Q&A with Goro, Medical School Admissions Committee and Faculty Member

Last Updated on September 1, 2022 by Laura Turner

If you want the unvarnished truth about your medical school chances, Goro is the person to ask. Goro serves on his medical school’s admissions committee and faculty and provides his expertise as an SDN Expert. As an Expert, he provides SDN forum members feedback, advice, and tough love based on his experiences. Recently, Goro sat down with us to give his opinions about life as a faculty member and what he loves and hates to see in medical school applicants.

Let’s start with your role as a faculty member. What attracted you to academia? 

I wanted the challenge of a research career.

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How is it similar and dissimilar to what you expected?

I never expected it to evolve into the furious grants rat race that it became in the late 1990s. What has stayed the same is the camaraderie.

What is the hardest part of being a member of the faculty?

Dealing with turf issues.

What is your favorite part of being a member of the faculty?

My students and my faculty colleagues.

From your perspective, what is the biggest challenge or problem in education today?

Medical education has become more toxic for students over the past ten years. Perversely, the students have also become more thin-skinned.

Where do you see higher education in ten years?

More team-based learning and a major shift away from reliance on lecturing. Teaching is already moving to a problem-solving style.

What percentage of your time do you spend on admissions committee duties, versus other teaching, clinical, and research endeavors?

Our Admissions Committee meets every two weeks or so. I interview about four to five times a semester. The majority of my FTEs are in teaching, with research second and service outside of admissions third.

Let’s shift focus and discuss your experiences as an admission committee member. What would you say is the biggest pitfall students fall into in their applications?

Formulaic writing for essays. Failing to understand prompts would be the second biggest sin.

What is the first thing you look at when reviewing an application?

Age of applicant, their major, where they went to school, then stats.

What stands out to you positively when reviewing applications? 

Good performance in classes, followed by rising GPA trends. Great letters of recommendation also catch my eye, even more so than great essays.

What stands out to you in a negative way when reviewing applications? 

Carelessness. The worst mistake is using a different school’s name in place of ours. Additionally, failing to make a case as to why Medicine is the career for them.

Do you have any memorable interviews or applications that you can share with us? 

Apps, no. I’ve seen too many of them. But I gave a practice interview to one of my SMP students and it was a very enjoyable hour of conversation. It was like chatting with an old friend. Bad interviews you always remember. One kid literally couldn’t answer a question. Another person stared at the floor for the entire interview. Yet another person chewed gum and was loudly popping it during the interview. People caught lying are rare, but you remember them!!!

What types of outreach/volunteer work have the biggest impact on an application if any?

This will be interviewer specific. I have high regard for those who work in hospice, with the mentally ill or disabled, or with the elderly. In short, very few people want to get up close and personal with our mortality, so those that do always get a cheer from me.

What do you enjoy most about being on an admission committee?

Talking to the interviewees and seeing them think. Getting creative answers to my off-the-wall questions, too.

What do you enjoy least about being on an admission committee?

Seeing someone I absolutely do NOT want to get admitted be selected for admission.

Any tips you can share with our audience for interview day? 

  • Be yourself
  • Know what is in your file
  • Speak from the heart
  • Be passionate about what you love

The personal statement can be a source of significant stress for applicants. What advice would you give applicants as they draft their personal statement – are there any tried-and-true strategies that work or any common pitfalls that they can avoid?

  • Have multiple eyeballs vet your writing
  • Make sure to explain who you are
  • Make sure to explain “Why Medicine?”
  • Do NOT use the Personal Statement to write an essay on the state of medicine in the United States

What is your school looking for in responses to secondary essays?

  • A good explanation of why Osteopathic Medicine (as we are a DO school)
  • A good explanation about “why us,” showing you’ve done your homework on us.

Do you have any advice for anyone interested in pursuing a career in academia? 

  • Be aware that most people go into industry as opposed to academia. Get used to the idea that to get a faculty job nowadays at most universities, you’ll need an extramural grant in your pocket when you apply.
  • Be aware that there are teaching venues out there, so try to get in some teaching experience.
  • Have a love of scholarship.

Do you have any final advice for students interested in pursuing medical school?

Know what you’re getting into.