This student is worried about being able to submit her application on time because she’s going to an ROTC camp without internet access for most of July.
Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
The episodes in this podcast are recordings of our Facebook Live that we do at 3 pm Eastern on most weekdays. Check out our Facebook page and like the page to be notified. Also, listen to our other podcasts on MedEd Media. If you have any questions, call me at 617-410-6747.
[00:23] Question of the Day
“My name is Madison. I’m from St. John’s University, and I’m a junior biomed student. I’m also an Army ROTC. I had a couple of questions about ROTC and the HPSP scholarship. I’m applying this summer, but I’m going to advance camp. I want to know if I delay my application until July after advanced camp is over, will that be a better move? Or should I try to get it done as soon as possible and submit before I go to camp?”
My primary application is completely done. I’m getting it edited right now by some med school students, so that’s looking good. I take my MCAT in two weeks. I will submit it while I’m at camp to the other schools. That’s the only other issue because people have recommended to me that I only submit to one school in AMCAS. And once I get my MCAT score, go back and submit to the other schools. While I’m at camp, they may not give me access to my laptop or WiFi. So I don’t know how I would submit it. It’s up in the air about how I would be able to submit that to the others.”
A: You’re not getting your score back until end of June, which is basically a week or so before you come home. First of all, if you don’t have access to your your laptop, you’re not going to know what your score is so you can’t do anything anyway. Yes, but at least your application is in and verified at one school, and you don’t have anything to worry about. You come back from camp, you submit to the other schools, and you rock and roll from there.“If your primary is basically done, there is zero reason for you to wait to submit your application.”Click To Tweet
And so, apply to that one school. Don’t make it a throwaway school that some people suggest like apply to a school that you want to go to, and get your application in to be verified. You will only be in at one school for a week or so after you get your MCAT score back. But at least you’re in and verified and ready to go.
[04:05] Going the HPSP Route
Q: “I wanted to do the HPSP scholarship, but I hear mixed things about the specialty matching, because I wanted to do dermatology and I know it’s a specialty on there, but the likelihood of me getting that or like diagnostic radiology or something is looking very slim. So I know if I could admit to it now. Well, it’d be worth it.” (Note: She’s also doing ROTC)
A: Even for a non-ROTC person, the path is to go to HPSP through the Army, Navy, or the Air Force. The VA also has an HPSP program now, which is kind of cool.
The process is you go to medical school, they pay for it, and then you apply to the military match. And if you are set on something like dermatology, you have to go look at what the joint services boards have said in terms of army dermatologists over the last several years. See if there is any spot available.
The Army has several training hospitals, which is helpful. It is going to be a lot less than the civilian world but you’re also competing against a lot fewer people. And so, you have to weigh that into account as well. Ultimately, the question is if you are okay with going through this whole process being dead set on the specialty you’re interested in.
Understand that 75% of students change their mind. They have one idea going into med school, they come out thinking they’re going to do something else. Again, are you okay with going through this process knowing you really don’t have a say in terms of which specialty to pick.
Q: Do you think that they’re going to take that into consideration when they will look through my activities that I have so much time committed to one thing?
A: They will probably understand the time commitment involved for ROTC so you wouldn’t be concerned about it.
[08:44] How to Gauge the Strength of Actvities
Q: I’ve also been trying to like gauge the strength of my activities. Do you have any pointers for how stronger activity section can be. I’ve looked at certain schools want you to be the best at everything that you’ve done. But what does that mean? How do you gauge that?
A: I really don’t know what that means because when I look at schools, I look at the activities, their recency and consistency. I look at the impact that you’ve made. And so, maybe that’s what they’re using instead of impact when they talk about excelling. Each individual person’s impact is going to be different based on the amount of time you’ve been there.“You can't and shouldn't make a differentiation in a personal statement for MD versus DO.'Click To Tweet
You shouldn’t make an argument for MD do versus PA versus NP versus anything else. At the end of the day, they’re very, very similar positions. One of the biggest differences is scope of practice and knowledge base and skill set and your credentials that what you’re privileged to do.
The privileges at the hospital are based on your training, your residency training, and the skill set that you’ve gained over time. That’s ultimately what separates physicians from PAs and NPs. You have more skill set, a wider base of knowledge, and you’re able to treat a wider breadth of patients.
[12:32] DO vs. MD
Q: “If I say I want to go to MD and then like later in the cycle, I decide I want to apply DO. How would I explain to a DO school that that I want to apply to DO even if I’ve been set on MD this full time?”
A: DO schools understand that there will always be students who have that mindset. But if you want to be a doctor, you apply to MD and DO programs.
For AMCAS, specifically, if you are under 26, you have to report your parents’ income, even if they don’t support you at all. If you’re 26 and over, then you can apply for fee assistance without reporting your parents’ income as part of your income level.
[17:33] Anticipated Hours vs. Completed Hours
Q: I’m doing an army a med internship this summer but it’s in July. So he getting out of camp, should I wait to apply and put that on my activity section? Or should I just apply now with the clinical experience that I have?
A: If you have clinical experience, I don’t think you need to wait to apply if you don’t have clinical experience, and that’s a whole separate discussion of whether or not you should apply – period. This student says she has clinical experience. Then I don’t think you need to wait to add that. Some people would put it on the application anyway. They apply in June, have zero time for it completed. And then under the anticipated dates, they have it there with the anticipated hours that they’re going to do it. But it’s just training. You’re actually not going to be working. It’s just training. So to me, it’s not impactful. But that is one potential as you put it on as as anticipated hours and have zero completed hours.
Q: How would application committees view that as like your description, because you haven’t actually completed them?
A: Again, it’s not going to be super impactful. You’re not going to say much for it other than here’s what I plan on doing. So it’s not going to be super impactful. And again, it’s training, it’s not actually doing the thing. So to me, it’s not an impactful thing, and I probably wouldn’t put it on there.
[19:06] Most Meaningful Experiences
Q: “As far as most meaningful experiences, I was speaking with my mentor the other day, and she told me that I should use every single one of my most meaningful, do you think that’s true? Or just for ones that I genuinely feel like were most meaningful?”
A: You get up to three. I don’t think you should force three. But if you don’t feel like you have three really impactful things that are really meaningful to you, then don’t.
[20:02] Most Disadvantaged Essay
Q: “As far as my disadvantaged statement, I did include a short short for two sentences about my grades. But people still say shouldn’t or maybe should not include it because I have above a 3.5. But I feel like when they look at my grades, they’re going to understand why.”
A: Just a caveat. The disadvantaged statement is not called the disadvantaged statement anymore. It’s now called the “other impactful experiences” essay. And I think if you have had impactful experiences that potentially impacted your grades, I don’t think it’s wrong that that essay is there to give context to your application. And so, if you think there may be some questions about your transcript, and you can give some context, go for it.
[21:03] Screening Out GPA Scores
Q: “As far as a transcript, do they screen people out for under a science GPA of 3.0, and a regular GPA of 3.0, or is it just cumulative GPA if they went out and then a screen you out?”
A: There is no set rule like that. There are schools that will screen out below 3.0 as well as there are also other schools that screen out a below 2.8 or 2.9. And so, every school is different. Most schools will not publicize that information. Because if they publicize it, then that is a rule that they have to follow.
If you don’t have rules, you can break them. Or if you don’t publicly have rules, then you can break them and not get in trouble. It gets sketchy at times. But you will be very hard pressed to find really strict publicized information, although some schools do.“Some schools will have public cut offs. But but most schools do not.”Click To Tweet
Again, if you meet the cut offs, they will be able to see all of those numbers and all of those trends. They’ll sort it and filter it and display it and graph it, however that specific admissions committee does it. You can’t control that, and the only thing you can control is doing well. So just focus on that.
Join the Application Academy!