Hello my lovely readers, if you have been following along then you know that I am preparing to apply to medical school in the upcoming 2022 cycle! This is a super exciting part of my pre-medical journey and I thought it would be helpful to share this journey with you all! I thought this would be really helpful to be able to explain what this process if like as I go through it.
Disclaimer: this series is not a "how to get into medical school series", every person's medical school journey is unique and I will just be sharing information that I am learning as I go about my own journey. I also will not be sharing every little detail of my journey for my own privacy.
To kick off this series, I thought I would explain a bit about the medical school application process and what I had to do to get to this point and what is next for me!
One of the most confusing parts of the application process in understanding the timeline. To start, when you apply to medical school you won't be entering medical school until the next year. This means that there is a lot of preparation work that occurs before you want to start medical school.
As for me, I decided to take a gap year because I knew I would not be ready to apply in my junior year. Applying in my senior year means I will start medical school in 2022.
If you check out my new page stylebykye.com/premed (access granted for all site members) you will see that I broke down "the anatomy of a pre-med" - these are all of the activities and experiences that you should do as a pre-med BEFORE applying to medical school. These make up your application.
So you might be thinking, well I did well in all my pre-req classes, did volunteering, research, clinical hours, shadowing, etc for all these years now the easy part should be to simply apply right?
The application process takes a lot of preparation, writing, mock interviews, and more. Today I want to share a bit of that process here.
Let's start with our good friend the MCAT!
Taking the MCAT
As you know from all my recent blogs, I was studying hard for a huge part of me preparing to apply to medical school. The MCAT is the Medical College Admissions Test and it is required for your application to medical school.
Deciding when to take the MCAT is a personal decision, I suggest thinking about when you plan to apply to medical school and then use that date to plan your MCAT studying. I knew I would be aiming to apply in the summer after senior year then I would want to have my MCAT taken in January - this would allow me time to retake the exam if I needed to and enough time to prepare. Head to stylebykye.com/mcat to learn more about my MCAT journey.
Committee Letter Process
Now that my MCAT was over, my next step was to start the committee process. This is a process by Health Professional Advising Offices to prepare your committee letter.
The committee letter is letter that accesses you and is sent to the medical schools you apply to. You have to request one of these for the year you wish to apply. The cost at UMD was $90 for the committee packet.
The Committee Letter reflects on the following to access you for medical school:
Family and basic biographical information
Exposure to health care, patients and the clinical setting
Challenges and personal responsibility
Personal passions, talents, skills
One part of this process is the committee packet. This packet consists of demographic questions, your GPA and MCAT score, about 19 short answer questions and your personal statement.
You want to get this packet done as soon as possible since they are reviewed in the order they are received. I was able to turn mine in only a few days before the deadline and wish I could have finished it earlier. After your packet is in, you will have a mock interview scheduled and your interviewer will submit their feedback and this will be included in your packet as well.
Finally, you have to send your official transcript over to the advising office as well.
My tip, since I am in this step right now, is to reflect on your experiences before you even get to this part of the process. Keep a pre-med journal and include experiences that stood out to you. These will help you once it is time to talk about yourself and why you want to go into medicine.
All in all - the committee process prepares you for the the actual application...which speaking about it let's take a look at that step.
The Primary Application
The AMCAS is the American Medical College Application Service and this is how you will apply to medical school. This is like the Common App when you applied to college but now for medical school.
Medical school applications are on a rolling basis and so applying early is really important - AMCAS often takes several weeks to verify your application before it is seen by the medical schools.
The application will open on May 3rd and then you can submit starting May 27th. But there are ways to start preparing your application beforehand. AAMC tells you what is included on the application:
Coursework and transcripts
Activities (15 max)
Letters of Evaluation
Some of my favorite videos that discuss the application and some mistakes to avoid are Medical School Headquarters. Dr. Gray has written books and does this application renovation. Watch episodes of Application Renovation: http://applicationrenovation.com
Letters of Recommendation
One very important part of the application is the letter of recommendations! This is the part where other people can speak on your behalf. Typically schools will require the committee letter as I talked about above, and then two science faculty letters and a non-science faculty letter.
I asked for my letters in December to give my writers enough time to write them and ask me any questions. You want to provide your letter writers with your personal statement, CV, and any other information to help them write the letter. I suggest also sending the core competencies from AAMC to help guide the qualities they should highlight in you.
If you would like an email template head to stylebykye.com/premed for a free download.
As you know, I will be taking a gap year. That means that between studying for the MCAT and doing the committee process I have been preparing to find a gap year position as well. It was definitely stressful for me to try to figure out what I would do in my gap year and trying to find a job. I will make a separate post taking about gap years and why I decided to apply to the NIH! I will also share what are some other great gap year opportunities.
The Personal Statement
The personal statement is another part of the process that will take months. I started with my first draft a year ago and then started reworking it in January. So far I have reworked 4 more drafts of it and it is only March. I plan to keep working on it until I am satisfied with it.
The personal statement, as I said above, is your opportunity to tell your story. I've been struggling to condense my story in a way that still gets the message across and to write a statement that best reflects why I want to go into medicine and who I am as a person.
What I have had to realize is that this one statement is NOT the only part of my application. As I write my activities I have the opportunity to describe my activities in a way that shows who I am and my secondaries I can expand on parts of my journey such as my challenges, speak to the diversity I can bring, and other secondary prompts.
I want my personal statement to address parts of my story that wouldn't shop up in other parts of my application. Overall, I am all ears for personal statement tips.
My tip is to get started early - your first couple drafts probably won't be your best ones but you will get out those initial struggles to writing it and save time when you are closer to the application process.
Medical School List
Where am I even going to apply? I'm doing all this and I don't even have a top medical school honestly I just have a long list of schools I would be honored to attend. I will likely apply to about 20 medical schools - which means a lot of secondaries and costs(about $100 per school!!) but I want to cast my net wide to a variety of schools.
Some things I am keeping in mind as I wrote my list was location, if they had a MD/MPH dual degree programs, mission statement, diversity, and fit with my interests and stats. Eventually once my whole application season is over I'd be happy to share my medical school list and how I have been able to choose which schools to apply to.
And that is the process!
And that is the overview of the process! I am really excited to take this next step and apply and see where live will take me. Let me know if you found this helpful!