I am a 24 y/o female from Southern CA who recently got accepted into medical school. I would now like to share my experiences of applying to medical schools with all of you. I know that applying to medical school is a daunting process, but it definitely pays off in the end. I remember reading through tons of pre-med forums and spending countless hours researching the process and how I can maximize my chances of acceptance. Reading up on other applicants successes often helped me learn how I can improve my own application and what mistakes I can avoid when applying. I now hope to pass on my own experiences to hopefully help those of you out there who are going through a similar process. Here is a detailed breakdown of my past application cycle. Since I am a reapplicant, I also compare my first application cycle to the current one for those of you curious to know what changed and may have led to my success the second time around.
Ill be covering:
- My first application cycle (2017-2018)
- Programs I applied to for the current cycle
- Results of the current cycle
- Overview of my application
- Key application differences between the two cycles
- Final thoughts
MY FIRST APPLICATION CYCLE (2017 - 2018)
Very briefly, I would like to mention that I am a reapplicant. Last year, I submitted my application on 6/7/17 and tried to have all of my secondaries complete by August. I applied to about 25 programs, received 1 interview from CNUCOM, and was placed on their waitlist. I was rejected last summer and then scrambled to put together a new application for this past year. Despite applying late this cycle, I ended up with 4 interviews and 2 acceptances so far... still waiting to hear back from the 2 other programs (Ill provide more details below). If you are applying late in a cycle, please do not worry. You still have a chance. While applying early is important since decisions are made on a rolling basis, applying late does NOT eliminate your chance of acceptance. If you have a strong application, medical schools will be interested in you. If you cannot apply early, do not be discouraged and put off your application until the following year. I heard that some medical programs rearrange the application pile based on certain criteria (such as high MCAT score, high GPA, etc), so even if you apply late your application can still be reviewed ahead of applications that were submitted earlier if you have a unique aspect that makes you stand out.
This year, I submitted a completed application to 24 MD programs and 5 DO programs. I selected schools that are CA-applicant friendly and that tend to accept students with my MCAT and GPA. MSAR is a great tool to use when selecting programs.
PROGRAMS I APPLIED TO FOR THE CURRENT CYCLE
Here is a list of all of the schools I applied to:
- California University of Science and Medicine
- CA Northstate University SOM
- Geisinger Commonwealth SOM
- Albany Medical College
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- New York Medical College
- Penn State
- Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
- Lewis Katz SOM at Temple University
- Rosalind Franklin
- Rush Medical College
- Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
- Quinnipiac University
- University of Rochester
- George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sci
- University of Arizona College of Medicine Tucson
- University of Toledo
- David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
- University of California Riverside School of Medicine
- Virginia Tech Carilion
- University of California, Davis School of Medicine
- University of California San Diego
- Tufts University School of Medicine
- PCOM - Philly
- PCOM - Georgia
*Out of all of these programs, I received a secondary from every school EXCEPT for UC Davis and Tufts University SOM.
RESULTS OF THE CURRENT CYCLE
I received interviews from:
- California University of Science and Medicine
- CA Northstate University SOM
So far, I have been accepted to:
- California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM)
Because I applied relatively late, one of my interviews was mid-Feb and the other three were scheduled for end of March/early April. Time to dispel another myth: if you interview late, you are only interviewing for a waitlist position. While this may be true for the top-ranked medical programs since their spots do fill up fast, schools that are not as highly ranked definitely have spots late into the application season. My mid-Feb interview was for CUSM. I was waitlisted at this school and was then accepted off of the waitlist at a later time. I interviewed for TUNCOM at the end of March and was accepted into their program within a week.
OVERVIEW OF MY APPLICATION
I majored in Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC Irvine and graduated in 2016.
Here are the activities that I listed on my AMCAS/AACOMAS. I group them into 6 main categories here so that you can have a general idea of how many hours I put into each one :
- Health Scholars volunteer (530 hrs)
- Health Scholars community project volunteer (32 hrs)
- Physician observer (50 hrs)
- Health Scholars Department Coordinator (155 hrs)
- ScribeAmerica ED Scribe (530 hrs)
- ABA Behavioral Therapist (500 hrs)
- Health Scholars Program Assistant (800 hrs)
- Phlebotomy Workshop Instructor (12 hrs)
- Volunteer Research Assistant (60 hrs)
- Piano (1500 hrs)
- Tennis (3000 hrs)
- Art (1000 hrs)
- Phlebotomy Extern (80 hrs) (this was a non-paid experience that I needed to receive a CPT1 phlebotomy license)
- I also included Deans Honor Roll list and awards I received through my volunteer experiences.
KEY APPLICATION DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO CYCLES
What changed within one year that led me to reapply again the following year? Well, I reviewed my application and realized that my overall GPA needed improvement. It was a 3.51 upon graduating from UC Irvine. So, I took a few community college classes during that year. I took microbiology, because it was recommended by medical programs, and a year of introductory Spanish. My GPA went up to a 3.57.
The other activity that I believe strengthened my application the most was SCRIBING IN THE ED. For the past year, I have been working at two hospitals in LA county and this experience gave me my first exposure to working with underserved patients. During my first cycle, I focused my personal statement on what initially sparked my interest in medicine and how much I enjoyed volunteering in a hospital setting. During the second cycle, I still included some of the old information, but I placed most of my focus on how scribing has shaped my desire to work with underserved patients in the future. This is also a reason why I decided to take Spanish during that year, so that I can better communicate with patients in underserved areas in SoCal.
Here are my thoughts on reapplying with only 1 year between applications: if you have made significant changes to your application and can write a new personal statement with obvious progress, then no need to take any more gap years. I noticed a huge difference between the quality of my personal statements across both years. The second one was clearly more passionate. I was able to clearly state my future goals as a physician (working with underserved) and back up those goals with personal examples (scribing).
Another difference between the cycles is in interview preparation. Last year, people told me just be yourself and youll be fine, no need to heavily prepare. I made the mistake of taking this advice quite literally and it hurt me. I am the type of person who gives direct yes/no answers when asked a yes/no question. My interviewers were actually encouraging me to provide additional details during my interview, which is clearly a red flag. I barely practiced and, while this may work for some people, it did not work for me.
The second time around I scheduled mock interviews with my professors and a few doctors with whom I work with. I completed a total of 6 mock interviews with different people and practiced a lot during my free time. I watched the news several times a week and read up on medical articles. For me, this was the prep I needed to be confident on my interview days and leave a good impression. If you have been invited to interview, dont relax and assume that you will be accepted just because you got to the last step in the process. Because you got to the last step in the process is the exact reason why you should put full effort into interview prep.
I really hope that you found my experiences helpful. If you would like any additional information, please feel free to message me. I will gladly add on to what I have written above if it can help someone out there get into medical school. Receiving an acceptance letter is the most rewarding experience. It is a confirmation that everything you have been doing over the past X years has finally paid off and you are on the road to achieving your ultimate dream. I would love to help others reach that point, so please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, or would just like some reassurance.
No applications have been submitted yet during this cycle.