Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School
Interview day here is very informal. The interview confirmation email said a "light lunch" would be served, but I knew from reading previous threads that that wasn't the case. I interviewed very early (mid-August) when they were still interviewing EDP applicants. Our interview group is very small (only 4 of us total) and the day consisted of a tour and our interviews. For some reason, they don't have a welcome packet with goodies inside it, but thankfully, on our interview day, they had nice pens for us to take. The tour was nice. Despite being in a more depressed area, NJMS has a nice campus feel to it on the inside. The facilities themselves were quite standard and the room where the interviewees stayed in was quite small.
My interview ended up being 1.5 hours, and my stomach was having an earthquake by the end (darn the lie on the email). Overall, I applied because it's my state school (and in this world of 3.9s/37s reapplying every year, you need to apply to some "safer" schools), but having that said, many of my high school friends end up going here, so I would at least know some people if I came here.
Weill Cornell Medical College
Cornell splits its interview day into two sections: Interviewees who want to interview in the morning and a second set who choose to interview in the afternoon. Coming from the NYC area, commuting to Cornell would take me approximately 1.5 hours, meaning if I chose a morning interview, I would have to leave my house at 6 to get there by 8 (when the morning interviews start). Obviously, I didn't want to get up at 5 in the morning to get here and be groggy, so I had my interviews in the afternoon.
The interview day felt a little disorganized, and I didn't really get to know or talk to many of the other applicants. The waiting area happens to feel like a doctor's office, where we all sit in the lobby of the admissions office with chairs scattered everywhere. As it turns out, although this was quite early in the interview season, 3 of the 12 of us in our interview group have already met elsewhere, at a Hopkins interview. Lunch was literally a barrage of medical students coming in and out to talk us about their perspective on the school. The tour didn't really highlight the nice facilities and the posh feeling of the Upper East Side. The PBL/small group rooms are quite nice though. Housing is subsidized, and first year housing is dorm style while upperclassmen live in apartments.
The nice part about the interviews, for me at least, was that the interviewers actually took the time to read my application. Both of my interviewers commented on the same exact things, looked up my publications and actually read my publications, which was quite astonishing since none of my other interviewers at other schools read my app with the same depth.
Overall, I'm interested in Cornell (especially with Sloan Kettering), but interview day didn't really sell the school to me at all. If I am accepted, I would decide based on second look and not on my first impression of the school on interview day.
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Interview day starts so early here. At 8 in the morning, meaning I woke up at 6 to get here on time (with time to spare because you never know what traffic and rush hour is going to be like on any given day in NYC). Since we were there early, Columbia provided some breakfast items to us. The interesting thing about Columbia is that the waiting room is located outside the admissions office, meaning anyone can come and go as they wish. Columbia also pastes a list of the undergrad colleges represented on any given interview day, so many current students dropped by to greet us and talk to people from their colleges. And I can tell you... Everyone on my interview day had top pedigree, meaning everyone was either from an Ivy or a top liberal arts school (i.e. Williams and Amherst).
The welcoming session has Dean Nicholas, who is a fabulous guy, talk about his experience as an interviewer and the interview room having this huge comfy chair for the interviewer and a little wooden one for the interviewee. He actually takes the time to read everyone's application before the interview and asks us individually to introduce ourselves and follows up with a question about our application. Interviews can be scheduled in the morning or afternoon depending on when your interviewer is available. It seems that each interviewer will interview two applicants on each interview day. Lunch is served by giving us meal vouchers, and we can choose anything we want to eat from one of their cafes. Then a couple first years took us to the rooftop of Bard Hall, where first year housing and the gym, is located. After lunch, two second years came to bring us on the tour. Housing is also subsidized here and Bard Hall is literally a 3 minute walk to the medical school. First year housing is very dorm style with communal bathrooms and one kitchen in the entire building. Columbia has a dining plan for its first year students, where they get 3 meals a week and get to bring back lots of leftovers for the other days. When we asked them what they ate for lunch or what they did on weekends, they said they ate cereal or scrambled eggs... Beyond that, the students seemed really happy here and the most outgoing and friendly bunch out of all the schools I've been to. Some of the students actually sat with us in the waiting room for an hour because they just felt like it. All in all, getting into Columbia would be a dream for me, but I'm trying not to get attached to any school until I get in.
University of Rochester School of Medicine
Even though I'm coming from NYC, I decided to fly into Rochester because flights were actually pretty cheap. The view of NYC going out and coming back in was spectacular and everyone on the plane ended up taking millions of pictures of the NYC skyline. To make it better, the plane was quite empty going there and coming back.
Interview day also starts quite early here and the medical school building is really gorgeous. Many applicants talk about their experience interviewing at the nice campus of Stanford or the amazing Gonda building at Mayo, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned Rochester. Their facilities are really, really nice. Their alumni hall felt like a mini-museum. Interviews here are scattered throughout the hospital and medical school, so many of us took adventures to our interview rooms. Lunch was a standard catered lunch with a sandwich, chips, and cookies. Two med school students came to eat with us and answer our questions. Interestingly, students at Rochester had more complaints about the school than other schools I've been to, which was a little bit of a red flag for me. When I ask other med school students at other schools what could be improved about their school, they often times struggle to think of an answer and then proceed to say they really have no idea or say something more obvious like the area the school is in (I guess no one else asks these types questions except me...). But the students who ate lunch with us automatically knew what they would improve and what some of the weaknesses of the school were. The tour was nice though. Supposedly Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas are buried in the cemetery right next to the school, which was an interesting tidbit to learn. There is also a lot of development going on near the med school, and a Trader Joe's (with a strip mall) is set to open up right next to the school soon.
Beyond that, Rochester has an interesting interview layout with an ethics discussion, which actually wasn't bad at all. It seemed like a type of discussion we would have in a college lecture, and one of the interviewees told me that her interviewer told her that basically they're just looking to see if everyone will contribute to the discussion. I did notice that the director of admissions jotted down someone's name anytime they talked. And then the person leading the discussion asked us if other schools do this kind of discussion, and when we told her no, she looked very surprised... Don't schools talk to each other at all?
All in all, some crazy (in a good way) things happened to me here, so I was bummed about the waitlist. In retrospect, I'm not sure I would have attended, and getting accepted here would have been a huge burden given the events that unfolded here. It seemed to me that Rochester likes to protect its yield and higher stat applicants who interview here have to really make it point to share their love and interest in Rochester during the interview or else they get waitlisted (and Rochester waitlists a lot of people who end up getting accepted in the spring or summer, probably with LOIs and lots of update letters).
NYU School of Medicine
Thank goodness the interview here starts at 11... I know that's horrible for some of the other people coming out of NYC because they have to catch flights by 6 or 7 PM, but for me, getting to NYU takes about 1.5 hours, which means I would have had to wake up at 5 AM for another 8 o'clock interview. Because NYC traffic is unpredictable, there was actually a girl who came late on my interview day, and she said the admissions office called her like 5 times to ask if she was coming.
Since NYU is now all MMI, the interview group is very large. My day had 18 people, and I remember because there are 9 MMI stations with two MMI groups, with one station being a rest station (which sucks because one person in the group starts with the rest station and literally stands there doing nothing while the rest of us are scribbling stuff on our pieces of paper). The admissions office for now is in what used to be the child study center, meaning there wasn't really a place for the interviewees to chill. I also barely got to talk to people here, and interestingly, the interview group here was mostly all Asian, which has not been the case at any of my other interviews.
NYU's interview day is quite organized. One of the deans came to talk to us, and he was very enthusiastic about the school, the new curriculum, and the new 3 year med program. Everyone in my group seemed to be very interested in the 3 year med program. They also have student admissions ambassadors who represent the school, and they gave a very formal presentation on the school. The lunch was very, very good. I've heard good things about UVa's lunch, but beyond that, lunches at other schools have been very standard. Being in NYC, NYU used this to their advantage and gave us some really delicious catered sandwiches from somewhere.
NYU is in a nice area of NYC, and it shows. The tour of Tisch (I've shadowed here before, so I already knew how nice the hospital was, but the other interviewees kept on commenting on how nice it was) and Bellevue really highlights the great architecture of both hospitals, and Bellevue is a very renowned hospital in NYC. The lobby area in Bellevue was supposedly designed by the same person who designed the Louvre in Paris. Student housing was also nice and are all apartment style. The sim center was so cool here. Their dummies can sweat! And there are no visible pores so it's a mystery how that works.
Despite being nervous about MMI, NYU's MMI isn't too stressful and is actually a little bit fun (despite what MMIs might be like at Stanford or other schools). There was one station on our interview day that was really tough, and I literally went in to the room saying I have no clue. It seemed like all the other interviewees thought that question was hard too, and we all also ran out of time on another station as well.
Overall, NYU jumped up in my mental rankings quite a bit. I didn't expect to like NYU as much as I did. We'll see when I hear back, and as I said, I'm not getting attached to any school until I hear about their decision. :P
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
By this point, I was already getting tired of going on interviews, and I barely even travelled! You Californians must have it so rough to be honest. If interviews start at 8 on the eastern seaboard, that's 5 AM California time, which would be awful. Either way, I went because it was Vanderbilt! And they have a stringent screening process, so I wasn't go to waste an opportunity to interview when I came this far in the process (and since it was before Oct 15th).
My hotel was actually full of old people, and getting on the shuttle to get to the medical center, I stood out because I was wearing a suit. The other old people were going to the VA. Vanderbilt's medical school campus is really nice. Here too, the admissions office is shuffling around into new spaces, so the interviewee room is actually just a sitting area outside the registrar's office out in the open. The director of admissions came to talk to us, and she pretty much directed us to places we had to go to and when we had to go to them. She's apparently the interim director of admissions, and it showed a little bit. I got the feeling she didn't really like the job and seemed a little disinterested in the process. We went around the room and introduced ourselves, telling everyone why we were interested in Vandy. Of course, everyone said the new curriculum and student wellness. The director then went on to talk about how even if we didn't pick Vandy or weren't accepted in the end, we should go to a school with a wellness program. In my head, I was wondering what made student wellness so unique at Vandy because it seemed, in my experience at least, that almost all schools made it point to make their med students happy.
Beyond that, interviews here are scattered all over campus, and as unlucky as I am, my long interview was located on the opposite end of campus and I ended up getting lost on the way. Vandy also has a short interview, where one person basically grills you on a bunch of questions about your life like "Tell me about a time you hurt someone's feelings." Thankfully, I had known about this before and prepared for it. I talked with some of the interviewees afterwards, and they really did not feel like they did well on the short interview, so if you interview here, come prepared for it!
We all had lunch and a dean's presentation on the curriculum. Then we went on a tour, and although we walked around to a lot of places, we didn't get to see much. I do wish the tour could be improved here because they don't really show us anything beyond two rooms. We got to see the library, but we couldn't get into it because the library has a turnstile system where you have to scan your ID to get in... Obviously, none of us have IDs, but still, they could have done something to let us go inside. After the tour, you get a 1.5 hour long tour of the sim center, which I wasn't too impressed by because NYU had such an awesome sim center, but it was fine.
All in all, Vandy was always one of my top choices and I'm really happy to have been accepted here. Given that, I do wonder how the first years are doing with the new curriculum. I do hope they will have ironed out all the kinks if I am to attend here next year.
Mayo Medical School
Oh Mayo, SDN indoctrinated me about you, so I decided to apply and see what you were all about. When I arrived in Rochester, I wasn't disappointed to the slightest. After I checked into my hotel, I decided to wander around Mayo and the clinic (the first time I did some exploring at a school). I couldn't stop taking pictures of the Gonda building... I was like is this a hospital or an office building from NYC? All the shops in the subway system were closed by the time I got into Rochester (on a Sunday at 6 PM), but there was some nice architecture going on down there. And the weather was very nice while I was there. It was actually even warmer than NYC!
The day opens up with a talk with Gina, the admissions director, and Dr. Romanski, one of the deans for admissions. As it turns out, Dr. Romanski is a Mayo graduate herself, and Gina is telecommuting to work right now because her husband relocated to a new workplace in Florida (I think her husband is a Mayo doctor?). We all went around the table introducing ourselves, and I could really see the kind of people that Mayo liked to interview. Most of the applicants had something very unique about their background. After this, Dr. Romanski left the room, and Gina gave us more insight into the process.
The interviews at Mayo seemed to really hone in what kind of doctor you would be. It seemed to me that Mayo, while trying to build a very diverse class, also puts a very strong emphasis on picking the right people who would fit with Mayo's mission. In a sense, the interview was kind of conversational, but my interviewers got to stick in their questions about the kind of doctor I would be and other standard questions.
The tour of the clinic and the med school was phenomenal. Our tour guide brought us up to the 16th floor of the Gonda building, where the peds floor is located. I could really see why Mayo was so special just from that. The whole peds floor literally was a small oasis, made to mimic the rainforest with the right lighting to make it very appealing. And this is all for the patient... To make the patients as comfortable as possible and give them the right environment for treatment. The lobby was also amazing, and there seemed to be marble everywhere. We also found out that the Mayo Med School building was actually once the old Rochester public library.
Beyond this, the people here are nice (but not amazingly nice like I had envisioned), and I can really see why Mayo is such a big deal. That being said, Mayo is for some people and not for others. For me, while Mayo is great, interview day gave me a borderline impression of the school. With all that said, the place is amazing, and I would be honored to be accepted here.
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College
My Dartmouth II came kind of late, and they only offer you 3 days to choose from to interview. It just so happened that all of them were around October 15th, so I couldn't wait and see where I heard back from if I were to withdraw. I flew into Lebanon Municipal Airport after taking a pit stop at Boston (with a major heart attack because I needed to go through security within 15 minutes... Jet Blue, I love you, but why did you do this to me?).
There is only one carrier that flies into Lebanon and that's Cape Air. I had read other SDNers talk about how tiny the planes are, but I didn't realize they were going to be that tiny! The planes look like toys, and only fit about 8 passengers total. On top of that, I got to play co-pilot (lucky me) and sat in the front with all the controls and gas pedals and the steering wheels (yes there are two steering wheels). I had to try very hard not to touch anything up front and that was so hard to do! It was a very interesting experience. I learned that flying airplanes is nothing like driving a car... It isn't intuitive at all.
Walking into the airport was even more surprising... The airport was literally one room with security tucked into the corner. There were no taxis anywhere, so I ended up taking a taxi company run by one lady and her car. I'm not even sure she had a license to be a taxi driver. If people think Mayo is the middle of nowhere, they should come and visit Dartmouth because Dartmouth is truly the middle of nowhere. Either way, I got to my hotel safely and ended up taking the public transportation system (which is FREE!) to Dartmouth.
Dartmouth's campus and hospital were really gorgeous. I had a friend who was set on going to Dartmouth for college, and I could see why. The campus architecture was beautiful and the buildings, while obviously older, had a newer touch about them. Hanover is a more affluent town, so that added to my perceptions about the school. Interview day was probably the most interesting I've been to. First of all, most of the interviewees were URMs and all of them were from HYPSM. The group is also fairly large (~20 interviewees), so getting to know the other interviewees was harder. The secretary in the office is so sweet and really nice (and has a good memory to top it off... I called her like one month earlier, never gave my name, and when I mentioned the phone call to her, she regurgitated all the details of our conversation... That was impressive.).
The day opens up with a very long talk with one of the administrators who gave a very open and detailed explanation of the process post-interview at Dartmouth, which was very refreshing to hear because schools never give us any info on the way the process works (What's the point on being secretive about it anyway?). There was also a very detailed financial aid talk, and Dartmouth has a unit loan of $35000 ($31000 of which is unsubsidized, while the remaining is subsidized). We also learned that students can choose to do rotations in California during their third year if they choose. After that, we went on a tour of DHMC, which is a beautiful facility. It is made to look like a mall inside (and portions of it are called North Mall and South Mall), though coming from NYC, NYC area malls look a little bit different from malls elsewhere in the US.
The interviews here are conversational and very short (30 minutes). My first one was with the dean of admissions and my second one was with a student interviewer who was non-trad (and after being so unlucky all the time and having students interviewers all the time, I don't like having interviews with student interviewers because I never really click with them). Anyways, supposedly, Dartmouth likes its non-trads. I actually did a LinkedIn search of my student interviewer afterwards, and she really had some crazy experiences before coming to medical school (i.e. think Disney World performer).
Overall, Dartmouth was really nice. Students have the option of doing an MD/MBA with Tuck, which is a top ranked business school, and the school presented its strengths very well. The school might have a little too many non-trads for me (being single), and the ruralness is not my cup of tea (though Hanover is an upscale town). If I do get accepted, I'd have to weigh my other options before considering this one.