Medical School Admissions Webinar Featuring Dr. Quinn Capers
Dr. Quinn Capers, Associate Dean of Admissions at Ohio State University joined us for January 2018’s PreMed STAR webinar. This webinar featured one and a half hours full of high yield questions that premeds need to know… directly submitted by all of you! This webinar covers grades, post bacc programs, MCAT, clinical shadowing and more, all from an admission dean’s perspective.
Thank you so much to all of you attended and shared your premed related questions. Thanks to all of you and Dr. Capers, the webinar was an incredible success. If you weren’t able to make it, or if you’d like to watch the broadcast again, check out our recording at the bottom of this post.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get through all of your questions submitted at registration. As promised, here are Dr. Capers’ responses!
1. What would you suggest for mature applicants (out of school for 7 years with work experience as a Military Officer)
Medical school admissions committees want to see that you have acquired experience in leadership, community service, and health-care related experiences. If you were able to do these while working, great! If not, start working to accumulate at least 50-100 hours of community service. Some medical schools have an “expiration date” for completing prerequisite courses. If it has been 7 years or more since you completed Gen Chemistry, Org Chemistry, Biology, Physics, you may want to check with each school (just call the admissions office.) If your prerequisites have “expired”, you will need to either enroll in a formal post-baccalaureate premed program (preferred) or take individual courses on your own. Then, I would strongly suggest a formal MCAT prep program.
2. What is your advice for ultra non traditional prospective med students (>50). I’m committed.
The same as above; if you are serious about it, start accumulating the experiences, you may need to update your premed prerequisite courses, take the MCAT, and you are off to the races. Do know, however, that if it takes more than one year to prepare to apply, that this will be added to 7 years (4 years of medical school + 3 years of residency). So, whatever your age now, add 8-9 years; that will be the age when you are finally ready to start practicing. If you are OK with this, go for it! If not, consider another health profession, like RN or PA.
3. I am a non-traditional student. I have shown an upward trend from undergrad and graduate studies. How does Ohio State COM weigh graduate GPA vs undergraduate GPA?
Graduate courses are strongly considered, as is an upward trend.
4. How do you set yourself apart in the MD/PhD candidate pool?
MD/PhD candidates must display fitness to pursue the MD, so they should have the same strong experiences, personal attributes, and academic performance as MD candidates. Additionally, to be competitive they will need a strong research background (publications not required). The letter of recommendation from your research PI is weighed very heavily.
5. Is it more beneficial to be at a smaller college and do very well or to be at a larger more prestigious institution and do worse?
Remember that all students, no matter what college they attend, will take the MCAT. This makes differences in individual college’s reputations and perceived prestige less important. Going to a “prestigious” college does give some advantage, but a student at a less prestigious college who posts an outstanding MCAT score and has a strong experiences portfolio can wipe out the advantage. Go to the best college “for you.”
6. Do schools take into consideration if a student had severe hardship/family loss that effected their grades?
Yes. You must explain it, both in your essay and in person if you get an interview. Not necessarily all of the intimate details, but enough of the story so that they understand why your academic record suffered. It will be necessary for you to demonstrate that your academic performance “recovered” after your hardship.
7. Do med schools view mental health struggles students faced? Is it frowned upon/stigmatized?
Medical school admissions committees do not ask about your health issues; the only way they know about it is if you tell them. However, once you bring it up, it is fair game for them to ask about it. I would think very hard before getting too detailed about your medical history. It may suffice to simply say that you “had some health issues” that have now resolved. Have a trusted person, like a premed advisor or a physician that you shadowed read a draft of your essay.
8. What makes an application stand out above all others?
You will be judged based on a balanced consideration of your experiences, attributes, and academic metrics. Work hard now to be sure that you are strong I all 3 areas. What makes it standout is the uniqueness of you; you are the only person on planet earth just like you. Tell your story.
In my opinion the necessary ingredients for a strong personal statement are:
-You must state that you want to be a physician
-You must answer the question “Why” you want to be a physician
-You must tell the reader your personal story of how you made that decision
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