law the path is shorter, usually three years of law school and a few years as junior associate before you start to be deemed knowing what you are doing. So saying you self taught a profession in a year in a half and went out and used it truly might rub people the wrong way. Just saying.
    So I don't think it makes you out to be argumentative and litigious per se, but it makes you out to be dangerously brash. Also FWIW, although you describe the car dealer as trying to emotionally bulldoze you, I'm not sure in your story that you didn't come out as the one doing the bulldozing.
     
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  31. Goro

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    QFT. Our students who get into the most trouble in their clinical years are the ones who had some prior training, like being paramedics, and they constantly end up pissing off preceptors and failing rotations with the "Oh, I already know that, so I don't have to study cardiology" attitude.


    My clinical colleagues take professionalism very seriously, and would look VERY dimly upon this. It's an app for med school, not for Art Bell or MUFON. Wouldn't it be funny if this person were rejected out of hand?

    Post Script: Wouldn't it be funny if someone put in their application that they were abducted by aliens, as one of their activities?
     
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  32. ChrisMack390

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    OP, the person you described - mid 30's MCAT, 3.8 GPA, all of the standard ECs plus 1 or 2 more interesting ones, not arrogant or awkward at the interview - will get into medical school.

    That person is also probably a quarter or less of the applicants.

    There is a topic on this board where someone asked the question "How many med school applicants are flat out delusional?" Many of our resident adcom posters answered with numbers around 50%, with stories about people who scored in the single digits on the MCAT (overall), had sub-3.0 GPAs, did not have any clinical experience, etc. Some applicants even disclosed at the interview that they didn't actually want to go...

    AAMC says that 40% of allopathic applicants get in somewhere. If we assume it is true that 50% don't want to get in or didn't bother to do basic research on what it takes to get in or are grossly under-qualified, that means there are only 10% of applicants that are borderline and don't make the cut. Presumably, the 10% that are borderline for allopathic schools have a good shot at osteopathic ones. In this model, the chance of getting into medical school is actually extremely high, assuming you know what you are doing and are genuinely interested.
     
  33. Law2Doc

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    I'd say a much smaller percentage of applicants are unrealistic about their chances than 50%, and a much bigger percentage are borderline than you seem to be suggesting. Lets not pretend med school isn't competitive by fantasizing that half the applicants are 2.0 GPA 15 MCAT types. It simply isn't so. I would suggest that you are taking somewhat exaggerated statements from a few adcom posters out of context, and hoping its real.
     
  34. ChrisMack390

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    As someone else pointed out, the median MCAT score is 26. That means at least half of MCAT takers don't have a hope of getting into an allopathic school (more if you count the 26, 27, 28, 29s).
     
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  35. doc_mcd94

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    That's the median MCAT score of people who take it. You need to take into account the fact that some applicants take the MCAT more than once which means that when they apply, they have an MCAT higher than 26. And you also need to take into account that a lot of people who take the MCAT don't get up and apply for MD schools. Some do DO, podiatry, or just are smart enough to realize that an MD school is not the right fit. So just because half of the people score a 26 or less doesn't mean that half of the people applying are applying with a 26 or below.
     
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  36. Law2Doc

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    I would go further and say that not only do most people scoring below 26 not apply, but even a lot of people who get 26-28, and a number of people with very unbalanced scores higher than that won't apply and will retake. The average score for allopathic schools is in the 30-31 range and so people applying to those schools with well below that simply won't apply, won't be in the applicant pool. Only in a fantasy land is the applicant pool made of of 50% of people with below a 26. Just isn't the case. So a place that gets 5000 applications isn't going to see 2500 numerically unacceptable ones. They might see 1000 in a very bad year. Now of course a top ten school might deem a 3.5/30 score unacceptable, so maybe that's where the 50% figure is probably creeping in, but lots of those people will get into med school elsewhere.
     
  37. Doug Underhill

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  38. ThucydidesLazar

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    You weren't there. And he was insulting me. You realize Lucian and Lincoln were both self-taught lawyers, right? I don't suppose I have tripped some of the old conditioning from a former profession, have I? You don't know me and you are not qualified to say what I do or do not know.
    Incidentally, if professional knowledge were all that were required to win cases, why, when I look on my state records, do I see such large amounts being donated by the big law firms to the campaigns of judges?
     
  39. ThucydidesLazar

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    It is an interesting line an applicant has to walk. On the one hand, a candidate needs to distinguish himself, or otherwise they get passed over. Another issue is giving off vibes of humility can also come off as self-deprecation, which people pick up on. The other half of the problem is that the physician comes from a position where he essentially owes his power to the archetype of the knowledge-holder. In other words, in our society, because of our economy, strong is "smart", and weak is "stupid". A candidate needs to avoid challenging the pack structure. Guild structures can be strongly hierarchical. So you need to avoid looking like you are asserting yourself too much.

    By the way, what did you mean, "wouldn't it be funny if this person were rejected out of hand?" The people who are rejected out of hand are those who fail to pass the statistical screens. The rest is variable, because we don't know the reviewer's personality.
     
  40. Temporary Superman

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    I could self study medicine for years. I could be the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to medicine. If I don't go to med school though, no one in their right mind would ever and should never let me treat them.
     
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  41. ThucydidesLazar

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    Wow. That is an interesting (and probably fairly healthy) way to look at it. I like your profile photo. It reminds me of my cat, Thorin. The thing used to once or twice hang from my neck by a claw (ouch), but I liked the thing.
    I am also really amazed at the "didn't actually want to go" thing. But, good for them for being honest. I am good at taking tests, but I feel bad for those people who are kept out for no other reason than the MCAT. Still, I think if a person tries, they can get better. Eating food high in calminative amino acids is a really good approach--that was the one I came up with, at least.
     
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  42. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Um, if you are now comparing yourself to Lincoln you kind of missed the whole point of my post above, which is that your previous post showed too much hubris.

    Lincoln grew up in a different time - you get zero points for trying to do that now, and come off as too brazen pretending you can learn enough to play lawyer after a year and a half of reading. Your sentence "you don't know me" also misses the point. I am not evaluating you personally beyond what you posted, and I'm telling you the post did not put you in as good a light as you seem to think. Hey, maybe I'm wrong-- That's fine.

    But if you want advice, I'd tone down the self taught just like Lincoln garbage and start to realize that in every field there are people who do the work to be experts and people who choose an abbreviated course and opt to be posers. The latter are dangerous.

    And FWIW, in your original post I said I didn't think you came off too contentious, but in this last post...
     
  43. ThucydidesLazar

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    Yup. Precisely. It is a matter of trust. You buy legitimacy. Presumably, there is also some element of psychomotor skills, and that can benefit from actual experience of the equipment. But when you have a professional training program that essentially involves a person reading a lot of books, what, in regards to the person, is the difference between reading those books in a college, and reading them outside of one? A candidate that scores high enough to be admitted into a prestigious school was probably intelligent enough to learn the material before they entered the place. The difference is, you get a degree at the end, and the client trusts that anyone who wasn't qualified to treat them was weeded out by that school. Unfortunately, schools don't test for personality, drive, and empathy, which is where the professional screening process runs into some unfortunate issues.
    But of course, I agree with you.
     
  44. ThucydidesLazar

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    I think I notice that you slip in a lot of negative words in a post where you are acting like you are being objective.
    You think that a person cannot know a lot simply from reading. Okay, I'll grant you that. Similarly, you cannot know a lot about me simply from reading a few posts. Shall we part ways?
     
  45. Temporary Superman

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    They do test for that actually, it's called an interview. It isn't foolproof, but it does keep out at least some of the people who have the stats, but shouldn't be practicing medicine.
     
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  46. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Medicine is not learned in the classroom. The first two years in the classroom are for foundation. You are not a competent doctor until you complete a residency, which can be 3-7 years, and only STARTS after two years of classroom and two years of wards-based medical education. So no you aren't buying legitimacy. You are buying a ticket to be an apprentice to START to learn the craft, something you in no way or form could ever learn usefully on your own. It's not a matter of some element of psychomotor skill -- that's the understatement of the year. I promise you I did a bit more in residency than hone my motor skills. And I promise you that I use very little of the foundation from med school in my day to day practice. You have some warped view of what it means to be a doctor, a lawyer etc, and thus you seem very willing to gloss over the critical aspects of the training and emphasize the book learning foundation. Guess what-- you've got it backwards. We are NOT talking about "a professional training program that essentially involves a person reading a lot of books". You do read a lot of books, but that's not the essence of the training, just the foundation on which it's built.
     
  47. ChrisMack390

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    Haha that is my cat, Raja.

    I am by no means suggesting it is easy to get into medical school. It is not easy to keep your GPA above 3.6. It is not easy to score in the top quartile on the MCAT. It is not easy to have the discipline to stay in the lab til 9 PM or wake up to volunteer at 7 AM while all of your peers are out getting hammered and whatnot. BUT, if you do do those things, you will get in. It is not a mysterious smoke and mirrors process like OP and many others on SDN have suggested. Medical schools are fairly open about what they want, and AAMC shares plenty of data on the characteristics that have historically led to acceptance.
     
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  48. Law2Doc

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    Not quite. It's not smoke and mirrors, but its not as single variable as you seem to want it to be. It's not all about the numbers, rather they are the baseline part of the equation. If you have the numbers you have a good chance of getting in IF you cast a wide enough net, and if you have good interview skills and if your LORs and essays are similarly good and if you are timely with your applications. But if you are thinking, I got a 3.6 and did cookie cutter ECs, I can apply to a dozen schools and be set, guess what -- you might be underestimating things. My school certainly rejected people who did all those things you described, while accepting people who set themselves apart for things other than their numbers. We have had SDNers who far exceeded all the things you described and ended up reapplicants, because they felt they earned the right to be at a top place and those schools disagreed. It happens. Its a VERY competitive process and not all about the numbers.
     
    #47 Law2Doc, Aug 14, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  49. Goro

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    Moderators, please sticky!!!

     
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  50. ChrisMack390

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    Single variable? I listed 5-6 variables, and only 2 of them were numeric! I also hinted at, but now will state, yes - you need to apply to realistic schools (obviously).
     
  51. GrapesofRath

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    I think the much bigger point to make here isn't that half the applicants don't have stats that aren't within the MD ball park but many of them just aren't as knowledgeable of the process as they ideally should be. It's not uncommon at all to see people on the WAMC thread applying with decent stats and limited/no volunteering experience or clinical exposure. These instantly can destroy the best applications; imagine what they can do to your generic 3.6/30 applicant. And keep in mind these people at least post on SDN and have some perspective about getting feedback on their chances; there are many who listen to their clueless pre-med advisors a couple friends with anecdotes and go ahead and start applying. Hell there are people who actually go about applying to medical school without investing in MSAR; that's the height of stupidity right there.

    And the much bigger issue you'll see is people come up with poor lists of schools. Many borderline applicants don't apply to enough schools. And far more don't apply to well chosen lists of schools. Even on SDN you see ALL TIME time your 3.65/31 applicant with a list of 15 schools and only half of them being realisitc. There are roughly 25 lower tier MD schools that a borderline applicant can apply to and be competitive for in theory regardless of state. Many of these borderlne applicants are applying to less than 10 of them. So to me that's where when you hear someone like Goro say "Deans of Admissions I've talked to have said half the people applying have no idea what they are doing" really refer to. This to me is one of the biggest reasons why many people don't get into medical school. It's not that half the applicant pool has a 27 and under on the MCAT. The table I always refer to when I talk about the general lack of awareness of a number of people who apply is the one below.

    https://www.aamc.org/download/321442/data/factstable1.pdf

    Name a state school that takes at least 80% IS. I can almost gurantee the majority of applicants applying there will be OOS. This is just basic ignorance and not doing appropriate research on schools and medical school admission; nothing more. Take it even a step further. Look at schools like Arkansas: 6/7 applications are from OOS for a school that takes 85% of its class IS(and interviews a similar proportion). This is not uncommon at all. Hell, even schools like FSU takes 98% of its class IS and yet over half their apps are OOS. UC Davis probably laughs all the way to the bank at the 1500+ applications they get OOS a year when not a single one of them will matriculate. There alot of applicants who simply just throw money down the toilet with unrealistic schools and don't have as many realistic schools on their list as they should.

    So no I don't think the majority of applicants have major flaws with their stats. Its just that there are so many borderline applicants who just don't have good knowledge on what is best for their application, be it ignoring the idea of getting clinical exposure or volunteering experience to not applying to realistic schools or enough schools(the average applicant applies to around 14 schools and if we assume maybe 5 or so of those schools are unrealistic that leaves 9 realistic schools when in reality there are around 25 lower tier OOS schools that borderline applicants regardless of state can in many cases have a shot at being competitive at). That to me is a major reason why the statistics for borderline applicants not getting in isn't higher. It's hard to quantify how much better the success rate would be if applicants were more aware and knowledgeable about the process, but I certainly think it would help significantly.
     
    #50 GrapesofRath, Aug 14, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015

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