17 Years Old & Lacking Some Experience – Can I Apply?

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ADG 157: 17 Years Old & Lacking Some Experience - Can I Apply?

Session 157

This prospective applicant is only 17 – and is lacking clinical experience other than shadowing. Should she wait or can she explain it?

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[00:21] Question of the Day

“I had a couple of questions regarding I’m a nontraditional student, but not in the normal sense. I’m 17 years old so I’m younger than most applicants for medical school. I’m applying next cycle. But I graduated high school really early. And I’m graduating college early. And so, I have an age disadvantage. 

It has been hard for me to find clinical opportunities because I’m not 18 yet. So it’s hard for me to work in a hospital when I’m not legal enough to work in a hospital, basically. I was wondering if that’s going to put my application at a disadvantage, or what I should be doing instead? I have been shadowing a doctor in the emergency room. But I just want to do more hands-on work and I don’t know how.”

[01:35] Her Two Disadvantages: Age & Experience

This comes up a lot either with students graduating high school early or students who do dual enrollment through high school and graduate high school early. So they earn a lot of college credits while in high school. They get to college, and then they’re done in a blink of an eye.

And so, it does put you at a disadvantage, just like it would put typically aged applicants applying to medical school at a disadvantage without clinical experience.

“If you're submitting an application and you don't have the experiences to back that up, then all of that is just a theoretical dream.'Click To Tweet

Our student has two disadvantages. Number one is the lack of clinical experience, and number two is age. The great thing is you have shadowing. It’s possible to get into medical school without clinical experience but it’s not probable, though. So ideally, this student should consider pumping the brakes.

[03:48] Lack of Maturity That Comes with Age

Younger students are discriminated against because of their age. The person reviewing your application or interviewing you is always thinking about whether they can see you taking care of their loved ones.

Unfortunately, the perception is that the younger you are, the more immature you are. That’s how we perceive younger people. 

And so, in the eyes of the reviewer, you lack the life experience that comes from living and being older. And with that lack of life experience comes the lack of ability to empathize with patients going through these situations.

Our student mentions she has her own medical issues. So has that empathy she can give. That is just the big picture, which are the potential issues of applying to medical school younger.

[05:13] Delaying Your Application

Hence, I would recommend delaying your application, just one cycle. Finish school early, that’s fine. Do what you need to do. Take the MCAT, if you want to take it early. But delay your application one cycle to get another year under your belt and to have the time to get the clinical experience.

'Allow yourself to get clinical experience so that you can talk about these things in your personal statement, in your activities, and during your interview.'Click To Tweet

Right now, it’s very hard for our student to explain why she wants to be a physician through her experiences. It’s very easy for her to say she’s been a patient, therefore, she wants to be a doctor.

And so, she needs that extra piece of having taken care of other people. She has interacted with other people going through their own medical journeys. And that is where her passion lies, taking care of those other people.

[07:15] Reapplying is Harder!

This student could obviously apply but it’s hard to reapply to medical school. Ideally, she’s coming back with a better application assuming she doesn’t get in the first time. But if the majority of her reapplication is just that she’s a year older and she hasn’t really done anything else to improve her application then that doesn’t help.

'Reapplying the medical school, while by itself isn't a bad thing, ideally, you're showing improvement through everything.'Click To Tweet

At the end of the day, the idea of reapplying is just so much harder. You have to rework your personal statement and your activities and try to be better there and whatever else. So it’s just a pain in the butt.

[08:16] What MCAT Score Do You Need?

Our student reveals she’s planning on applying this cycle and she’s studying for the MCAT to take it in January. She chose the first day (why is she in a rush?) And so, she’s wondering at which point does she need to retake it.

Almost no school has a specific score or else they won’t look at you. Not many schools, if any, have that hard cut off. 

'Schools have a median score, but that just means half the class is below it and half the class is above it.'Click To Tweet

Ultimately, it just depends on your application as a whole. How are your grades and your activities? The MCAT is one piece of that puzzle. And so the MCAT score that you need depends on your comfort level. What score are you comfortable with applying? At some point, just be able to check in with yourself and see what score feels right to you. Every student has a different number they’re comfortable with.

When you look at the numbers, the average MCAT score for matriculants in the medical school is around 511. Our student is shooting for a 510 which is a good score. And she mentions she’s using Blueprint MCAT to study for the MCAT and she loves the amazing resources that they have.

[11:11] Clinical Experience and EMT Training

Our student is also wondering if there is a specific clinical experience that should be favored over another clinical experience. The answer is any clinical experience is good as long as you’re getting close to the patient as possible.

Her goal is to be an EMT as her long range goal is to be a trauma surgeon. So anything of trauma-related including EMT is the closest thing that’s not a doctor. If the emergency room like, fast-paced environment is what you’re interested in, go for it.

Now, if she’s applying this cycle and thinking of putting her EMT training on her application, this won’t really mean anything. What matters is the experience and what you get out of the experience, not the certification.

[13:11] What’s the Latest to Apply

Since the cycle starts in May, most MDschools have deadlines around mid to late October, and beginning of November. Osteopathic schools run a little bit later than that.

“You can't look at deadlines because the majority of medical schools operate on a rolling admissions basis.”Click To Tweet

As soon as the cycle opens up, they start reviewing applications and inviting people for interviews. They start accepting students. And so, the later you applied during that cycle, the less opportunities you have to get an interview and to get an acceptance.

It’s very different than college admissions where you apply as long as you’re in by the deadline. And you have the same opportunity and chance that a student who applied at the very beginning.

[15:18] List Everything on Your Application

'Everything goes on your application.'Click To Tweet

With AMCAS, you only have 15 spots. So not everything can go on your application. But but everything should go and you should treat everything equally.

The application, especially the activity section, is not just a list of all the medical things you’ve done. But here are up to 15 things that you consider the most important things you’ve accomplished as a person since high school.

[16:39] Talking About Your Disadvantage

Talking about why you’re disadvantaged is up to you, and clinical experience is going to be the biggest thing. You have to tell your story with why you want to be a physician and help them realize that even at a young age. You understand what you’re getting yourself into and you’re ready to go accomplish this dream of of going to medical school.

And if you need help with a personal statement, check us out at Mappd. We have some great advisors to help you tell your story.


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