For answers to your medical school questions click herePresentation Transcript
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…)
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
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.
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 you unique.
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!!!
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
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)
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.