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Preparing for Medical School

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  • 1. Preparing for Medical School Sue McPhatter Transfer Center Counselor (23 yrs as premed advisor at UCSD) Make Tues. & Wed. appts. with Sue in the Transfer Center
  • 2. Today’s Agenda
    • What is medical school like
      • Types of medical school
    • Why go to med school?
    • Academic preparation
    • Experiential preparation
    • What schools look for
  • 3. Very Important
    • See premed advisor soon after you transfer to four year college or university.
    • Premed advisor has admission data for that college’s applicants, and will tell you what you need to do before you apply.
    • Ask that advisor about reference letters and service they can provide you.
  • 4. The Medical Degrees
    • Allopathic (M.D.)
      • 3.4 – 3.7 GPA, strong MCAT scores
    • Osteopathic (D.O.)
      • 3.0 – 3.5 GPA, good MCAT scores
    • Podiatry (D.P.M.)
      • 2.7 – 3.0 GPA, average MCAT scores
    • All require same science course pre-requisites
    • All require the MCAT & some experience
    • All can work independently
    • Continuing education required throughout career
  • 5. Allopathic Medicine (M.D.)
    • Historically, the traditional medical degree
    • Over 125 schools in U.S.
      • Some acceptable foreign medical schools
      • Admission can be easier
    • M.D. accepted world-wide
      • The best option for international work
    • Can pursue any specialty training
    • Can teach in M.D. medical schools
    • Requires USMLE (three parts)
      • U.S. Medical Licensing Examination
    • Tests science and clinical skills
  • 6. Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
    • D.O. degree after 4 yrs.
      • May not be accepted in some foreign countries
    • Basic sciences & rotations same as M.D., and
    • Includes osteopathic philosophy & techniques
      • Holistic, “hands-on” approach with patients
      • Musculoskeletal manipulation
      • Other non-surgical, non-drug therapies
    • Can pursue all medical specialties
    • Three schools in the West; most back East
      • Bay area, Pomona, Phoenix area
    • Similar licensing exam required
    • 2/3 of D.O. grads pursue residency in M.D. setting
      • They take are req. to take the USMLE also
  • 7. Podiatry (D.P.M.)
    • 1 st & 2 nd yrs. – sciences, labs, intro to podiatry
    • 3 rd & 4 th yrs. – core rotations, orthopedic & podiatry rotations, and podiatric surgery rotation
    • 2 or 3 yr. Residency required:
      • 2 yr. residency to become podiatric surgeon
        • Not including. rear foot and ankle
      • 3 yr. residency to become podiatric surgeon
        • Including rear foot and ankle
      • Licensing exams required throughout training
  • 8. Med School Curriculum (M.D.)
    • 1 st & 2 nd yrs (the “healthy” body)
      • Science lectures & labs
        • Anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, etc.
      • “ Intro to clinical interviewing”
      • Some patient contact (more at some schools)
      • Some schools use “case study” approach
      • Science electives
      • General topic electives
      • Can begin research projects
      • Take Part One of USMLE (science knowledge)
        • at end of second year
  • 9. M.D. curriculum (cont.)
    • 3 rd & 4 th yrs (the “sick” body)
      • Core rotations in clinics & hospitals (1-2 mos. each)
      • Surgery, family med, peds, emergency med, psychiatry, ob/gyn, internal med + others
      • Elective rotations in subspecialties, e.g.
        • Oncology, orthopedics, dermatology, neurosurgery, etc.
      • Elective time for research, public health project, experience abroad, study at other med schools
      • Apply & interview in 4 th yr for internship/residency
      • Take Part Two of USMLE (Clinical Skills)
        • At end of 4 th year
  • 10. After Medical School (M.D.)
    • One year internship in general medicine
    • Part Three of USMLE after that year
      • required for medical license
    • 2 to 5+ yrs residency in specialty area
    • Can then work as specialist (e.g., Ob/Gyn)
    • 2 to 3+ yrs fellowship for “sub-specialty”
    • Can then work as sub-specialist
      • e.g., pediatric oncologist, neurosurgeon, etc.
  • 11. Length of Specialty Training
    • For all M.D. & D.O. graduates
    • 3+yrs = pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, general practice medicine
    • 4-5+ yrs. = psychiatry, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, dermatology, radiology, others
    • 6-7+ yrs.= neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, others
  • 12. Cost of Medical Training
    • You pay for medical school (4 yrs)
      • $20K to $60K/year, $30-40K average tuition
      • Some financial aid available
      • Students generally borrow significant amount
    • You are paid for:
      • Internship year (general medicine)
        • About $35K to 40K per year
      • Residency years (specialty)
        • About $40 to 45K per year
      • Fellowship years (sub-specialty)
        • More $$$ than residents make
  • 13. Why Go To Medical School?
    • To help others through knowledge of science
    • Your love of science (esp. biology & chemistry)
    • You are a problem-solver
    • You possess intellectual curiosity
    • You want lifelong learning
    • You enjoy teaching others
    • It’s a “calling” and becomes your “identity”
    • You enjoy being a leader or making decisions
    • You enjoy being in “authority” position
  • 14. Personal Characteristics Needed
    • Maturity & ethical integrity
    • Motivation and determination to succeed
    • Interpersonal & communication skills
    • Demonstrated interest in helping others
    • Willingness to accept responsibility
    • Energy , enthusiasm, physical stamina
    • Compassion , empathy, altruism
    • Problem-solving skills & good judgment
    • Awareness of the medical profession
    • Exposure to various cultures & life problems
      • “ Cultural competency” stressed
    • Able to accept constructive feedback & criticism
    • Ability to lead , teach or influence others
  • 15. Academic Preparation
    • 1 yr. General biology (not botany)
    • 1 yr. General chemistry
    • 1 yr. Organic chemistry
    • 1 yr. General physics
    • 1 yr. College level math (calculus & statistics)
    • 1 yr. College English composition (120 + 124)
    • Upper division biology recommended
      • Biochemistry, physiology, genetics, one U.D. lab
    • Bachelor’s degree in any major
    • Breadth in humanities, social sciences, arts
    • Can do all course prep here at Grossmont
      • Except upper division science courses
  • 16. Your Transcripts
    • AP units can count for required courses
    • All grades count in GPA, except APs
    • Original grades of repeated courses count
    • Comm. College units & grades count
    • Better to get “W” than to repeat “D” or “F”
    • Not too many “W” or “CR/NCR” grades
    • Upward GPA trends look good
    • Light course loads don’t “look good”
      • Unless you were working full time or ??
  • 17. Medical College Admission Test The “MCAT”
    • Test of general biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, verbal reasoning, writing (2 essays)
    • After 2007, MCAT will be offered all year (all-day exam)
    • Need average or better scores to be admitted
    • Take MCAT in Spring of year before you graduate
      • Apply to med school that summer for following fall
    • Repeated MCAT scores are not averaged
    • Many take commercial MCAT prep course
  • 18. MCAT Scores
    • Biological, Physical, Verbal sections:
      • Each section scored 0 – 15; 8 is national mean
    • Writing section:
      • Scored “J through T”; “O” is national mean
    • M.D. requires 10’s or higher
    • D.O. requires 8-9’s or higher
    • D.P.M. requires 7-8’s
    • Multiple MCAT scores are not averaged
    • Highest scores used for admission
  • 19. Experiential Preparation
    • Demonstrated commitment of service to others:
      • Working, interning, or volunteering to help others
      • Medically related experience helpful
      • Hospital, clinic, nursing home, public health clinic
      • Clinical research through a medical school
      • Teacher’s aide, asst. or tutor (any school level)
      • Community agencies (homeless shelter, geriatric)
      • Leadership on or off campus
        • Including captain of NCAA team or officer in student org
      • Volunteer with a physician mentor
      • Medical mission work, other church work
  • 20. Scientific Research ??
    • Research exp. required for M.D./Ph.D. program
    • Pre-med research experience shows:
      • Independent interest in science
      • Dedication & initiative in independent work
      • Intellectual curiosity
      • Can help a low GPA applicant
      • Can be a good source of faculty reference letter
      • Explore summer research programs
      • Desire to contribute to scientific knowledge
      • Find year-long research oppties. after transfer
  • 21. When to Get Involved?
    • ASAP!!!! That means NOW!!
    • Volunteer or work summers & school year
    • Minimum 6-12 mos. in one location
    • 4 to 6 hours per week
    • Keep record of your service there
    • Keep supervisor’s name, address, phone
      • For reference letter when applying
  • 22. What Medical Schools Look For
    • To predict success in 1 st & 2 nd yrs med school:
      • Total college GPA (from all colleges)
      • Science GPA ( all math, biology, chemistry, physics grades)
      • MCAT scores
      • Rigor of academic experience
        • Including caliber of bachelor’s degree college
        • Course load difficulty
  • 23.
    • To predict success in 3 rd & 4 th yrs. & beyond:
      • Reference letters (from faculty and others)
      • Application essays, including life experiences
      • Answers to specific application questions on:
        • Challenges and hardships
        • Diversity of background and experience
        • Handling of ethical dilemmas
        • Goals for the future
      • Interview the applicant to learn:
        • What is motivating the student
        • Their interpersonal skills
        • The sincerity of their goals
  • 24. Many applicants take one or more years off after college graduation before applying to medical schools
  • 25. Application Process
    • MCAT in Spring of junior year, or earlier
    • Apply June/July to application service
      • Transcripts, essays, select schools, approx. $1,000
    • August – November, send supplemental
      • More essays, photo, reference letters, $500-1,000
    • September – March, interviews at schools
      • Costs include plane fare, hotel, business attire, etc.
    • Rolling admission notification
      • October 15 through following summer
    • Average Californian applies to 20-25 schools
      • May get 5+ interviews, then admitted to 1+ school
      • May not be admitted and have to reapply the next year
      • Total application cost may exceed $2500 or $3000
  • 26. What To Do If You Are Rejected?
    • Take a deep breath, then
    • Call the schools and find out why
    • Assess your chances for reapplication
    • Assess what you need to improve
    • Ask yourself how determined you are
    • Choose best course of action
    • Should you consider alternate careers?
  • 27. Maybe You Need More Experience, or ?
    • Peace Corps, Americorps, or ?
    • More exposure to health care?
    • More time helping others ?
    • Could research experience help ?
    • Should you repeat some courses ?
    • Should you repeat the MCAT ?
    • Do you need stronger reference letters ?
    • Evidence of maturity & responsibility ?
    • Post-baccalaureate programs ?
  • 28. Post-baccalaureate Programs
    • 1 to 2 year programs after B.A./B.S. degree
    • To show potential to succeed in med school
    • Can be a Master’s degree or just courses
    • Some courses are with medical students
    • MCAT prep included
    • Research project usually included
    • Strong programs at:
      • Georgetown, Boston U., Chicago Medical College, Drexel U.
    • Some programs for underrepresented applicants
    • Good admission rates to medical school
  • 29. Transfer Center has
    • AAMC’s Guide to Medical School Admission
    • Includes info on all U.S. M.D. programs
    • Also, check out the following Web sites:
  • 30.
    • www.aamc.org (M.D.)
      • Info on careers, preparing, applying, and M.D. medical education
    • www.aacom.org (D.O.)
      • Info on same as above, for osteopathic med
    • www.aacpm.org (D.P.M.)
      • Info on same as above, for podiatric med
      • Also, good info at UCSD’s Career Center site:
      • http://career.ucsd.edu
      • then, click on “Medical School Information”

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