This student wants to know when is the latest they can take the MCAT & what med schools think about international mission trips.
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[00:38] Question of the Day
“What is the latest that you can take the MCAT while still being considered early? Because you’ve definitely instilled in me that being early is important. I’ve heard some people say mid-July or mid-June is the latest. And that you should aim for applying to one school to get verified. And then have your secondaries pre-written.
With that in mind, when is the average day that most people are sitting down to look at the application? I’ve heard them say that Labor Day (September) is the best time to be complete with everything.”
[03:00] When to Take the MCAT
If you think about the general timeline, you submit your applications at the end of May or mid-May, depending on the application service you’re using. Then you do your secondaries and turn them around by the first week or two of July.
Medical schools don’t get applications or don’t have access to them until mid-June to late June. Then the letters of recommendation and committee letters, all of those start rolling in. And by the time that schools think they have enough applications, they go take a look in about August. If you can get your MCAT in around then that’s great.
Think of every day after August 1 that your MCAT score comes back as another day that your application is potentially delayed. If you can get your score back before that August 1 date, your application isn’t going to be delayed. But the MCAT prep itself may hinder your ability to focus on the application. Therefore, if you are planning this far out, do your best to take the MCAT a year earlier to get it out of the way.“There's nothing wrong with a mid to late June MCAT from an application timing standpoint, other than it potentially gets in the way of your MCAT prep and your application prep.”Click To Tweet
[06:42] Timeline for Scholarship Application
Q: When you apply for the NHSC HPSA scholarship, there’s the scholarship, and there’s the loan forgiveness. And so, are you doing the scholarship alongside your med school application? When do you actually apply?
A: The best thing to do is to go to the National Health Service Corps website and just look at what their timelines look like.
[07:48] Mission Trips Abroad
Q: How do medical schools and admissions view missions trips to foreign countries? Some advisors say that they might even see this as pointless or flashy. They say there’s so much that can be done here in the U.S.
A: Be true to who you are. And if going abroad and serving a community is what you want to do and what you feel called to do, then go for it.
Medical school admissions may look at that favorably. But the bigger issue is if you do things there that you’re not allowed to do here. Those are things like you are doing procedures or helping out in surgeries. Because then, you are taking advantage of that community being a third world country.“There's a bigger issue of some ethical boundaries being crossed. Why would you do something to another country's population when you wouldn't be allowed to do it to our population?”Click To Tweet
[09:45] Personal Statement Advice
Q: I was a nursing assistant at a psych hospital for about a year. But I also saw some stuff while I was working there that just really disturbed me. There were things that were going on in our own healthcare workers that I was hesitant and confused about. That has definitely affected the way that I view medicine and the way that I’m approaching medicine. It has instilled even more of a passion to have integrity and try my best to know the right things to do. And so, how do you write about that stuff in a personal statement?
A: Use that experience, but focus on the positive. For instance, instead of saying the medical assistant abused or neglected the patient, just focus on the reflective piece. Talk about your takeaway from that and how you would want to impact the world of medicine.'Look at the big picture in terms of how you want to impact medicine.'Click To Tweet
[12:22] Medical School Criteria
Q: How should you choose a medical school that is going to best fit you and your goals and not just look at the top 10 schools and decide where to go based on that? What criteria should we be looking at to find the best fit for me?
A: Think about what your future looks like and what type of practice you want to be in, knowing who you are. Do you want to be in an academic practice or a community practice? What resources are available at each of the institutions that are going to support you and your mission?
Look at the medical schools through a lens that you’ve already assumed about some things about your future. But also know that a lot of that may be blown up. Maybe you’re going to meet someone and change your mind. Maybe you get to meet a mentor at a medical school that exposes you to a specialty you never thought of before.
So just do the best you can. Do a lot of research. Look at websites. Talk to as many people as you can.
[14:56] Declaring Your Specialty of Interest on Your Personal Statement
Q: I’ve heard from some advisors that in your personal statement, don’t declare that you want to go into psychiatry or whatever else because you don’t know anything. Would that show some maturity thinking I know what I want to do?
A: It actually shows some immaturity or naivety that you haven’t even rotated through all the different specialties.
From an activity list standpoint, it’s going to be pretty obvious where your potential interests lie because that’s what you did. And that’s fine. But to go into a personal statement and change the question from “Why do you want to be a doctor?” to “what type of doctor do you want to be?” is not something I would recommend.
The goal of a personal statement is to show why you want to be a doctor, not what type of doctor you want to be.
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