Currently in my senior year of undergrad...applying to med schools straight through...double majoring in science and the humanities.
Now that my cycle has officially finished, I'll go into a bit more detail about my application (at the risk of my anonymity) in the hopes that future viewers may find it helpful.
AMCAS/TMDSAS Activities: 1. Lots of basic research. Worked in the same lab for all four years of undergrad and for one summer. Worked in two different labs for two other summers, and got a fairly prestigious research internship abroad during the summer after junior year. One publication (contributing author) at the time of application; another publication (third author) came out in Feb. and was sent as an update to certain schools. Listed as significant experience
2. Clinical volunteering at a local hospital (2 years, >200 hours). Experiences in patient rounding, in the emergency department, and occasionally some shadowing. Had a lot of interesting experiences and stories to tell for secondary essays and during interviews. Listed as significant experience
3. Active member and former officer of an intercollegiate trivia team. Pretty unique experience (the collegiate circuit is fairly small and I know there's not too many players wanting to go into medicine) and probably something that set me apart. Won several local and regional collegiate tournaments, qualified for and competed at several national tournaments, staffed and hosted high school tournaments. Listed as significant experience
4. Service and leadership within a Christian fellowship on campus for four years. Led small groups, coordinated small groups, was President at the time of application. Parents were afraid that I would come off as a religious nut-job, but I doubt that was how I was perceived by (most) adcoms. I could be wrong though.
5. Teaching assistant for a notoriously difficult, year-long introductory biology sequence (other medical schools have asked me about what it was like to take her course during interviews). Taught recitation, made my own quizzes, held office hours, proctored exams. I TA'ed another course as well during my senior fall, but did not put it on my application. One of my most rewarding experiences as an undergrad.
5. Member and officer of school chapter of a well-known pre-medical organization. Also was Co-Chair of a Global Health subcommittee of aforementioned chapter for a year. Was involved in the Global Health club for three years and went on two short-term medical volunteering trips abroad.
6. Had some pretty interesting hobbies and past-times...unique enough for me to be asked about them at nearly every interview I attended. (Think sports, e-sports, and a particular Nintendo franchise that begun in 1996 :P).
Application Strengths: --Essays, essays, essays. I didn't pre-write secondaries (so August was a nightmare) and was abroad for most of the summer, but I felt like my essays were very genuine and presented parts of myself and identity that weren't readily available from my application. I took some risks with my essays...wrote about my faith and included a quote from a screamo band in my PS, but hey, I think it worked out alright :) Future advice to readers: write from the heart...write what you're passionate about, even if it's silly or tangential to medicine. Med schools are looking for actual people, because it's real people who are going to be connecting with and treating their hospitals' patients.
--Recommendations. Had six recommenders (five professors, one staff worker who helped out with my campus fellowship) . I had a personal connection with each of my professors and spoke with each of them on a first-name basis. They included my research PI, two other science professors whose classes I TA'ed, a philosophy professor (who I kept in touch with even after she left my institution), and my history professor and major adviser.
--Interviews. I figured they would be one of my biggest strengths coming in to the application process, and I ended up not getting rejected from any school post-interview. I preferred traditional conversational interviews to MMIs, but was pretty successful at schools with MMI interviews even when I felt pretty crappy about it. Hobbies factor pretty importantly here, because I was always able to talk about them! I think adcoms like meeting passionate people, because there's probably a correlation that they would be able to extend their passion to the practice of medicine.
Application Weaknesses: --Lack of non-health related volunteering activities. In retrospect I wish I could've spent more time involved in mentoring inner-city students or doing more community-related service work. Pretty glaring hole on my application.
--Lack of formal shadowing experience. I don't think this is such a big deal, but this was a particular option on AMCAS that I couldn't fill up.
--Took my MCAT twice. Scored 12/12/11 (BS/PS/VR) on a 2014 exam that I took without adequate preparation and in a not so healthy state of mind. Got asked about retaking a 35 during one of my interviews, because apparently it's not something that's done often (successfully). Maybe it wasn't such a big deal since I scored pretty well the second time (though my VR score dropped LOL), but I was always worried about what adcoms would think before I applied.
--Applied relatively late. Sent my AMCAS late June (wasn't verified until late July). Sent my TMDSAS late July (wasn't verified till mid-August), at which point several of my friends from back home had already interviewed at Texas schools. Most secondaries weren't submitted until late August/early September. The two-week secondary turnaround is bullshit. Ironically, it is the secondaries that I held onto for long periods of time (four weeks or more) that I ended up receiving interviews and acceptances from, while secondaries that I had tried to submit within two to three weeks ended up getting me rejected. In my experience, it's much better to turn in something "late" if it's higher quality than to submit a hastily written essay in the hopes of snagging an early interview. Obviously, if you have the time to prewrite and send high-quality work on time, then props to you! :)
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 06/26/2015
Undergraduate college: Ivy League
Undergraduate Area of study: History/Humanities
Total MCAT SCORE: 523
MCAT Section Scores:
Overall GPA: 3.91
Science GPA: 3.83
Summary of Application Experience
Now that my cycle is officially over, I feel obligated to write a few reflections of my experience with the application process, which I hope future readers (like yourself) may find helpful.
I feel extremely fortunate...around this time last year I never thought I'd be able to choose from such awesome options. The admissions process is extremely random in my opinion, so it's never worth not applying to a school because you feel like you don't have a shot. At the same time, it's worth it to not overestimate yourself and not apply to your in-state schools (I hesitate to use the word "safety" here). I'm glad I chose to apply broadly; even though I flew back to Texas nearly every weekend in October to attend interviews and ended up withdrawing from all these schools, it was nice to meet new people and reconnect with old faces, to better hone my interview skills, and to become more acquainted with life in medical school and with medicine as a field.
Application Complete, Rejected
University of California, San Diego
Combined PhD/MSTP: No
Secondary Completed: Yes
Interview Invite: No
Interview Attended: No
Summary of Experience:
GG California >.< Haters gonna hate
Summary of Experience:
1/30/16: WHOAA an II from Hopkins this late in the cycle? Is this some joke?
IA 2/11/16: Hopkins, you're like that chick that I saw from far away, knew you were out of my league, and so wrote you off as a bitch. But I got to know you, and you ain't so bad. In fact, saying I'm interested in you is an understatement; I think visiting you has awakened these warm fuzzy feelings that has me yearning for you...and oh, no--can I hold off until April?
Pros: --History. So much history. Like everything about modern medicine began here, from residency to urology. Only place I've interviewed at that encourages students to pursue SC in History of Medicine. --East Baltimore. Hospital is a tertiary care center with patient referrals from around the world, plus is a county hospital for local residents. I strongly believe clinical training here is unparalleled compared to any other school I've visited. --Living. Saw firsthand that 929 is a dope and affordable place to live; includes singles, doubles, and suite-style living. Also heard great things about Fell's Point. Both are fairly close to the med school. --Curriculum and research: It's JHSOM...what did I expect? 1.5 year preclinical including Genes to Society. --Facilities: Top-notch in terms of space, aesthetics, cleanliness. --HUGE JESUS STATUE IN THE OLD HOSPITAL!
Cons: --East Baltimore. Shit gets pretty crazy down here sometimes. Definitely feels more sketch than Washington Heights or Hyde Park, for example. Also doesn't seem to have as many amenities as lots of other Midwest cities I've visited. --People/students do seem more intense, which can be good/bad. It's not a competitive environment per se, but I definitely think the intensity is due to the drive to become stellar physicians. --No climbing gym in close proximity.
Two interviews: one faculty, one fourth year student on the committee, 30-45 min. "Fishbowl" area containing other interviewees is nerve-wracking since I'm pretty sure we're still being evaluated at that point. My other interviewees do seem like very cool and chill people though, which bodes well for my class :)
Stayed with a M1 and good friend in 929 the night before. Interview day started pretty late; I wished I had also dressed warmer. Lunch was Panera, which was decent, but they ran out of food pretty quick. Tour was alright; fourth years seemed pretty amiable to answering our questions.
Gotta wait till late March/early April, but this is one school I'm holding out for, despite other acceptances.
3/29: Annnnnnnnnnd waitlisted! Disappointed, but will stay on the alternate list!
Summary of Experience:
1/9/16: Wowwww, super stoked! Cali dreams aren't dead yet!
IA 2/6/16: I...think I'm in love. With Stanford. With Palo Alto. With the Bay Area. I told myself I would never have a dream school so that I wouldn't be disappointed if I don't get in. But it inevitably happened here. And now I'm bracing myself for the inevitable disappointment.
The trip to Cali was anything but easy...flight was delayed for several hours and by the time I arrived it was too dark to see anything. My Uber driver to Palo Alto was super chill and exuded the stereotypical chill Californian vibe...he gave me some In-N-Out fries, which were tasty despite being cold, so hats off to him!
Pizza dinner at the LKSC saw a huge turnout among the students, most of whom were MS1 and some MS2. All were super chill and very excited to share their love of SMS and to talk to us; many already seemed to have an idea with what they wanted to specialize in and were finding ample time to do research.
Pros of SMS: --students were all super chill and real; they definitely study hard, but the atmosphere compared to lots of other schools I've interviewed at is a lot less intense --no class on Wednesdays --> more time to shadow and research; PoM classes twice a week; lectures are optional --facilities are awesome; new hospital currently being built and will be ready by my third year --research, research, research; lots of funding for research; seems like 70% of SMS students take an extra year to do research --speaking of funding, SMS has the best need-based aid out of the schools I've interviewed at; no merit scholarships exist --housing, while expensive and comparable to NYC, seems to be relatively easy to find around the Palo Alto area --located near undergrad campus and other grad schools --> lots of cross-talk and taking classes at the undergrad for shits and giggles --environment of Palo Alto/Bay Area: sunshine, lots of mountains, big climbing contingency in SMS --super nice athletic facilities: pools, basketball courts, two climbing gyms on campus
Cons: --not too much of a focus on primary care; SMS wants leaders in medicine who are primarily research-driven and who tend to specialize and enter into academia. --Palo Alto is a very wealthy area (unlike Washington Heights or Southside Chicago) and I didn't get the feeling that there were very many free clinics that I could get involved in. That being said, there's still ample clinical exposure beginning in the first year. --there is the pressure to make something of oneself in Silicon Valley...don't fall into it!
When I finally got to experience the Cali sunshine and got a chance to tour the Stanford campus, I was stricken by how much the place reminded me of Heidelberg, Germanyâ€”perhaps my favorite city in the worldâ€”with all the woodlands, bike paths, and mountains. I felt like I could be extremely satisfied studying in Palo Alto and that living there would be extremely beneficial for my own mental health. Definitely felt like I fit in.
MMIs were standard...can't say much more than that. I was placed in Group 1 (morning interviews, thank God). As this was my fourth MMI school on the interview trail, I felt pretty at ease and had a good time (full disclosure, I'm not a big fan of MMIs in the first place).
My other interviewees were, for the most part, very cool, interesting, accomplished individuals. Many of them had taken at least one gap year and came from Ivy League/Stanford/Cal undergrads. But having forty interviewees total and splitting us into groups of 10 for MMIs meant that I didn't have as much of an opportunity to associate with students in the afternoon interview group....which was a shame, since there was a really cute girl I didn't get a chance to talk to ;P
Love hurts. But sometimes its a good hurt. I'm so glad for the opportunity to visit Stanford...and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for early March!
PS: And the best (hot) breakfast award on the trail goes to...Stanford!
4/1/16: Annnnd finally waitlisted after two months of limbo!
Summary of Experience:
I was pretty stoked to receive the II; WashU gave me the impression that it was a very heavy numbers-oriented school, which made me think that the atmosphere would be more competitive than some of the other schools that I had interviewed at so far, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that students thereâ€”from M1s to M4sâ€”were very satisfied, happy, and eager to share their experiences to us interviewees.
After showing up late to early morning breakfast the other applicants and I were ushered to a conference room where we met with the Dean of Admissions. He skipped over the curriculum and about St. Louis life in favor of talking about why we should really come to WashU: the people. His presentation wasn't as crisp or as inspiring as Dean Nicholas's, nor was it as funny and engaging as Dean Gay's, but hey it got the job done.
And then, I had nearly two hours to kill before my interview, similar to my time at P&S. So I just sat there and shot the wind with some of my other interviewees.
Then came my interview with Dr. Plax; my goodness, that was phenomenonal, hands down the most relaxing and conversational standard interview I've had. Not only did this dude read over my entire application and hence refrained from asking stupid, banal questions that i often received at other schools such as "Why medicine" (uh, see my Personal Statement? LOL) and "Tell me about yourself" (dude, did you even read my app??). In fact, this dude memorized even the tiniest details about my application and genuinely seemed interested in the things I did, from my research experiences to my hobbies. Side-note: this is the second interview I've had in which I've gotten a chance to explain "competitive Pokemon breeding"!! This was also the longest single interview I've had: 80 minutes long. Needless to say, missing the first 20 minutes of lunch was totally worth it. Also the first time an interviewer had told me I was a "Renaissance man," haha #fluffmyego
Speaking of lunch...hands down the best lunch I've had, even though they ran out of plates for me and the food was cold. THEY HAD CHICKEN NUGGETS! Enough said.
The following tour was pretty standard, nothing exceptional. Since there are only two med schools in Missouri, Barnes-Jewish is perhaps the largest hospital system in St. Louis, meaning one will always get to see interesting cases. The 4th year who led it was very amicable; talking to her helped me better understand the process of choosing a residency.
I didn't pay attention to the FinAid presentation since $$$ bores the hell out of me. We met with Dean Valerie Ratts (Geezus, I swear all female med school deans are named Valerie), who sent us all off with a nicely-wrapped cookie, which was purty cool.
Overall, I think my impression of WashU improved throughout the day. I'm still uncertain about living in St. Louis and I wasn't particularly blown away by my other fellow interviewees, some of whom came off as reserved and gunner-y, but if there's one life lesson I learned from talking to the students here, it's that picking a med school relies much more on "gut feeling" and the intangibles than I admitted. Sure, ranking is important (and WashU is admittedly the highest-ranked US News school whose II I've received to date) but I believe more important than that is simply FEEL.
Can I imagine myself going to WashU? Sure, but not before I imagine myself at P&S. Definitely still one of my higher choicesâ€”a tad below Michigan, maybe around Sinaiâ€”but we'll see.
And the best pen award goes to....WashU!
3/31/16: Waitlisted...can't believe it took nearly five months for them to decide that. Will withdraw soon, seeing how I will not be going here over some of my other choices.
Summary of Experience:
1/15/16: Finally withdrew...it would've been cool to attend school near the beach, but UTMB didn't do much to impress me, to be honest. My two interviewers were lackluster and didn't seem convinced that I wanted to come there...nor did they try very hard to convince me.
Summary of Experience:
1/15/16: Finally withdrew; have other options. Definitely one of the cooler interviews I attended...saw a open heart surgery and went up to the helipad on my interview day. Also endured a twenty minute tirade on Russo-Ukrainian politics during one of my interviews...people here are chill. Chocolate cake is good.
Summary of Experience:
I interviewed at Feinberg the day after I interviewed at Pritzker, so by the time I got to FSM I was already pretty brain dead. Needless to say, I had a fairly good time at the school.
Located in downtown Chicago, FSM is surrounded by lots of swanky stores and high rises. FSM is also huge on their PBL/TBL-based learning...they have flex time, and they also make everyone specialize in an area of scholarly concentration. It's a two-year preclinical program, but there's lots of early exposure to the clinic and patient interaction even in one's first semester.
There were three interviews: one "panel" interview with a student, where we were given a scenario to work on; two faculty interviews (both of mine were Ph.Ds are were super, duper sweet and chill). Got asked for the first time why I retook my MCAT; it was pretty funny, as my interviewer compared my situation to "getting 18 in Blackjack and asking for another hit."
Lunch was alright; tour was meh. Everything felt a bit rushed, and I didn't have that much time to process what I saw.
Most memorable moment of the day was doing a PBL exercise....that was pretty fun, and I'll always remember the faculty member who conducted the exercise said that medicine is all about learning "what you don't know"...so that you can narrow down the options for diagnosis. It reminds me a lot of the Case Studies that I saw back at Vandy.
Anyhow, I feel like I'd be happy here at FSM, and I hope to hear good news in February!
Summary of Experience:
1/27/16: Accepted to NYU! This was pretty surprising considering that I showed up half an hour late (right in the middle of Dr. Rivera's talk) and bombed two MMI stations. Wasn't holding out for an acceptance, but hey, I'll take it.
I forgot to write up something for the school and I don't quite remember the details...I just remember that my interview day as a whole was lackluster compared to other schools (though the tour through Bellevue was pretty good, I must say). Don't think I'll pick this over Michigan or Sinai or Baylor at the moment.
Summary of Experience:
P&S didn't give us a PowerPoint about their 1.5 year true P/F curriculum. P&S also didn't provide us a particularly delectable breakfast or a particularly mind-blowing tour of Hammer Health Sciences (though they are building another med facility only accessible to med students next year!). It's also hella expensive compared to Texas schools. But somehow, when I walked away from the school after having the last interview of the day among all my fellow interviewees, I daresay that Columbia became my current top choice for medical school.
Similar to Sinai, Columbia also sent their Dean of Admissions, Stephen Nicholas, to speak to us about the school. Dr. Nicholas gives off an air of grandfatherly wisdom; he referred to our interviews as "conversations" and in a grandfatherly tone, anecdotally conveyed his own med school interview experiences and told us that, if we get nothing else from the day, we should at least be able to appreciate our fellow interviewees for who they are, after which he proceeded to have us introduce ourselves. He surprisingly demonstrated some not-so-superficial knowledge of each of us, indicating that he had probably memorized some facts about each of our applications. I think hearing him speak so affectionately about P&S despite only having assumed his position for 5 or so years really conveyed to me how dear the place was to him, and made a pretty deep impression on me as an applicant.
With only one interview, I'm unsure how much the "conversation" matters in terms of acceptance to the program. But I thoroughly enjoyed my talk with Dr. Spitnaltik, who also delivered a fantastic lecture to the MS1s earlier that morning (which we had the opportunity to sit in on). Being able to sit in on a lecture was a privilege not afforded to me at any of the other schools I have interviewed at so far, and at least gave me a good idea of what I was getting myself into.
I also had the opportunity to meet tons of students throughout the day...numerous MS3s would pop into the Interview Suite during the day to come chill and wish us luck. We had tours through Bard Hall (which reminded me of John Jay 2.0), except it had an awesome gym and basketball courts in the basement and a nice view of the Hudson depending on your room. Students seemed extremely passionate about P&S and very friendly.
I left the day not only feeling very satisfied with my experience but also bubbling with anticipation; if no other school blows me away during my interview cycle, I am going to submit a LOI by the new year. Wouldn't mind bleeding Columbia blue for the next four years! :)
Summary of Experience:
1/2/16: Wow, after five months of waiting...finally an II :)
1/26/16: To be quite honest, I absolutely loved my day at Pritzker and can totally imagine myself thriving here.
Firstly, I connected with my interviewees here the BEST among all the other places that I've interviewed at. Most everyone seemed super chill and down to chat about lots of things, which is totally what I'm looking for in a class.
Things that made Pritzker unique: small class size (88 students), med school being on the UChicago campus (so located very close to undergrad campus); research is pretty much required and there's lots of scholarly track options, which is also nice. I also really liked the curriculum, despite it being somewhere along the lines of a more traditional two-year preclinical. Pritzker, similar P&S, also seemed to be a fairly extracurricular-dominant culture, which I personally am very much drawn to.
Pritzker had three interviews and Leila Amiri (Director of Admissions) asked us to think about the administrative one as gauging one's fit with the program, the student interview as gauging one's fit with the class, and the faculty one to gauge potential for mentorship...all of which are huge to Pritzker's identity. All the interviews were very chill and relaxed and conversational, and I had a great time.
Lunch was fantastic...more pizza, ironically from the same place that I had ordered from the night before. Tour was led by fourth year students, all of whom seemed very chill and honest. Nobody seemed to complain about the administration or about the Chicago weather.
Overall, I had a great time...the faculty here were among some of the nicest I've met and interviewed with, and I hope to receive good news come late February!
2/22/16: Yooo what's that continued status? >.<
3/8/16: No longer continued...Accepted with 180k merit scholarship!!!!
5/2/16: Turned my offer (along with full tuition) down on the last day possible...I truly loved this school, and wish all my peers here the best!
Summary of Experience:
Michigan has a special place in my heart for being the first med school to send me an Interview Invite. And after interviewing there, I daresay I was not disappointed...in fact, right now it's a pretty close tie between P&S and UMich for my top choice.
So firstly....I was totally unprepared for the MMI. Like, I didn't bother doing any research, didn't run through any practice scenarios, etc. The first couple of MMIs were slightly nerve-wracking, but looking back I guess they weren't all that bad. I also had two other 30-minute conversations: one with faculty and another with a 4th year medical student, both of which went fine in my opinion.
In terms of curriculum, I think Michigan is in the middle of transitioning to a shorter 14-month (?) preclinical, which is pretty neat. They didn't cover too much about it in the presentation, which is fine...but speaking of presentation, Dr. Stephen Gay delivered the funniest yet heart-warming sell on UMMS...and I'd love to be a part of that family.
Thanks to my host (who came from the same undergrad as me) I also got to hang out with some of the other M1s from his class...even from that small experience I can tell that Michigan truly values students from all ages and backgrounds and talents who simply exude passion for learning and for practicing medicine. I remember talking to one dude over some wine and beer about his experience in shadowing a plastic surgeon and that led to some lively discussion on skin cancer...and everything seemed so genuine and not nerdy at all, which really impressed me.
I also was thoroughly impressed by the Untour....Got the chance to shadow a pediatric cardiologist and hear him talk about seeing babies born with transposition of the great arteries and how they have to insert a balloon to break the septum in order to get some deoxygenated/oxygenated blood mixing and then afterwards surgically re-position the arteries and then repair the septum...super cool stuff, and that only excites me even more when I think about what I can learn while on my clinical rounds!
I also got along quite well with my other interviewees...I think I got along with this group of students the best among all the other schools that I interviewed at (including Columbia), and I will definitely take that into account.
Ann Arbor also has a great climbing gym not too far away from the school...the bouldering routes are graded harder than what I was used to, which is slightly ego-deflating yet cool at the same time.
Overall, very very impressed by my time spent at UMMS...among my top choices, had the best free swag (a water bottle, for Pete's sake!)...show me some more love, s'il vous plait! :)
Update: 11/13/15 HOLY SH*T FIRST ACCEPTANCE! I was out bouldering when I got a call from my host...e-mail from Carol came a couple of hours later! GO BLUE!
Summary of Experience:
As the first Texas school to show me some love, Baylor is definitely among my top choices when it comes to Texas schools...perhaps it would be even higher if it weren't for the fact that I live not even an hour's drive from campus. :P
Unlike my Sinai Interview, there were at least 50 or 60 other interviewees on my interview day, so I when I first stepped into the room I felt a little daunted. As I was the only person from the East Coast (Ivy League), I did feel a little bit out of place from the rest of the students there, many of whom were from A&M, UT, UH, and Rice (especially the latter) and who seemed like they knew each other from college.
That being said, I enjoyed my interview day at Baylor; Sam Buck and Dr. Karen Johnson were primarily involved in introducing us to BCM and they both did a fantastic job of making me feel comfortable and welcomed. I also got a chance to meet up with a very close friend from high school who affirmed what everyone else told me about Baylor: awesome community, awesome students, true P/F curriculum with no internal ranking for the upcoming class, dirt cheap in-state tuition, 18-month preclinical with the opportunity to do some extra stuff towards the end of my second year, lots of hospitals to shadow at nearby. I also met some students who recognized me (from my HS days) and who shared mutual friends with me; I guess I can say I felt flattered yet a little unnerved at the same time?
On to the actual interview: my student interviewer was a super chill MS-2; he had a list of commonly-asked questions to get through but it never felt like he was grilling me. My faculty interviewer was more intimidating; it was hard for me to "connect" with her in a way, and it felt like she was probing many of my responses, which admittedly did rattle my confidence a little. I mean, if you were asked to transition from talking about your volunteer experiences abroad to why competitive Pokemon breeding is fun, you'd feel a little confoozled too.
Overall, I believe Baylor has a ton of opportunities to offer its students; I guess I still retain some personal bias at not wanting to be close to home for the next four years. Then again, I'll be the first to admit my own hypocrisy when it comes to actually desiring an acceptance from the school. :P Dr. Johnson mentioned we'd hear back sometime around late October/early November at the earliest, so it's earlier than Sinai. Not gonna lie, it would definitely ease a lot of stress and worry if I knew I at least had a place to go.
Until then...keep it real, BCM.
Update (11/27): GOT ACCEPTED WOOHOO! I received a call from Dr. Johnson in the middle of watching a football game...had a difficult time following the conversation and ended up missing a touchdown but whatevs!
Summary of Experience:
I applied to Sinai primarily because it was in the City, and I had substantial volunteer experience in one of their hospitals. After spending an evening at Aron Hall with some MS2s and attending my first-ever medical school interview, I daresay I was pretty impressed with what the school had to offer.
Firstly, the students are super chill and super cool. I heard this from many other students that I met at the local bouldering gym, but this fact was certainly corroborated by my personal experience. People were always willing to answer my questionsâ€”almost to a fault :) I think the sense of community is advanced because Sinai is one of the few med schools I know of on a true Pass/Fail curriculum. As far as I know, there's no internal ranking of students kept in the system (none that matters, anyways), so it takes the pressure off immensely to memorize material simply for the sake of crushing an exam. Instead, students are able to learn the material at their own pace and are very willing to help each other. Furthermore, the exams are all taken on the "Honor-code", so one can theoretically take the exam on Sunday evening in the comfort of one's bed after a weekend of cramming.
While Sinai does have a two-year preclinical curriculum, Dean Valerie Parkas did mention that that the students had numerous opportunities (small groups, shadowing, labs, etc.) for clinical exposure and to place basic science learning in the context of medicine. Furthermore, she felt that the students would be more prepared for Step 1.
I also heard a lot of great things about EHHOP...if I get accepted and decide to matriculate to Sinai, I will definitely get involved.
My interview group had a total of six applicants including myself...at least of us graduated from or took post-baccalaureate classes at an Ivy League institution. Four of us six also took at least one gap year. I had two 30-minute interviews: one with a current faculty member and another with a current med student. The rumor about Sinai having "chill" interviews certainly has validity; I was kind of nervous with my first interviewer, but both of them made me feel quite comfortable. The interview day also included free breakfast, free lunch, a tour of Aron Hall (really awesome and cheap guaranteed housing for med students), a meeting with the financial aid officer (he's quite a hilarious guy), and a tour of some of the medical facilities.
For future applicants who are reading this and who are considering discounting Sinai from your list because it's ranked No. 19 according to US News, I would urge you to reconsider this school...Sinai does have the largest hospital system in NYC and with a campus that lacks undergraduates, you instead have a tight-knit community including faculty members who genuinely care about your life as a student. Fingers crossed for an acceptance this December!
Summary of Experience:
2/29/16: Earlier this evening, Dr. Yee apparently called my home phone and my mother texted me to give him a call back: Best. Leap. Day. Present. Ever. Accepted with a 50% merit scholarship!
So I never did do a write-up for Duke because I remember everything about my visit even though it was a few months ago...I absolutely loved the school, and for a long time Duke and P&S were my top choices.
I loved the culture and the atmosphere...Duke represents Southern hospitality to the finest. I was picked up from the airport by my host, and dropped off at RDU by another current med student. My host actually provided me with a furnished room and a bed to sleep on the night before my interview, which was pretty cool. He also drove me around Durham and gave me a tour (despite having an exam the next day) and on the day of my interview he cooked me my own breakfast...from a med student to an applicant, it doesn't get better than that!
Durham seems like an alright place...it's not a place that turns me off, which is fine. I actually like being able to bring a car if I were to attend Duke...I miss driving.
Now as for the school itself: --The campus is beautiful...I spent some time walking around the main chapel on the undergrad campus, which is not too far from the med campus. --Facilities are amazing...I think the only facilities that top Duke Med are Hopkins and Stanford. --Students are extremely friendly and helpful...both my host and his roommate as well as the other M1s and M3s I met. They're definitely very chill and seem like a close-knit student body. --Curriculum: I actually really like the one-year pre-clinical, as it gives me more time to spend in the clinic and learn the ins and outs of practicing medicine. The third-year research option is completely unique to Duke, and in my mind it makes perfect sense because after finishing my major clerkships, hopefully I'll have an idea of what specialities I am considering, and thus I'll then have an entire year to devote to research in said specialty! Also, with the third year research I won't feel as burdened to try and do research during the academic year...because I actually won't have time to do so, haha. --Clubs and organizations: This is the one aspect of Duke that didn't really impress me...I didn't feel like too many students hyped up ECs, which makes sense because the first two years are jam-packed. I like being able to stay involved outside of the classroom, so the dearth of EC involvement to me is a slight con.
The ice cream social the night before the interview was very chill...met a ton of students as well as some applicants. My interview day started off pretty normal: breakfast with students and other applicants. I was in the morning MMI group...something around 10 stations or so. The interviews themselves didn't seem very stressful...and this is coming from someone who dislikes MMIs!
But what really stole my heart was hearing Dr. Yee and Dr. Armstrong's presentations. They are both extremely talented clinicians...and receiving words of encouragement from them is something that I will always take with me. I learned from Dr. Yee (albeit in a roundabout way) that a physician must rely on his sixth sense as well as his common sense. From Dr. Armstrong, I saw for myself how Duke aimed to raise a generation of compassionate and diverse physicians capable of providing care across all socioeconomic boundaries. Hearing Dr. Armstrong relate her experiences as a pediatric cardiologist is now making me seriously consider the field...and really challenged me as a person of faith to keep my eyes open..."because at some point in medicine, you'll see science start to fade, and something even greater take over."
Words don't do my interview experience at Duke justice...but this is a school I am beyond humbled to have as an option.
Summary of Experience:
Dammit... I typed a super-detailed summary here once before and it got deleted...not sure if I want to take the effort to do it again so this one's gonna be a lot more condensed.
Another true P/F school going the 1.5 year preclinical route? Guess again.
Pros: --The two-day interview program (clinical rounding on Friday) demonstrated that the faculty really cared about selling the school to interviewees --Housing arrangements around Dallas are extremely nice, comfortable, affordable, and accessible to UTSW by car or by shuttle. --Climbing gym (Summit) relatively close by; lots of cool food places accessible by car. --PARKLAND AND CLEMENTS YO! Those brand new hospitals are sick! Besides priding themselves on their six Nobel laureates, UTSW also takes great pride in offering their students an all-encompassing clinical rotations experience, and I would love to be able to do that. --The students are very easy to connect with and love talking to us interviewees. I also had the opportunity to reconnect with old high school acquaintances who are current students here. People, from MS1s to MS4s seemed much more willing to talk about their experience here than at Baylor. --I had two pretty enjoyable interviews: one with Dr. Kazi, M.D. and the other with Dr. Pawlowski, Ph.D. They both made me feel at ease...so even when they through me curveball questions about the ACA and about who I would like to resurrect, I had fun answering them.
No real con except I found the students here (and the interviewees) to be clique-y. I also met some downright socially awkward, super quiet interviewees who mainly kept to themselves...not sure how I'd feel about being classmates with them, provided I get in, of course.
I'd love to be able to pre-match here...it would save me a couple of flights ;) Before this interview, I figured I'd pick BCM if the school accepts me; but now, I'm not so sure. If it comes down between UTSW and Baylor, I know I'd have to visit both places post-acceptance before making a final decision. Overall, an extremely pleasant experience; I wouldn't mind some love from you, UTSW!
Update 11/15/2015: ACCEPTED PRE-MATCH WOOOO! Was working on Pchem Pset and the e-mail came on Sunday around midnight!
Summary of Experience:
10/27/15: Wow....so I didn't actually see the II (which got lost in my inbox), which was given to me back in the first week of October. Holy shit.
1/15/16: Wow, Nashville. Didn't expect to like you so much but I did. Because in spite of your lack of decent public transportation and the unrealistic bouldering grades at Nashville East, what stuck the most with me was the kindness and hospitality of your people.
Uber is the way to go from BNA to VMS...drivers here are very friendly and eager to make conversation, from talking about their involvement in the music industry to trying to convince me that vaccines cause autism (LOL) to stopping by a "hot chicken" joint right before I got to the airport. Nashville is sweet; it's becoming more of a bustling city, but it's still got the swankiness of a nice southern town feel.
Vandy is amazing. The students are awesome...I was fortunate to have talked to a variety of students here, from M1s/MSTP1s to M4s. They were constantly harassing me to ask them questions, which was cool, haha. Tour was standard...lunch was meh. Breakfast was nonexistent...future interviewees should make sure they eat before arriving. We also had a session on the Curriculum 2.0, meeting with the Diversity Office, and a tour of CELA.
I really liked 2.0; like Duke, Vandy has a one-year pre-clinical. One thing that I did notice was that a lot of the first years seemed stressed out since their next big exam was in two weeks, which I found odd as a procrastinator (I might start studying two days before an exam? haha). That being said, the M1s are swamped with material but have it supplemented with TBL and case studies and have lots of clinical exposure even in their first year, which is what I'm looking for. There's also the Portfolio, which allows students to effectively create their own self-assessments and set their own goals to streamline different parts of their work/study/personal life. That also ties into the "wellness" focus of Vandy, which, alongside its focus on training physician leaders who are compassionate and collaborative, really impressed me. Vandy's definitely a place for the self-motivated; in the "Immersion" third and fourth years, one can decide to either do a full year of research (Med Scholars Program) or a dual degree or take selectives. Oh, and the first two years of med school are P/F with no internal ranking...that means Clinical Years/Wards are also P/F, which is unlike any other school I've currently interviewed at.
Faculty are extremely nice and friendly; Admissions Director Jenn Kimble is the best, and Dr. Bader is also hilarious. My two interviews were pretty chill; met with two faculty, both of whom are involved in teaching. One long interview (1 hour) that is open file. One short interview (20-30 minutes) which is closed file and consists of more behavioral questions ("Describe a time when...").
I got along well with my interview group...though I will say that while Vandy does trumpet itself on creating a diverse class, my interview group was mostly Caucasian and male dominated (I was one of two non-white people LOL). I'm sure that's more of an artifact due to a small sample size though ;)
I'm really honored to have interviewed here...I can't say for certain that I'd prefer living in Nashville as opposed to Ann Arbor, Durham, or NYC (I would prefer either a small college town or a large metropolitan center to something in between), but all in all I'm glad to have visited Nashville. I'm keeping fingers crossed for Second Look!
2/22/16: LOL so apparently I had a missed call from Jenn Kimble since Friday...but ended up hearing about my acceptance over e-mail...and got a 75% scholarship!! Super stoked!! :D