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Premed Q&A: Shadowing, Grades, Research, & More

Session 147

Premed Q&A: Shadowing, Grades, Research, and More

This is another premed Q&A episode where I answer a few questions raised by our listeners as well as members of the MSHQ Facebook group. Hopefully, you get a ton of information from today’s show!

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

Should I Get Shadowing Experience as a Pharmacist Going Back to Medical School?

Q: A pharmacist interested in going back to do medical school. He gets a lot of patient care and involved directly with patients. Should he be doing further shadowing?

A:  It’s a phenomenal patient care experience but you need to understand the admissions committee wants to know that you know what the whole “physician thing” is all about and not that you just hang out with patients as a pharmacist or an EMT. They want to make sure that you know what it’s like to be a physician. That’s what shadowing offers you.

Medical schools want to make sure that you know what it's like to be a physician. That's what shadowing offers you.Click To Tweet

So think about your extracurriculars in terms of clinical experience and shadowing. Shadowing is not clinical experience but allowing yourself to understand what life is like as a physician.

Update Letters to AdComs Throughout the Application Cycle

Q: How much weight do AdComs put on update letters throughout the application cycle?

A:  Update letters are great but wait to send an update letter until you’ve heard something from the school (like you know you got rejected or they’re waiting to offer you an interview). They must be substantial enough to warrant the interruption that it’s going to give the AdCom member.

What is it about the update that is going to make them stop and take a look at your application again. How substantial is it?

Question About Volunteering as a Premed

Q: 50-100 hours of volunteering across several organizations vs. 50-100 hours at one organization?

A:  It comes down to your level of involvement at that time. What impact did your presence make while you were there? That will make all the difference in the world. Again, you don’t have to fill up all 15 spots in those extracurriculars. Make sure there is good stuff in there.

You don't have to fill up all 15 spots in your extracurriculars. Quality counts for much more than quantity.Click To Tweet

The Medical School Application Timeline and When to Give Up

Q: At what point in the application cycle should you seriously begin considering applying next year?

A: As soon as you know that all the schools that you applied to have rejected you. If there’s a chance you’re not going to get in, continue to volunteer, shadow, and make an impact in your community so if you have to reapply, you have more stuff to talk about. Continue strengthening your application.

The Importance of Grades as a Postbac Student

Q: Current postbac student: Can a postbac student get bad grades?

A: B’s are not bad grades. All B’s can be bad, but a B is okay. As a nontraditional premed, you have a cool story to tell. But you need to show that you can handle the rigors of medical school by getting good grades in the postbac classes. But a B is okay.

As a nontraditional premed, you have a cool story to tell. But you still need to show that you can handle the rigors of medical school by getting good grades in your postbac classes. Click To Tweet

Risks in Attending New Medical Schools

Q: Evaluating new medical schools ready to open?

A: You have to narrow down where you want to go. New schools are not fully accredited so there might be issues getting full student loans to those schools.

So there might be a lot of challenges there including the quality of education or you don’t get to see a match list to see where students are matching. But remember, the medical school does not make you great. You make yourself great. No matter what medical school you go to, you put in the effort to do well, not the school.

The specific medical school does not make you great. You make yourself great. No matter what medical school you go to, you put in the effort to do well—not the school.Click To Tweet

[Related episode: Is There Risk in Applying to New Medical Schools?]

Research-based Medical Schools

Q:  Which medical schools are more research-based and which ones are not?

A:  Check out the MSAR and the CIB (College Information Book). Next, look at the actual schools’ websites and see what kind of research they’re doing.

Additional Suggested Classes to Take as a Premed

Q:  What extra classes would you suggest a student take to prepare for getting through medical school?

A:  Whatever classes you may take in medical school, if they’re available for you and within your price range, go ahead and do it. Knowing something and having a little bit of foundation will help you on the way.

Links and Other Resources

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