For those who have been accepted to med school...

For those who have been accepted or made to medical school, can you share some of the strategies and thoughts, such as:
1. How did you prepare for the MCAT while taking premed prerequistes?
2. What are some of the important strategies to be successful?
3. How much volunteer work have you done?
4. What kind of work experience did you have?
5. Is there anything important that you can think of for all of us, premeds?
Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts and strategies.
John

Quote:

For those who have been accepted or made to medical school, can you share some of the strategies and thoughts, such as:
1. How did you prepare for the MCAT while taking premed prerequistes?
2. What are some of the important strategies to be successful?
3. How much volunteer work have you done?
4. What kind of work experience did you have?
5. Is there anything important that you can think of for all of us, premeds?
Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts and strategies.
John


Hi there,
I will make an attempt at answering some of your questions:
1. I did not prepare for the MCAT while taking premed prereqs. My preparation for MCAT was studying for my graduate comprehensive exams and defending my dissertation. I reviewed a bit of physics because I had been away from classical mechanics a few years but that was it.
In short, preparing for your everyday coursework is useful for MCAT preparation. Mastering your coursework, coming to class prepared each day, reviewing your coursework on a daily basis and setting study goals is good preparation for MCAT while you are still an undergraduate.
2. Important strategies for success are: being prepared on a daily basis. As a surgeon, I don’t just walk into the OR and do a case. I have to study the patient, the patient’s presentation and plot a strategy that will produce a good outcome. I study daily to learn and keep up with new techniques that will enable me to treat my patients better. Realize that medicine is life-long learning and develop study habits that foster this. Prepare, anticipate and prepare some more.
3. I had done lots of work with preparing underserved students for science careers. I had spent lots of time teaching basic computer skills, critical reading,math and study skills to junior high and high school students so that they may do well in secondary school and college.
4. I had been a TV news producer, a pediatric critical respiratory therapist and college professor/researcher when I applied to medical school. I was very non-traditional too. Most people apply with much less work experience but make the most of every experience that you have in order to know yourself and what you are capable of accomplishing.
5.Success in achieving your goals is habitual. You can create a string of small victories that add up to a large victory. Medicine is a very long term goal that requires constant dedication and preparation on a daily basis. You have to figure out what you want and plot a strategy to achieve it working constantly. Once you get into medical school, you have to stay there and do well. Once you reach residency, you have to study hard and master the tools that you need to take care of your patients.
Most folks would find that I am the most boring person on earth because most of my day is spent seeing patients and preparing for surgery. I spent more than 16-hours each day working on my craft. I don’t go to movies or watch TV. When I get a vacation, it is golden and I am very protective of my down-time. Being a General Surgeon is very demanding but the greatest thing that I do. I love every minute of what I do and I would not trade my life for anyones because I can do things that other people only dream about. I have prepared myself to be in this position and I work very hard to stay here. Medicine/Surgery is not a profession for people who are allergic to hard and smart work. Know this in advance because medicine/surgery is not easy to do well.

Good luck on your quest and enjoy it!
Natalie

1. How did I prepare for the MCAT while taking prereqs?





The kaplan course, the Audio Osmosis CD’s, and intensive study (5-6 hours a night) focusing entirely on the MCAT starting about 2 weeks before the test. I sort of wonder if I would have been better off taking the Princeton Review course as they focus more on subject matter and less on test taking strategies. I think Kaplan focus on the latter far too much - to the detriment of the course.





2. What are some of the important strategies to be successful?





Be wierd. I’m kidding. But do something to make your application stand out from the pile. As OPMs we all are bringing life experiences to the table that will probably help with this.





Apply early and apply often. I ended up sending in 12 secondaries to DO and MD schools (2 DO and 10 MD). My primary apps were all submitted by the end of the second week of July. If I had to do it again, I would have probably submitted my primary apps on the first day I was eligible to do so and applied to 20-25 schools.





Apply to a variety of schools and make at least 25% of them DO schools. DO schools are without a doubt more accepting of older students than MD schools are. This has been borne out in the experiences of the (admittly small) sample of applicants from the school I did my postbacc work. Despite having the highest numbers (by a significant margin - 30-40 percentage points on the MCAT), I’ve received the fewest allopathic interviews by about a similar margin. Have a backup plan if you don’t get into World Famous Clinic or Monster State.





How Much Volunteer Work Have You Done?





300 hours, over a year and a half but admittedly, I think hospital volunteer work is of limited usefulness due to the HIPPA law. Where I did my volunteer work, they basically didn’t let you do anything because they were afraid of the consequences (wouldn’t even let you up on the floor to be a gopher). If you can find a hospital that will let you do more, great. Otherwise, I think job shadowing is the way to go (did this too, with 3 different docs) and find some other volunteer opportunity to highlight your undying concern for lepers, puppies, the homeless, etc.





4. What kind of work experience did you have?





I was a commmercial airline pilot for a commuter airline, a charter company, a freight outfit, Trans World Airlines, and American Airlines for the better part of a decade. I flew the L-1011 Tristar, Boeing 727, MD-80, and Boeing 747F.





5. Is there anything important that you can think of for all of us premeds?





Standing at the bottom of the hill and looking up, it sometimes seems like an insurmountable task. When I finished General Chemistry and looked at what still lay waiting for me on the road ahead, I often wondered: “What the heck are you doing?” …Don’t worry. It all goes by much faster than you could possibly imagine thanks to the effects of aging on time dilation.





Also, when you pick your postbacc school pick a school that is small so you can get to know the professors personally for recommendations and odds are you don’t want to go to a formal postbac program. Pick a school that has student-friendly policies like letting you drop a class that is showing you no love without being interrogated by Broomhilda and her coven.





Remember, it’s always better to be a well-fed trout in a pond full of minnows than a nervous tuna in an ocean full of orcas.





Good luck!

How did I prepare for the MCAT… ? I finished taking all the required courses, used Audio Osmosis, and worked my way through a Kaplan prep book… I also took NUMEROUS practice tests. I still didn’t feel all that prepared for the test and feel that I could have done better… but in the end it didn’t matter.
Important Strategies.
I actually will commit to being weird… LOL. Definitely make your application stand out. One of my job titles was literally “Smart Mouth”… it was my REAL job title… honest… include stuff like that… put your heart into your admissions statements and secondaries… don’t sugar coat it or distill it for an adcom … you are who you are. The other pieces of advice I could give you would be silly… but I’ll add them anyway… be determined, be passionate, and be honest.
I agree, apply to as many schools as you’d be willing to go to… if you’re willing to move there, then apply. I overdid this and have regretted it financially… but life goes on, it’s only money. DO schools are definitely WAY more forgiving… I’ve received rejections only, so far, from allopathic schools, pre-interview… I’ve received 2 acceptances from osteopathic schools… if you’ve got skeletons in your closet, old bad grades, lower than what you wanted GPA or MCAT, you’re more likely to find some understanding at an osteopathic school… but be prepared, their principles are different from allopathic schools… don’t apply there if you don’t agree with them.
How much volunteer experience did you have?
I’ve run a support group for 3+ years. I’ve volunteered in the hospital. I’ve worked with the local elementary school, taught, and worked with other local community groups as well as a hippotherapy organization. Adding up all the hours would probably give me a headache… LOL. Volunteer volunteer Volunteer… but do what you love… don’t compromise your beliefs/principles to impress someone… that’s not cool… I tried to do this at one point by considering working with hospice. I had heard that it impressed adcoms… but when it came down to it, I couldn’t bring myself to do it… (I admire people who can do it - it’s just not who I am)…
Work Experience:
I worked for 10+ years as a web developer/graphic design/web designer.
Advice:
don’t be discouraged… I’m still getting over the shock that I’m actually going to get to go to school and might pull off this crazy scheme. LOL. the whole process is very daunting, and it does seem insurmountable… but it’s not… don’t guage every thing that you do on whether you’ll get into med school or not… ie… don’t think… oh god, I got a B in this class, that’s it I’m doomed… that’s likely to be far from the truth. that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to excel, but one grade or one screw up or whatever means very little. If you act like it is the end of the world you’ll work yourself into an ulcer, drive yourself to a nervous breakdown, or thwart all of your positive efforts… it’s just not worth it… as several before me have said… it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
keep on trucking.
Andrea

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1. How did you prepare for the MCAT while taking premed prerequistes?







Most importantly, work hard to master the material in your pre-requisite course. As I have amny times before, the MCAT is NOT a traditional info-recall exam. It requires you to take “the rules” you learn in those pre-req courses & apply them to unique & not so unique situations.





Secondarily, test taking strategy is critical for the MCAT & will be again for the exams in med school & your Board exams. “How” to take these tests can be nearly as important as knowing the material. More than once I have been snookered on an exam by studying hard, but inappropriately - learn to work smarter & not just harder. This means taking as many practice exams UNDER SIMULATED TESTING CONDITIONS as is feasible. For me, it worked out best to take a formal review course - Princeton Review --> worth every dime & it is a LOT of dimes!





I did this while taking 20 or so Ugrad hours - something I do not recommend. I was too worried over being 1 year older as an applicant…wish I knew then what I know now…so, I forced myself to take on more than I should have. As a result, I was disappointed in my real MCAT (6 points lower than my final TPR examm which were harder than the real thing), but that point is moot because the score got me in.





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2. What are some of the important strategies to be successful?







– Work smarter not just harder


– You MUST be willing to do the work & make the sacrifices that will be asked of you


– This is a never ending journey filled with many small & several large goals - learn to gain satisfaction with your successes on the way


–“YOU” are worth more than a mere summation of numbers/letters on some damned transcript or application -learn to prize that worth & to be able to ‘sell’ yourself to others based upon these premises


– Perseverence, perserverence, perserverence, perserverence, perserverence…


– No one owes you anything; you must earn it all on your own merits


– The measure of a man/woman is the stregth of their integrity & NOTHING is worth selling that out


– Take your time & enjoy this journey - very few people are priviledged to get to enjoy it later in life; savor it for what it is - your education! If you are not enjoying this, you probably have made the wrong choice somewhere back down the line


– Always spend some time being introspective; objectively quantify whether or not you are on the right path for it is not the right path for many of those who endeavor to walk it - know when to say “enough” - it would be a miserable life to force yourself to be a physician when it was the wrong choice in the first place





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3. How much volunteer work have you done?







Due to working circumstances, I had done very little in the way of volunteering prior to med school. But, through OPM, SDN & elected leadership positions, (both Ugrad & med school) I clearly demonstrated an interest & ability in this arena. You don’t have to pass out cookies & bedpans in an ER to make your point. Do what your passion drives you to do.





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4. What kind of work experience did you have?




Many years, 10, as a respiratory therapist in pediatric critical care. Prior to that a couple of years as a bouncer & a bartender…at the risk of sounding silly, the bouncing/bartending gig has proven helpful as a physician.





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5. Is there anything important that you can think of for all of us, premeds?







Getting into, surviving & getting out of med school is far more about drive, dedication, hard work & discipline than it is about being the ‘smart kid’. I saw many of the smart ones get into academic trouble, not make it or make it and turn out to not be good docs - just cause you can answer questions on exam correctly does not mean you’re gonna be equally adept at applying that knowledge to pt situations.





There is no shame in realizing at any point in time that this is just not for me or that it is requiring more from me than I am willing to give. The better part of valor is to maintain your objectivity. Sometimes, you just have to say enough is enough, leave & cut your losses. Medicine is a tough mistress - she take all of you that you give & always come back asking for more. ONLY YOU can define the limits of that relationship. If you want to have a life outside of medicine, you must be the enforcer.





Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a physician! The only regrets I have are the sacrifices I have seen my wife & daughter make - but Wendy (the wife) has done so willingly & w/o grudges. I do not paint an intentionally ugly picture to scare folks off - for it is not an ugly reality if it is what you are truly destined for, it is wonderful. However, I do not want people to stumble into this not knowing what they getting into. Educate yourself - it is your best defense.

Quote:

For those who have been accepted or made to medical school, can you share some of the strategies and thoughts, such as:
1. How did you prepare for the MCAT while taking premed prerequistes?
2. What are some of the important strategies to be successful?
3. How much volunteer work have you done?
4. What kind of work experience did you have?
5. Is there anything important that you can think of for all of us, premeds?
Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts and strategies.
John


1. Prepared minimally for MCAT because the prereqs are preparation in themselves. To complement, I used EK study guides and EK practice exams.
2. Important strategies are to just be disciplined. You can’t let prereqs suffer due to MCAT studying, but you can’t totally ignore MCAT prep either. You must be disciplined with your time. One of the most important prep things to do in my opinion is to take timed full-length practice exams. This will help you get used to the timing of each section and how much time to spend on each question. This was the main struggle for me.
3. Volunteer experience - a couple years in nursing home, then about a year in the ER of county hospital.
4. Work experience - Military, Sales, Sales Management, and for the past couple years I’ve been working for a Medical Equipment company which has allowed me extensive direct patient contact and physician contact. I worked full time during the day and took college classes part time in the evenings for my entire undergraduate degree.
5. It seems the important things are obvious: grades, MCAT score, patient care experience, life experiences that help you to know that you should be a doc.
Hope that helps.