Some things for Pre meds to think about

Hi I just felt like I wanted to post some of my thoughts on the process:

While I do not think its a fair process it’s what we have in the USA.

I think some premeds loose the points of the process and why things are expected in the application process it’s not all BS and has worth.

These things are not just some list to check off you should embrace the process you will get more out of it if you do since most do better when focused to do the tasks.

Volunteering, it is not just Healthcare experience Volunteering but also your altruism, your willingness to give your time to others, Volunteering does not have to be health care related to matter all volunteering does to the ADCOMS.

Shadowing, sure you want to be a Doctor but shadowing shows the ADCOMs you took the time to at least glimpse at a real Doc not just what you are told nor just Hollywood. Sometimes seeing is believing and words mislead.

Research, is a interlectural pursuit and shows hard work and dedication

GPA shows long term study habits and commitment

MCAT shows the ability to digest large amounts of Information ( some think the info on the MCAT is all important to Medschool, only a small part is in reality, its more the ability to learn that is tested with some needed Knowledge)

The personal statement shows the other sides like the ability to communicate and what you are like.

The interview, you sell your self, who you are and why they should let you into Medical school, this is when, as I have posted in the past, you want the interviewer to say “Wow this person should study Medicine”.

So at times we post a list and give opinions of course we know everyone is different and there are different qualities among the posters I hope to see other thoughts here on the process, yes I think in some ways its a game but there is real worth in the process even If I do not agree with all of it.

I’m sorry but I don’t agree. It’s worth is only in getting in. Someone who volunteers because it’s what’s required is not going to do so once they are a physician so why bother? You bother with it because that is what’s expected.

How many people will do all that’s required if there weren’t a checklist? Why should anyone have to tell these people that they should shadow to get an idea of what medicine is about? Why should they be told to volunteer? They have to be told because otherwise they wouldn’t do it. It’s not in them to do it. It’s not altruism if it’s a checked box on a form. It’s a requirement.

The only worth is the one the applicant puts on it. If they had to be told to do something selfless in order to gain acceptance to medical school then it’s not selfless so it proves nothing. Well actually it proves that this person will do whatever they have to.

I have all the things on the list but have them because they were things I did and do. I had no idea they were required. It ticks me off to hear about other premeds ask about which are the best volunteer positions and where to get more hours. People who live in DC and asking where to go?

Having these requirements are nothing more than a checklist. If you hadn’t done them at this point, then why are you doing them now that you want to become a doctor? The answer…because it’s what adcoms are looking for. A few hours of volunteering isn’t going to convert someone into Mother Theresa, MD.

As I stated I disagree, I volunteered for over 9 years before the Caribbean and can’t wait to do it again, to me Volunteering is important in life, giving should be part of our lives ( this is my opinion no offense intended) I guess I’m the someone else. Some will say being a physician does not allow the time I say BS we make the time for so many things in our lives I enjoy the work I did with youth and cannot wait to do some more, it will not be as much as before but I sill still do some. In one way or another. I think the Premeds who think it is just a check list and that it is BS are the ones who struggle at times to get accepted because attitudes can show through. Say what you will but if I’m on any kind of selection committee in the future then I will look for these qualities. I think I’m not alone in this.

I hate the mandatory Community service of some school systems in the USA it demeans the whole process of Volunteering, so I expect young people like my kids to have view that it’s BS, IMO it’s not.

CROOZ I see you did things anyway because you wanted to, and thats part of what I’m saying, just doing it may not be enough, enthusiasm is a good thing.

ONE more thing I wrote this stuff for us to talk about this and reasons ect… I’m not judging anyone, opinions are just that and not judgments please no bashing. We can learn from others views

Enthusiasm? You’re not aware of how many hours, nor the type of volunteering I’ve done or do. You’re not there when I volunteer so I can forgive your assumption.

It is BS. The act of volunteering is not BS. Having it be an unspoken requirement is BS. How does an adcom select candidates based on their volunteering? Unless they did it waaaay before they even had thoughts of medical school how will they know who volunteered because it came from within or who volunteered because they knew it was expected?

You volunteered because you enjoyed it. Do you really expect those who haven’t ever volunteered to all of a sudden become altruistic? Perhaps that is what the adcoms want to happen. A forced volunteering which then plants the seeds of altruism for later. I don’t know. It might work. I know of students who had bogus volunteer experience and were applauded for it and accepted. There are people who can sell their lies without appearing to be selling nor lying. There is no way around it.

Seeing the process as anything more than a game would just create extreme frustration for me. Thinking about the 2 that were accepted to DO schools because they “love and respect the DO philosophy” but once accepted are now on the hunt to which MD schools they can transfer to.

The current system promotes this and I don’t see anyway of changing it. I guess your point is to enjoy the journey. If so then I agree but the journey is a game to me…but then again life is a game to me as well.

OMG no See you took what I said the wrong way Im sorry, I was not talking about you but others to have enthusiasm. SORRY Please

I read what you said and was impressed.

I cant go back and fix the post there is some stupid limitation on edits here.

Based on Our discussions in the past I have a lot of respect for you. And others.

I volunteered at a hospital before I started my prereq courses, for one simple reason: to find out if medicine is for me. It didn’t occur to me that this is a check-list item that I need on my personal statement or something.

My first attempt at volunteering went badly for reasons I still don’t quite understand–I did something wrong but they were unwilling to tell me what. I then switched to another hospital where I had an excellent experience which complemented and augmented the enthusiasm I was building through my coursework and communication with fellow pre-meds both online and off.

I’m not a natural volunteer in the sense that Whuds is but I’ve done plenty of work for non-profit/charitable orgs, mainly musical performance for fundraiser benefits, nursing homes, and so forth. The hospital was different because it’s all about the patient, not about me grandstanding and being applauded for my work.

I recommend volunteering to premeds because it’s a way to gain more self-awareness and insight; there’s no complications like salary, office politics, and the unfortunate us-them barrier that jaded medical workers erect with patients. Well, probably there’s some of that in any position volunteer or not, but they know you’re a temp, and you know it too.

In my personal opinion, probably the worst reason to do the hospital volunteer thing is merely as a checklist item for your CV. Sure it may get you into a program, but the lessons you need to learn will go unlearned until possibly some time in med school or beyond… or never. In the clinic where I worked, the nurses could always tell who was there just to pad their resume, though they were too polite to say anything. It was the ironic little smile behind his back that gave it away.

Relax Bill. I wasn’t offended and figured it wasn’t intended maliciously or in any negative way. I guess the tone of my response might sound a bit harsh but if you read it plainly that is how I typed it. No worries.

I agree with you guys that volunteering is a great experience in and of itself. The problem is those who do it are usually there for the checkmark. Some might have a seed planted but most will hate their time there and make others miserable. Yet come interview time will sound and present a false version of them.

I could be wrong. However I’m beginning to meet more and more premeds whose perception of themselves are very far from reality. They see themselves as Mother Theresa types but are more like House, MD…without the MD.

In a sense, I both agree and disagree with what Whuds and Crooz are saying. Some parts of the admissions process make very good sense such as the science GPA, since you need to be able to prove you can handle science classes, that comprises the BCPM GPA.

I have read a lot on the MCAT being a very poor determinant of who will make a good doctor. I agree with this. However, the MCAT /is/ a good judge of who has the /ability/ to be a doctor.

Volunteering? Well, I have pretty much the same view on it as Crooz. Forcing someone to do it and then suddenly regarding them as an altruistic saint because they did it is a bunch of bullshit.

Personally I have enjoyed my volunteering experiences so far, especially now that I’m in pharmacy so I’m learning a fair amount of pharmacology from the techs & pharmacists, but to say I would be doing it if I wasn’t going to medical school would be a stretch. To be sure, I like what I do and if I didn’t have a job as well (I don’t right now, 19 units) then I’d probably keep doing it, but I admit that I only started volunteering because I knew it was required to get into medical school…just like most of the other pre-meds. Honestly I think volunteering is just a subtle way of seeing if you can tolerate working without any sort of real compensation. Maybe they figure if you can volunteer without complaining, then you can do residency without complaining since they’re both almost identical in pay. Although I’ll be one of the few residents who probably will just shrug when I get my paycheck…considering I took home $25,000 a year at my last job and I’m single, $40,000 to $50,000 a year in residency is like doubling what my pay was before…not much of a reason for me to bitch at that. I digress though.

As far as shadowing goes…yeah. Let’s see YOU try to get around patient confidentiality and HIPAA at least in the state of California. I hear about people shadowing doctors all the time and yet usually the person lives in another state so perhaps Cali in particular has too toxic of a legal environment for the docs to want to bother with it, I don’t know. I do NOT think shadowing should be a requirement, written or unwritten, because people have time and time again said how it showed them nothing and they had no clue what a doctor did until they actually became one. The difference with shadowing is when you go home, the doctor remains, so you may not see the crappy hours of the job or the paperwork or any of the other negatives about it. If shadowing was meant to alleviate the painting of a rosy picture of a doctor’s job, I think it’s failed and in fact has caused the reverse effect.

Finally, the interviews from what I read can be complete and utter bullshit. You can be shot down simply because the interviewer doesn’t like you, has a bad day, is too old to remember your name, etc. etc.

Outside of the MCAT, GPA and personal statement, virtually all of the medical school admissions process is a complete and utter joke. Ironically if you can be a pre-med, then you can be a damn good pre-law student. Why? Because even though not all of us do, and surely no one will admit this, but being a pre-med basically teaches you that lying is good as long as the ends justify the means. Sounds like we’re being prepared for a career in law, not medicine, doesn’t it?

Well…I disagree with the MCAT because it only proves you will do well in Basic Science it does not prove you will pass the USMLE nor Clinicals. As far as the rest of the world no such test as the MCAT is used.

I was not saying some one was Altruistic because of volunteering and really you do not have to do volunteering to be accepted, but it is highly suggested, I guess what I’m saying is that it should be the reason for Volunteering to want to give to others, and yes you should enjoy it thats why I do not push people into one kind of volunteering but many premeds think it has to be Medical related it does not. ( I think I’m a little old fashion because I feel becoming a Doc is serve others I really do believe in this that it is a privilege to care for people, this is my personal belief )

Tim I agree about interviews but thats also a way some get accepted that would not on paper.

By the way I hope open discussion can help all of us even me because I’m curious what all of you think anyway…

  • whuds Said:
Well...........I disagree with the MCAT because it only proves you will do well in Basic Science it does not prove you will pass the USMLE nor Clinicals. As far as the rest of the world no such test as the MCAT is used.

Well, this is true. But the USMLE tests you on medical knowledge, and seeing as you haven't learned that yet if you're pre-med, basic science is about all they can test you on. *shrugs* Better than nothing right?

  • whuds Said:
I was not saying some one was Altruistic because of volunteering and really you do not have to do volunteering to be accepted, but it is highly suggested, I guess what I'm saying is that it should be the reason for Volunteering to want to give to others, and yes you should enjoy it thats why I do not push people into one kind of volunteering but many premeds think it has to be Medical related it does not. ( I think I'm a little old fashion because I feel becoming a Doc is serve others I really do believe in this that it is a privilege to care for people, this is my personal belief )

The main problem is there's a very real belief (and it's solidified by adcoms' perspective on it) that you have to volunteer to get accepted so most people do it just as a hoop to jump through. Personally, if you ask me, they should replace the volunteering requirement with the requirement to work as an EMT (volly or paid, doesn't matter, it's for the experience) or medic for at least 3-6 months. Why? Like volunteering, it gets you used to labor with very poor pay, and you get used to treating patients. Unlike volunteering, you actually learn something about medicine. ;P I've learned so much from my EMT course (and I'm only halfway done with it) that it's ridiculous. Tension pneumothorax? Sure. Intubation? Trained to monitor them after the fact. IVs? No prob, sodium chloride and I'll keep an eye on it. Etc.

  • whuds Said:
Tim I agree about interviews but thats also a way some get accepted that would not on paper.

This is true. If someone can't interview well in a prepared setting, then it's possibly (not is, just possibly) an indicator that they may not be able to do well under pressure. I'm just saying that I think it's rather unfair that the interviewer, and not the interview itself, can make or break it at their discretion.

  • whuds Said:
By the way I hope open discussion can help all of us even me because I'm curious what all of you think anyway.............

Well, that's part of why I like OPM and why I only post on here instead of trying to partake in SDN as well. We can have a mature conversation with differing opinions without it deteriorating into a namecalling tirade of epic proportions.

Well I have mixed emotions about the MCAT and no real thoughts about it. I haven’t taken it but have worked with many techs who were blasted out of the water after the MCAT. So traumatized that they never attempted medicine or at least are taking one heck of a hiatus.

I believe that the MCAT will be a good indicator on the step exams. Like it or not, GPA & MCAT are things in the applicants control so with those being equal… …the only things left are the extras such as the bogus volunteering.

I can’t comment on research because I lucked out to work with a great physician/scientist who pushed us hard and we produced some publishable science. It’s really because of having worked where I was lucky enough to get stationed that these men I thought as mental giants were encouraging me to join them…albeit as a gopher… …well…FACS gopher.

I mean I have most of the things on the checklist. I still need a few prereqs and the MCAT and then we’ll keep hope alive for Croooz, MD/DO. I just think that there is little room for an applicant to get all warm & fuzzy inside knowing they have to do all these things to have a shot. They don’t “have to” but it will round out their application allowing for a better shot.

One thing that is kinda bothering the red, white, & blue in me…why the comparison to the rest of the world? I agree that the US system is far from perfect. However I prefer a system that makes it difficult on the front end versus allowing an open door policy. The issues I see with the carib are of giving false hope and money. Sure these schools allow individuals who the US ignored the opportunity to prove the have the right stuff but at what cost?

What types of doctors would we have in the US if more schools were inclusive versus exclusive? I think it would cheapen the profession and we would be no more than lawyers.

I compare the rest of the world because countries like the UK and France also produce very good doctors without all these hoops to get accepted, just grades and interviews, Germany also allows many to study with just the desire to study, Patriotism, yeah I have it ( BSA 10 years and counting) but I will not be that way if to be bias. USA is a great country but there are billions of people in this would and 350 million + is just a small part of that world. There are great Doctors out there also who teach and come from medical schools that are just as good or better then some of the US schools. Just my opinion.

As far as the MCAT stats have been done (I will dig them up) that the scores do not prove one way or another how successful you are on the USMLE, it makes sense anyway the material and style are different.

As far as false hope in the Caribbean, well there are some students who should not pass but do somehow? Others that do pass deserve to and work hard. Look they pass all three steps and do greenbook clinicals so I think they have earned the right to be Doctors. Some Caribbean docs, Like the one who heads Emory’s Pain Clinic went to the Caribbean and have done very well. But this thread was not started about that sorry to be off topic.

I have heard that it’s harder to get into medical school in the UK than the U.S. They do have an exam called UKCAT which sounds like the verbal section of the MCAT.

My orgo prof from Oxford told me that under the traditional British system, the top scoring science students were admitted at age 18 for a six year program and the also-rans had to settle for other professions such as chemistry and biology doctorates.

Recently they have allocated more seats and have introduced a “post graduate” 4-year program at some schools. They have also been trying to add some clinical experience; a complaint at British schools is that there are too many lectures.

I don’t know what the picture is like for nontraditional applicants but I suspect it’s bleak compared to the U.S.

Then there is socialized medicine which imposes some limitations on practice options and, perhaps, removes others.

Based on my understanding of the UK system I would find it a stretch to conclude that they graduate “better” physicians, just different ones with perhaps more emphasis on the hard sciences and fewer “liberal arts” types.

  • ttraub Said:
Recently they have allocated more seats and have introduced a "post graduate" 4-year program at some schools. They have also been trying to add some clinical experience; a complaint at British schools is that there are too many lectures.

This alone would make me question whether the UK, if no other country, is turning out better physicians because if you're not even getting clinical experience in medical school, much less before then, I wonder how well they handle their patients?

Whether we like socialized medicine or not, it wouldn't surprise me if that springs up in the U.S. in the next 5-9 years because of the massive cost of health care currently. Granted it may be a system where a private one runs parallel to a socialized one, but either way, won't surprise me if it happens.

Well the UKCAT is brand new, this will be the first year, for me it would not have applied.

Well I learned something new, I have never heard of this test, guess admissions testing is going to happen eventually for everyone and as I’m a dinosaur seems like that is fitting…LOL

I still do not think it proves you will be a good Doctor or be able to do well but I understand there has to be some standards.

Only proves you test well…and the step exams would be tests…no?

Well Step exams are clinical in nature to be quite honest this is how we know a medstudent knows the basic knowledge needed to move on to practice a little different then the MCAT a lot of that knowledge you will not use again. USMLE is like the Nursing Boards but on steroids LOL

I will admit I think preparing for tests is a skill though, USMLE is about retained knowledge but also there are questions you must take a 3rd step for the answer, it is not like you have a problem to solve the answer right in front of you, there are clues in the questions that lead you to a answer and some questions are just one sentence and you must be able to take the leap to the 3 step beyound the question, If you wanna see some examples the USMLE puts out free practice questions every year and you can dwn load them, also there is a SIte called Web Path, the questions are in the USMLE style. SOme still kick my butt…

Actually getting into medical school in European countries is very very hard. They all take an exam after HS that is brutally difficult and only the very top of those taking it can actually even attemp applying to medical school. Also, in other countries non-trads are not for the most part going to get accepted period. So I believe our system is very good considering that IF you are competitive they will take you pretty much regardless of age. Not everyone that “wants” to become a physician should. Meaning, just because you want it if you do not have the academic background and ability to pass exams and regurgiate stuff then maybe you should look elswhere. Medicine is nothing but exam after exam and the MCAT at least provides some standard way for adcoms to make sure that you can retain a large body of info and apply it.

Yes it’s hard to get into medchool but it depends on what country, there are a lot of American students that get accepted itno Irish medical schools, Poland and Romania, these places Are also where the Nontrads go in Europe. There are quite a few Nontrads here in the Caribbean also.

One thing I really hate to see though, is this mentality that “If you cannot get into Medical School in the US then you should not be a Doctor in the US” that is really not a fair statement and is bias. There are good Doctors that come from these other countries as well and I hope to prove I’m one of them.

On another note what will the premeds do when they are the ones who do not get accepted for whatever reason, is it fair for them not to study medicine when they may have the ability but due to some factors they just do not get in? FUnny how attitudes change when it’s you.

I made my post regarding the “locals” getting in. International applicants as long as the have the mula they are good to go.

Well, I truly believe that some pre-meds are just not “medical school” material. I have met many of them while in undergrad. I mean folks that have a consistent record of doing poorly in classes including recent work and cannot do well on the MCAT, may have to/need to reconsider their career choice. Again, I just do not thing that wanting something necessarily means you must get it.