Jacob Boone, M.D.
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…)
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
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
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
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
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
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.
One of the most important tests of your life.
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
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
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.
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
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
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!!!
Don’t let anybody ever tell you what you can and can’t
do. SOMEBODY has to get into these medical schools,
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
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
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
Back-up Option: Caribbean MD
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
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)
Iserson’s Getting into Medical School
Your go-to guide
Iserson’s Getting into A Residency
has info on specialties, what medical school is
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
Make several meetings with Dr. Nelson,
your pre-med advisor. She is excellent at
what she does and will help you beyond
Contact alumni or physicians who have
already accomplished it.