3.98 GPA, 518 MCAT Score, 150+ hours of clinical volunteering, 75+ hours of shadowing, president of a premier pre-medical club, and five semesters of undergraduate research experience are the credentials of a student who was DENIED admissions to medical school. If you are a premed student reading this article right now, I am sure that your blood pressure is rising and stress level is at an all-time high. However, neither should be occurring because getting into medical school requires more than just the right numbers. As a premed student myself, I have always turned to peers for advice on what medical schools seek in their applicants. However, premed students overlook the most reliable resource available, medical school admissions committee members.
This article provides two, very credible perspectives on medical school admissions. The Campus Associate Dean for Campus Integration and Academic Enhancement, Dr. Leslie Lee, and Associate Professor of Medicine, Dr. Howard Cohen have been on the admissions committee at the AU/UGA Medical Partnership for many years and have excellent advice for prospective medical students.
As premed students, we constantly struggle to balance our commitment to healthcare and also show diversity in our interests. Dr. Lee states that students should show an awareness of current healthcare issues and pursue interests that they have a strong passion for. An example of this would be volunteering consistently with Habitat for Humanity while also keeping up to date with conflicts between the Affordable Care Act and the American Health Care Act. The key is to be able to show that you are an active citizen and a dedicated, lifelong learner.
Another question that premed students ponder over is what attributes medical schools look for in their applicants. Dr. Cohen looks for two fundamental characteristics in applicants: at the forefront is a commitment to serve humanity and the other a desire for a long term career in medicine. It is important to shadow physicians in clinical and hospital settings to understand the degree of commitment that healthcare requires. On the other hand, Dr. Lee looks for humility, compassion, and intellectual curiosity in applicants. Premed students are by far one of the most academically inclined groups of students on campus. Unfortunately, one quality that this group lacks is humility. It is important to know that while you may know a lot and have earned high achievements, there is still a long road ahead, much more to learn, and many levels to keep climbing.
Premed students in their first two years and final two years of undergraduate studies are stressing about the same goal, getting into medical school. This should not be the case for the former group. Dr. Lee and Dr. Cohen both agree that college is a time to explore your passions and discover new talents. They encourage you to take courses unknown to you and to not put blinders on with preconceived notions. A student who has explored his/her options before finalizing upon medicine will have a breadth of experiences that they can expound upon in an interview. Dr. Lee states, “Put yourself out there and create life stories that you can talk about.” For upperclassmen getting ready to apply to medical school, do not shy away from considering gap years. If you can take time off, do it and pursue dreams that you could not otherwise if you were in medical school. This time will not come back again, so do not let it go. Do not feel pressured by what others are doing.
If you take away anything from this article, it should be that the road to medical school is not a “one size fits all” ordeal. It is a process where you are allowed to develop yourself into a unique individual and show the world that you are more than just the right numbers.
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