(I'm not terribly anonymous, but I have nothing to hide :))
A non-traditional applicant: - look at my age above (sigh); - foreign native, US permanent resident (got my green card for my research contributions and potential); - a pretty difficult childhood: raised by a single mother during the economic tumult of the post-breakdown USSR, for most of my childhood lived in a single 150 square feet room with my mother and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities with 4 more families (I did not misspell: families, not people!), including some people with alcohol and mental health problems and a few criminals (true story; this kind of housing is called "kommunalka" in Russian); as a teenager, participated in rescuing a neighbor's suicide attempt; - came to the US all by myself at 21 after graduating from college with just enough money to live on for 1 month, I have no family here but I was able to make several good friends and adjust to the new country; - now changing careers from academic biomedical research to medicine because I realized that, while I enjoy the intellectual challenges of research, people are what matters most, and I want to be able to help them directly.
Education: - BS in Chemistry with concentrations in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from one of the top Russian universities: plenty of basic and advanced undergrad courses in chemistry (inorganic chem with labs, o-chem with labs, analytical chem with labs, physical chem, chemical kinetics, chemical thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, chemical technology, crystallography etc.) and physics (3 semesters of calculus-based physics with labs + lots of physical chemistry courses), biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, virology, immunology etc. (~3.5 GPA - the classes were quite hard and I didn't know I would be applying to US medical schools and was just having fun :)) - transcripts were officially evaluated by AACRAO, but most US medical schools won't care about my Russian courses anyway; - PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from a US medical school: graduate courses in biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, microbiology, immunology, virology and biostatistics (~3.5 GPA - again, didn't know I would be applying to US medical schools and was focusing on my research rather than on my classes, which shows in the number of my grad school publications and presentations and, hopefully, my thesis mentor LOR) - not that med schools will care about my grad courses, either; - since the vast majority of US med schools require *US undergrad* credits and won't accept either my Russian or my graduate courses, I ended up taking 108 credits at community colleges between Summer 2011 and Spring 2014 (besides retaking prereqs, I took plenty of psychology, philosophy, 4 semesters of Spanish etc. - all As except for 1 B in one of the 4 Spanish classes - really stupid, I submitted an assignment an hour late, got a 0 for it, and there was no way I could get an A without those points); - I continue learning Spanish, as I want to be able to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients (self-learning, taking a few private lessons and communicating with my Spanish-speaking friends).
MCAT: - unfortunately, I didn't respect MCAT last year - hardly reviewed or practiced at all, hence the miserable result (30Q: 12/9/9); took it more seriously this year, reviewed everything and did a lot of practice for a retake on 05/18/13 - and got a 38 (13/12/13) as a result!!! Guess what? It turns out, studying for MCAT helps :) It is of note that even verbal scores can be improved, even for someone who is not a native English speaker. So happy about my new score, and so relieved.
Research: - 2 years of undergrad research in bioorganic chemistry/molecular biology/virology back in Russia (1 project, 1 paper, 1 first-author poster at an international conference); - 1 year as a full time research assistant in microbiology before grad school (2 projects, 2 papers, including 1 highly cited first author in a good journal); - 5 years of full time research in microbiology as PhD student (4 projects, 4 papers in good journals, including 2 highly cited first-author; 2 student research conference presentations and 8 major international conference presentations, 1 book chapter); - 3 years of full time postdoctoral work in bacterial pathogenesis (2 projects, 1 paper in a prestigious journal, 3 major international conference presentations); - almost 2 years of clinical research in AIDS and viral hepatitis (currently working here) (2 independent research projects, 1 conference presentation at a major clinical meeting, 1 paper just accepted for publication; now working on a conference abstract based on my second project).
Clinical experience: - more than 4 years of ER volunteering and training of new volunteers; - shadowing HIV clinic visits with several ID specialists and primary care docs; - working in clinical trials in HIV and viral hepatitis for almost 2 years; - attending lots of grand rounds, seminars and clinical case discussions in internal medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry at the med school I've been working as postdoc and now clinical researcher.
Leadership: - member/secretary/chair of a postdoctoral committee organizing events for postdocs (2.5 years total) - these are not nominal positions, we actually organized many highly acclaimed informative seminars, workshops and social events for postdocs.
Teaching and mentoring: - several semesters of medical microbiology lab and infectious disease conference teaching for med students at 2 med schools; - leading workshops, seminars and journal club discussions for grad students; - formal high school student and grad student research project mentoring; - informal mentoring of graduate students.
Outreach: - health fairs (explaining vaccinations to people in the underserved community); - science fairs (judge); - events raising awareness about HIV infection prevention; - very active dispelling vaccination myths and explaining immunization in online forums :)
Awards: - first place in oral presentations at a graduate student conference; - travel award as a postdoc for research and leadership; - Phi Theta Kappa member; - President's Honor List; - not an award per se, but I was granted US permanent residency based on my research contributions and promise, which is kind of a big deal; - since I only got my green card recently, I was severely limited in my options to apply for fellowships, so no research fellowships for me :(
Extracurriculars/hobbies: - yoga; - classical guitar (used to play balalaika, a Russian folk instrument, years ago); - culture buff: traveling to major cities in the US, UK, Russia and Ukraine, classical music concerts and opera, museums and all that stuff; - foreign languages (studied and successfully forgot German and Italian, currently working on my Spanish); - taking lots of MOOCs - viva Coursera, edX and Stanford online! - a special interest in psychology, philosophy and religions.
I'm currently working in clinical research and finishing my prereqs at community colleges (will be done with OChem and all the prereqs in the Spring of 2014).
I got LORs from my PhD adviser, 2 grad school professors and my current PI who's a med school clinical professor. I believe that all but my current PI's letters are as strong as they get: these people have known me both personally and professionally for years, they have a high opinion of me and are very enthusiastic about helping me. My current PI's letter may not be quite as strong, though neither is it weak, - she's so busy we don't interact that much, so we just don't have that kind of a strong personal relationship that helps with writing a really strong letter; but I think the letter should still be fine.
Regarding community college classes: I know it's not ideal to take them, but it's the only option I have considering that I support myself by working full time (and research is not a 9-to-5 job). I hope that my high course load while working full time and my (almost) straight As will prove I'm doing community colleges not because I'm a slacker. Besides, I already passed more advanced versions of these courses before with good grades, I'm only retaking them because I took them outside of the US or in grad school.
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 06/15/2013
Undergraduate college: a top Russian university
Undergraduate Area of study: Physical Sciences
Institution: US medical school
Area of Study: Biological/Life Sciences
Degree Obtained: PhD
Total MCAT SCORE: 522
MCAT Section Scores:
Overall GPA: 3.96
Science GPA: 4.00
Summary of Application Experience
Submitted AMCAS on 06/16/2013 and TMDSAS on 06/27/2012. All transcripts were in by the time of submission, all LORs were in by the time of verification. AMCAS verified and made available to schools on 07/17/2013, TMDSAS verified and transferred to schools on 07/16/2013.
AMCAS GPA: Undergrad GPA: 3.95 Undergrad Science GPA: 4.00 Undergrad Non-Science GPA: 3.93 Graduate GPA: 3.53 (I was really involved in my lab work and didn't pay much attention to studying - multiple publications and a dismal GPA as a result) Graduate Science GPA: 3.5 Graduate Non-Science GPA: 4.00 (where did this come from?)
I applied mostly to research-oriented schools, as I'm very much into research and would like to ultimately combine clinical practice with clinical/translational research and possibly teaching (i.e. academic medicine all the way).
Some thoughts as I'm going through this process: 1. I'm absolutely honored, totally amazed and unbearably happy to receive 8 IIs from such awesome schools, some of which have been my top choices both pre- and post-interview! I'm even more amazed and excited about the 4 (!!!) acceptances I have. 2. I perceive that there is a lot of randomness in the medical school application process. I mean, especially after the interview stage, there are so many highly qualified applicants, adcoms may as well throw darts at their names to select a class. Who knows, maybe that's what they really do? :) 3. While I'm totally burnt out from writing secondaries (didn't complete many of them), I sort enjoyed the more difficult ones more. It seems to me that schools that ask more probing, more introspective questions are the ones that really do care about the values and personalities of their applicants. I also wrote all the optional essays because I had a lot to write about :) Diversity? Disadvantaged? Bring it on! 4. I've noticed that the activity in school-specific threads, the kind of things discussed there, the kind of applicants, how willing the current students are to answer questions and how good these questions and answers are - all of these kind of correlate with how enthusiastic I am about a particular school. I think you can kind of tell the quality of the students and the applicants from these threads.
The damage (so far): MCAT - prepared DYI using TBR ($276), EK (~$150) and TPRH (bought them used, don't exactly remember how much I spent - I'm sure I got lots of TPRH materials for well under $100) community college classes (I took them specifically for my med school application; I had already earned my degrees earlier) - ~$5000 AMCAS - $860 TMDSAS - $135 (gotta love TX!) secondaries - $1425 suit - ~$230 (black pant suit + some shirt) shoes - $140+$110 ("nice" shoes and comfy but still professional looking shoes for those long school tours) bag - $188 (hey, a girl gotta have a nice professional bag!) (I admit that the shoe and bag budget could have been smaller, but I feel more confident when I have nice comfortable shoes and a nice practical bag. At least my suit didn't break the bank, and it's a quality CK suit.) UTSW interview: free! (hometown advantage) Pitt interview: ~$350 air + the really cheap public transportation from airport to campus + staying with a student host (I treated her to a dinner the night before the interview and gave her an Amazon gift card) CCLCM and Case interviews: $500 air (I figured it's a bargain for 2 interviews) + the $35 shuttle from airport to campus and public transportation back to the airport + $184 hotel (no rooms were left at either of the Intercontinental hotels when I tried booking - and I did that more than 4 week in advance! - I ended up booking DoubleTree Tudor Arms which is right next to LRI and costs about the same as Intercontinental), staying with Case student host for the second night (yay student hosts! we went out to a bar the night before the interview and I left 2 Amazon gift cards) Penn interview: $360 air + $0 lodging (stayed with a friend) + friend giving a ride and public transportation to get from the airport to the city etc. WashU interview: $280 air + $0 lodging (one night at Olin hall is free, and it's literally next door to the admissions office! Kudos to WashU for making this easy and affordable for interviewees!) + public transportation to get from the airport and back (MetroLink train station is right on campus, and it takes only 30 minutes to the airport) Cornell interview: $326 air + $315 hotel
Summary of Experience:
finally officially rejected, yay! :)... but I don't care at this point...
my status has been stuck at "has been reviewed" for quite a while now, I guess this means I was passed over by Baylor and will receive my rejection later... but with acceptance from UTSW, I don't really care (I wouldn't choose Baylor over UTSW)...
SR (n/a: registered on their web site, reminder from Baylor on 7/19/13), SS (08/02/13), SC (08/06/2013, status), R (3/7/2014, by a rather nice email)
USNews: #21 Research #12 Primary care #9 Pediatrics
Summary of Experience:
rejected... oh well, can't say I'm terribly upset or surprised: Tulane and I don't seem to be good for each other, I don't even know why I spent money applying here in the first place..
I was initially interested in their 3.5 year HEAL-X program (PhD-to-MD), but realized I won't be able to start school in January 2014 if I get accepted; sent Tulane an email to transfer me for consideration for the regular MD program...
SR (7/19/2013), SS (8/29/2013), SC (9/16/2013, email), R (11/05/2013, email)
Summary of Experience:
first rejection... not surprised, as this was a reach, but it still hurt... though I may see you for residency, Chicago! :)
SR (7/2/13, AMCAS unverified), SS (7/24/13), SC (7/25/13), R (8/2/13) 7/8/13: participated in a Twitter chat with Pritzker admissions. Very warm and encouraging admissions staff, lots of opportunities at the school, emphasis on community health and health disparities - great, I`m all about social justice! In other news, they consider the best MCAT
Summary of Experience:
rejected as expected... don't really care at this point... but Happy birthday to me LOL... I may see you for residency, Columbia! :)
great school, great hospitals, diverse patient population, community and global health opportunities in infectious disease, NYC - what's not to love? (except for the price sticker)...
one of the best med school for HIV/AIDS and infectious disease clinical experience and research (something I'm very interested in)...
sent an ITA email and 2 update/interest letters, got email confirmations that my letters were received, but no II - I guess Columbia is not interested in me, no matter how hard I try attracting its attention
SR (07/08/13, AMCAS unverified), SS (08/02/13), SC (08/02/13, automatic status change and email; all my LORs and MCAT scores were already marked as received), R (2/27/14) 9/16/2013: received an email with information about Columbia-Bassett program (while the program is great, I'm not really interested in rural medicine and don't want to write a BS essay in an attempt to get a Columbia-Bassett stipend), but, more to the point, the email mentioned my application was under an active consideration - does it mean I may hear something soon?
USNews: #8 Research #48 Primary care #9 Internal Medicine #4 AIDS top 10 most expensive top 10 most selective
Summary of Experience:
I thought Mount Sinai was silently rejecting me - nope, not silently anymore :) I'm quite indifferent about this; I was very interested in the school in the beginning of the cycle, but as the cycle progressed my interest has substantially decreased...
oh what the hell... very interested in their PORTAL program (MS in clinical research), patient diversity and in the whole flexibility thing...
no non-science LOR, all LORs from grad school or current work/research - I don't know how much of a problem this is going to be...
sent an ITA email and an update/interest letter, got no response - I guess Mt. Sinai is not interested in me...
SR (07/22/13 late at night :)), SS (08/12/13), SC (08/13/13 - application received email=complete?), R (01/29/2014)
Summary of Experience:
rejected as expected... but don't really care... I may see you for residency, Northwestern! ;)
very different opinions about the new Feinberg curriculum are floating on SDN, but I'm actually very interested in its focus on inquiry-based, self-motivated, team-based learning and flexibility - not to mention the integration and early clinical exposure!..
SR (8/11/13), SS (9/4/13), SC (9/4/13, email and status), R (2/21/14)
USNews: #18 Research #22 Primary care top 10 most expensive
Summary of Experience:
withdrew after WashU acceptance... got waitlisted on Christmas night - the (in)famous automatic Case 3 am email. Really? Christmas night? You couldn't schedule this automatic email to go out any other day? It's the outcome I expected and it's OK: even though the program was my top choice at the beginning of the cycle, I'm not sure it's a good fit for me after all...
With its unique combination of clinical and research training, this program was my top choice in the beginning of the cycle. I was pretty much obsessed with it, I learned everything I could about it, I even read that Kastor book about Cleveland Clinic and the University Hospitals. And then I attended my interview... and didn't like the atmosphere at the school *at all*. In fact, this was the only school that left me with some kind of an uncomfortable feeling. My faculty interviewer at Case told me that, based on his/her own experience working at Cleveland Clinic, it's very corporate - and I got a feeling that there was something corporate about CCLCM culture. You're just expected to behave in a certain way - look, I'm old enough not to mind behaving professionally, but this was just one step further, and it made me uncomfortable. Plus, I don't know if I would like the deep personal involvement of the Dean into the students' lives. I mean, she seems like a great person, but still, I got a feeling that one has to please her at CCLCM. Plus, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the all-around feedback system. The school takes pride in removing the "grades pressure" - but to me, its evaluation system sounds like it's a lot more pressure than grades. Anyway, after I lest the interview I was pretty certain I wouldn't go there even if offered admission (I just think I would be very uncomfortable in that atmosphere), so I'm not at all upset at being waitlisted. Also: based on something I read in the Kastor book etc. I am *not* planning to apply for residency at the Cleveland Clinic. Seems like a thoroughly wrong environment for me.
certainly a very unique program and school atmosphere... stay tuned for more details about my interview day...
*extremely* happy and honored to get an interview here!
*Love* the program, please please please let this be mutual :) With my personal and professional experiences and career aspirations I feel like this program and I are made for each other :) Let's see how it goes...
SR (07/23/2013), SS (07/29/2013), SC (07/30/2013, status), II (09/06/2013, 3 am ET email :)), IA (10/03/2013), WL (12/25/2013), W (2/22/2014)
USNews ranking lumped together with Case Western free tuition ~5 students per class receive a full COA merit-based scholarships
Summary of Experience:
withdrew after WashU acceptance... placed on hold on 10/31/2013, which somewhat hurt my feelings at first, but with the acceptances I have now I don't really care; however great Case is, I wouldn't attend it over any of these schools...
I liked the curriculum, the facilities and the friendly and relaxed atmosphere a lot. Cleveland is not so bad after all :) I think I could be pretty happy there, but it's very expensive and its financial aid is not that great. So, all in all, while I really liked Case, realistically I wouldn't go there even if I was accepted. Seriously considering Case-affiliated hospitals (except for Cleveland Clinic) for residency though :)
Very friendly atmosphere, students seem to be very happy here. Really liked the curriculum, those IQ sessions seem to be quite efficient. Cleveland is not at all as bad as I thought. The interview was very well organized - if there is one thing I'd like to improve though, it's just to have some MS3 and MS4 students to talk to (all the students I met during the interview day were MS1 and MS2). Stay tuned for more details about my interview day.
SR (07/23/2013), SS (07/29/2013), SC (07/30/2013, status), II (09/06/2013, 3 am ET email :)), IA (10/04/2013), WL (10/31/2013), W (2/22/2014)
USNews: #23 Research #40 Primary care top 10 most expensive
Summary of Experience:
Withdrew: no reason to prolong this any more, considering I'm quite happy with Cornell :)
Waitlisted :( (sigh)... not that it's an unexpected outcome but it's still heartbreaking because Penn is absolutely my first choice... I'll be sending love letters but I'm not sure if they'll help considering that Penn waitlists a ton of people and its waitlist usually doesn't move much...
Love love love Penn. This is easily my number one choice. The school has just everything I could think of: great hospitals for clinical rotations, awesome research opportunities (including specific research opportunities in the areas of my interest), great global health opportunities (its clinics in Botswana are just perfect for my interests in HIV and ID in general, be that adult or pediatric); I appreciate its humanitarian tilt, including the local HIV clinics (again, something I'm very interested in) etc. etc. Penn is just all around perfect for me. Even its location is perfect: it's cheaper and quieter that New York, while being an only 2 hour and $15 bus ride from it. Boy, how do I want to go to Penn! But the school is a clear rich for me (I'm surprised I was even invited to interview!), what with all that Ivy League applicants I met on my interview day (a very humbling experience); plus, I'm kind of weak on community/non-clinical volunteering - I don't know if this can kill my application at Penn. I sent a substantive update (job promotion+clinical research publication+new research projects), my CV (it has a lot more info than my AMCAS and Penn secondary) and latest grades with some sort of a love letter... I'm afraid to hope for anything, because I don't think I really have a chance here - but boy, do I want to go to Penn!
love, love, love Penn!!! I had an absolutely amazing interview day. The opportunities at the school are exceptional (they have exactly the kind of things I'm interested in, global health and infectious disease research opportunities are just outstanding), and everyone I met was extremely nice. Stay tuned for more details about my interview day.
I badly want to get accepted by Penn! I really hope I fit their mission (I think I do, but let's see what they think). I will make sure to use the resources the school offers - they're just perfect for my interests (ID, global health, urban disadvantaged) and career plans (academic medicine)! Love the "humanitarian" side of Penn Med (lots of free clinics in Philly, humanitarian work around the world), global health opportunities (Botswana clinical and research opportunities are awesome! I so want to go there), flexibility of the curriculum, especially in the clinical years (*lots* of time for clinical electives, research etc.), opportunities to get a double degree - not to mention I really liked Penn culture of interpersonal and interdisciplinary cooperation, involvement with the community both locally and globally and leadership in medicine. I so want to get in there!!!
Wow. No, WOW!!! I can't believe I got an interview at Penn!
oh what the hell... great school, great clinical training, clinical research opportunities... AIDS research, CHOP and vaccine research!
one of the best med school for HIV/AIDS and infectious disease clinical experience and research (something I'm very interested in)
SR (7/18/13, reminder on 8/12/13), SS (8/14/13), SC (8/14/13, automatic), II (9/24/13), IA (10/25/13), WL (3/12/14), W (6/30/14)
USNews: #4 Research #13 Primary care #5 Internal Medicine #1 Pediatrics #10 AIDS
~35 MD students receive full tuition merit scholarships (apparently, not number-based), plus there are some partial merit and need-based scholarships
Summary of Experience:
In what was the most difficult (and absolutely soul crushing) decision of the cycle, I withdrew from Pitt in favor of Cornell... Someone on SDN wrote about his own withdrawal from a school that it felt like a breakup... well, I'm feeling the same way now.
Accepted!!! I'm so happy because I really liked Pitt and the city a lot! Unfortunately, I can't attend its second look because of work... now waiting for my fin aid package.
First tier waitlist :( kind of bummed because Pitt is one of my top choices, but still hopeful to hear some good news in March...
02/11/2014: submitted a heartfelt letter of interest last night, though I don't know if it's going to make any difference at this point, considering that I sent 2 substantial updates/LOIs before the decisions came out on January 31st...
This is where my heart is. Penn and Pitt are my top choices post-interview (and the two schools I would choose over UTSW). In a way, Pitt and Penn are somewhat similar; they offers similar kind of opportunities, though Penn has more awesome opportunities specific to my interests. Pitt, on the other hand, has an absolutely awesome atmosphere - the students, the faculty, the city around it - I just loved everything. I think I would be very happy there. If only I was accepted...
It's official: I'm in love with Pitt. If you're invited to interview at Pitt, you're in for a treat :) First of all, the city is beautiful and interesting. If you can, try arriving to Pittsburgh earlier or stay longer after the interview to give yourself some time to see the city or at least the neighborhood where the university is, 'cause the city is beautiful and has a lot to offer, and the Oakland neighborhood is a lot of fun. I'm happy that I arrived in the afternoon the day before my interview, so I could see some of the city views on my way from the airport (the 28X bus is very convenient, it's an about 1 hour ride from the airport to the university that takes you through the city, it's frequency is about once every half hour, though you should be aware that it may not run exactly on schedule, and have $3.75 in exact cash ready), and then my student host (who was absolutely amazing!) took me to a dinner and a walk in the university neighborhood. It's a very beautiful and lively place. One thing you should be aware though: the city has a lot of hills, and the medical school is on top of one of them, so there will be a lot of uphill and downhill walking. Girls shouldn't wear hills there! The interview day itself was also very pleasant and relaxed, and everybody I met during the day was very friendly, helpful and open. A couple of things you should prepare to: 1) be ready to talk about your hobbies etc., as Pitt seems to be big on extracurricular activities - in fact, my day started with a short group meeting with one of the Deans who asked us about our extracurricular interests; 2) have a lot of questions, you'll be asked if you have any questions multiple times throughout the day, including during your interviews, and it's a good idea to actually have some meaningful questions. The student-guided tour of the campus was probably the most interesting med school tour I've been on 'cause you actually get to see something interesting: the WISER simulation center Pitt is so proud of (it sure deserves the pride!) and the anatomy lab. My MS4 student guide was also great and gave me some extra tips because we're interested in the same areas of medicine. There is a "group activity" where your whole interviewee group is presented with a clinical ethics scenario (basically, what to do if one of the children wants to keep their mother on life support and the other one doesn't), and you discuss the situation with a faculty facilitator. We were told that our answers during this activity were not evaluated as part of the interviewing process and that the purpose of the activity was to give us a sense of PBL at Pitt. So, some people of the 12 on my interview day didn't even say anything during this activity. You shouldn't stress about it, as everything is really just common sense. You have one (30 or 45 minute, I don't remember exactly) closed file student interview and one (45 minute to an hour) open file faculty interview. Both of them were very friendly and conversational. The student was an MS2 and had a list of questions with her. She started by "tell me about yourself", "why medicine", "why Pitt", "hobbies and interests", "clinical experiences", "*other* clinical experiences" (it helps if you had more than one kind of clinical experiences), "what kind of superpower would you like to have?" - I think there were also some other standard questions on the list she didn't ask me. Since I was well prepared to answer all of these questions, we finished with these questions very quickly, and then I asked her about her experiences in the school for the remaining interview time. The student was very friendly and honest in her answers to me. The faculty interview was *awesome*. Keep in mind that you may have to go to a different building for your faculty interview (as I did) and allow enough time to walk there and back. We had a very meaningful conversation with my faculty interviewer because of some similarity in backgrounds. She asked me about my experiences and how they relate to medicine, why medicine after a research career, what kind of positive experiences I had in medicine, what kind of negative experiences - basically, what my motivation to go into medicine was and whether I had a good idea what I was getting myself into. She also asked me about my hobbies etc. and pointed out that at Pitt they make sure students have interests outside medicine. Then she answered some of my questions and volunteered to tell me more about the school and the city. However, unlike the student interview where I gave very polished answers because I was prepared for those question, I'm not sure I did as well at my faculty interview. My interviewer was extremely nice and we had a similar background, so we had a mutual understanding about some things, but I got kind of emotional during our interview, so I'm not sure if I expressed myself quite as clearly and articulately as I could. Anyway, I loved my Pitt experience and really hope to hear some good news in the end of January-February. Bottom line: Positives: - the people!!! Very friendly, cooperative, supportive atmosphere, administration and faculty seem to be very student-friendly (they have FAST groups - basically, sort of a small, 5-6 people, support/mentoring groups of students + 1 faculty member) - the city! beautiful, affordable, lots of culture, pedestrian-friendly; the university neighborhood is awesome and most of the hospitals are very close to the medical school - clinical opportunities: top hospitals and a wide variety of specialties (I liked that 6 week surgery rotation includes 2 weeks of anesthesiology one on one with an attending, 4th year is all pretty much research block+electives, any kind of clinical elective you can imagine) - WISER is really awesome and is one of the reasons Pitt has the number one EM program, and its critical care training is also very strong (critical care rotations were highly recommended by current students) - strong research support and lots of research opportunities; I'm particularly interested in CSTP program: a funded year of clinical research between MS3 and MS4 + a $25K discount on MS4 tuition - decent global health opportunities, including an opportunity to do clinical research abroad - diverse student body, very friendly to non-trads and internationals - integrated curriculum - apparently, very strong anatomy teaching (apparently, anatomy lectures are really worth attending) - video recorded lectures - early clinical exposure-clinical training: clinical experiences in MS1-2 consist of a primary care observation rotation, a specialist observation rotation, and an elective clinical experience (can be volunteering etc); at the same time, one afternoon a week (?) students learn H&P using video recorded sessions with standard patients - the school supports extracurricular activities Negatives: - expensive tuition - MS1 PBL can be hit or miss, according to students: because of p/f not everybody makes an effort to prepare well for their presentations; but students rave about their MS2 small group activities - basically, clinical discussions with specialists in the area
Very interested in their Clinical Scientist Training Program!
first interview invite, and from such an awesome school! I'm so psyched! the more I learn about it, the more I love it
post-interview update/LOI sent on 11/11/13
received a snail mail invitation to apply to PSTP on 11/12/13; not sure if I should apply since I'm really interested in CSTP
SR (7/18/13), SS (7/24/13), SC (7/24/13, automatic; all my LORs and MCAT scores were already marked as received), II (8/04/2013 - on a Sunday afternoon!), IA (9/27/2013), WL (1/31/2014), A (3/28/2014), W (5/15/2014)
USNews: #17 Research #18 Primary care #7 Pediatrics
Summary of Experience:
Withdrew. It was kind of painful to withdraw from such a fantastic school, but I just don't think it's a good fit for me. Sorry WashU, it's not you, it's me!
Accepted!!! Wow. Unbelievable. Honestly didn't expect this at all. I also received a *very* generous need-based fin aid package. Thank you WashU! Unfortunately, I can't attend its second look because of work.
I liked the school a lot: the facilities it has and the opportunities it offers are truly outstanding. All the people I met during the interview day were extremely nice.
the school is great, and everyone I met - the students, the faculty, the administration, even the student dormitory security officer - were just awesomely friendly. My faculty interviewer was probably one of the nicest people I've ever met. Stay tuned for more details about my interview day.
Wow! Amazing! An interview invitation! I'm so looking forward to this interview!
oh what the hell... *fantastic* research opportunities, strong clinical training and a lot of flexibility...
SR (6/29/13, AMCAS unverified, reminder on 7/16/13), SS (7/20/13), SC (7/29/13, email and status), II (10/01/13), IA (11/12/13), A (2/22/14), W (5/9/2014)
7/25/13: received a second (!) brochure by mail; the funny thing is, the first one was sent in regards to my primary application to WashU, and the second in regards to my MCAT score :) They sure do market themselves to high MCAT scorers, but I wonder if I really have a chance...
USNews: #6 Research #40 Primary care #6 Internal Medicine #10 Pediatrics top 10 most expensive
~15 MD students receive full tuition merit scholarships + there are some other random scholarships + need-based aid seems decent
Summary of Experience:
Withdrew. This is a very good school and I'm grateful for being accepted here, but the location is a bad fit for me (adieu TX!) and, to be honest, my other schools have some substantial advantages over UTSW.
Accepted!!! I'm gonna be a doctor!!! UTSW is easily one of my top choices, both pre- and post-interview, so happy I got in here!!!
UTSW offers a solid clinical training; MS3 is very hard here, but the school prepares you well for residency. I also have a lot of respect for Parkland which does a lot of good. I know I'll be able to continue some of my current clinical research in HIV/HCV if I decide to stay here. If only I didn't dislike Dallas/Texas in general this much... If I didn't want to get out of Dallas/Texas so much, I wouldn't even consider any other school after my UTSW acceptance, the school is simply great (not to mention cheap)... but as it stands now, there are a couple of school I may choose over it. I'm also trying to find out about global health opportunities at UTSW; this is something I'm very interested in, and UTSW is not really known for a strong global health program - though it seems like they're expanding in that area.
I didn't think it was possible for me to get more excited about UTSW than I was before I went to my interview (I was pretty familiar with the school and the affiliated hospitals), but the day and half interview program simply blew me away! The event was superbly organized, all the relevant information was covered. I especially appreciated the chance to follow hospital teams on rounds and the fact that there were plenty of opportunities to interact with current students from MS1 to MS4. While UTSW preclinical curriculum doesn't seem to be as cutting edge as preclinical curricula at some other schools, I like the p/f first semester, the systems based second year curriculum and the predictable schedule of an exam every 3 weeks in the second year. Plus, there is a flexibility in attending classes (besides labs and small group activities I think I will rather study by myself than sleep in the lecture). But what impressed me the most was clinical training. UTSW students get plenty of hands on training - including delivering multiple babies during their OB rotation (Parkland is a leading OB hospital), resuscitating trauma victims, taking call on some rotations like grown ups - from what I've heard, UTSW graduates are really well prepared for residency. I also liked the opportunity to select an IM subspecialty rotation in the third year and 4 clinical electives in the fourth year on top of the required sub-I, ambulatory and acute care rotations. Of special interest are the burgeoning global health program, research track, and an opportunity to get an MD/MPH in 4 years (I'm interested!). UTDSW offers just the kind of clinical training I want, plus, I'd be able to do some research that is of interest to me here
post interview update/LOI sent on 11/01/13 (don't know if it had any effect or if it was read at all)
SR (n/a: registered on their web site), SS (07/17/2013), SC (07/19/2013), II (08/08/2013), IA (09/14/2013), A (11/15/2013), W (04/24/2014)
USNews: #26 Research #22 Primary care
cheap TX IS tuition some merit and need-based scholarships
Summary of Experience:
After receiving my financial aid award (Cornell is going to be cheaper than even UTSW for me!) and attending accepted student weekend (not only does Cornell have amazing hospitals, fantastic research and global health opportunities, 1.5 years p/f preclinical and lots of flexibility and cheap housing in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, its students are extremely diverse and interesting and all around awesome people!) I decided to matriculate here. I'm just going to make sure all my paperwork is in order etc., so they can't un-accept me, haha, before withdrawing from the other schools. I'm so happy to go to Cornell (and back to NYC which I love and where I have many good friends!) and so grateful to the school for making the decision supereasy for me by giving me a ton of "free money", haha :)
Accepted!!! Cornell, thank you so much! Looking forward to the second look weekend!
I liked Cornell a lot - its academic feel, student diversity, research opportunities and its heavy investment in global health in particular. I also like the selection of its affiliated hospitals (from the awesomeness of NYP, Sloan-Kettering and HSS to the community hospitals in the Bronx and Queens). However, I'm a little hesitant about the costs of living in NY, as much as I love the city; plus, I got a feeling there was not much space for students to study etc. Lack of space - that NYC for you again. As much as I like Cornell and NYC, considering the costs I'm not sure I would choose it over UTSW... but let's see how it goes.
Loved my interview experience at Cornell; there are certainly a lot of things that appeal to me in this school. Really enjoyed my conversations with interviewers. Details to follow.
woohoo! An interview invitation!
oh what the hell... the more I read about it, the more I loved it (PBL, research oriented, big on global health)... 200 words were certainly not enough to explain why I want to go there... now that I know it's switching to 1.5 year preclinical curriculum, I'm even more interested!
SR (7/18/13), SS (8/4/13), SC (8/5/13, email and status), II (9/26/13), IA (12/3/13), A (3/13/14)