State of the Union in the Premed World. Join the Fight!

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Session 400

In celebration of our 400th episode, I’m discussing the state of the union in the premed world – and I’m urging everyone to join the fight!

For more podcast resources to help you along your journey to medical school and beyond, check out Meded Media.

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

[02:43] A Depressingly Broken System

We’re currently in the middle of the world’s largest Civil Rights Movement in history. A lot of students are deciding to delay their application this year due to the fear of COVID-19 with reports of students testing positive several days after the test. And it’s okay to delay this year if this is still going on.

'If being a physician is what you want, then it can wait. There's no rush to get to your goal.'Click To Tweet

There’s been a lot of digging into the AAMC. Somebody sent me some tax forms about how much money AAMC has been sitting – in investments, in the bank, and in their fancy buildings. And how much money they make from ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) and MCAT and AMCAS and everything else that they do. This whole process is crazy.

A student tweeted and tagged me on Instagram, saying that spending thousands of dollars to apply to medical school shouldn’t be just “part of the process.” I agree to a big extent. Starting a fund to help those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds who can’t afford and don’t apply to medical school because of lack of funds is something that I’ve been looking into.

These several months have really opened my eyes to how unfair this whole process is to a lot of people. And it doesn’t end with nor doesn’t start with the application process. It started with redlining and home prices being tied to school values and the educational opportunities for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and impoverished neighborhoods

[06:11] Hoping to Make a Difference

I’ve been doing a lot of work, learning about my white privilege, trying to learn how I can use that privilege to help so many more of you. Hopefully, I’ve been doing a good job.

I’ve been putting out this podcast now of 400 episodes for close to eight years now, for free every week. I have The MCAT Podcast, which is free MCAT prep. I get emails and messages about the MCAT podcast and The MCAT CARS Podcast another free prep, helping students crush their scores.

But I know there’s more that I can do. I’m doing it and I’m trying to. I want to hear from you. So let me know what more I can do.

I’m talking to reporters trying to expose the AAMC. I’m yelling at them on Twitter telling their CEO or Executive Director who makes a lot of money for what he does, that this whole process this whole year has just been a disgrace. And how they’ve treated the students through this whole process.

So if there’s something out there that I can be doing to help you, let me know. I’m a one-man shop for the most part. I do have a small team that helps me put out my podcasts and makes my website and helps move social media.

[07:54] Mapping Out the Application Process with Mappd

I’m also currently working on Mappd where we’re bringing in students slowly to see what we could do to help them through the application process. I’m trying to level the playing field as much as possible for all of you because becoming a physician is an amazing feat in this country.

For those who have preordered Mappd, we have a feature called Ask the Dean, which we’ve also turned into a podcast. And I was having this discussion about why in Canada, shadowing is nearly impossible. Clinical experience is really hard. It’s just not something that medical schools lean on to determine whether or not you want to be a physician.

Dr. Scott Wright is the VP of academic advising at Mappd. He’s a former director of admissions at UT Southwestern, the former executive director at TMDSAS, which is the whole application service to Texas Medical Schools.

Scott and I had a discussion about how disappointing, depressing, and how broken our healthcare system is. 

That’s kind of the goal. You need to go get shadowing and clinical experience because you need to expose yourself to the torture of the medical education path. And then see if you really still want to be a physician.

“You need to go get shadowing and clinical experience so that you can see how broken our healthcare system is and you can still tell us why you want to become a physician.”Click To Tweet

[10:30] The Medical Education System: U.S. vs. Canada

“The cost of medical education in this country is outrageous. Students need to know that they're going to be in a lot of debt.”Click To Tweet

The U.S. healthcare system is very broken. Compared to Canada, McMaster specifically, they invented CASPer. They invented the MMI. That’s all based on research out of that institution. They’re looking for skills and traits of their future physicians outside of shadowing experience or clinical experience.

So for people in Canada looking to apply in the U.S., understand what you’re getting yourself into because being a physician in Canada is less crazy. Not every system is perfect. But it’s less crazy. You have a lot less debt. The pay is very, very similar in the US.

Obviously, there are probably extremes in some of our specialties compared to Canada, but on average, it’s very comparable.

[12:44] Let’s Continue Letting Our Voices Be Heard

Once you’re a physician, you fight for the healthcare system that you want. But we’ve come to accept a lot of things in this journey, and accept that that’s just how it is and accept that we’re just one person who can’t change anything.

“One thing that we’ve probably learned from what’s going on right now is that one person CAN change everything.”

As you go through this process, continue to think about what can be improved and how you want to improve it. 

A lot of you are standing up to the AAMC, and I’m proud of you for that! The AAMC is a beast. They have a huge monopoly. I want you to reach out to your state reps and tell them what’s going on. I’ve reached out several times to mine. I haven’t heard much. Obviously, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so they’re busy. And I don’t know if the AAMC is at the top of their list for priorities. But I’ll continue reaching out. I’ll continue asking questions.

[14:35] The Fight Goes On Against the AAMC

I’ve already had conversations with former test prep executives who have created materials for the MCAT. Many years ago, the ACT created an alternative to the SAT because they didn’t what the SAT was testing. They thought they could do it better.

“Maybe there's room in this world for an MCAT alternative.”Click To Tweet

Some of you have created an organization known as the Students for Ethical Admissions that created an amazing letter and sent it to medical schools. And they’re apparently making a significant impact.

I may not be super active on Twitter and Instagram and everywhere else right now but please continue to reach out to me because I want to fight the AAMC – for who they are there to support. Because it doesn’t look like they’re there to support medical students. It looks like they’re there to take your money and then do whatever they want with it. They’re not doing enough to help you. 

[17:25] Is There Still Job Stability with Physicians?

There’s a lot of bad stuff going on right now and a lot of it is disappointing. We’ve seen our healthcare system crumble with COVID-19. With elective procedures being shut down, which are the moneymakers. for hospitals, we’ve seen physicians furloughed, pay cut, and so many other issues happening.

A lot of you want to be physicians for job stability. And a pandemic just proved that even physicians don’t have job stability. 

“Becoming a physician is still an amazing career.”Click To Tweet

I did a YouTube video on why I don’t practice medicine anymore. And yesterday, I had a conversation with a physician for Specialty Stories Podcast and she asked if I missed it. I miss a lot of it. And there’s also a lot that I don’t miss – fighting with insurance companies and all that other stuff, which luckily I didn’t have to do a lot of because I was in the military and we had TRICARE and all that fun stuff.

But the interactions with patients being able to impact someone’s life are rewarding. Having that conversation when a patient comes to you, and tests positive for the BRCA gene and has decided to undergo an elective double mastectomy. Having her sit in front of you in tears going through that process is fulfilling. It’s an amazing career.

So if this is what you want to do, then you fight for how you want it to be.

[19:24] Final Thoughts

“Continue fighting for what is right.”Click To Tweet

Reach out to your local state, national senators, your local politicians, whoever you can reach out to. Reach out to them. Sign petitions.

See what the Students for Ethical Admissions is up to and see how you can connect with them. See how you can improve this process –maybe not for you, but for the next class or the class after. Because this process has to improve. It has to get better.


Meded Media

Why I Left Medicine

The MCAT Podcast

The MCAT CARS Podcast

Specialty Stories Podcast


Students for Ethical Admissions