Question and Answer Session on Google Hangouts

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Session 48


In this episode, Ryan and Allison bring you an exciting and different format as they jump on Google Hangouts to do a live Q&A session where they answer questions that cover things like extracurriculars, best MCAT prep tips, picking up premed schools, reasons to be a physician, letters of recommendation, and dual degree BS/MD programs and whether they’re worth your time.

Here are the highlights of the episode:

Q: Not becoming involved in an ample amount of medically related “experiential” activities, clubs as a freshman. What is the best advice for him?

A: Extracurriculars are important but separate that from clinical experience.  Define one or two really thorough experiences like volunteering in a medical setting (that kills two birds with one stone). Go slow. You have plenty of time and get your feet wet with your grades. Get accustomed to being on your own and creating your own schedule. Get a little bit of the college life. Just add the extracurriculars along.

Q: Can MCAT be taken in January as a trial run (sort of the actual MCAT as your practice test) and the real thing a couple of months later?

A: Allison says you can take it as long as you can make it work for you. Ryan thinks psychologically, if you’re studying for the test that you already know is not going to matter, then you’re already not going to do as well because it’s just a trial run. Ryan recommends to take the MCAT once. Take it early enough. Do it right the first time.

Q: How to maximize studying for the MCAT?

A: Allison says, read the content and get it down. Read one more time and start with the practice questions. Sitting in the content for too long would make it easy for you to get lost. Go back and look at what you missed.

Ryan says, the MCAT has the least amount of content-based questions out of all the other tests out there. It would be a disservice to study purely content. MCAT basically tests your ability to analyze and comprehend the questions and just use part of the content you’ve learned in coming to the answer they want.

Hence, understand how the AAMC writes the test by taking lots and lots of practice test under real simulation environment. Most importantly, go over your practice test to figure out why you got right and why you got it wrong.

Q: Senior in high school and picking the right undergraduate premed school?

A: Allison says, there is no perfect college for premedical education. Go to a school that challenges you and supports you in your career towards medical school. Ryan says, if you strictly go to a community college, the admissions committee might not like that. Many websites will say you can’t have your pre-requisites at a community college.  So there is that risk.

Ultimately, go to a school with considerations such as being near or far from family, location, weather. Go to a place where you’re going to be happy and where you know you’re going to be able to flourish and not just because of the name on the diploma.

Q: Switching from nursing to premed?

A: Listen to Session 45 – 5 Reasons to Go To Medical School, and 5 to Not. Wanting to be a physician to take up a leadership role is a good thing but not to become a “boss.” Medicine is a team sport. Salary is not something you go into medicine for. That should not be the goal. At the end of the day, the central goal is you want to improve the lives of other people.

Q: Developing a relationship with a surgeon in the OR in the hope of getting a letter of recommendation?

A: You have a lot more time to interact with the surgeon outside the operating room just make it known that you want to see clinic patients as well. Don’t be afraid to ask the surgeon about shadowing in different environments.

Q: Is going through a 7-year BS/MD program worth it?

A: There is no harm in applying to such program. The worse thing that can happen is they deny you and you can still go to the regular route.

Links and Other Resources:

Session 35: How to Fix an App After Starting Premed Poorly

Session 3: Picking a Premed Undergraduate College and a Premed Major

Session 23: Interview with Dr. Polites of MedPrep at Wash. U.

Session 45:  5 Reasons to Go To Medical School, and 5 to Not

Session 12: Shadowing Secrets for Every Premed and Beyond

2008 Science Article about the MCAT Test Format

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