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: