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How to Get Recruited to Medical School!-Pre-Med Marketing 101

Gaining admission to medical school isn’t getting any easier. GPA and MCAT averages are increasing, everyone has a stellar CV, and most important, more and more students are applying! With all of these challenges facing you, how do you stand out among the crowd? Well, allow me to show you! Grab your pen and paper….this is Pre-Med Marketing 101.

Have you ever walked onto a completely empty car dealership lot? Unless you are the owner of a dealership, I feel confident in saying that you probably haven’t. The first principle of marketing is that you must have a product to market. In the case of getting into medical school, you are the product. A key determinant of how successful a salesperson will be is how good his or her product is. If you sell me a watch today that breaks tomorrow, I’ll throw the watch into the garbage and never purchase from you again. So before you sell yourself to a medical school, make sure you are a good candidate.

What does a good pre-medical student look like? This is similar to asking what a good car looks like. It really depends on what you want from the car. If you have a large family, you may want a van or large SUV. If you are a businessman, you may want a luxury sedan. If you do construction, you’d love to have a pickup truck. While these are all different types of vehicles, to truly be considered good, they all need to have a reliable engine, functional brakes, and safety airbags. Comparing this to the pre-medical student “product”, in order to be considered good, you need a respectable GPA, a respectable MCAT score, and a good resume of activities and accomplishments. If you don’t have these things, then your product won’t sell, and perhaps it shouldn’t even be marketed. I say perhaps rather than definitely because sometimes you don’t know if you have a good product without testing the waters.

In business, the term “go to market” means that the product is deemed presentable to the world for sales. After you have confirmed that you are a good candidate, or if you need to test the waters, it’s time to go to market. I’m sure this concept is new to many readers. You may be wondering, how do I do this in the pre-medical world? Well, it’s really not that hard…there are 3 simple steps.­­

Step 1: Evaluate the market to get a sense of what is out there. You want to know where to promote your product. There are a few places that every pre-medical student should market themselves:
1. Medical School recruitment fairs (local and national). Traditionally, these fairs are where initial connections are made and networking begins. Attending such fairs demonstrates to the school that you care enough to put the time and effort into attending.
2. Medical School events. Actually visiting local medical schools and sitting in on their various evening or lunchtime events is a great way to meet faculty, staff, and students. This will help you get your foot in the door. Furthermore, it is something you can do once per semester and everyone will remeber you as the student who went the extra mile.
3. PreMed StAR. In the age of internet technology, online networking is of utmost importance and you should definitely use it to promote yourself. PreMed StAR allows students to create a profile and market themselves to medical schools. Schools can then recruit and interact directly with these students.

Step 2: Prepare your “go to market” package. A common mistake I have seen pre-medical students make is showing up to a recruitment fair or student event unprepared. Poorly dressed, no resume available (on hand or ready to email), and unable to answer basic questions about their goals. These students did not prepare to go to market. This is how you do it:
1. Draft your resume/CV. It is in your best interest to always appear professional and an easy way to do that is to hand a recruiter your resume. Typically, good recruiters return home after exhibiting at fairs and review all the materials they acquired. You want your resume to be among these materials.
2. Look the part. If I look at you, can I imagine my life in your hands? Before going to market, ensure you “look” the part. By “look”, I do not mean you must be a certain height, weight, or skin complexion. Rather, you should simply appear well kempt in regard to hair and clothing.
3. Practice your value proposition. In business, a value proposition is a statement that tells the potential buyer why what you have to offer is valuable and worth their investment. We typically think of medical school as being expensive for the students, but it is also expensive for the school to educate them. Consider your value proposition your elevator speech. In 30 seconds, you must be able to tell anybody why they should believe you will one day be a great physician. Stand tall, speak with confidence, and smile!

Step 3: Go to Market. You have worked extremely hard to get beyond steps 1 and 2…Now, it’s market time! Preperation is of minimal value if you do not show up for the big game. If you’ve done everything I have suggested to this point, you are 10 steps ahead of the competition. Here is how you finish the raace strong:
1. Execute! Carry out what you rehearsed in Step 2 above to perfection.
2. Network! Meet as many people as possible. Shake as many hands as you can. You don’t want the one person who you didn’t meet to be the one with your full ride medical school scholarship.
3. Follow up. Within 1 week of meeting a school representative, be sure to follow up with a nice email/message letting him or her know you are extremely delighted to have met and hope to stay in touch.

There are far too many great candidates in today’s pre-medical pool for you not to market yourself. Getting recruited is not difficult, just follow the 3 steps; Evaluate, Prepare, and Go!

Top 10 Mistakes Pre-Medical Students Make

WeTop 10 all go through it. We all have regrets in life. They simply become painful, inescapable daydreams of “what could have been” if only I had only… I often remind young college freshmen who have finally gotten a taste of freedom stepping out of their parent’s home, that what they choose to do in the next 4 years just may dictate the rest of their lives. Our 20s can make or break our future sometimes. Many adults in their 40s and 50s look back wishing they had only taken school more seriously or that they didn’t give up on their dreams. Life is similar to a race in which a poor start can be detrimental to your finish. As we get older, it will become tougher and tougher to reach your goals but it is never too late. I will now share with you my top 10 mistakes premedical students make. I hope this will encourage young students to stay on the right track by avoiding these pitfalls.

1) WRONG FRIENDS:  I cannot emphasize this enough. Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. Never underestimate the influence those you keep in company have on your life. If you want to become a doctor then associate with doctors and other premeds. I am not suggesting that you dismiss old friends because it is great to have a diverse group of friends but a serious mistake made by many students is that they select or continue to associate with friends who are more focused on parties, alcohol, or other distractors.

2) DOING TOO MUCH:  Burn out is real. It is understandable that many students need to work in order to pay their way through school. However, you are to blame if you have selected a job which distracts you from your goals as a student. Instead of working as a waiter/waitress why not apply for a job at the library or as a receptionist at the local gym or student health center where you will likely have quiet time for yourself. Time management is also very important for the student athlete, those holding leadership positions, and those with other obligations. You must know when these extracurricular activities become a detriment and take some time off from them if necessary.

3) CAN’T PAY TUITION:  I am not a proponent of relying heavily on student loans but sometimes they are unavoidable. There are many scholarship opportunities out there that many students simply fail to apply for. Who doesn’t like free money? Taking a good hour each week to search for these may save you from being forced to work or taking out more loans. Remember, the better you are able to perform in school the more likely you will be rewarded with scholarship money. Try to be prepared and research in order to avoid having to take time off from school.

4) I DIDN’T KNOW:  When are you taking the MCAT? What are you going to do the summer before senior year? When is the deadline for this application? Don’t be the student who did not take an organic chemistry class because you were not aware it was a prerequisite and now you have to change your entire summer schedule. Be prepared as early as possible. Attend premed meetings and communicate with upperclassmen to make sure you are on track.

5) BEWARE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS:  Schools are watching you. Your professor or boss may also be watching. In this highly connected world most people are only a Google or Facebook search away. It is hard to take serious a premed student who has posted a half dressed photo on their Facebook profile or even if your friend is the one posting inappropriate comments all the time. It matters little how well you’ve done on the verbal section of your MCAT if your writing on social networks is barely interpretable. It’s okay to show character on these websites but be mindful that others are watching.

6) WRONG MAJOR:  You do not need to major in biology or chemistry to be accepted into medical school. In fact, according to AAMC 2012 data, only 51% of medical school matriculates majored in the biological sciences. Nonetheless, GPA and MCAT scores were similar across the different majors. The good side in choosing a major in the biological sciences is that you will be learning material that you will certainly come across again in the future. However, for some these classes may be too challenging. Never select a major or minor solely based on convenience or interest if the material is too difficult for you. You also want to avoid a major which is known to be very easy. If you need to switch, do it fast before it becomes too late. Also, make sure you know what prerequisites are needed.

7) ALL YOU KNOW IS MEDICINE:  We all have come across that student who can name every bone in the body but cannot name the most popular music artist in the world. Medical schools are searching for well-rounded students. Patients want doctors they can interact with instead of robots. College is a great time to meet a variety of people with different cultures, participate in intramural sports, and try new things. I personally still look back and partially regret not joining my friends in a study abroad program. But then again, I used the time for research.

8) NOT BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF:  It is important that you join the rat race, which is medicine for the right reason. Do not be pressured into this or you just may regret it. If your best answer to why you want to become a doctor truly is because you “want to help others” or your “parents are making you do this” then you just may want to think things over. If you are shadowing a provider or volunteering only to get a checkmark on your application rather than truly using the time to explore the field then you need to have a one-on-one with yourself. Why spend the next 7-12 years of your life studying, taking board exams and spending late nights in the hospital if this is not your passion?

9) DISMISSING ADVICE:  It is important to know where to go and where not to go for guidance. Half of the battle in getting into medical school is speaking with others who have taken your path. Both younger and older physicians can provide great perspectives. No man or woman is an island. Those who make it to medical school almost always have interacted with a mentor even if they did not see this person in that way. I highly encourage you to find a local physician and get a mentor!

10) STAY ENCOURAGED:  Hard work and persistence pays off. You can go to any medical school across the nation and find at least 10 stories that will inspire you. It is not an easy path for any doctor. Life does not pause while we are in school. Tragedies will happen and life may take a toll on your grades but I guarantee there are others who have also been through a similar situation. I always say you need the thunderstorm in order to appreciate the sunshine. If you are serious about this journey you will persevere and ultimately get there. When I interview candidates for work in my clinic, my questions tend to be about how they coped during stressful and tough times. I am very impressed when I hear they have had a battle in life or failed at one time but learned a great lesson and stood up to the challenge. Stay focused and motivated. While still young, there is no time to wallow in regrets. There is plenty of time. Roll up your sleeves and get back to fighting for your dreams.


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