Nobody needs to tell you how competitive it is to get into medical school. The road is long and tough! According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, only 21,030 of the 53,042 applicants matriculated to medical school in 2016. This is equates to roughly 40% (and keep in mind, those ~53,000 students are already among the best in the nation). There is no doubt things are becoming more and competitive. Here are a few things you can be doing right now to boost your chances:
1. Get to Know Your Premed Advisor: Premed advisors are your friend! The moment you decide you want to pursue a career in medicine is the moment you should be setting up a meeting with your advisor. Most major academic centers have a pre-health advising group. These individuals are there to guide you to success. You’d be wise to take advantage of this resource!
2. Get a Mentor: It is essential that you have solid guidance. A good mentor should be a person who can offer advice and support for you because they have successfully accomplished what you aspire to do. You should have a short term mentor who recently took the same course, completed the MCAT or applied to medical school. At the same time, you should also have a long term mentor who can provide you with insight on the good and bad of medicine, connect you with other physicians and possibly write your letter of recommendation. You may consider asking your family doctor to serve as a mentor.
3. Set Your Goals: If you have not done so yet, grab a notebook and write down your goals. There are a few things to keep in mind when writing. You need to have short-term, intermediate-term and long-term goals. These goals should be measurable with targets and deadlines. Know what your goals are for the school year and the summer. Pick 1 or 2 people to serve as your accountability partners and share these goals with them. When you reach your goal make sure to celebrate and if you don’t, just dust yourself off and try again.
4. Get Involved: This is a broad area but this is what will set you apart from the tens of thousands who apply. With so many applicants to choose from, medical schools seek for well-rounded students. If you are not already one, you need to become a leader in an organization. If you find this to be too difficult then start your own organization on campus. Begin looking into local hospitals to volunteer at and start this as early as you can. This may open up doors for shadowing opportunities.
5. Google Yourself: Social media can cost or enhance your chances of making it to medical school. It is worthwhile typing your name in an online search to see what pops up. Many students deactivate their accounts or change their profile names when the interview season comes around. Many premed students don’t realize that social media can also be used to their advantage. For example, you should use PreMed StAR to build a positive premedical profile that medical school recruiters can easily find. Do not simply eliminate your online presence but instead, optimize it by putting yourself out there in a positive way. Take advantage of technology.
•Do Your Homework: Learn as much as you can about medicine. This is exactly what you are currently doing by reading this blog. There are many resources available to help you gain an advantage. Research the path to becoming a doctor, the different specialties that exist, the difference between an MD and a DO, etc. Be certain that being a medical doctor is your true passion.
Okay, you know what to do…get to work!
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