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Your top 3 criticisms of the admissions process

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by not so calm now, May 16, 2008.

  1. not so calm now

    not so calm now MS-4 5+ Year Member

    Oct 8, 2007
    Several articles have been written criticizing pre med students:

    This wired article is probably the best example that I've come upon, and the discussion below it is really interesting.
    For those who don't feel like clicking:

    One of the themes that kept coming up in the discussion that followed is that the admissions process forces applicants to conform to these stereotypes by its over-reliance on grades, MCATs despite the insistence on being the nebulously-defined-but-terrifying "well-rounded."

    Now that the 08 application season is finishing up and 09s are getting geared up to submit those primaries, I'm curious to know what you guys consider the worst aspects of the whole process - from deciding to be a doctor, preparing to apply (getting involved in ECs, trying to establish relationships to get good LORs, etc) to actually applying and (hopefully) interviewing and getting accepted. I'd like to get views from everyone, college freshmen to current med students to whoever else wants to chime in. I'll start:

    3) The urge to not help other classmates.

    Despite the fact that many premeds naturally consider themselves pretty altruistic and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from helping others, I sometimes found myself wondering if I really should be explaining in such detail that organic chemistry concept that I understood but my classmate didn't. I tried my best to ignore this, but it was always in the back of my mind.

    2) The urge to stretch yourself too thin.

    When you enter college, you're told that to get into med school, you need to have great grades, MCAT scores, research, and substantial volunteering and medical experience. For most of college I was interested in getting a PhD in neuroscience, so I was really into research. I noticed that a lot of premed students in my lab weren't fully engaged with the stuff that we were doing. When I decided that I wanted to go to med school, I started to fall into that same category. It just seemed less important and I tried less hard. I think this was because I was so busy focusing on other aspects of the application that I couldn't devote myself so fully anymore.

    1) The cost.

    It's been a trend in recent years to apply to greater than 10 schools, on average. I know someone who applied to 41 schools. This in turn probably pushes back the acceptances for everyone because adcoms have to sort through so many more applications. MCAT classes are almost required unless you have insane self-discipline. The cost of the MCAT itself is high. Flying to interviews. Doing a postbac if you need to. It's really pretty endless, and costs of getting in can easily exceed $3000.

    I'm not saying that these problems have an easy fix or even a fix at all. They're just really, really unfortunate. So now, your thoughts.
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  3. Insulinshock

    Insulinshock Class of 2022 7+ Year Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    ehh nevermind
  4. Non-TradTulsa

    Non-TradTulsa Senior Member - Resident 7+ Year Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Woo-hoo! This is the first pre-med thread to really catch my attention in a while.

    My experience through the first couple of years of medical school is basically the same as the posted article - "you guys are too competitive, worry too much about grades, yadda-yadda-yadda."

    Of course we fight like cats and dogs for grades. Of course we over-commit to leadership positions that we really don't have time for. Of course we "game" the system to get good grades - as much as possible within the limits of ethical behavior.

    And do you know why we do that (I was over 40 when I started pre-med courses, by the way, so I had a lot more life perspective)? BECAUSE THAT'S HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS, BABY. You wanna be a doctor? Great - they'll throw you into a pit and see who can crawl out before getting his/her arms and legs ripped off. The whole system is designed on competition. Period. From application to residency. That's how it works.

    I can see where a premed science teacher would find all of this annoying - but that's how it is. I'm not so sure that they really understand that - no, a 3.5 may not be good enough to get into certain schools. I'm sure it's pretty difficult for them to believe that. But that's how it is - and, as MCAT scores are rising each year, the competition gets even more fierce.

    When one of the deans of my school went on tirade about how overcompetitive we were, I just said, "You invented the system. I didn't." He actually didn't have much to say to that.
  5. LikeClockWork

    LikeClockWork Guest

    Jul 23, 2007
    MY biggest critcism of the admissions process?

    It didn't result in an acceptance.

    [/pity party]
  6. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod Physician 7+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    Kansas City, MO
    hSDN Alumni
    The biggest problem that comes to mind is that the application season is FAR too long. It seems like there's an awful lot of dead time that could be eliminated to streamline the deal.
  7. Insulinshock

    Insulinshock Class of 2022 7+ Year Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    They are. A LOT. In between 15-20 new schools within the next couple years.
  8. LikeClockWork

    LikeClockWork Guest

    Jul 23, 2007
    Well, part of it too is that many schools are at least partially government funded, so it costs taxpayer dollars to open new schools or even add additional seats at an existing school. People don't like to have their taxes raised, no matter what the reason.
  9. not so calm now

    not so calm now MS-4 5+ Year Member

    Oct 8, 2007
    I think you're being sarcastic. If not, then the answer is 1)lots of people think they want to be doctors 2) yes 3)see above.

    I think people are kind of wary of going to a new med school. When new colleges open people are usually skeptical and accuse it of being a diploma mill, but the accreditation process for a med school is probably so strict there's no worry.

    I just wonder when people will start saying things like doctors are going to get paid less if more new med schools open, etc. My guess would be they probably already are :cool:
  10. not so calm now

    not so calm now MS-4 5+ Year Member

    Oct 8, 2007
    I think this is a fairly recent thing and has to do with the fact that med schools get so many applications. In the past I think people applied to fewer schools, especially fewer out of state. Of course, this was because they wanted to increase the chances of getting into any school, and so on....a vicious cycle.
  11. beachblonde

    beachblonde 2+ Year Member

    Aug 30, 2007
    My main criticisms:

    1) The requirement for conformity: well must be "well-rounded" and "unique" individuals, yet we must jump through arbitrary hoops in order to gain admission. You didn't have 300 hours of shadowing + 400 hours of volunteering + 100 hours of leadership? Too bad! But if you do get in, you'll fit in, because each and every one of your classmates is just like you. But unique.

    2) The length of the process: you have to give up an entire calendar year just to apply. I'm not counting all the time required to even complete the pre-reqs.

    3) The inability of the process to select the ones who want to be doctors for the right reasons: we all say it's altruism, but the facts say that the hyper-selective specialties are things like derm, with high pay and less patient contact. An essay and a short interview are simply not enough to weed out the people going into medicine for purely egotistical reasons. (Of course, I'm not saying these people aren't qualified to be doctors. But the profession advertises itself as based upon self-sacrifice, and yet it doesn't fulfill this declaration. They need to make up their mind.)

    4) The cost. It's absurd. College + apps + med school? The debt is out of control, and puts people from lower income brackets at an inherent disadvantage.

    I could go on, but it's enough for now...
  12. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    Hmmm tough question:
    1. The fact that people tell you wrong information and they are usually your peers or advisors who are doing this. This screws you over.
    2. More meaningless end of ECs, and the inability to adequately define what is meaningful and not.
    3. Gunnerism among premeds.
  13. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna 7+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2007
  14. cpants

    cpants Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    1. Not enough slots. Why should America have to import any MD's? We have a lot more residency slots than med school slots, and plenty of qualified applicants to fill them.

    Actually, I don't really have any other complaints.
  15. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse Administrator Physician SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jan 9, 2006

    This is AWESOME - there should be some rule that every pre-medical science professor needs to have a FRAMED copy of this in his/her office.

    They definitely don't get it.

    The president of the AAMC gave a talk at my school recently - and lamented the "lack of curiosity" and "lack of sincerity" in the med school admissions process. Fortunately, he did admit that his generation had to take the blame, because they shaped the system to work that way. If he hadn't said that, I would have been forced to hurl something at his head.
  16. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    1. It costs too much.
    2. The application process is much too tedious.
    3. It encourages frivolous extra-curriculars.
  17. cgbg

    cgbg Eyes of Auslander 2+ Year Member

    Jan 15, 2008
    schools are not transparent enough on what they are looking for, it also seems like the acceptance process is a bit random.
  18. Character

    Character 5+ Year Member

    Apr 23, 2008
    1)Verbal Reasoning
    2)Biological Sciences
    3)Physical Sciences
  19. 87138

    87138 Guest

    Jan 14, 2006
    1. It let me in.
  20. supertrooper66

    supertrooper66 Banned

    Apr 28, 2008
    4. They use questionable tactics to get good grades.
    Some of them may turn to study drugs like adderall, dexedrine, provigil, and ritalin. Others will beg upperclassmen for copies of old exams, which give them an unfair advantage over their classmates.

    that actually is COMPLETELY fair. the students who don't beg do not beg because they already HAVE the old tests. they either have older friends who just give the tests to them OR they are in a frat or sorority with archives of old tests for every past class. if you are not in greek life or do not have older friends to ask for old tests, then you're at the disadvantage. it's just evening the playing field.

    some teachers give out last year's test because they know other ppl already have it. the thing is then the teacher makes the new test based on the test from 2 years ago. the entire class has last year's test but only the ppl in the frats and sororities have the test that is being used to make the new test. in that case, you better be in a frat or sorority or have friends in one. i didn't and got screwed!
  21. TheRealMD

    TheRealMD "The Mac Guy" 5+ Year Member

    May 23, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    1) Schools refuse to say what they are really looking for when it comes down to deciding between X and Y student.
    2) The interviewer you get plays too large a role in the process. Some of them are total [email protected]([email protected]# and will probably cause you not to get into X school.
    3) Hopping around the country costs too much.
  22. paranoid_eyes

    paranoid_eyes 2+ Year Member

    Sep 18, 2006

    for me, numbers 1, 2, and 3:

    importance placed on volunteering :thumbdown:
  23. boostedct9a

    boostedct9a 2+ Year Member

    Aug 13, 2007
    2. They game the system to get good grades.
    By strategically dropping any class that is not going well and carefully picking courses taught by the easiest professors they ensure themselves a good grade point average.

    A lot of people have done this at my school, not just pre-med kids. After all the medical field isn't the only competitive field out there.
  24. boostedct9a

    boostedct9a 2+ Year Member

    Aug 13, 2007
    2. They game the system to get good grades.
    By strategically dropping any class that is not going well and carefully picking courses taught by the easiest professors they ensure themselves a good grade point average.

    A lot of people have done this at my school, not just pre-med kids. After all the medical field isn't the only competitive field out there.
  25. Textuality

    Textuality 2+ Year Member

    May 15, 2007
    Seriously...GW and Dartmouth wouldn't even interview me, but UPenn ended up accepting me.. ::blink::
  26. WorldsAway

    WorldsAway 2+ Year Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    1) Cost... kept me only applying to 4 schools that I could drive to easily >_< lol but it worked out

    2) Lying to the student... At one of my interviews they told the students that even though they try and produce primary care doctors, it was ok that you didn't want to be one. Once I told my interviewer that I didnt' want to be a primary care doctor, she began to berate me on how I more or less uncaring and totally ignorant. Needless to say I didn't get accepted.

    3) Not knowing what the adcom really wants. To me it seems that the finding deciding on what premeds to choose to more of an art form and based on feeling the adcom gets from a student rather than a science which makes it hard for premeds to gear towards things that would be more useful to put on the application.
  27. nogolfinsnow

    nogolfinsnow 7+ Year Member

    Nov 25, 2007
  28. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    awesome. Just awesome. Yeah that is what med school, med school admissions, residency, etc. is. All jumping through hoops.
  29. Climberak

    Climberak Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    May 14, 2007
    It needs some flames to be a bit more accurate.
  30. beachblonde

    beachblonde 2+ Year Member

    Aug 30, 2007
    That, and it needs a pit of hungry lions and tigers below it...aka, the other thousands of pre-meds gunning for your spot.
  31. surfstarj

    surfstarj 2+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    Definitely agree.

    Also, it's frontloaded. If a school doesn't have time/room to consider all applicants equally who apply by the deadline (not just those who apply the first day of the application season) the deadline should BE the first day of the season.
  32. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness Physician 10+ Year Member

    May 26, 2007
    Second this. I would get rid of every single essay. I would have one optional personal statement in the AMCAS that allowed you to explain any hardships/difficult circumstances you want the ADCOMs to know about, and I would make it clear that if you fill out that essay with something that's not actually a hardship (it's so hard to care so much for others) you will be rejected out of hand. I truely beleive that the essays in medical school admissions are so disingenuous that they're completely useless for evaluation purposes, while at the same time drastically increasing the amount of money and time you need to invest in admissions. Also, top 4 activities only. Don't give any space to list any more. That way premeds might actually get to do a few activities well, rather than doing dozens badly.

    The grade competitiveness and MCAT things suck, but I have no earthly idea how you would get rid of them, and at least I feel like those have a good correlation to performance in medical school.
  33. BigRedder

    BigRedder Passing Gas 5+ Year Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    Seconded. I would be interested in the correlation between date of completed application and acceptance. I wouldn't be surprised if it was close to MCAT scores and uGPA.
  34. kami333

    kami333 10+ Year Member

    Aug 15, 2007
    My biggest gripe is how some things expire (everything but GPA) but cum uGPAs are counted forever. It's fine that you don't care as much about my shadowing/volunteering from 5 years ago but then why are you still looking at my freshman GPA from 8years ago?
  35. not so calm now

    not so calm now MS-4 5+ Year Member

    Oct 8, 2007
    It seems like the things that were originally added to weed out people who didn't really care were good ideas at first (encouraging community service, exposure to medicine, etc.) but that just got off track.

    And now we have premeds volunteering in the hospital for 3 hours/week getting sodas for nurses. At my volunteering gig I definitely interact one on one with patients but I also do a lot of filing/office bull****.
  36. beachblonde

    beachblonde 2+ Year Member

    Aug 30, 2007
    I know! The hospital near my school was so overrun with student volunteers they had nothing for us to do. So every week for a couple of hours I'd show up, do about 15 min of work, and twiddle my thumbs for the remaining time. I got so much out of the experience, really.

    But of course, all the volunteering I did with the elderly and local elementary students isn't "clinical," and hence counts for jack. Gotta love that "patient contact," even if it means that all you did was stand at the nurses station for 4 hours.
  37. nevercold

    nevercold 2+ Year Member

    Oct 19, 2007
    1. That so many people whine so much about the process.
    2. That so many people blame the process when what is really wrong is the popular pre-med interpretation of the process.
    3. That anyone would think any element, from grades and standardized scores to demonstrations of creativity and humanism, is not important.
  38. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness Physician 10+ Year Member

    May 26, 2007
    The best possible system is always the one we have right now?

    Seriously, no one has mentioned test scores or grades as being unimportant.

    However there does seem to be an accord that the "demonstrations of creativity and humanism" demonstrate creativity and humanism in much the same way that Hillary Clinton taking a shot of Crown Royal and a Beer in a Pensylvania bar demonstrates that she's actually a regular person.

    There have also been a few comments to the effect that medical schools are taking an awful lot of money from people that don't have very much of it, which seems pretty cruel when they go on to reject those people. This is "whining"?
  39. greg1184

    greg1184 10+ Year Member

    Dec 9, 2006
    1) ADCOMS trivializing any experience short of going to Africa and saving people.
    2) Based on #1, the quantification of clinical experience. It is now a currency in which ADCOMs are using as an objective stat.
    3) The rolling process. It can benefit a student, but often screws highly qualified students.
    4) If the AAMC is going to have this nice rolling system, they could be more efficient in processing applications.
    5) The archaic belief that an 30min-1hr interview will tell you everything about a student.

    I still can't figure out what is wrong with this? This is actually the RIGHT thing to do REGARDLESS of what career path you are in. Choosing a professor is one of the most underrated and important parts in college.
  40. blargh

    blargh Banned Banned

    Oct 24, 2006
    1. random
    2. waiting
    3. expensive

    enough said.
  41. elxr06

    elxr06 2+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    my criticism of the admission process?

    1. Wanting.
    2. You've tripped up, so now what?
    3. More chances needed, definitely.
  42. OldFolkDoc

    OldFolkDoc Future Geriatrician 2+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2007
    The fact that, after pouring out our entire life histories in the primary app, we have to reformulate that same information into something that reads completely differently for the secondary app essays... ironic that after all that work I end up at a school that didn't require or even have an option for a secondary essay. I thing that UCSF and UPenn's model is the best... take the money, conduct a more thorough primary/LOR review, and get the rest from solid interviews.
  43. Bahadur

    Bahadur Cookies! nom nom nom 2+ Year Member

    Jun 27, 2006
    Overlapping timelines for each cycle-

    By the time you are waiting for the results from one cycle, the new cycle already begins. It seems that if you are waitlisted/rejected late in the 1st cycle... you're basically pretty much screwed for the 2nd one.

    (how much can you improve in just a month or few weeks even?)
  44. TheLesPaul

    TheLesPaul 10+ Year Member

    Aug 20, 2007
    +1. A lot people in other countries stake their entire futures on the results of their 12th grade exams, where a single number wholly determines what career path they will take (toughest - medicine, then engg, etc etc). Our system is very nice in that it allows for the X factor (be it personality, hardships, and a genuine desire to help others) to overcome a perhaps lackluster MCAT score... The personal statement is especially relevant to these. Other countries wish they had these extra components to the application...
  45. rfathi1

    rfathi1 Post-bacc student 5+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2007
    Umm, derm gets some of the most patient contact. A surgeon has to deal with a patient who is under most of the time while most procedures in derm don't even require local. In those situations, the doctor still has keep the patient calm throughout his entire procedure. The reason why derm is ultra-competitive is: 1) No emergencies, resulting in great hours, 2) hardly any deaths at your hand, 3) and you don't have to accept certain types of insurance as many of the procedures are voluntary.
  46. redlight

    redlight Senior Member :D 5+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2008
    1. cost
    2. gunnerism/unnecessary competitiveness
    3. the hoops we have to jump through to "impress" adcoms (outside of high gpa and high mcat, though)

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