COVID-19 has had an undeniable impact on the world. What does it mean for you and the premed process? I answer all of your questions in this special podcast!
The questions have been taken directly from our Instagram account. If you haven’t yet, please follow us on IG @medicalschoolhq.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[01:11] What happens to the application cycle?
As of recording on March 16, Pearson just came out and said they’re closing their centers until at least April 16. Let’s see what the government does. The CDC is recommending at least eight weeks of self-isolation and just shutting everything down to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
As to what happens to the application cycle, it’s just hard to answer this for now. The application cycle will have to go on in some way.
There are presidents of new medical schools coming online and just changing the whole application cycle for themselves.
Carle Illinois College of Medicine said to just apply to AMCAS and they’ll send you a secondary and they’re just going to pick their students from there. Obviously, you still have to have your MCAT scores and all of that, but there’s a precedence for medical schools to really change up what they’re doing.
What could possibly happen is the normal cycle going from May and June through the end of October to mid-November could be shifted. The schools can set those dates individually.'Medical schools could just push everything back.'Click To Tweet
[04:00] Should you call the AAMC and medical schools?
Nobody knows anything right now. So don’t call the AAMC and the medical schools right now. Don’t call AACOMAS or TMDSAS. They need time to meet and discuss all this. They need to have conversations with the medical schools.
What you need to be doing right now is focusing on you and your family. Focus on staying inside as much as you can to slow down the transmission of the virus. Control what you can control and that is you slowing down this disease. Don’t call people or email them. Give them time to announce what’s going on.
There’s a lot of anxiety and uncertainty but what you can control right now is the thing you need to focus on.'Right now, you can control you – your emotions and how you're reacting to this.'Click To Tweet
If you’re still in school and taking classes, focus on your grades. You don’t want your grades to tank right now.
[06:35] What to do if the cycle isn’t delayed?
Do everything you should be doing. Start working on your personal statement. Getting the letters of recommendation is going to be tough. So right now is not the best time to do that. You want to respect people’s lives right now as they’re protecting themselves. Expect a delayed application, but don’t bet on it so still be ready.'Be ready, but expect a delay.'Click To Tweet
[07:37] Will AdComs accept online lab class for this semester?
Most students are online right now and that’s all you can do. There’s nothing you can do. They’re not going to force you just to retake a class because you took an online class during a pandemic. Otherwise, don’t apply to that school because that would be unacceptable.
Everyone is going through this. It’s not one state and not one school – it’s everyone. The whole world is going through this. Obviously, the people making these decisions are going through this as well.'Don't worry about online classes.'Click To Tweet
Again, control what you can control. And the medical schools can’t force you that your lab online is not okay here.
[09:20] What are some ways to reschedule the test for march testers?
Go to PearsonVue.com and follow what they’re saying. Don’t stress out about the MCAT. Because of the delay in the MCAT, the application process is probably going to get pushed back.
There are huge delays. You’re not going through this alone so expect a reschedule. Again, don’t worry about the MCAT right now. Just try to get it rescheduled.
There are huge delays. You’re not going through this alone so expect a reschedule. Again, don’t worry.
Some of you may be dealing with loved ones who are getting COVID-19 or who are in the hospital in the ICU who may be dying. If you need to delay your application and delay taking the MCAT. The right answer for this is almost always to delay.'Take your time. Make sure you do it right. Make sure you're taking care of yourself.'Click To Tweet
[11:55] Will med schools make us redo prereqs that we’re unable to complete labs for?
No, they won’t make you retake a classroom section of it. But if you weren’t able to do the lab online, they’ll probably hopefully. There’s going to be a lot of exceptions moving forward for the next couple of years as students are going through this process.
The schools are going to put out information as to how they’re going to handle students going through this process.'Just be patient with the schools and with the application services.'Click To Tweet
[12:40] What should I do? my volunteer position has been suspended until April because of COVID-19? Should I get a scribe job? I’m worried about going to a hospital.
You can’t control if your volunteer position was suspended. Try to do as much as possible where you can, socially isolating yourself.
If you got a job and you’re worried about taking it or not taking it, that’s up to you. You have to know your health risks and of those who you live with and those who you were socially isolating yourself with. Are you okay with that risk? And if you’re not okay with it, you don’t have to take that risk.'Assume that if you're going to step foot in a hospital, you're going to be exposed to it whether or not you become symptomatic.'Click To Tweet
Medical schools are going to be aware of this situation. They’re going to know obviously if there’s a time gap in your extracurriculars. They’re going to know so don’t worry about that.
[14:44] MCAT and Gap Year
Q: Are MCATs really canceled? Will premed courses now moved to an online platform be seen as less desirable?
A: Yes, the MCATs are canceled. No, online courses won’t be seen as less desirable. They can’t because it is what it is.
Q: Would most students take an extra gap year to make up for lost time or apply anyway?
A: This is going to be completely individual to the student. If you need to take a gap year because of the time you’re missing right now, then you probably shouldn’t apply anyway because your application probably isn’t very strong.
If you want to take a gap year because you just want to step away from everything then you can do that as well.'There is no right answer here. You need to do what you are comfortable with.'Click To Tweet
[15:55] Application Deadline and Extracurrculars
Q: What if my MCAT gets canceled?
A: You reschedule it.
Q: Do you think the application deadline with change?
Q: How will the interrupted hours of shadowing and volunteering hurt us as applicants?
A: It won’t. Again, the schools know what’s going on. You don’t have to answer because they know.
Q: Would it be fair if students couldn’t take the MCAT in time due to the shutdown of Pearson site?
A: Fair or not fair, that’s not the question of the hour. Everything is going to be shifted around.
Q: How long before the symptoms appear?
A: Please check out CDC or WHO for data related to COVID-19.
Q: When do you think schools will return in-person classes?
A: The CDC said 8 weeks is what they recommend. They recommend 50 people or less. In-person classes are likely done for the semester or quarter at your school.
[18:04] My interview is now online. How can I make my personality shine through a computer screen?
Video is hard. You have to be extra animated on video for it to come through. If we were sitting across from each other, your level of animation and energy wouldn’t have to be near as high as it needs to be through a screen.'Smile a bit bigger. Talk a bit louder. And just project a little bit more.'Click To Tweet
If you’re interviewing online, shoot us an email at [email protected]olhq.net. Get access to the platform for free so you can practice your interviews through a computer screen.
[19:50] More Questions Answered
Q: I’m scheduled to take the MCAT April 24th. Will I have to reschedule?
A: Not right now. They said April 16 is the date they will start again but this is bound to potentially change so just stay up-to-date. Just go to PearsonVue.com for details.
Q: Would helping COVID patients make my personal statement stand out?
A: This is not the right time to brag and take advantage of this situation and try to make your personal statement stand out.
Q: How can I stay involved?
A: This is up to you. It’s a very contagious disease.
Q: How will this affect my extracurriculars, my application, etc?
A: Everyone is going through this so don’t worry about it.
Q: I can’t take a summer class needed for me to apply next cycle. What should I do?
A: Classes don’t need to be complete for you to apply. But most schools are okay with prereqs being incomplete. Just make sure you finish that class in a satisfactory way before you matriculate into that school.
Q: If the MCAT and cycle get pushed later, would that affect my application since it’s rolling?
A: Every application is going to get affected and every student. It’s not just you. Don’t worry. Take a breath.'Don't overwhelm the medical schools or the application services with all of your questions. Let them communicate with you.'Click To Tweet
[23:21] Finding motivation is hard with distractions around me.
That’s 1000%. Everyone is handling this in a different way. Whether they have sick loved ones with a lot of comorbidities. There’s a potential for them to get really sick if they do get it.'Most people don't handle the uncertainty of the world that well.'Click To Tweet
Just do what you can do and focus on what you can focus on. Focus on what you can control and that’s you and what you’re doing day in and day out.
Q: How worried should we really be?
A: This disease has the potential to be very bad. But it shouldn’t wipe all of us out.
Q: I had an interview six weeks ago, I haven’t heard back.
A: A lot of schools would take 6-8 weeks. They should have told you at the interview as to how long to expect a response. But at this point, don’t bother the schools because they’re super busy. We’re all trying to figure everything out.
[26:30] I’m missing one LOR from a doctor. I’m planning on applying but not able to shadow right now.
This is going to be a potential issue with everything changing. There’s nothing you can do. If you’re shadowing right now to get a letter of recommendation, you’re very late to the game. If you haven’t shadowed anyone. Is your application really that good anyway?“If you have shadowed previously, then reach out to one of those older physicians that you have shadowed and ask them.”Click To Tweet
[28:14] Will this potentially push the AAMC to do at-home online testing?
There’s the CASPer test that’s done online at home. The AAMC can create something like this. But the question is will they dedicate the resources to doing it.
[29:25] How will this affect traveling for interviews?
A lot of schools are switching over to Skype. The nation has not shut down yet as of this recording. But there will be a big national shutdown in the coming days probably just to slow the spread of this virus.
[31:03] Upcoming MCAT Dates
With all the distractions around, expect that you’re not going to be studying at your peak. If you’re supposed to take the MCAT at this time when it’s canceled, potentially expect the new date to be mid-May. A lot of people are taking the April 24 date, expect it to be canceled. Still study but don’t be super surprised if it’s canceled.
If this throws you off, then take advantage of the schedule change and just push it back.'Take the MCAT when you feel ready.'Click To Tweet
[32:15] Final Set of Questions
Q: Will summer classes be canceled?
A: It’s too early to tell.
Q: Do you think medical schools will continue interviewing?
A: A lot of them have stopped and canceled some of their later interviews, which are mostly for waitlist spots. So it’s probably not detrimental to the medical schools to stop the interviewing at this point.
Q: Will I wear more makeup than you would normally for your video interview?
A: Be conservative. Just more foundation, blush, contour.
Finally, just don’t try to manipulate and change things. Just slow down and let things kind of settle.
If you’re interviewing online, shoot us an email at [email protected]. Get access to the platform for free so you can practice your interviews through a computer screen.