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MD Applicants

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  • bddnacho

  • Application cycles: 06/16/2015
  • Demographics: Male, 29, Caucasian
  • Home state: Illinois
  • Last Active: 04/04/2016
  • Brief Profile: Helping to add more info on MD/PhD application process for others to use. Applied only MSTP
  • // Applications //

    Application Cycle One: 06/16/2015

    • Undergraduate college: Liberal Arts College
    • Undergraduate Area of study: Biological/Life Sciences
    • Total MCAT SCORE: 522
    • MCAT Section Scores: B/B 130, C/P 130, CARS 132  
    • Overall GPA: 3.83
    • Science GPA: 3.87

    Summary of Application Experience

    AMCAS Activities:

    1. Volunteer Community Health Educator (~100 hrs)
    2. Research assistant, Comp. Biology Lab *
    3. Poster at international conference in Japan for undergrad research
    4. Honors (I just lumped them together into one entry) Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, best thesis in neuroscience
    5. Resident Assistant at my Undergrad *
    6. Theater Club member (2 years)
    7. Summer research program for people interested in MSTP (10 weeks) *
    8. Undergraduate research (3 years between two labs)
    9. Teaching Assistant (6 semesters for various labs)
    10. Volunteer at community center for kids and teens with special needs (~200 hrs)
    11. Wilderness orientation leader


    * Most meaningful activity

    Application Weaknesses:

    I was a little freaked out about BS score on the MCAT especially since that was my lowest score and I majored in a biological science.

    The other thing is that I worked in many different labs because there weren’t too many opportunities for research at a small liberal arts school so I usually went elsewhere in the summer. To make things more complicated, I switched labs for my junior year since my advisor was on sabbatical that year. I made this very clear in my MD/PhD essay. A lot of interviewers asked about this more for clarification and I framed it by saying that I had diverse experiences as well as something a bit longer term in terms of my job post-grad as a research assistant at a large academic hospital.

    Application Strengths:

    Pretty good but not stellar GPA and 99% MCAT score overall. I spent the summer after graduation studying full time for about 8 weeks according to a modified version of the SN2ed schedule though I don’t know if there is a newer version of this plan to reflect for the updated MCAT.

    My current research is very computational minded despite doing mostly wet lab research as an undergrad. I took some CS courses as an undergrad because it was something I enjoyed and I have a pretty good skill set of being able to use Python, R, and command line tools in addition to being proficient in processing and analyzing high-throughput sequencing data which helped me stand out as a candidate that was interested in combining wet and dry lab techniques.

    I’m pretty good at interviewing and had my research committed to memory and made sure to ask really thoughtful questions of my interviewers about the institution, program, their research. I did not write a single thank you card and I don’t think anyone will take offense. I also experienced some really unique and difficult situations as an RA which helped me mature a lot and better express myself and discuss difficult topics which I think helped a lot in my interviews as well.

    Fortunate to have great mentors who really took an interest in me which translated into strong letters of recommendation which multiple interviewers commented on.

    Overall Impressions and Lessons Learned:

    The application process is long haul that is both fun and exciting and incredibly exhausting. I also want to stress the fact that because there are so few spots in MD/PhD programs, unless you are an absolutely stellar applicant (which I am not) you’re not going to get interviews everywhere and that’s okay.

    I submitted my primary in mid-June and that had no real effect on my application. It’s better to take an extra week to make sure everything is good instead of rushing your application in. In retrospect, I wish I had applied to less schools because I was swamped with secondaries and it took me until September to finish my last one after a 1.5 months of living hell. It would have saved me time and money if I had taken the time to really sit and decide which programs were most important to me and cut it down to ~15 instead of ~22 programs.

    My parting advice is to take a deep breath and have fun with it. You’ve worked hard and people will recognize that. Enjoy talking about science and medicine, meeting new people, and getting free food and hotel rooms.

    Attended Interview, Rejected

    University of Arizona

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