The personal statement is the centerpiece of a medical school application. The space given, which varies from 5300 (AMCAS) to 5000 (TMDSAS) to 4500 (AACOMAS) characters, represents an opportunity to tell your “story” to the medical schools. The prompts in each application are similar:
As an undergrad, one of the reasons you devoted so much time to a research experience was to earn an epic letter of recommendation–one that speaks to your strengths, resilience, character, self-reliance, cultural competencies, ability to solve problems, and contribute to a group effort. This letter will be a comprehensive endorsement of your medical school application complete with specific examples that influenced your PI’s opinion. This one letter has the potential to outweigh all other letters from a professor whose class you attended, or from someone who oversaw a volunteer program you participated in for a semester.
If you are planning to start medical school for the 2017 Fall Semester, it’s already time to start thinking about your application!
You will apply using the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®) for your medical school applications – the 2017 application cycle opens in early May. AMCAS is the primary application method used by most US medical schools. For you, this means that you’ll submit only one online application, regardless of the number of medical schools you choose to apply to.
We’ve highlighted tips and resources to help you begin to prepare for completing your application whether you are applying for this upcoming cycle or sometime down the road.
The 2016 American Medical Colleges Application System (AMCAS) application season opens on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. Here are some things to know before starting your application.
1. See if you are eligible for the Fee Assistance Program now.
The AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program assists those who would otherwise be unable to afford to apply to medical school with the AMCAS application. If you are approved for fee assistance, your AMCAS fees for up to 15 medical school designations will be waived. However, in order to take advantage of this benefit, you must apply and be approved for fee assistance before you submit your AMCAS application. Fee Assistance approval can take three weeks, so start this process now.
As students begin to prepare for the next cycle of medical school application, I want to review some of the practical pieces of advice that every applicant should know. The actual process of applying to medical school is resource intensive: it costs thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and will strip you of many relaxing weekends that you would have otherwise enjoyed. Since you’ve made the decision to apply, here are some things that will help you make the best of it.
Remember that your MCAT score is a number. Your GPA is a number. These two things make up a major component of your application and you can’t change either of them now. You can’t change your letters of recommendation, either. The personal statement is a modifiable aspect of your application at this point, so you want to make sure to do a good job on it. But what else is there?
The answer to this lies in the details. This is what separates a good application from an excellent application. It is also what could separate a marginal application from one that gets an interview invitation. Every year, there are a few key mistakes that really put some students at a disadvantage. When schools are looking to offer acceptances, they are not only looking for good students. In addition to being smart, they are looking for people who will one day care for patients and be their colleagues. It is no surprise that those selected to become student doctors are usually meticulous, mature, intelligent, team players, and caring. Your application needs to reflect this.
Part 4: How Competencies Are Evaluated
(Part of this article is based on another article I have published: “Competency-based holistic evaluation of prehealth applicants” (The Advisor [NAAHP publication] 29(2): 30-36, 2009).)
If you’ve ever tried applying for a job for the government, you will often be asked by USAJobs.gov to self-assess your competency development as follows:
A – Lacks education, training or experience in performing this task
B – Has education/training in performing task, not yet performed on job
C – Performed this task on the job while monitored by supervisor or manager
D – Independently performed this task with minimal supervision or oversight
E – Supervised performance/trained others/consulted as expert for this task