MedEdits | Medical School Admissions Consulting

Monday, December 22, 2008

Success: A Few Inspirational Quotes

A friend (and former colleague) sent me a holiday card that was a refreshing change from the usual. It contained quotes about success that I thought I should share with my readers:

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome. (Arthur Ashe)

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved. (Helen Keller)

I attribute my success to this -- I never gave up or took any excuse. (Florence Nightingale)

Success doesn't come to go to it. (Marva Collins)

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. (Vincent Van Gogh)

Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success. (Dr. Joyce Brothers)

Happy holidays to all.

Applicants: A Strategy For The New Year

It is important for everyone, regardless of your stage in the application process, to regroup during the holiday season and devise a strategy for the new year. Below, see the category that applies to you for suggestions regarding what you should consider for the new year:

1) Premedical students applying in 2010 or beyond: Assess your coursework, research, clinical, volunteer and teaching experiences and identify any gaps in your background. Plan valuable activities for your summers and gap year(s).

2) Premedical students applying in 2009/2010: If you haven't already taken or registered for the MCAT, consider when you will take it. Ideally, you should take the MCAT as early as possible. Consider who will write your letters of reference. Start brainstorming about personal statement and application entry topics. Consider where you will apply and submit your application as early as possible.

3) Premedical students applying this year who haven't yet received any interviews: Evaluate your candidacy objectively and identify the reasons why you have not received any interview invitations. Contact schools and send update letters if you haven't yet received rejections. Start planning your reapplication strategy NOW in the event that you need to reapply.

4) Premedical students applying this year who have interviews but no acceptances: Send letters of intent and update letters to schools where you have interviewed. Start thinking about a strategy if you are not accepted to medical school this year. Continue to refine your interview skills for any upcoming interviews.

5) Premedical students applying this year with medical school acceptances: Think about which school would be the best fit for you. Evaluate medical schools based on curriculum, educational environment, facilities, reputation, residency placement success and location. Write letters of intent or update letters for schools to which you have not been accepted that are "higher on your list."

6) First and second year medical students: Study, study, study. Your USMLE Step 1 score is a crucial ingredient for your future success.

7) Third year medical students and anyone applying for residency in 2009/2010 or later: Start thinking about your specialty choice. Begin to seek out away electives and think about who you will ask to write letters of reference. If you have chosen your specialty, consider getting involved in a research project or joining a national organization/committee in your chosen specialty.

8) Fourth year medical students and anyone applying for residency and fellowship this year: Evaulate programs objectively and thinking about your rank order list. Consider programs' teaching curriculum, faculty, reputation, job placement success and geography. Also consider your future plans (are you interested in community or academic practice, for example) and which program(s) will help you succeed. Stay energized for the remainder of the season and make sure your answers don't start to sound "canned." Give programs at least 2 weeks notice if you cancel. Plan second looks and write letters of intent.

MedEdits offers guidance and mentorship for all aspects of the medical admissions process. The earlier you start working with us, the greater the impact we will have on your success. Visit:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Medical School Admissions: The Importance of Applying Early and When To Take The MCAT

I cannot stress enough the importance of applying early to gain admission to medical school. As I explain to my clients, you will increase your chances of receiving interviews if you are considered in a smaller pool of applicants. Clients with roughly the same stats and accomplishments tend to have greater success when they apply early versus late. This also means taking the MCAT as early as possible. Remember, if you take an August MCAT, this puts you in the "late bucket" of applications. While applicants have success if they take the August MCAT, you will optimize your chances of success if you take an earlier exam.

I encourage clients to retain my services as soon as possible for the 2009/2010 application season. Because of my clients' success this year, I expect to become booked as next season progresses. Ideally, you should submit applications in early June for the 2009/2010 season.

If you are applying this year and have either not received interviews or have only received waitlists thus far, you must also start thinking about reapplying if this becomes necessary.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Residency Admissions Hierarchy: Why Is It Important To Understand?

I realize that many applicants don't understand the hierarchy of residency admissions committees. Why is this important? It helps to understand what goes on behind the scenes of a residency program and who makes decisions. While the leadership of very small programs may only consist of a program director, larger programs may have up to two people at each level. The residency leadership hierarchy is as follows:

1) The Program Director (PD): The PD is the head honcho. Depending on the size of the program and the PD's style of leadership, the PD may have little to do with the nitty gritty of the residency admissions process. While the PD has ultimate veto power, he or she may also delegate most tasks to the Associate Program Director. A good program director attend every interview day to meet and interview applicants and may present an overview of the program. They have the final say when it comes to rank order lists. They also spend alot of time in meetings with medical school and hospital leadership which is why they are so dependent on their junior leadership.

2) The Associate Program Director (Associate PD): The Associate PD is often the backbone of the residency program. Typically Associate PDs review the bulk of the applications and participate in all interview days. They also intervene when a resident "crisis" comes up and serve as the "go to" person for the residents. The Associate PD and the PD work closely together. Associate PDs often serve as the PDs right hand wo/man. The Associate PD is often as influential in the residency admissions process as the PD. If a program is especially small, there may not be an Associate PD.

3) The Assistant Program Director (Assistant PD): The Assistant PD role is considered the "entry level" position in the residency leadership. Typically, the Assistant PD is the least influential in the hierarchy. Because of their lack of experience, Assistant PDs often don't review applications but do conduct a limited number of interviews. Usually their responsibilities and tasks are dictated by the Associate PD and PD and they are often assigned alot of "scut work." Some Assistant PDs say they feel like glorified chief residents. This is usually a stepping stone position to Associate PD. An especially small program may not have an Assistant PD.

Understanding what a title means may provide insight regarding a faculty member's role, experience and influence within a program.


Getting Into Residency: Second Looks and Keeping In Touch With Programs

As we approach the official middle of interview season, it is time for applicants to start thinking about their rank order lists (ROLs) and to develop a strategy for reconnecting with programs in which they are interested. Regardless of how well your interview went, it is very difficult for admissions officers to have a clear memory of applicants who interviewed early in the season. This is why it is important to try and stay "fresh" in the minds of the residency leadership -- especially the program directors and associate program directors who are the most influential in this process.

A few tips:

1) Schedule second looks at programs in which you are really interested.

2) Write letters of intent. Tell your number one choice program that you are ranking them first. Be sure to write this to only one program.

3) Contact programs from which you haven't heard if you are interested. Programs may receive cancellations from applicants late in the season and, if your timing is right, this could get you an interview.

As someone with extensive experience in the politics of academic medicine and residency admissions, I can help develop a strategy to increase your chances of matching in the program of your choice. Visit:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

MedEdits Gift Certificates

Don't know what to buy your favorite medical school, residency or fellowship applicant this holiday season? Buy them the gift of professional help. MedEdits provides assistance with all aspects of the medical admissions process and now offers gift certificates. Whether you know someone who is in the midst of applying or who is applying next season, this gift is unique and will be appreciated.

Click Here to purchase on the MedEdits website.

Interview Day Tours and Lunches: How To Behave

Many clients ask me about how to behave on tours and lunches during interview days for medical school, residency and fellowship.

1) The bottom line is always be respectful. Whether it is a secretary, residency coordinator or the person who takes away the trash, it is essential to treat everyone well.

2) On tours, be front and center and pay attention. As a tour guide, I could always tell who was lingering, chatting or disinterested and who was really paying attention to what I said. While it is good to ask questions, don't dominate or interrupt the tour guide.

3) Demonstrate good table manners. If you are nervous, stay away from caffeine. Bring a breath mint for after your meal.

4) Be kind to the other applicants. Pretend you are in a fishbowl this day. If you are friendly and personable to all, this can only help you.

5) Read my blog entry on the dinner before the interview day. Click Here.

For advice and guidance on all aspects of the admissions process for medical school, residency and fellowship, visit:

Friday, November 28, 2008

The MCAT, Residency Match and Beyond

I recently contributed an article to The Student Doctor Network highlighting some topics that were discussed at the annual Association of American Medical Colleges Meeting. This article has broad appeal with lots of useful information for medical school and residency applicants.

As a mentor, I educate myself, and the medical editors with whom I work, to stay up to date with the trends and research in medical education. It is essential when hiring an admissions consultant, that their knowledge not be based only on anecdote and that they work (on their own time) to provide you with the most accurate guidance.

Click Here to read the article.

I assist with all aspects of the admissions process for medical school, residency and fellowship applicants.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Medical School and Residency Interviews: The Dinner The Night Before

Many clients ask me about the purpose of dinners that are held the night before interview days. Typically, residency programs do this but some medical schools hold these, too. The goal of these dinners is two fold. First, dinners serve as recruitment tools to attract the best applicants. Second, this provides programs with more "data points" about applicants. After a dinner, I was frequently told about the applicants who were liked and disliked.

A few rules for these meetings:

1) Be on your best behavior. You are under the microscope.

2) Dress like you are going to a cocktail party. Don't wear jeans. Don't wear a suit. Nice slacks and a shirt or sweater is fine.

3) Don't get too casual. Remember this isn't an interview and you want to be personable yet professional.

4) Don't stay too late and close down the bar. Leave when the crowd leaves and, if there are people lingering or moving on to another venue, don't stay with them. You must be well rested for your interview the next day.

For advice and insight regarding all aspects of the admissions process for medical school, residency and fellowship visit: or call us at 201.244.6142.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Primary Care: The Better Career Choice?

A series of articles this week in the New England Journal of Medicine discusses the need for the "reinvention" of primary care. This series focuses on the training, practice, compensation and overall reform of primary care. Many American medical graduates are choosing to pursue "controllable lifestyle" fields such as anesthesiology, radiology and emergency medicine, to name a few, because of higher compensation and the perception that these fields will enable them to achieve a better work/life balance.

Interestingly, some (currently unpublished) data presented at the Association of American Medical Colleges earlier this month might change students' minds. In a survey of practicing physicians over 50, a higher percentage of primary care physicians felt they had control over their lives versus practicing physicians in the "controllable lifestyle" fields.

With attention being placed on the need for primary care reform, salaries will likely increase in the future for primary care clinicians. With the potential for better compensation combined with a healthy work/life balance and the opportunity to provide care where it is needed most, hopefully more students will explore career options in primary care.

Click Here to access the series.

I provide mentoring for medical school, residency and fellowship applicants. Visit:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Medical School Interviews: Tales From The Trail

Interviewer: "So, tell me how you feel about moving to city XXX."

Applicant: "Well. My first choice would be to go to medical school in my home state because that would be cheaper. If I don't get in there, I will consider my other options including moving to city XXX."

Wrong answer.

When visiting schools, read their websites and know, specifically, what about the school interests you. Medical schools are trying to not only recruit the best applicants but are also trying to recruit students who will be a good fit for their school.

Research the city you are visiting. You must convince your interviewer that you are enthusiastic about living in that city.

Never make a school seem like a second choice or your backup. If you do, you are likely to end up on the wait or rejection list.

For personalized help with interview preparation, visit We are proud of our clients this season who are having great success and will all be valuable members of the medical community in the near future.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Residency and Medical School Interviews: What To Take

I find that many medical school and residency clients are concerned about what they should take to interviews. Here are some tips:

1) Do not bring a backpack to carry around with you. It is too bulky.

2) If you are traveling and must bring a suitcase, this is acceptable. You can ask where to leave your luggage during your interview. It was commonplace, when I interviewed applicants, to have one or two people do this each day.

3) Bring a pen and folder or portfolio. You should take notes during program or school presentations so, be prepared. Most programs will give you folders with literature about the school/program. Do not take notes during your actual interview(s).

4) It is OK to bring a purse. Just make sure it is small and easy to carry.

5) Bring any recent publications or updates for your interviewers.

I can help you with interview preparation. Visit to see how our clients are doing this season.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Good News For Medical School Applicants: Slightly Less Competition

A report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges today showed a slight decrease in the number of applicants in 2008 and an increase in the number of first year positions. The number of first time applicants decreased 3% from 2007. First year enrollment increased 2% since 2007 to more than 18,000 students, an all time high in our nation's history.

The number of Latino enrollees rose by 10% and the percentage of women enrollees was 48%.

The average GPA for applicants was 3.5 and the average MCAT was 28.1.

Click Here to read the report.

Click Here to see the data.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Cultural Competency: It Isn't Just For Medical Students

The Joint Commission recently announced that it is "developing accreditation standards for hospitals that will promote , facilitate and advance the provision of culturally competent patient-centered care."

The Joint Commission, formerly the Joint Commisssion on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, is an accrediting body that evaluates health care facilities based on performance standards.

This new commission initiative is important to medical school, residency and fellowship applicants because it highlights the significance of cultural competency in your medical education and your (future) career.

Click Here to read the Joint Commission plan.

Email me:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Medical School Applications And The Economy: Lessons From The Past

Some medical school clients who are applying for 2010 and 2011 have asked me if the current economic crisis will result in an increase of medical school applications (and increased competition). While I am not an economist, looking at previous trends helps predict the impact of our current economic situation.

As discussed in a New York Times (NYT) article written during the most recent recession in 2002, the only professional schools that are unaffected by recessions are medical schools. This is because a career in medicine requires a significant time commitment compared to other professions.

The AAMC reporter in 2003 indicated a 3.4% increase in applications (34,785 applicants) for the 2003/2004 academic year which was in part attributed to the economic slowdown at that time. There has been a steady increase in the number of medical school applications since 2002/2003 and 42,315 individuals applied for the 2007/2008 academic year.

Click Here to read the NYT article.

Click Here to read the AAMC article.

This is an issue that is being widely discussed right now amongst students and admissions committee members. I welcome your comments and thoughts on this topic.

Email me:

MCAT To Undergo Review

The Association of American Medical Colleges announced today that it will be launching a comprehensive review of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The plan is to review the content of the test and recommend changes that will increase its usefulness for admissions committees. The review will be completed by 2012. The last comprehensive review of the MCAT was in 1990.

Click Here to read the report.



Getting Into Residency: What Is Most Important?

Many residency applicant clients have been asking me what key elements of the application are most important for selection. There is no simple answer for this and the answer may vary between programs and individuals. The only "hard data" I could find to substantiate what I advise my clients was from Academic Emergency Medicine and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.
In the EM article, the authors found the selection criteria that was most important to program directors were specialty rotation grade, interview, clinical grades and recommendations. Surprisingly, the personal statement was considered the least important factor.

Click Here for access to the article.
The orthopaedic literature found that program directors most value specialty rotation performance with USMLE 1 score and medical school ranking following close behind.

Click Here to read the abstract.
For personalized guidance to help you navigate the nuances of the residency application process, email me: or visit:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Commonwealth Medical College: Preliminary Accreditation

The Liaison Committee on Education (LCME) has granted preliminary accreditation to The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The school is actively recruiting students and plans to have an entering class in 2009. The school will be accepting applications through AMCAS within 2 weeks.

Click Here to visit TCMC.

The President and Dean of TCMC, Dr. Bob D'Alessandri also has a wonderful blog.


Medical School Interviews: Some Actual Questions

My medical school clients are having tremendous success this season. Click Here to see where they are interviewing.

If anyone would like to (confidentially) send me the questions they are asked on interviews, I would be happy to summarize and post these questions periodically on this blog. Email them to: Please include your name and email address.

Here are some actual questions my clients have been asked this season:

If you had a free day what would you do?
How do you achieve balance in your life?
Tell me a joke.
Teach me something.
What experience made you want to pursue medicine?
Why XXX school?
Who is your best friend?
What is the one thing you pursued on your own without the influence of your parents?
What is the one thing you tried really hard at but it didn't turn out as expected?
Do you have a part time job?
How do you remember everything you have to do?
How will you deal with debt?
Where have you traveled around the world?
What was your greatest challenge?
What is the last book you have read?
Where will you be in 10 years?
What would you do if you could not pursue a career in medicine?
Tell me about your research/clinical work/volunteer experience.
Why are there more women in medicine today?

MedEdits offers individualized preparation and advice for medical school, residency and fellowship interviews.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Student Doctor Network: Dr. Freedman is featured on SDN!

I am a featured author on the Student Doctor Network. While my contribution is about residency admissions, there are aspects of this piece that may be helpful to medical school and fellowship applicants.

Click Here to read the article.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Importance of Cultural Competence

Many medical school clients have been asking me for advice regarding secondary essays pertaining to cultural competence. I find that many applicants neither understand the meaning nor the importance of cultural competence in the practice of medicine today. Because the population in the United States is becoming increasingly diverse, it is essential for physicians (and physicians to be) to understand how culture influences health related behavior, beliefs and perceptions.

An article by Betancourt et al clearly describes the definition and importance of cultural competence. I encourage all medical school and residency applicants to be well versed in this topic.

Click Here to read the article.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Global Health Residency Track

The Mount Sinai School of Medicine has started an innovative Global Health Residency Track (GHRT) for those interested in global health. The GHRT is a two year program where participants take classes in the Master of Public Health Program and participate in field work. Anandaraja, Hahn et al outline the curriculum for this program and the core competencies in Academic Medicine. This program is an interesting option for those medical school and residency applicants with interests in public and global health.

Click Here to read the abstract.


Caribbean Medical Schools: Is There Is A Difference?

A study by van Zanten and Boulet published in Academic Medicine examines the quality of the medical education in the Caribbean. The report finds tremendous variability is both the quality of undergraduate medical education and in the performance of students.

Performance was assessed based on country. The countries with the highest percentage of students passing the USMLE Step 1 on the first attempt were Grenada (84.4 %) and Dominica (69.7%). Countries with the lowest pass rates were Saint Lucia (19.4%) and Antigua/Barbuda (22.9%).

If you decide to attend medical school in the Caribbean, choose wisely. With 56 schools from which to choose, it can be confusing. There are different accreditation and review processes that will affect the education and experience you receive.

Click Here to read the abstract.
MedEdits provides comprehensive medical admissisions consulting to help you make the best choices for your future career.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Facebook: Do Admissions Officers Look?

An article today in the Wall Street Journal reports on the results of a survey submitted to admissions officers of 500 highly selective colleges. The survey asked if admissions officers looked at social networking sites to help them evaluate applicants. 10% of respondents said they did look at sites such as Facebook and 38% of those said that this negatively impacted their views of the applicant.
While a similar survey has not been sent to medical school and residency admissions officers (as far as I know), these results are intriguing. It is best to keep your Facebook and MySpace pages clean. Assume that admissions officers are looking. To be safe, post photos that you would use on your application and only write about things that you would be comfortable discussing on interviews. Also be sure to use privacy settings so posts can't be viewed by the general public.

Along the same lines, make sure you have a respectable email address since most communications with schools and program directors are done via email.

This article is available free online for 7 days: Click Here to read the article.
Visit: (We also edit Facebook pages!)

Residency: When Should I Interview?

"Dr. Freedman: When is the best time to schedule my interviews for residency?"

I have received this question numerous times even though interview season hasn't even begun! There is no perfect answer to this question and, if you ask 10 people, you will receive 10 different responses. There is one article in the literature that shows no correlation between interview date and rank position: Click Here to read the article.

If you have the luxury of choice, schedule one or two "safety program" interviews early in the season. It is my personal opinion to save the best for last. I always found it refreshing, especially at the end of a long interview season, to have a terrific applicant who was a pleasure to meet and interview. When we concluded our season and ranked applicants, it was easier to remember those applicants who interviewed later in the season and I was often "fuzzy" about applicants who interviewed in the middle of the season.

The bottom line: there is no magic formula here. Stay in touch with programs (especially those in which you are interested) so they don't forget you. Don't "can" or memorize responses for your interviews and do whatever you can to stay energetic throughout the season.

ERAS Application: When To Submit

Clients are calling me asking when to submit their ERAS application. For the majority of residency programs composed of US medical school graduates, most programs begin reviewing applications in early to mid October. Some programs won't review applications until November 1st when Dean's (MSPE) letters are released.

When I reviewed ERAS applications as a residency admissions officer, I used various "data filters" to sort applications based on certain criteria. I never used a filter to sort applications based on submission date. It is important to submit your application as early as possible but, if you haven't done so already, don't panic. Most programs haven't even downloaded applications yet for review.

IMG friendly programs may start reviewing applications earlier in the season because they don't typically await the release of Dean's letters.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Medical School Admissions: Holistic Review

I encourage everyone who is applying to medical school now or in the near future to read a publication by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) called The Roadmap To Diversity: Key Legal and Educational Policy Foundations for Medical Schools. This report outlines the mission of the AAMC Holistic Review Project. Not only is this important to read from an admissions standpoint but you will also sound smart on the interview trail if the topic comes up!

Click Here to access the report.


Medical School Diversity

An interesting article today in The Journal of the American Medical Association examines the importance of diversity in the medical school student body when educating students to serve the needs of our society. With the new emphasis on a holistic approach to medical school admissions (see my blog entry of July 2nd, 2008), this article is apropos. While one must consider if students who are interested in diversity, cultural competance and helping underserved populations gravitate towards medical schools that are committed to these ideals, the findings suggest that greater student body diversity (both racial and ethnic) provides students with skills to best serve a diverse population.

Click Here to read the article.


Monday, September 1, 2008

The University of Central Florida: Very Selective

The University of Central Florida (UCF) has received 2,703 applications as of August 22nd for its inaugural class of 40. This means that UCF will accept one of every 67.5 applicants which makes it more selective than Yale, Harvard and Duke.

All 40 members of the inaugural class will receive $40,000 scholarships that have been funded by Orlando community donations totaling $7 million.

Click Here to read the article.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Understanding Academic Medical Centers

A colleague sent me an interesting article today by Joseph Simone. This article may seem sophisticated for medical school and residency applicants, but it offers tremendous insight regarding the inner workings of academic medical centers. Even if you are in the early stages of your medical career, understanding how institutions function, how leadership and recruitment decisions are made and how processes in these centers work in general, will give you an advantage now and in the future. This is a classic article to save and refer to as you move up the ladder.

Click Here to read the article.

MedEdits offers admissions consulting to help navigate the murky political waters of academic medicine.


Client Snippet: How Do I Approach Secondary Essays?

A client wrote me today and asked: "Dr. Freedman, I am confused about my secondary essays. What should I write about?"

I encourage clients to read secondary essay prompts carefully. Many applicants don't answer the actual question that is being asked. It is important to say something fresh that isn't stated elsewhere in your application. Don't drone on and try to be as succinct as possible. Think of the person reading your application -- they have already read through your entries, personal statement, letters of reference and now they are reading your secondaries. This is a tiring process especially when the reviewer may have a huge stack of applications to review in one sitting.

Regarding optional essays, don't feel that you must complete these. If you have nothing new to add and have done a thorough job representing yourself in the rest of your application, it is OK to leave this space empty. The thing that made me crazy when I screened medical school applications was reading something in a secondary essay that I had already read elsewhere.

Also be sure to proofread your secondary essays. More than once I read a secondary essay when an applicant referenced the wrong medical school rather than the school for which the secondary essay was intended. These applications were screened out because this spoke volumes about the applicant.

MedEdits provides comprehensive assistance for medical school applicants.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MedEdits Blog: Client Feedback

A talented medical school client who has already received interview invitations wrote this to me today:

"I have recently started reading the MedEdits blog and have found it incredibly informative. It is great how you have provided pertinent AND interesting material related to the practice of medicine and I don't even have to sift through useless information or ads! I just wanted to let you know that I think the blog is an excellent addition to the MedEdits website."

We welcome suggestions from our readers regarding topics they would like covered in our blog.

Email us:


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Admissions: Battles Over Affirmative Action

An article in the AAMC reporter discusses the issue of affirmative action in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska. Votes in these states could impact the right for public institutions, including medical schools, to have race and gender based hiring and admissions policies. This is a hot debate with some saying it is time for a race-neutral society and others advocating that such policies are crucial for diverse academic and professional environments.

"I don't think affirmative action is the cure-all," Boyd (of Rush Medical College and AAMCs Minority Affairs Coordinating Committee) said. "Admissions committees should start to look at the individuals, and the roads they've traveled to get to medical school."

Click Here to read the article.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Women In Medicine

While this article is in an emergency medicine journal, it may be inspiring for many. Six of the leaders in national emergency medicine organizations are women. Together they examine if there is a "woman leader" profile, what is essential for success in medicine, gender bias and the future for other women (and men) in medicine.

Click Here to read the article.


Client Snippet: Interview Attire

Clients ask me so many questions, many of which apply to a broad population. I have decided to post a weekly -- or possibly biweekly -- client question, concern or comment of interest.

This week, a very talented medical school applicant who already has interviews asked: "Dr. Freedman, I have heard that women should not bring purses or shoulder bags to interviews. Is this true?"

I am always amazed when I read admissions books that suggest women should only bring briefcases to interviews. I think this advice dates back to the 1940's and suggests that successful women should look (and act) like men. My suggestion is to bring whatever makes your comfortable. Colors are in this season. Be bold -- bring a red handbag. As long as your overall look is professional, there is no need to completely blend into the navy blue masses. Just be sure to bring a pen and a folder to hold any important documents.

MedEdits provides interview preparation for medical school, residency and fellowship.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Primary Care or Invasive Cardiology?

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine tomorrow by John K. Iglehart examines the policies under which Medicare supports Graduate Medical Education (GME). Medicare provides significant financial support for the training of residents through GME programs.

"An increasing number of medical-school graduates pursue specialties with a controllable lifestyle and shun careers in primary care..."

Not surprisingly, much of this decision making has to do with salaries and work hours. Illustrated by the 2006 graph above, specialists earn more than primary care providers and often enjoy more manageable work hours.

Even though allopathic US medical schools are increasing enrollment until 2015, many experts are still concerned about a looming doctor shortage. This may increase the liklihood of GME reform in the future.

"Advocates of primary care practitioners believe that nothing short of a major overhaul of economic incentives would attract more medical-school graduates to pursue careers as general physicians."

Click Here to read the abstract.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Caribbean Medical School Pays $100 Million For Hospital Contract

The New York Times has a lead article today announcing a 10-year, $100 million dollar contract between St. George's University School of Medicine and New York City's Health and Hospitals Corporation to provide clinical training for medical students. The concern is that US-based medical schools will need to increase tuition to compete for these clerkship slots.

"The contract...has turned a meritocracy into a bounty system in which struggling city hospitals collect more for every St. George's student they take, and could squeeze out local students."

"This changes to whole dynamic from an academic relationship to a dollar-based relationship," said Dr. Michael J. Reichgott, associate dean for clinical affairs and graduate medical education at Albert Einstein of Medicine in the Bronx.

This will give St. George's students greater opportunity in clinical clerkships allowing them work alongside US medical students which could open doors and help earn residency positions.

Click Here to read the article.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Residency Match Data

The residency application season is approaching and many candidates are considering where to apply. When making this decision, it is important to review the data that is available from previous NRMP matches.

Charting Outcomes in the Match, published by the AAMC and NRMP, provides easy to read graphs showing the distribution of successful and unsuccessful applicants based on USMLE scores, number of programs ranked, research and publications, AOA membership and other characteristics. Even though this information is from the 2007 match, it is a useful reference. Click Here to access the report.

The most recent data from the NRMP provides information on the 2008 match. Click Here to access the report.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Importance of Mentorship

An article published today in Academic Medicine outlines an innovative program at The David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles. Everyone in medical education understands the importance of role models, advisors and mentors yet many students have a difficult time identifying them. In an effort to help this situation, the medical school developed an innovative "College Program" during the fourth year with a curriculum focusing on mentoring. Participants in the program were more likely to identify faculty mentors and felt better prepared for residency than students who didn't participate.

Click Here to read the abstract.

At MedEdits, we understand the importance of excellent advising and mentorship throughout your medical career.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Competition For Residency

A client who is applying for dermatology brought to my attention an article addressing the competitiveness of the specialty. Even though the focus is derm, there are many aspects of the article that apply to all residencies.

While objective data such as grades and board scores are sometimes used to screen applications, stellar letters of reference and knowing people in the field to which you are applying also increase the chances of an interview invitation. Personal statements also help program directors determine if an applicant is a good fit.

The time to really shine and stand out from other applicants is during the interview. "During those 20 minutes, evaluators look at communication abilities, interpersonal skills, initiative and the ability to get along with others."

This article is a great read not just for derm applicants but for anyone applying to residency. Click Here to read the full article.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Dermatology: Two Tiers of Service

A somewhat disturbing article in the New York Times today discusses the two tiers of care that exist in many dermatology practices. Patients with real medical problems such as psoriasis or possible cancerous skin lesions often spend more time waiting and less time with the doctor than patients being seen for cosmetic procedures.

"The message is that the cosmetic patient is more important than the medical patient, and that's not a good message," Dr. Praiser said.

Click Here to read the full article.


The Business Side of Medicine

Incorporating business and customer service training into medical practices has become more commonplace today. Because there is so much to learn during medical school and residency, these aspects of "real life" medical practice are often not incorporated into training curriculums.

"It is a service industry; by and large, we have to measure the quality indicators and we have to do our best to meet those expectations."

Understanding these realities of medical practice during medical school and postgraduate training will decrease the learning curve once in the real world.

Click Here to read the full article.


Ross University to Open New Campus

Ross University plans to open a new campus in January 2009 in Freeport, Grand Bahama to accommodate the growing number of students who wish to attend the school. The primary medical school campus will remain in Dominica and the veterinary school campus will remain in St. Kitts.

Click Here to read the article.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Academic Medical Center in Palm Beach County?

Palm Beach County, Florida health leaders are meeting to discuss the possibility of opening a multi center academic medical center that they say will be a "powerhouse." Representatives from The University of Miami (UM) participated in these discussions. What does this mean for medical students and residency applicants? It means more residency positions and more doctors to serve the community.

"UM hopes to sponsor as many as 250 medical residency programs in a various specialties in Palm Beach County. That would increase the supply of doctors in the area because most physicians stay in the area where they train."

Click Here to read the article.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Integrity of Medical School Admissions Decisions

Stephen L. Kanter, MD published an editorial in Academic Medicine this month about medical school admissions.

"Getting accepted to medical school must be about what the applicant knows, not who the applicant knows. And it must be about the applicant's potential to master a set of complex skills, to cultivate a professional habit of mind, and to develop into a creative and independent thinker-not the applicant's dependence on the influence of prominent individuals."

The Liaison Committee on Education publishes suggestions to ensure the integrity of the admissions process and Dr. Kanter proposes three ways to improve the way admissions committees make decisions.

"..while well-crafted accreditation standards and time-tested guidance from the GSA Committee on Admissions are key strategies for making sound admission decisions and minimizing inappropriate influence, they are not enough. Assuring the integrity of the process also requires leadership from the dean, who is the role-model-in-chief for all faculty, students, and staff of a medical school."

Click Here to read the article.


Monday, July 21, 2008

New Medical Schools: FIU and UCF

Florida International University has received 1200 applications and the University of Central Florida has received 1600 applications to date.
“I am delighted with the number of applications we have received and the quality of the students who are applying,” said Dr. John Rock, founding dean of the FIU med school. “This bodes well for the caliber of our inaugural class and the first-rate doctors who will graduate from our College of Medicine.”

Click Here to read the full article.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Nontraditional Medical Student

Sandeep Jauhar, MD, PhD wrote an interesting article in the New England Journal of Medicine about nontraditional medical students. Ten percent of first year medical students are 27 or older and many have had other careers before medicine. While the medical school leaders he interviewed agreed that students who take a circuitous path to medicine are generally more confident, ask more compelling questions and have a broader vision of the world, they also may be more challenging for medical educators. The other issue is the fact that older applicants may not be able to practice for as long as their younger colleagues. In keeping with this theme, women are more likely to work part-time compared with their male colleagues so, while diversity may benefit a medical school student body, how does this impact society as a whole? Click Here to read the article.


Evaluating The Premedical Curriculum

An article today in the New England Journal of Medicine by Jules N. Dienstag, MD, evaluates the current premedical requirements. These requirements have not changed for decades and the necessity of these courses is being questioned. Do the physics, chemistry, biology and organic chemistry courses that premedical students take help them care for real life patients? The author suggests a more "focused" premedical curriculum with an emphasis on biologically relevant material and more rigorous cross-disciplinary science courses. The Association of American Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute are jointly assessing the premedical curriculum. If these requirements change, the MCAT will also need revision. Click Here to read the article.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Long Island Hospital Welcomes International Medical Students

The American University of the Caribbean (AUC) on St. Maarten will pay $19 million dollars over 10 years to Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC) on Long Island which will allow their third and fourth year medical students to rotate through the teaching hospital. This money will also benefit the underserved, the population to which NUMC caters. AUC students will also have the opportunity to prove themselves on US shores which may open doors when it comes time for the residency match. Medical students from Stony Brook and the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine already rotate through NUMC. Click Here to read the full article.


New Medical Schools

The University of California (UC) hasn't opened a medical school in 40 years and plans to open two new medical schools to help train more physicians for underserved areas. UC Merced plans to open by 2013 and UC Riverside plans to open by 2012. The existing UC medical schools are also planning on increasing their class sizes to further address the growing doctor shortage. Click Here to read the full article.

Other new medical schools that are in the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accreditation pipeline:

Applicant School Status:

Scripps University, La Jolla, California
Oakland University Beaumont Medical School, Rochester, Michigan
Touro University College of Medicine, Hackensack/Westwood, New Jersey
Hofstra University School of Medicine, Hempstead, New York
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Roanoke, Virginia

Candidate School Status:

The Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, Pennsylvania

Click Here to access the LCME website for more information.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Letters Of Recommendation

When applying to medical school, residency and fellowship, you must carefully select your letter writers. The rules are different depending on your stage of medical training. I will outline the basics that apply to all letters and then discuss individually what is important for medical school, residency and fellowship applicants.

The Basics:

1) Your letter writer must know you well to write a strong and convincing letter.
2) If possible, try to have people who are experienced in admissions write your letters. Writing a strong letter of reference is an art and not everyone knows how to write a great letter even if they think you are a fabulous applicant.
3) Your letter should mention your intellectual abilities, motivation and interpersonal strengths.
4) It does not help to have someone with "a big name" write a letter if it is obvious this person doesn't know you.

Medical School Applicants:

1) The titles of your letter writers are less important as medical school applicants. Most people reading your letters know that, especially in large universities, you may not have much contact with your professors. A teaching assistant, for example, may have more insight regarding your intellectual abilities and motivations than your professor.
2) If your school offers a committee letter, submit it. If you don't, this will be seen as a red flag.
3) Submit a minimum of three letters of reference with at least two from scientists. You must convince the admissions committee that you can handle a rigorous science curriculum.
4) Letters should also mention your suitability for a career in medicine at this stage.

Residency and Fellowship Applicants:

1) Titles matter now. You should have at least two letters from attendings in your chosen specialty. It is best to choose attendings with academic titles who are known in the specialty to which you are applying.
2) Letters must also mention your clinical excellence at this stage.

Visit We offer admissions consulting for medical school, residency and fellowship applicants.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Application and Personal Statement Tips

When writing your application entries and personal statement for medical school, residency and fellowship it is important to consider the following:

1) Your application entries and personal statement must complement each other. It is important to consider your entries and personal statement as a whole.
2) Your personal statement should say something new that isn't stated in your application entries.
3) "Show" rather than "tell." Examples and anecdotes to illustrate your values and accomplishments keeps the reader engaged.
4) Delve into your background and experiences to say something unique in your personal statement. Oftentimes, applicants shy away from the very things that make them stand out.
5) With the new emphasis on a holistic approach of reviewing applicants for medical school, it is essential that you emphasize how you would contribute to the overall diversity of the student body.

MedEdits can help your written materials stand out from the pile. Visit us: for more information on our personal statement and application editing services.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Assessing Medical School Admissions Policies

The Association of American Medical Colleges has released a compelling report that assesses medical school admissions policies based on two Supreme Court affirmative action decisions. This report outlines suggestions for race and ethnicity conscious policies for medical school admissions committees. What is the implication of this for applicants? Applicants will be evaluated in an "individualized" and "holistic" fashion so that race and ethnicity are only one of many factors that are taken into account. Admissions committees may also be restructured based on these considerations. Click Here to read the report.
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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How are interviewees selected?

Understanding the process

The first step in navigating the medical admissions interview is to develop a clear understanding of the interview process. Knowing why you were selected for an interview and what will go on during your interview day minimizes surprises and leads to a calm state of mind and optimum performance.

How are interviewees selected?

For medical school admissions, application screenings are done by a wide range of people; medical students, attending physicians and basic scientists. For residency, one to three people, typically physicians on the residency staff, are responsible for screening all applications and deciding who should be invited for an interview. Some schools and programs have minimum cutoffs for grades and standardized test scores, and if you do not reach these levels your application does not even make it to the screening process. Some schools and programs assign “points” for everything: extracurricular activities, board scores, and letters of recommendation; you are invited for an interview only when your score meets a minimum number. More often, however, a great deal of subjectivity goes into the decision to invite an applicant for an interview. Even though bias does not exist in the ideal world, the screener’s personal interests and outlook often play a part in the review of your application--especially if you are a “borderline” applicant. For example, if reviewer A always had to struggle with board scores yet managed to succeed while reviewer B always had board scores in the top 5th percentile, reviewer A is much more likely than reviewer B to screen in an application with lower-than-average board scores.

The person reading your application might have years of admissions experience or he or she could be a novice, such as a medical student or current resident. Both the level of experience of the screener and their own biases and preferences often determine whether or not you are granted an interview. Also, although the person reading your application might have hours to peruse through all of your materials, it is more likely that she is tired and rushed and has a large pile of applications to review. If your application follows one that is more stellar, yours may pale in comparison. On the other hand, if the pile contains mostly mediocre-to-poor applications, yours may stand out.

For all of these reasons, making your application as distinctive as possible increases the likelihood you will be invited for an interview. If the application bores the person reading it, you will likely end up in the rejection pile. But you must also understand that there are many qualified applicants to both medical school and residency and that many steps in the selection process are out of your control. This is a difficult concept, especially for students who tend to be “type A” and relish control of their fate.

MedEdits can help your written materials stand out from the pile. Visit us:

Welcome to the MedEdits Blog

We are happy to introduce the MedEdits blog. We will offer words of wisdom related to the medical school, residency and fellowship admissions process. In the meantime, be sure to visit us at