Stop Worrying About What Medical Schools Think

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PMY 377: Stop Worrying About What Medical Schools Think

Session 377

Today, you get to come along on a premed meetup I hosted in Chicago! I answered a bunch of questions about how to get into medical school and succeed on your path.

If you haven’t yet, please do check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media for more premed resources.

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


I went to Chicago in November of 2019 and I had a meetup there. We had around 16 people who showed up, driving as far away as St. Louise and even further. They came for a dinner meetup in Chicago.

When I have meetups, the students, a lot of times will just hang out with each other and then it just turns into a big support fest, which is awesome. Obviously, I’m there to answer questions and do my thing as well. But it’s always a good time.

I can’t stress it enough that when you are out there, be out there with your fellow students and, and don’t hide in your room all the time studying for the MCAT. So when you’re out there, make sure you’re collaborating with all those other students. 

“You are competing against yourself every day and that is the ultimate goal.”Click To Tweet

Remember though, those students are not your competition. There’s just so much stress around doing everything. But at some point, you have to understand that the question you are asking is just so micro in the big picture of applying to medical school.

[Related episode: What I Wish Every Premed Student Would Know]

[03:55] Figuring Out What Classes to Take

There’s this common question of whether medical schools look at the differences between taking fundamentals of organic chemistry and lab. And then will get a chemistry one plus lab versus organic chemistry I and II.

Well, just take the classes. Don’t worry about the micro or minutiae in this process or it will drive you mad.

'Just do what you need to do. Take the classes. Talk to your advisor right at your school. Find out what he or she has to say.'Click To Tweet

[Related episode: What Classes Should You Take Before the MCAT?]

[04:45] What is Considered Clinical Experience

I’ll have students come to me asking about whether it’s clinical experience when they’re in the emergency room talking to patients as they register them into the computer system. This is not clinical experience. 

If you’re just interacting with the patients in terms of how they are doing then I really probably wouldn’t consider that as a strong clinical experience.

Scribing is 1000%.

However, if scribing is the only thing you have on your application, let’s assume you apply next year. You applied June of 2020 and you stopped clinical experience scribing in August of 2019. So from August 2019 to Feb 2020, nothing. What this looks like to an admissions committee member is that you just checked the box. It’s like you saw the checkbox said clinical experience, so you got it for 6 months and then done.

Compare that with doing something consistently. It doesn’t have to be a full-time job consistently.

“Getting involved consistently a few hours a week, a handful of hours a month, whatever that looks like to show that you’re bought into this whole “I want to be around patients.”Click To Tweet

[Related episode: Premed Clinical Experience: Shadowing & Volunteering]

[06:57] Should I Be Smart Enough?

It has nothing to do with being smarter than anyone else. It just has to do with figuring out what will work for you in terms of your schedule, in terms of your kind of commitment and your intentions throughout the day.

I see med students responding to Facebook posts that I have. I know you’re struggling because we just had a conversation about it. But why are you on Facebook? You’re applying to my messages or to my posts. Turn social media off.

'Allow yourself like 30 minutes a day on this total checkout.'Click To Tweet

I failed my first med school test. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t, I couldn’t carry over the same skills that I had from undergrad in college or from high school and undergrad. Luckily, I was smart enough that I didn’t really have to work hard and really hone my study skills. But then med school punched me right in the face and then I had to figure it out.

[08:11] Taking the MCAT

“The MCAT isn't a test of your knowledge. It's a test of your critical thinking.”Click To Tweet

The MCAT is the hardest especially if you’re not a good reader. And once you’re in medical school, then it’s a test of knowledge and there’s a lot of it which makes it hard. But it’s so different than the MCAT.

[08:56] The Disadvantaged Statement

The language doesn’t have anything to do with disabilities. The language doesn’t say anything about race or ethnicity. The language is all around. It’s super vague to begin with.

It’s really big and a lot of it is focused around underserved medical populations. Like do you come from a population that you think was underserved medically? Or were you or your family on government assistance programs like SNAP or Medicaid or things like that.

“The disadvantaged statement is completely up to your interpretation.”Click To Tweet

The definition is vague. You don’t have to meet certain criteria to check the box or not check the box. So disadvantaged through disability. Sure. Disadvantaged because you came from an area where nobody was doctors or nurses and women couldn’t be doctors or nurses. Sure.

It can’t hurt you unless you’re ignorant about what a real discipline is or what disadvantaged means.

Just because you didn’t grow up in poverty doesn’t mean you’re not disadvantaged because you can have disadvantages around anything. For instance, you grew up in a traumatic household,.

It’s what you’ve been able to accomplish in your life based on the obstacles in your way. And so it shows a lot that you’ve been able to show who you are, your character, your grit. It shows what you’ve done with that. And that’s awesome even if your GPA might not be as stellar as someone else or your MCAT score might be a stellar someone else.

[12:05] Preparing for the MMI (Multiple Mini Interview)

The MMI (Multiple Mini Interview) is something you don’t have to prepare for. You have to understand it, which is why it’s good to do a mock MMI. But outside of that, there’s nothing to prepare for.

It’s different than a traditional interview where there are these very pointed questions. 

It’s impossible to prepare for every moral, ethical scenario that will come at you during an MMI. Unfortunately, students want to have the resources or books that have a million and one MMI scenarios. But that’s not the point of preparing.

The point of preparing is understanding that you are going to walk into a room and these three or four or five different types of scenarios or stations.

You need to understand that there are good ways of responding and bad ways of responding, and the basics around that and you’re good.You have to understand that you don’t want to scream and yell at a patient when the patient is screaming and yelling at you.

I’ve talked to students who said they’ve lost their cool. And so they were worried they were not going to get in at the school they were interviewing at. So be prepared for a little bit of a stress station where they may challenge you at the end of the day.

“The MMI, like every interview, is a conversation.”Click To Tweet

The MMI is just more structured around something specific, but it’s still a conversation. In fact, you will have a better time at it if you’re a nontrad with more life experiences assuming that you have a career where you get along with people.

So you take those life experiences and you’re just transplanted into a station and you talk and you listen. But many students don’t listen and pick up on the things that the actor is trying to get across to you.

[Related episode: The MMI: Everything You Need to Know About the Multiple Mini Interview]

[15:30] Your Story is Very Important

“Get some clinical experience, get some shadowing and, and really just focus on your story.”Click To Tweet

Really follow your passions. Do what you want and don’t worry about what the medical schools are thinking about.

Your story is so impactful in your application. But students who are posting on social media or forums saying it’s about getting really high scores on MCAT and really high GPAs but they’re not getting into medical school. But that’s because they’re not focused on their story.

I’m not saying you can get away with not having good grades and not a good MCAT score as long as you have an amazing story. But your story will help you overcome so much in this journey.

And when you have your head down focused on MCAT and GPA and only that, you’re missing out on your story. You’re missing out on who you are as a person.


Meded Media

Here’s a YouTube video of what we talked about on the episode today.


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