Listen up premeds! I talk about this a lot, but I need to have a dedicated show on this. You have to be yourself in your med school applications and interviews.
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Moreover, be sure to also take a listen to all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network to help you along this path to medical school, and ultimately towards becoming a physician one day!
[03:40] Making the Same Mistakes Again and Again
The mistakes being made by many students in their medical school application are not unique. They’re the same mistakes.
Students read my books, The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statements and The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. But when they go on to do a mock interview with me, they try to put their own twist to it and they end up making mistakes.
Trust me. What I’m telling you will help you. As a physician, our job is to educate the patient as much as possible. We call this patient autonomy. From being paternalistic, we have now switched to being a more patient-centered and patient autonomy-driven health care system.
And here, I’m the doctor in this situation, educating you about how to write a personal statement and your extracurriculars, how to do well in your interviews. And all I can do is guide you to the best of my ability. It’s up to you how to use that information.
[07:30] Let Them Know Who You Are
Back in Episode 288, I did an interview with Leila Amiri, the Director of Admissions at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She mentions that the interviewers would come out of the interview with the student confused about who the student is. They didn’t get the chance to really understand who they are.
The students are in an interview and answering questions based on what the interviewer wants to hear. When you do that you are not letting the interviewer know who you are, your beliefs, your thought processes, your stand on highly controversial topics like physician-assisted suicide or abortion, or your thoughts on the president.
As soon as you start worrying about what the interviewer would want to hear and shaping your answers to those thoughts, you are not letting the interviewer understand who you are. Otherwise, if you have walked in the interviewer with your agenda set on making the interviewer think you’re dedicated to the underserved or rural medicine or that you’re an amazing team player or whatnot, then you’ve already failed.
[10:04] The Goal is to Connect
Imagine how many thousands of applicants have this kind of mindset, where it’s all about “me.” How is the interviewer supposed to have a conversation around that? They will absolutely get bored of that because the other students walking in that day are going to do the same thing. Until you walk in, after listening to this and realizing that the goal of the interview is to connect. Not about how great you are but to really truly understand who you are.
[12:05] Just Be You!
As of this recording, this is the time of the year where students were allowed to be accepted to allopathic medical schools. And so I want to read this comment from a student because I harp on this over and over that you have to be you.
She just got accepted to a school in Texas, which was her number one program and first interview of the cycle. She has read my interview book and listened to every one of my interview podcasts. She also did a couple of mock interviews. She pointed out that in all her three interviews, she spent most of the time just talking about common interests that were completely unrelated to medicine. Se found my advice of just being a normal person and having a conversation like a first date as pure gold.
You have to be yourself! Do not go into that interview and try to sell to the interviewer that you’re going to be an amazing med student or a physician. It doesn’t work. Interviewers see right through that.
[15:40] Write About Your Interests
A poster on the Premed Hangout has this question: “I was wondering if my volunteering at a national and local horse shows and involvement in the local eventing association is something worth mentioning in my application?”
Yes! Of course, because this is something that interests you. And another member of the group commented that he talked about his horseback riding involvement under the Hobbies section of his AMCAS Work and Activities. He ended up having a long conversation about his involvement with horses, with an interviewer who had a similar interest. The student was also part of my interview course, which is coming soon!
[17:05] Passion for Science?
Another student posted that the feedback she was getting from her premed advisor is that her personal statement isn’t showing enough passion for science. Well, you don’t have to have a passion for science to be an amazing physician or do well in medical school. You need to want to impact people’s lives, affect their lives as a physician to treat them, to cure them, to diagnose them, to be there for them in their most challenging moments.
Do you have to be good enough at science? Definitely! But do you have to have a passion for it? No. So I told the student to politely tell her advisor that she’s more comfortable with the direction of her personal statement than her feedback. And if she gets upset, then so be it.
[19:15] Resources to Help You Learn How to Be You
Please check out all of my Premed Playbook Series – The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statements, The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview, and The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT. Learn how to be and tell your story. Learn how not to force a narrative that you think you have to tell even though you really don’t.
Once again, be yourself. Own it and be okay with it. Telling your truths is the most important part of the application process, of the interview process. Because if your truths don’t come out then the interviewers, the admissions committees, the people who are making the decision about your acceptance to medical school will not know who you are and will not be able to properly assess you as a potential candidate. And you won’t get into medical school. By being yourself and owning your truths and by speaking your truth, you have a much better shot of letting that admissions committee know who you are, why you’re doing this, and who you’re going to be in the future.
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