It blows. Apply early and get it done with.
I had my essay ready by June, AMCAS verified by early July, 50% secondaries complete in July, 50% in August, and 6 interview invites in September, 2 more in October.
I traveled internationally for interviews (it sucked major cajones), but as soon as I got my first interview I sent everyone an email, which lead promptly to 5 more invites in two weeks (hence 6 interviews in September).
Like most people who apply, I was a complete moron in my selection of schools (get drunk, throw darts at a wall papered with the names of the nation's med schools, and you pretty much know how I picked my list). Don't be like me. Think carefully about location, curriculum, cost, etc before you apply. Also, consider fit very carefully (as in, the specific admissions goals of a given med school). People say this is a random process in terms of admits, and it is to some extent, but there is a good deal of influence of fit (there is no accident I got interviews at Case and NYU for instance; both schools like people with non-traditional experiences).
Finally, don't sweat interviews. Unless you are socially retarded, an asshole, or just epically boring, you'll be fine. It's more a chance for medicals to check that you don't fall into the latter categories; an exceptional performance can occasionally sway a committee to admit as opposed to wl/reject you, but I'm inclined to believe that's rare (interviews seem to be a 'necessary but not sufficient' sort of criteria)
It is very easy to become a douche bag on the bumpy road to medical school, and if you ever find yourself doing things because you think 'Oh, this will look good on a med school app' think again. No seriously....as long as you show some basic commitment to medicine your free time is your own, so express your individuality in that time, and do something cool. Start a band, romance someone cute, travel, discover new species of poison dart frogs in South America, explore the 19th century Russian novel, whatever the hell you want. Just don't be a douchebag.
Finally, a quick summary of the schools I interviewed at:
-Very PBL heavy-curriculum with good integration of public health and research. Pre-clinical studies are slightly shortened at 20 months (perfect for me as self-directed learner; lecture learners won't like the curriculum so much)
-Great student body, diverse, chill, older, more experience
-Facilities aren't spectacular, but not terrible either
-EXCELLENT research opps, affiliation with Cleveland Clinic
-Cleveland sucks, but not as much as you think. Case is in a sweet neighborhood
-Crazy expensive tuition (~45k), but cost of attendance is overestimated, and fin aid is good
-They have some really unique dual/degrees (MD/MS in biomedical engingeering, MD/PhD in Health Services research, Md/PhD in Med Anthro)
-This is definitely a fit school, and not for everyone
University of Minnesota
-Pretty traditional lecture format with a little PBL
-Shitty facilities (anatomy lab was ok, pre-clinical classrooms SUCK)
-Student body is really pleasant, but lacks diversity and can be a little bland
-Minnesota weather isn't great (I grew up there), but Minneapolis/St.Paul are AWESOME. Great culture, education, cost of living, infrastructure, and pretty diverse for the Midwest. The med school is 15-20 minutes by public transport from both downtowns
-Most expensive public school in the country (last I checked anyways)
-Traditional lecture format
-Decent facilities, and of course, there is Bellevue Hospital, which is pretty f-ing awesome
-Student body is relatively relaxed (as with any med school though, plenty of gunners), and likes to party (given their location in Midtown,can you blame em?)
-On-campus housing sucks, but it is cheap
-I would say it has the best location of any NYC medical school
-Traditional Lecture Format
-Vertical campus lacks charm, but the views are stunning, and the anatomy lab is GORGEOUS. Anf of course, there is Mt. Sinai hospital
-Student body is relaxed, and the Humanities in Medicine program attracts well-rounded folks
-On-campus housing is fantastic, if you get lucky, you can score some sweet apartments
-Location is good/bad depending on what you want. It's Upper east side, so lots of old money, but Spanish Harlem is pretty damn close to too
-They don't have a lot of money as a medical school, so I'm guessing fin aid ain't great (but find out for yourself).
-Traditional Lecture Format but with very good integration of technology
-Facilities are decent, not exactly wowed by the affiliated hospital though
-Student body is nice, lots of jock-types, not so diverse, this is definitely a fit-school
-It's in Winston-Salem, which is pretty small, and pretty boring. Beautiful part of the country though, and cheap
-Oddly, they have a lot of funding for public health research, something to think about
-The interview format is hilarious, three 20 minute interviews back to back. I felt like I was at a speed dating event....
-Traditional lecture format
-Pretty campus, and many clinical rotations are in NYC. Also, anatomy lab was easily the best I saw anywhere in the country
-Student body is strikingly unpretentious
-Upstate NYC, located next to a prison (they don't mention that on any admissions info). It's a beautiful area, but boring, and expensive
-The school is pricy at 60k+
-In NYMC's defence, though it is regarded nationally as a safety school, they seem to offer good clinical education
-Traditional lecture format; what sucks is that of all the schools that I visited, it is the only one that doesn't have pass/fail the first two years. The first year is p/f and the second is graded. The students admitted it made for a stressful second year.
-Easily the best facilities of any school I saw. The med school is stunningingly modern, and Barnes-Jewish is spectacular. On-campus housing isn't too shabby either
-The gunner stereotype that Wash U gets really isn't too fair from what I saw. I think people look at their numbers oriented policy and assume they take assholes, but if anything, they just take people who are academically exceptional. That said, some of the students are young, somewhat immature, and there is more of an intense eat,sleep,breathe medicine here than elsewhere. On the flip-side, these kids are extremely bright, and surprisingly fun in their own nerdy way. Also, an FYI: the school is politically very leftist (perfect for me, but maybe not for everyone)
-St. Louis was alright. Decent weather, not impressive, but not a turn-off either. The students seem to like it.
-The tuition is high, but the school is loaded, and fin aid packages tend to be generous from what I hear
-Can't remember what their curriculum is like
-Facilities are pretty decent, and BUMC seems to be a solid hospital
-Students are generally pleasant, but I found them a little one-dimensional. Good diversity though, and they seem to know how to have a good time
-Boston is a good city, albeit a little expensive
-The school is expensive at ~65K
-The admissions director is a HUUUUUUUUUGE dweeb. I found him to be pretty irritating, but he seems to be a good guy.
As for me, I'm headed to Case Western. Cleveland was a turn-off, but the school is a great fit for me and the scholarship makes it hard to say no. Furthermore, I may not enter clinical medicine, and the dual degree offerings present a wide range of paths into the non-clinical world.