George Washington University SOM

  • great location
    * good clinical experiences
    * lots of non-trads
    * expensive - but FA office is very helpful
    * good match list (though they don’t publish it, so I can’t direct you to an on-line listing)
    Okay, bring on the questions!

Hi Mary, GW is one of the medical schools linked with the post-bacc program I’ll be going to. GWU appeals to me and is definitely one of the schools I’d consider applying to through the post-bacc linkage. First of all, I’ve always loved DC and wanted to live there. However, that was when I was very much in the thick of loving all things law and government. I still enjoy law and its history, particularly, in the abstract, however, the practice of law is an entirely different story. Another ideal things is that my boyfriend, who is an attorney and about as happy with it as they come, would not have to take a bar exam to practice in DC. DC legal market is well-developed and sophistricated so it shouldn’t be too difficult to adapt to the practice from New York city. However, before I decided to move on from law, I seriously considered other options in law - lobbying being one of them. Lobbying turned me off bc once again I found that truly “helping people” and not companies is as elusive as I found in the large firm culture. In any event, during these visits/lobbying interviews, I felt unsafe in teh city, somewhat run-down and was turned off by the exodus after 6 p.m. in many parts of the city. I’ve lived in Philadelphia and found DC to be scarier. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Also, the school is private and rather expensive…combined with living expenses and DC and the outlying areas, it can raise costs considerably. How is the financial aid office? Are they generous? Or do you need to fight for any aid?
How is the grading scale at GWU? Is there a curve? What’s it’s like? Is class attendance mandatory? How many hours a day can you typically expect to be in class first year? How is the environment? Did you find it to be competitive within teh student body? Pardon me, if any my questions seems odd, I’m basing a lot of my questions from my experience in law school. For example, my school it made it point not to compute GPA’s and give class rank. This made a big difference in keeping competitiveness down. However,I fully realize that medical school might be an antirely different setup.
Thanks in advance.

these are all really good questions deserving of a thoughtful answer, which is a nice way of saying, I’ll have to get back to you! I’m on the run most of today and stressed out to boot. My family is all of a sudden EXTREMELY high maintenance - I guess it is good that it coincides with my down time but geeze, I would like a break. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to breathe in the next few days and I will answer these questions as best I can.

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these are all really good questions deserving of a thoughtful answer, which is a nice way of saying, I’ll have to get back to you! I’m on the run most of today and stressed out to boot. My family is all of a sudden EXTREMELY high maintenance - I guess it is good that it coincides with my down time but geeze, I would like a break. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to breathe in the next few days and I will answer these questions as best I can.


Are we there yet?

uh, no. It’s graduation week not just for me but also for my son, who’ll be commissioned into the Navy on Friday and graduates from Virginia Tech on Saturday. The pace here is a little ridiculous at the moment… you’ll see me checking in and out on the boards but no thoughtful replies from me until next week!

Awesome!!! Congratulations to your son, as well as to you! I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t forgotten me…but no, you just have more important life milsestones to enjoy. Have a great graduation celebration…until then, I’ll be patiently waiting to hear your thoughtful reply.

Good luck to your son. Blacksburg is going to be swarming with people this weekend. I’m glad I wasn’t trying to get a hotel for the weekend there.
And all the best with your graduation. Wow, you made it Way to GO!!!
Amy B

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I’m glad I wasn’t trying to get a hotel for the weekend there.







Amy, we made our reservations a YEAR ago! I am pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to get a park bench to sleep on at this point. It should be an interesting adventure, to say the least. I am very happy for my son, who will be reporting to Pensacola for flight school in early June. “He is psyched” doesn’t really begin to do justice to his excitement about his new career.





The attached picture is of him last summer on his midshipman “cruise” with an F-18 squadron. The Navy will decide what he flies eventually but this is what he’d LIKE to be doing!

Attached files

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I am very happy for my son, who will be reporting to Pensacola for flight school in early June. “He is psyched” doesn’t really begin to do justice to his excitement about his new career.

In August, I went on my beach summer vacation on the Florida panhandle…and we would see the Navy planes and pilots in the air every 2-3 minutes almost…it was very cool. I imagine even cooler to be flying one.

I’d rather risk getting Hep than flying in that thing. Unbelievable. He has bigger one’s than I Mary.

Okay, everyone is commissioned, graduated, and well-fed (urp) at this point so let me see what I can do with these questions:

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these visits/lobbying interviews, I felt unsafe in teh city, somewhat run-down and was turned off by the exodus after 6 p.m. in many parts of the city. I’ve lived in Philadelphia and found DC to be scarier. Do you have any thoughts on this?


There are definitely parts of D.C. that I wouldn’t want to be in after dark, and I drove THROUGH some of them in the dark, but overall I don’t think D.C. is any worse than any other poor city. I’ve never lived in Philadelphia but my husband and sister used to go there on travel all the time, and there were parts of Philly they were pretty uneasy about. I think people’s home turf always seems less scary. That said, the area around GW itself is extremely safe and I don’t see the “deserted after 6” phenomenon. Foggy Bottom is a pretty jumpin’ place until all hours.
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Also, the school is private and rather expensive…combined with living expenses and DC and the outlying areas, it can raise costs considerably. How is the financial aid office? Are they generous? Or do you need to fight for any aid?


I did not attempt to get school-based aid because it would have required submitting my parents’ income information and tax forms and at the age of 40-something, I just thought that was ridiculous and did not want to try. Besides, my dad has a very comfortable pension from the World Bank and I was pretty sure his income information would’ve hurt me if anything, not helped me. So my experience with the FAO is limited to loan applications and their presentations to the class as a whole. In a word, they are GREAT. They are EXTREMELY helpful, they are always sending out information about programs that people might be able to get aid or grants from, they seem to really know their stuff. I just want to be clear that I only utilized their most basic services personally, but from listening to my classmates it sure sounded like they bent over backwards to be helpful.
One other thing I have to say, though: GW’s student population seems to be rather well-off. I was kinda taken aback to see that I am in the top range of indebtedness for my class, and I “only” borrowed for tuition, not the “full ride” of living expenses, books, etc. as well as tuition and fees. Quite honestly, there was a contingent of traditional students whose wealth was rather off-putting to me. Maybe I was jealous, because if any of my kids wanted to go to GWU I would not be able to just hand them money, but they seemed oblivious to how privileged they were and often acted rather entitled, which I didn’t care for. However, this was a rather small portion of the class. Most of my colleagues seemed to be pretty down-to-earth and definitely worried about $$, car repairs, how to afford books, etc.
Washington IS an expensive place to live. Apartments right around Foggy Bottom are well over $1000/month. However, lots of us didn’t live right at the school. The Metro (subway) is great for commuting and studying, and so getting a place somewhere along the Metro can be a boon. Of course you have to compare the cost of commuting (rail, bus or car/parking) with the cost of living closer… it’s a balancing act. This is where my experience as a married, established resident of the area just doesn’t help someone who’s moving in, I’m afraid.
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How is the grading scale at GWU? Is there a curve? What’s it’s like? Is class attendance mandatory? How many hours a day can you typically expect to be in class first year? How is the environment? Did you find it to be competitive within teh student body? Pardon me, if any my questions seems odd, I’m basing a lot of my questions from my experience in law school. For example, my school it made it point not to compute GPA’s and give class rank. This made a big difference in keeping competitiveness down. However,I fully realize that medical school might be an antirely different setup.


You know, a lot of these questions will be great things to ask on interview day because your student hosts will be first and second year students who are immersed in the current program. To be honest, I’m a little removed from some of it and there have been changes in the curriculum while I’ve been there.
Grading scale during the first two years is Honors, Pass, Conditional, Fail. In the 3d-4th years it’s Honors, High Pass, Pass, Conditional, Fail. Determination of Honors is course-specific; it could be an actual grade (e.g. >90%) or it could be the top 10% of the class. Of course in the clinical grades it’s rather subjective. The same can be said about grading “on a curve,” I guess, but I couldn’t possibly make an overall statement about that, as each course handled it somewhat differently. One thing I really liked about GWU was that everyone worked hard, but it was not a cutthroat, competitive atmosphere. But you know what, I haven’t heard many descriptions of cutthroat atmospheres in ANY medical school. The truth is everyone is in the same boat and the point is for everyone to succeed. I don’t think med school is nearly as competitive, in general, as what I have heard about law school.
GWU doesn’t rank per se. Our Dean’s Letters that went out with our residency applications had a bar chart that showed the percentage of students who got H, P, CN, F in each of the core courses, or H, HP, P or F in the third year rotations. So if a residency director really cared, s/he could look at your transcript and see where you fell in comparison to the rest of the class.
Hours: during my first year we were in class most of the day on M-W-F and partial days on T-R. Compared with some other schools, I think GWU at that time had a somewhat more demanding schedule and I think that continues but again, my experience is old and this is JUST the sort of question to ask during the interview day. Attendance was mandatory at Practice of Medicine classes, which were physical diagnosis, problem-based learning, and doctor-patient-society. These were small group classes that met much more sporadically than the large lecture classes - probably two hours a week max. There was no attendance requirement for the lectures. Again at interview day you’ll want to find out about note service, taping of lectures, etc. I know there have been a lot of changes in that since my first year.
overall I really liked GWU and felt it was a good fit for me. We were extraordinarily diverse in terms of age, background, race, culture, geography, and that was fun. The school really wants to train doctors who are good human beings - i thought we got a fair amount of emphasis on communication skills, for example, and they took great pains to include lectures on “staying human” in various ways while pursuing medicine as a career. We got good clinical training, too - we have heard from the class above us that they have been complimented as interns for their high level of functioning. I know that on my late third-year and fourth-year rotations I was complimented for “functioning at an intern level.” Although I am of course terrified at the prospect of the responsibility I’m about to take on, I do feel WELL prepared and ready to do it, and I give GWU a lot of the credit for that. Supposedly we do well in the match because GWU has a good reputation for graduating people who are clinically very well-prepared.
Good Lord this is long! Don’t forget that CURRENT students in a program will be a great resource for answering your specific questions when you go on interviews. Be sure to start writing down such questions - then when you start setting up interviews at med schools, peruse

their websites and use those to generate more school-specific questions. And also know that interview day is about getting a “feel” for a place. When I left GWU after my interview I described it as “laid-back” and I found that very attractive. Hope this helps.

Mary, thank you so much for answering all my questions. Your responses were very helpful. Congratulations again on your graduation.