This student has a high GPA and didn’t do any clinical work in undergrad. Does he need to “catch up”?
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[01:16] Question of the Day
“I got my undergrad in 2018. But my prehealth advisor didn’t really put a lot of focus on shadowing and clinical experience. I tried to take the MCAT and I was a little too confident because my GPA at the time was pretty strong. And I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I took it and didn’t do well.
I didn’t know how to study better though because I was studying for it just like I would study for a class. And obviously, that didn’t work out.
After I took it the second time, I did improve, but I was just under 500 so it was pretty bad. And at the time, I thought I would just get my first assignment in the Air Force. And when that’s done, I’ll re-attack and go again.
As a result, I’ve pushed that to the backburner. And now I’m worried that my lack of shadowing and clinical experience is really going to hurt me.
I’m really worried. I only had about 30 hours of shadowing experience while I was in my undergrad. And I’m trying to catch up on it now. I just recently applied to work through a hospice in town.
Do you think it would look bad for me to have waited this long if I’m applying this application cycle? Is there still time to save myself or should I just postpone a year?”
[04:03] Clinical Experience is Important!'Consistency with clinical experience and shadowing is important.'Click To Tweet
Shadowing and clinical experience are two key things that will be able to tell your story about why you’re here in the first place applying to medical school.
There are a lot of students applying with 4.0 GPAs and 520s on the MCAT and they’re not getting into medical school. And that’s because although they can apply, they have no good clinical experience or shadowing. They apply without an understanding of why they’re doing it and without a good track record to prove to the medical schools that they understand what they’re doing.
Getting those experiences is foundational to being able to tell the story about why you’re here in the first place. And so, get some experience but you’ll just have to wait a year to apply.
[06:39] Writing the Personal Statement
This student is also wondering which of his stories should he include in his personal statement.
In The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement, I often talk about the seed as that aha moment that caused you to want to become a doctor. Now, there are those events that will water your seed through your stories and your clinical experience, shadowing, etc.
But you can’t tell your story without the experiences. And so you could have a whole list of things, but if they’re not clinical experiences, then they won’t really help tell the story.
Again, the watering events are the experiences that you’re putting together in the application in your personal statement. And you’re the only one who can answer which of those experiences are the most impactful for you.
Clinical experiences help solidify “why medicine” because there has to be some sort of logical tangible connection between the things that lead you to ultimately apply to medical school.
[14:15] Taking the MCAT
Our student is scheduled to take the MCAT at the end of April, and then apply in early June. And if he’s wondering whether he should cancel the test if he would have to push back another year.
Now, if you’ve been preparing to take it and you think you’re going to be ready to take it, there’s no problem taking the MCAT the year before you apply.
[16:10] Are Committee Letters Required?
Our student thought a committee letter is required and there are a lot of misconceptions around this whole language. If you go to a school that has a committee that writes committee letters, then typically medical schools will have this language that they would prefer those letters.
But the far majority of students out there don’t have access to a committee letter. And even if you go to an undergrad that does do committee letters, there are a million reasons why you wouldn’t want one or you can’t get one from that committee.'You don't have to have a committee letter.'Click To Tweet
[18:59] Letters of Recommendation & Activities List
This student is wondering if he could reach out to his professors to get a letter of recommendation from his master’s program. Or whether he needs to get one from his undergrad professor who probably doesn’t remember him anymore. Now, this is a no-brainer because why would you ask for a letter of recommendation from somebody who doesn’t know you?
Finally, our student also asks for advice in making his activities list, and basically, you just have to show them who you are. Show the impact that it had on you.
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