Live Premed Q&A on GPA, Applications, and So Much More!

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PMY 446: Live Premed Q&A on GPA, Applications, and So Much More!

Session 446

It is application season! And I answer all of your premed questions. Listen now to learn more about applications, shadowing, LORS, and so much more!

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

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

[01:43] The MCAT Minute

The MCAT Minute is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT.

Do you need to take a course during the summer? What is the fall going to look like? And how are you going to fit in all of your classes with the MCAT? It’s a really big issue that we’ve talked a lot about on The MCAT Podcast.

And a question that comes up all the time is what prereqs do you need? Do you need organic chemistry to take the MCAT?

Biochemistry is especially important in the new MCAT. So make sure you’re also looking not only at prereqs for medical school, but also the “prereqs” for the MCAT.

If you’re looking for some more practice exams, you have the AAMC materials, and if you need some more, go check out Blueprint MCAT.

[03:31] Shadowing, LOR, and GPA

Q: Can you talk about how we should put your eShadowing on AMCAS?

A: Just list it with all the other shadowing experiences you’ve had.

Q: Do you have any advice for including religious activities in the work activities section of the AMCAS application? I wanted to include the mission trips I’ve gone on as well as being a camp counselor but I wasn’t sure how admissions would view it?.

A: Just be yourself. Tell your truth. Tell your story. And if somebody has a problem with your religious affiliation, then that’s their problem.

Q: Does working in a COVID testing facility in an outpatient count as clinical experience? I’m working as a phlebotomist. 

A: Yes.

Q: Is there such a thing as too many letters of recommendation? 

A: Yes, there is. Look at each school and they will tell you what the maximum is.

Q: How much GPA does an international student need? 

A: I wouldn’t say GPA is more important for international students. It’s just harder as an international student because there are less schools that will accept you. And then do they potentially rank you lower because you’re international? There are lots of variables that go into it. But the answer is – for everyone – get as high of a GPA as you can.

“GPA is important for everyone.”Click To Tweet

[05:38] Volunteering, Tattoos, International School, & Committee Letters

Q: Does volunteering in a nursing home count as clinical experience? 

A: Clinical experience is what you do, not where you do.

'Clinical experience is what you do, not where you do.'Click To Tweet

Q: How are tattoos viewed when applying to medical schools? I have two full sleeves.

A: Well, luckily, when you’re applying, you’ll be wearing a suit and you will have them covered. So that’s not a problem. See if you can get your hands on student handbooks for each of the schools you’re applying to. And that will give you better insight into their attitude about tattoos.

They may say that no tattoos should be visible. And so, when you’re wearing scrubs, you’re always going to have to wear long-sleeved shirts to cover them up. I have three tattoos and I have one that’s typically visible when I’m wearing short sleeves on the inside of my arm. And it was never a problem for me. But every school is going to be a little bit different.

Q: Do you have any thoughts about going to medical school in Ireland? 

A: International schools should always be the last resort for everyone because it’s just much harder to come back.

Q: How does it work applying with a committee letter for my school? Do I have to request my writers do it again?

A: No. Your committee letter will trump everything. Therefore, your committee letter is all you need.

Q: How do adcoms actually sort through applicants? When do they get to the meat of the application? 

A: That’s going to vary from adcom to addcom.

[09:16] Late MCAT, Gap Year, & Disadvantaged Essay

Q: What is a late MCAT?

A: The ideal is that you’ve taken it already. Before you apply, you already have your score back. Acceptable is typically mid-July. If you get your score back mid-August, medical schools are just ramping up for that application cycle, assuming you get your application in before that. Then not acceptable is typically anything after that.

Q: For activities that will continue after the application submissions, should we count those hours in the activity section or just count until the point we submit? 

A: Read the instruction manuals.

'For applying to medical school. With so much at stake, read the freaking instruction manual. And guess what? It tells you what to do.'Click To Tweet

Q: How do we explain gaps in extra curriculars? Will it hinder me? I’m a nontrad, had my fourth baby in the middle of the semester, and my husband was hospitalized for one and a half months.

A: Run with what you have and don’t worry about the gaps. Gaps will be there. If somebody asks you about it, just explain what that is.

Q: Can you talk about anxiety and ADHD in the disadvantaged essay?

A: I personally recommend that you avoid talking about mental health stuff as much as possible. That’s with the exception that it’s the real reason that you wanted to be a physician.

“If you struggle with anxiety, ADHD, depression, bipolar, whatever it is, and it's a key reason you want to be a physician, then it probably should be in your personal statement.”Click To Tweet

For a disadvantaged essay, I probably wouldn’t talk about it. Because if you put that on the disadvantaged essay, it’s like saying “I have anxiety, therefore I didn’t do well.” And so, it doesn’t really jive well, because medical school is going to be much harder and you’re going to run into the same potential issues.

So you don’t want to give medical schools the opportunity to think you have the same issues, therefore, they don’t want to accept you because of that.

[12:46] Rolling Admissions, App Submission, CASPer & MCAT Resources

Q: Is submitting our applications in June still okay, in regards to rolling admission? 

A: Yes, it is. The first few weeks, you’re fine.

Q: There are no shadowing hours because of COVID. What should I do? 

A: Nobody has shadowing hours because of COVID. So everyone is coming to eShadowing Monday nights at 8pm Eastern. But I would start reaching out to more clinics and more private practice clinics than anything because COVID is going away in the States, thankfully.

Q: Do you advise against submitting the very first day?

A: I typically tell students there’s no benefit submitting on the first day. It’s like an ego thing that you submitted the first day. AAMC is notorious for having tech issues. And so, better wait and not submit the first day.

Q: Besides Blueprint, what MCAT resources do you recommend? 

A: UWorld.

Q: I’m taking the MCAT on June 18. Is that too late?

A: No. I would submit your applications before then.

Q: Is it true that the MCAT will be cancelled by medical schools? 

A: No, unfortunately. Hopefully, there’ll be at least one school out there that won’t be using the MCAT.

Q: How should we prepare for the CASPer?

A: Check out Session 303 where I did an interview with Dr. Kelly Dore, the co-creator of CASPer. At a minimum, take the practice tests kind of simulations at Dr. Dore will also be on the National Premed Day. We have eight and a half hours or so of amazing speakers, amazing content, great discussions all about the premed path and applications as well as diversity in medicine.


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