This nontrad premed is transitioning from a military career to become a physician. How should she share her experiences in a way that will resonate with adcoms?
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[00:23] Question of the Day
“I have been in the Air Force for 11 years. I was commissioned originally as a personnel officer for support. And then about my sixth year, I cross-trained into being a Medical Service Corps officer. So right now I’m a healthcare administrator.
After my exposure over the last five-plus years to medicine, my dream of wanting to become a physician has resurfaced, and I actually decided to do something about it this time. I started taking my prereqs and trying to essentially build my resume.
How do I translate my military service in a way that will speak to admissions committees in the AMCAS application?”
[02:27] What Medical Schools Care About
Especially military members coming out of the military, there are so many acronyms and so many weird career fields, different job titles, and duties. And so, you feel you need to make sure medical schools understand what you did and what skills you have.'Medical schools don't care about your skills. Medical schools will teach you the skills that you need to be a physician.'Click To Tweet
Medical schools care about your traits. Whether you’re empathetic, compassionate, or hardworking. They don’t care about the skills the military has taught you. Just being in the military alone and having that on your application will stand out.
The far majority of people know that the military is an amazing organization in terms of teamwork, collaboration, and camaraderie.
And the fact that you have that on your application already makes it stand out. Therefore, don’t worry about how you can translate your job title into the application because it doesn’t matter. What matters is the impact that you had, not the skills in day to day job that you had.
[04:10] Impact Matters
From a healthcare administration standpoint, you could talk about efficiencies. As a healthcare administrator, your job is to help increase efficiencies so that doctors can see more patients. And so, you can talk about numbers in that way. It shows the impact that you had on that career field. How many medical groups are you dealing with on a day-to-day basis?'Impact is so much more important than skills that you think you need to translate for the medical schools.'Click To Tweet
Just a side note here that another common thing that comes up specifically with military members is how to get across all of the things they’ve done in several years being in the military into 700 characters.
AMCAS is limited to 15 spots, but AACOMAS and TMDSAS have unlimited spots.
You can slice and dice your military career in the 15 spots that AMCAS gives you. There are no set rules to put the military under only one spot. You can do as many as you want, probably not more than three. But that gives you some flexibility in terms of where you want to talk about different parts of your journey.
[09:58] Be Careful with “I care about people” Statements
Our student says she grew up with her grandparents in South Carolina and in eighth grade, she already dreamed of becoming a physician. Her grandparents raised him with a very activist mindset and it’s been rooted in her to help people and want to care for people and make any situation better.
Now, this is a very common thing for people to say this which really makes no sense on how you tie that to being a physician.
Therefore, you have to be very careful. Do a little bit more digging and do some deeper reflection as to how it led to medicine. And what this student just described is really just being a good human being. You can go into politics, policy, activism, all this random stuff. She has to do some deeper reflection there to see maybe what triggered that for her.
Moreover, it is a story I hear all day every day especially from people coming from disadvantaged backgrounds or impoverished areas or minority backgrounds. Where they don’t think they can do it because nobody else around them is doing it. And it’s great that this student is getting such exposure.
[16:27] MCAT Prep
She’s still full-time active duty, and she’s also taking classes. And so, she’s planning to set up a six-month study schedule. And she plans to do it with Blueprint MCAT next month. Blueprint’s live online course has 16 scheduled classes along with two instructors. So it gives you the feel of having accountability.
[20:12] Getting Released From the Military
Our student shares two ways you can go about for the military to release you. If you’re an active duty service commitment is about to be up and you just want to get out and you want to go to medical school, then you don’t need anything from the military. You just do your time, get out, and use your GI bill for medical school or pay for it however you want.
But if your plan is to come back in, or you do have an active duty service commitment, then you’ll need that letter specifically for HPSP.
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