Getting into Medical School, aka Holy of Holies (the F-1 version)

My adventures as an international student trying to get into a US medical school as a prestigious MSI student!

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I am a 22 yr old Foreign lady trying to get into an American med school. The journey has been "rough" to say the least. So join the band wagon and let's see if they think I'm good enough to become a doctor. I hope my story encourages someone, maybe you. Not necessarily to become a doctor, but just to follow your dream. Leave your comments as you read...I thrive on feedback. And if this is your first time here, catch up on what you missed, cus every post IS important...well almost all. So forget that board meeting(at your own risk) or skip that class (again at your own risk) and lose yourself in my archives. REMEMBER: "If it aint ROUGH, it aint RIGHT" - Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons Guard

Saturday, July 22, 2006

So how exactly does the process work?

For the benefit of my non-premedically inclined readers (aka layman) and anyone else that wants to understand the process, I proceed to explain the long winding process of applying to med school...

The first stage is of course knowing you want to be a doctor. The only deadline that exists here is realizing this fact while you're still mentally and physically capable of doing whatever this journey entails. This might be at age 70 for some people or as early as age 30 for others. Personally, I believe the earlier the better. You will need all the time you can get to pay up the loans you were so generously granted, or just to get your credit history back above 500 after 4 years of swiping your life away. People have been known to decide to study medicine as late as 40 and then there's most of us that figure this out before our college graduation. So now you know you want to be a doctor, what next?

Well, next you have to take those group of classes that will assure you of meeting the inital requirements for application to most schools. This usually consists of at least 4 semesters of biology and chemistry, one year of physics, psychology, writing and history. Technically this is easy unless you don't talk to your advisor till late in your college career, in which case you're kinda screwed into spending some extra time in undergrad. You also have to squeeze in a few lab research experiences and tangible clinical volunteer experiences. So every summer you spend bumming out at home, just know it will come back to hunt you. Somewhere between matriculation and graduation, you proceed to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Ahhh the MCAT, the official guardsman of the Holy of Holies. Only the fit can conquer this obstacle and proceed into the fortress. Do I have stories for you or what? But I'll try not to get too personal in this post...that's for the next one. You know I have to spread them out, if not my page will be looking rather scanty. So stay tuned. Anyways, till August of this year, the MCAT is an 8 hour exam that supposedly tests how much of the "basic" concepts you have grasped in your science classes. Personally, I don't think there's anything freaking basic about it, but then again, we're not getting personal here, so I'll move on...It has 4 sections-Physical Sciences, Verbal, Writing and Biological Sciences.You can read more about it here http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/start.htm . Up till now, you were given two tries a year to pass it and three tries total to get your ideal score. If you still want to take it again a fourth time, you have to show a letter of rejection from one school and some other info. But after this year, it will be held 19 times a year (wow!) but you still have only 3 tries at getting the score you want. After finally conquering the MCAT, say...on your first try(ahem!) and usually around the end of your junior year in college, you proceed to apply to med schools during senior year. Oh I forgot to mention, it costs about 200 bucks to take the exam, and this increases by about $10 every year.

If the MCAT is expensive, then the application process completely sucks whatever juice is left in your already suffering free checking account and/or your shiny student credit card(credit limit permitting). First you fill out the cumbersome primary application on the aamc website (http://www.aamc.org/). The main theme here is to make your years as a dishwasher in the school cafeteria sound like it made you a better person. So you will need (or have to know someone with) a way with words to phrase your experiences, or the lack thereof, right. You will also have to write a page and a half essay explaining why you want to be a doctor (emotional personal story required!!). This application is not due till around October but thanks to most school's Rolling Admission Policy, you better turn it in way before then (of course with some discretion, I don't recommend turning it in the first day, but who am I?). By the way, "rolling" means that the med schools don't wait to receive all applications before looking at them. They process them as they receive it.

So after you turn in the primaries (160 bucks for the first school, and 30 bucks for every additional one) and all your transcripts (yes, that include's the one from that community college in Alpine, WY), they calculate your cumulative GPA and your Biology Chemistry Physics and Math (BCPM) GPA and send them to your listed schools. Said schools now look at your numbers (i.e MCAT and GPAs), make sure you have all the right experiences ie volunteer and research and scheme your personal statement (in that order) then decide if they want to send you a secondary app.

So if you're lucky enough to get a secondary, you fill that out as soon as possible too and send it back in. You will probably need to write two or three more essays per app, get your letters of recommendation (lors) and pay another set of application fees. Yes...they still want more money, on average about $70 per school. If they like what they see, they call you in for an interview, which you fund yourself. Here they mostly try to find out your views on medical issues and what not, and ask whatever questions they want. Including, but not limited to, why did you have to take physics three times?

After the interviews you wait again to hear back as to whether or not you've been accepted. If you have, you will be invited for the second look weekend which they fund (about time!) and if you have many schools to select from, you make a choice and if not thank the Lord for that one school. Of course if you don't get accepted you can wait a year, improve on your experiences and try again next year.

So now that I've bored you with these details....we can finally get personal!

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7 Comments:

Blogger Bijouxoxo said...

Girl, i need more jare. Updates needed and who said u're boring us? I'm sure through ur blog, u'll be touching so many lives. I intend on blogging about my applications and med. school experiences when i get there too. Take care.

July 22, 2006 2:31 PM  
Blogger Errata said...

Definitely not boring, enlightening. Not that Im in your field or plan to be, I just prefer reading blogs that touch on personal experience, rather than trying to garner attention via social commentary, tv and other irrelevant, general subject matter.

GOOD LUCK to you.
God will bless your way!

July 30, 2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

thanks for stopping by

July 31, 2006 12:25 AM  
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