Pre-Med and Beyond

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					 Pre-Med
Jacob Boone, M.D.
    May 2009
Who am I to say?
   2005 Pepperdine graduate, Sports Medicine degree
   My statistics (in order of importance): 3 significant clinical
    experiences, Science GPA 3.7, MCAT 28, No research, Tutor
    and TA for Physiology and Chemistry, Captain of the Surf
    Team, Vice President of Sigma Nu
   Applied to 14 schools. Interviewed at 3 schools. Wait-listed
    at all 3 schools. Accepted off the waitlist to 2 schools in
    home state of Virginia.
   Graduated in the top 25% from the Medical College of
    Virginia (VCU) in 2009. Now doing a 6 year Urology
    residency at the Kaiser LA Medical Center.
Choosing a Major
   Bottom line: It doesn’t matter
       It should be something that you’re interested in
        or passionate about
            Read: you’re more likely to do well as a chemistry
             major if you love all things chemistry
       If you decide to go the non-science route, make
        sure you can fit in all the science prerequisites
        without killing yourself
       Make sure you do well (mostly A’s…)
Majors cont’d
   My recommendation: Sports Medicine
       Covers all pre-med courses
       Exposure to anatomy and physiology
            Basis of medicine (see if you like it, right?)
            This is what you will be studying in med school, so it’s great
             preparation
       Unique major
            Will prompt questions at the med school interviews
            Will make you stand out
Putting the A in GPA
   Academics comes first (not sports, surfing,
    or Greek life):
       If you’re a night-before-the-test crammer, try to
        start studying 3 nights before, especially for the
        science exams
       I made this change my junior year and went from
        a 3.6 to a 4.0
       Form study groups if you learn better that way
My Regimen for studying
   Read through your notes slowly and thoroughly
    for understanding one time without attempting to
    memorize anything
   Read through a second time and make a BRIEF
    outline of key things that will be or you think will
    be on the test.
   Devote one page to what you need to memorize
   Night before the test:
       Study your outline a few times through
       Memorize what you need to memorize and quickly look
        over those notes right before the test
More on Grades
   Impressing teachers is important
       Get to know your teachers very well
       It will help you do better in class and will definitely help
        them remember you when it comes time to ask for a letter
        of recommendation
       Ask questions in class, after class, etc. BE INVOLVED
        and INTERESTED in learning!!!
        Come to class on time! (I was always 5 minutes late
        freshman year, and it gave the false impression that I
        didn’t care)
Grades ad nauseum
   View every class as an opportunity to get an A
    (OK, now breathe and read the rest).
       Don’t fret the GPA number, just try to do your very best
        and take one semester at a time.
       Getting a B or even a C in a science course is not the
        end of the world.
            Learn from it. Correct the problem. Move on.
            I got a C in Second Semester Organic Chemistry. The next
             semester, I validated that I could handle upper level
             chemistry courses by getting an A in Biochemistry.
MCAT
   One of the most important tests of your life.
   My recommendations
       Take it one month after you finish your junior year
       Use that month to eat, sleep, and breathe the MCAT
        (studying at least 6 hours a day and doing questions 2
        hours a day). This is how you prepare for the boards in
        med school and it works.
       Take a prep course during that time
MCAT cont’d
   What other classes besides science
    prerequisites do I take?
       If you can, add these courses: Biochemistry,
        Genetics, Physiology, Psychology
   Practice tests: take as many as possible;
    it’s just as important to learn how to take
    the test as what is on the test
Clinical Experience
   1. Admissions committees want to see that you are
    dedicated to medicine and that you know what you are
    getting yourself into
   2. Make sure this is what you want to devote the rest of
    your life to
   3. It is a MUST for admission
   4. You can shadow a physician for a day, but that
    doesn’t count as a meaningful clinical experience
   5. Volunteer to be involved in patient care at a free
    clinic, a hospital, or a physician’s office. Get
    SIGNIFICANT experience (an entire summer or as a
    weekly commitment during the school year)
Clinical Experience Cont’d
   Do things that are interesting:
       Example, teaching the mentally disabled of Malibu how to swim
        and play golf
       Example, go to Fiji with the Surfer’s Medical Association to do
        volunteer clinic work
       Get involved with the underserved population
       Create an organization at Pepperdine with a bunch of other pre-
        med students that reaches out to the community
       The more things you have on your application that make you
        stand out, the better
       Don’t overwhelm yourself. Remember, grades come first. The
        summer is a great time to get clinical experience.
Extracurricular Activities
   If you’re passionate about things outside of
    medicine, get involved as a LEADER.
   Don’t add a bunch of clubs for the sake of
    padding your resume (wastes your time and
    doesn’t help a whole lot).
   Be smart: making money as a chemistry tutor
    looks better than being a valet at Duke’s.
   On the flip side, being a rock climbing instructor in
    Chile for a summer or a Division I athlete makes
    you unique.
Research
   Always looks good: shows you are inquisitive and
    may be interested in academic medicine (hint:
    people on admissions committees and
    interviewers for medical school are almost always
    involved in academic medicine)
    Doing research at Pepperdine is also a great way
    to pursue something that interests you and get to
    know a professor who could write an excellent
    letter of recommendation
More on Research
   My recommendation: Do a research project with a
    physician over the summer at a medical school.
       1. It combines clinical experience, volunteer experience, and
        research all into one summer
       2. You will most likely be working with someone who is
        connected at the med school and/or other med schools
       3. It will continue to help you when applying to residency
        positions, especially if you’re an author on a published paper
       4. How to do it? Go to any med school’s website and find the
        email of the Research Coordinator for a field that interests you
        (example, orthopedics). You can even call the admissions
        office to see if they have any advice.
Dr. Engorn’s Top Ten
   Branden Engorn, M.D. is a former Student Admissions
    Committee Member at VCU School of Medicine
   Number 1. Significant clinical experience is the MOST
    important thing on your application.
   2. It’s not all about the numbers. Schools look at your entire
    application. In particular, people with unique stories or
    experiences tend to stand out.
   3. Pick your letter writers wisely. You need to have people who
    truly know you and are comfortable writing more than a few
    sentences.
   4. Everything you do will be on your file (e.g. if you take the
    MCAT 9 times, they take into account all 9 scores).
   5. Improvement always looks good.
Dr. Engorn’s Top Ten Cont’d
   6. Research the schools you are applying to and will be
    interviewing with. They will always ask you, “Why
    here?” and you need to have a response that shows
    you’ve done your homework.
       Good Answer: I applied to VCU because of it’s non-competitive
        atmosphere, unique Project Heart program, and the
        Foundations of Clinical Medicine class.
       Bad answers: Because my advisor told me to. Because this
        school takes a lot of California applicants. (actual answers)
   7. Be nice to everyone, including the Admissions
    secretaries and staff, and even the taxi driver who drops
    you off for your interview.
Dr. Engorn’s Top Ten cont’d
   8. Be prepared for this question: What are you going to
    do if you don’t get into medical school? Or If not
    medicine, what field would you choose? Answer:
    Medicine is the only thing that I am interested in
    pursuing and I will do whatever necessary to get in.
   9. Always a good idea to keep in contact via phone
    calls and e-mails with the admissions committee. It may
    help you land an interview or get you off the waitlist. If
    you do not get in, e-mail the schools you are interested
    in and ask them what you can do differently in order to
    get accepted next year.
   10. Apply as EARLY as physically POSSIBLE!!!
Reality Check
   Don’t let anybody ever tell you what you can and can’t
    do. SOMEBODY has to get into these medical schools,
    right?
   Nevertheless, it is important to have a back-up plan and
    be realistic in your goals.
   Remember to be true to yourself. Make sure this is
    what you want to do. Make sure you are willing to
    sacrifice your time, your life, and your geographical
    location for the pursuit of medicine.
Back-up option: D.O. schools
   Easier admissions than MD
   Great for primary care, but you can still do any specialty with a DO
    degree.
   For specialties (I.e. non primary-care fields), it is more difficult to
    secure a residency spot with a DO degree than it is with an MD
    from a US school.
   My opinion: It’s better to get in the game now than be stuck in the
    middle indefinitely. If my option was to go to DO school now or to
    reapply for the MD, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to a DO school. I
    would go to a DO school over a Caribbean MD school because of
    your options for residency and likelihood of success. This is my
    opinion based on my experiences and those of residents I know.
    Definitely do your research on this issue if you are considering it.
Back-up Option: Post baccalaureate
premedical program
   Originally intended for college graduates who decide on
    medical school late and need the proper prerequisites
   An option for those who didn’t get into medical school
    the first time around
   Expensive, especially when you consider the total
    number of years of school
   No guarantees for admission
   Need to do well in order to have a chance
   Nevertheless, a valid option if you definitely want the
    M.D.
Back-up Option: Caribbean MD
   Easier admissions
   Have to perform relatively well in order to stay
    enrolled and eventually get a residency
   More limited than a DO degree for residency
    spots because you will be competing against US
    MDs and DOs
   Can transfer to a US MD school after the first year
    if you do extremely well
Back-up Option: Dental School
   Easier admissions than med school
   No required residency after 4 years of school
   Better hours (9am-5pm for 4-5 days a week with
    no call)
   Less stress, few emergencies
   Lots of cool procedures with option to go into oral
    and maxillofacial surgery (wisdom teeth, facial
    trauma, jaw surgery, facial cosmetic surgery)
Must Reads
   Iserson’s Getting into Medical School
       Your go-to guide
   Iserson’s Getting into A Residency
       has info on specialties, what medical school is
        like, etc.
   The Ultimate Guide to Choosing A Medical
    Specialty by Dr. Brian Freeman
       great insight into what being a doctor is all about
Conclusion: Don’t reinvent the
wheel
   Make several meetings with Dr. Nelson,
    your pre-med advisor. She is excellent at
    what she does and will help you beyond
    belief.
   Contact alumni or physicians who have
    already accomplished it.

				
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posted:10/15/2011
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