I'm not from Yukon, and I'm not Caucasian nor am I an URM. Keeping these private for anonymity. The other details are correct though (degrees, age, etc.)
I took the MCAT in the summer of 2013, so the depicted writing score above is not from this attempt. However, the score was not imagined and was actually transplanted from my first MCAT attempt in 2008... when I was much younger and bombed the verbal section (I could have done better guessing) :P I did much better this time, thankfully. But man, I missed those essays this time around... I think I could have gotten a T! ;)
SR: secondary received, SS: secondary submitted, C: complete, II: interview invitation, IA: interview attended, R: rejected
July 5 & July 9- Transcripts marked RECEIVED by AMCAS
June 3 - AMCAS application submitted!
June 6 - Interfolio delivery of LORs
June 9 - LORs uploaded on AMCAS via Interfolio
June 19 - AMCAS application verified
June 27 - AMCAS floodgates opened!
July 5 - Early (1st) wave of secondaries submitted for 11 schools (within 48 hrs)
July 10 - Mid (2nd) wave of secondaries submitted for 4 schools (within 24 hrs)
July 16 - Late (3rd) wave of secondaries submitted for 2 schools (within 24 hrs), still waiting for secondaries from 4 schools
July 11 - First rejection (U Chicago) :-(
July 16 - First interview invite!!! (Pittsburgh)
August 25 - First interview attended! (Pittsburgh)
University of Pittsburgh: WOW!!! I was so impressed by the school, opportunities and the beauty of the city! Everyone was so darn friendly, the simulation center and facilities were so amazing, and everything was so new and I just felt the support ooze from every aspect of the community and program. Pittsburgh is such a beautiful city, just a gorgeous set of rivers and hills and bridges. Student interview was conversational and very comfortable, and my faculty interview was awesome too! I was matched with a cancer researcher as I indicated my interests in my secondary application. PBL group meeting was full of bright points by my friendly and accomplished interviewees, and very chill. Very relaxing interview day and well scheduled overall!
University of Iowa: I was so unexpectedly and thoroughly impressed by Iowa. I thought I knew this place but from the perspective of a potential medical student there’s a lot left for me to discover and take advantage of!
First off, let me start this review by saying I am a little biased both positively and negatively since this is my sort of alma mater (started out here for undergrad, came back here for graduate school). Hopefully you can sieve through my biases and see what applies to you as an OOS’er. Main positive biases come from knowing a lot of faculty here, loving Iowa City, the University of Iowa itself, and this being my home. Negative biases come from just being here for ~5 years and needing a change of scenery as well as the buildings being too familiar to impress me.
Since I live 3 miles away from the medical school and my interview was at 10:30, I woke up at the sweet time of 9 AM and got ready. It was really nice to hop onto my daily bus in my fancy suit and then walk up to the medical school with the purpose of interviewing—I had dreamt of this day since I was 8 years old—at the time, Iowa was my dream school.
After getting our folders and sitting down in an oddly narrow room, I got to meet the fellow interviewees, who were all IS’ers either going to the University of Iowa, attending Iowa State or other universities in the US (one from WashU, another from Butler and a third from Syracuse). Despite our state and filial homogeneity, I was surprised by the diversity of the interviewee group: we have a youth pastor, a mime hobbyist, a white Bollywood dancer, a couple athletes, two Americorp folks and two graduate students (one of them was yours truly!). More people started trickling in and it was really cool to unexpectedly see two people I’d already known interviewing in the same room as me. Our conversations were friendly and light, and I remember laughing a lot.
After introducing ourselves and telling others one unique thing about ourselves, we heard about the interviewing and admissions process at Iowa from the Assistant Director of Admissions (who is new and very friendly!). After that, we heard from Financial Aid and anxiously awaited the next session by the Asst. Dean for Student Affairs and Curriculum. I was disappointed to see on the roster that we wouldn’t get the newly promoted Assoc. Dean Dr. Cooper. I have known Dr. Cooper by shadowing him. Well I must have wished on a lucky star because in walked Dr. Cooper filling in for the Asst. Dean.
The admissions staff later told us how lucky we were to get Dr. Cooper and this was no joke. Dr. Cooper is an Iowa native, applied to the University of Iowa as an EDP applicant and has stayed here for his training. He’s so funny and lively, and forced us to learn more and the CCOM by having each of us ask a question about the school. It was very informative and casual. For one thing, I had no idea that the CCOM had five optional distinction tracks, listed below in order of popularity among the students:
4) Global health
I’m of course interested in the research track and teaching track, but also have a strong interest in the humanities. Iowa City has a strong writing and art influence as part of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop (started in fact by an MD from Iowa!) and this reflects in some of the student activities. There’s a writing contest at the CCOM, and students have won awards nationally for their writing.
Many of the questions Dr. Cooper fielded dealt with the New Curriculum being developed at Iowa. It sounds very good since early clinical exposure is always great, and emphasizing the link of basic subject matter to the practice of medicine certainly helps with the learning.
After Dr. Cooper’s talk with us, we proceeded to have lunch. I was happy to have a specially crafted vegetarian sandwich for me, although even with chips and a banana the lunch was really small. After lunch, we had our tour. Although I already knew the hospital very well, I am not a medical student and as such did not know how nice the medical student areas were. I was surprised with the beautiful lounges, new lecture rooms (podcast classes available!), and even some rooms for the practice of bedside manner and clinical exams. The room is even videotaped so that you can self-assess your bedside manner. New and pristine facilities for the medical students are a huge plus!
The student tour guide emphasized how friendly everyone was here, how medical students are very valued, and how wonderful the free mobile clinic is for volunteering as a medical student and gaining clinical experience. The Children's Hospital (currently undergoing massive renovations) here is a huge source of pride. If you think about the impact the U of Iowa makes to all Iowans around the state and its children, it really hits home what a great and powerful institution this is. This new Children's Hospital will overlook the Kinnick stadium where they hold Hawkeye football games so that the kids can enjoy it, from a full length window. I think that is so wonderful.
One con I asked several current students about was the grading, which is not strict P/F. However, all of the students I talked to said it was no issue whatsoever because everyone here is so collaborative and it is not a curved HH/H/P/F system. I agreed with the students that the folks here are very nice so the grading should not be an issue, but I hope this changes because many schools are changing their platforms.
After our tour, we were led back to the narrow room for either interviews or the Case Based Learning session. Half of us got split into interview first-then CBL session and the other half (like me) got to attend the CBL first.
The CBL session is led by two M4 students and one of our M4 leaders made cookies the night before and gave us apple cider. I thought that was so sweet and testament to the nature of folks here at Iowa! He said “When you’re off at JHU or WashU or Harvard, I want you to think about how we made you cookies...” :D
The CBL session was really nice. We were being judged not for our knowledge but as to how we were interacting with others, and it’s important to be collaborative in this session. All of us had an opportunity to talk and the insight others brought to the table was wonderful.
After the CBL session, we were led out to a table outside where we would wait for our interviewers to fetch us. I want to emphasize how the school made sure we would not have to figure out where to go, which is great. Now, the interviews can happen either right after the CBL session, or as much as 1.5 hours after the CBL session. Guess who had the last interview at 3:30 PM? Yours truly. Made for a long wait but it was nice to catch up with the other interviewees.
After catching up with current M1’s that happened to walk by, and hearing how much they loved their experience so far, I was finally called to my interviews. I actually had to notify the admissions staff that I knew my interviewers so they switched me with someone else. I still knew the faces of both my new interviewers and I think that’s testament to how much I know the people here. It would be wonderful to go to a school where you know everyone to begin with.
The interviews here consist of a structured portion and an unstructured portion. During the structured portion, the interviewers do not make any facial expressions or sounds to suggest their reaction to your responses. The entire interview lasts 25 minutes and the admissions staff are very strict about the timing, since they knock at the door as soon as the 25 minutes is done. For a list of potential questions, check out the Interview Feedback on SDN. That is enormously helpful.
My interviews went fabulously. The best strategy is to eloquently and quickly answer the structured portion so that you have more time to engage with your interviewers in the unstructured portion, which is when the interviewers really get to know you. I brought along my portfolio which contained evidence of all my hobbies and tied them into medicine in a wonderful way that really impressed my interviewers. We had such a great time that the admissions staff had to knock three times to get me out the door, even though there was no one after me. I suppose they want to give everyone an equal chance by enforcing a uniform interview format.
After meeting privately with the Assistant Dean for questions or final comments, I was on my way to the lab across the street to finally get started on my work. I was so elated by my positive experience interviewing here that even when I discovered all my cells died I was too excited to care... I guess I was still on an “interview high” :D
Despite the distance from my family and despite having been here for many years, I would still love to be at Iowa for medical school because 1) I know everyone here, 2) people are so gosh darn friendly, 3) there are such excellent opportunities for students to develop professionally into physicians here at Iowa and 4) students are a big part of the hospital and Iowa City community.