MedEdits | Medical School Admissions Consulting

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New York vs. Caribbean Medical Schools

An intriguing article in the New York Times today discusses that New York State medical schools are taking an initiative to limit the clinical rotations that Caribbean medical students can complete in the state. This article presents a wonderful overview of many issues facing Caribbean medical students.

New York officials argue that Caribbean schools produce "poorly trained students who undercut the quality of training for their New York peers" and that "Caribbean schools, which are profit making institutions, are essentially bribing New York hospitals..."

On the other hand, a deputy New York State education commissioner highlighted that the "more mature" Caribbean medical schools admit students with excellent backgrounds.

Dr. Janine Reinhardt, a St. George's graduate who is now an emergency medicine resident, is featured in the article. She graduated with a 3.97 GPA from Cornell but felt that the 27 she earned on the MCAT is what prevented her from gaining acceptance to a US school. At MedEdits, we work with many students who have similar stats and are accepted to US schools.  We have also worked with many outstanding Caribbean medical students who, like Dr. Reinhardt, are talented and earn coveted residency positions.

Click Here to read the article.

What do you think about these issues and do you feel that Caribbean medical students should be allowed to complete rotations alongside US medical students? "Like" MedEdits on Facebook and post a comment; you will enter our raffle to win a free interview book.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who Wrote Your Personal Statement?

Would you hire someone to write your personal statement? A recent article in Business Week explores this issue and, while the focus is business school admissions, the same issues exist for the medical professions. Hiring someone to write your essays is an issue of ethics and there has been discussion in the academic community about policing these practices. Software programs have been created to detect plagiarism and admissions committees are now using these tools. If you hire someone to write your essay, you may never know if the same words are being used for another client.

The exercise of writing admissions documents is important; this allows applicants to reflect, introspect and explore their paths, ideals, and pivotal experiences. Not only does this help clients compose great documents, but it also encourages them to learn about themselves, establish a foundation for interview preparation, and clarify their future goals.

Click Here to read the Business Week article.

Be sure to like MedEdits on Facebook. We are now making most of our posts there.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

MedEdits Interview Question Challenge

What is the toughest interview question you have received? "Like" MedEdits on Facebook and post the question on our wall. Dr. Freedman will select one question and will post the answer. The "winner" will be announced on December 18th, 2010 and will receive a free copy of The Medical School Interview or The Residency Interview. Good luck!

Like MedEdits on Facebook.

Visit MedEdits.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The Residency Interview in now available on Kindle!

Visit: MedEdits

Stop by the UCLA Medical Bookstore!

Dr. Freedman's books, The Medical School Interview and The Residency Interview can now be purchased at the UCLA Medical Bookstore! Be sure to stop in to pick up your copy.

UCLA Medical Bookstore address:
308 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, California

Visit: MedEdits

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Women In Medicine

Read the article I authored for Medscape -- Women in Medicine: Are We "There" Yet? The answers may surprise you.

Visit: MedEdits

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Medical Admissions Updates

The Association of American Medical Colleges meeting this year was fantastic. We attended sessions about medical school admissions, medical education, and residency training. This meeting allows us to stay up to date with the current trends in medical education so we can offer clients the best guidance and support. Click Here for meeting highlights and stay tuned for MedEdits articles and blog posts related to what we learned.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three Interviewers, 20 Candidates, One Hour

A client of mine recently had a residency interview that went something like this:

1) Introduction of the program (30 minutes)

2) Hospital tour (30 minutes)

3) Round robin interview session (60 minutes) 
There were three interviewers who interviewed roughly 20 candidates in only one hour. How can anyone make a judgement about someone if they spend, literally, only five - 10 minutes "interviewing" them.

I will revisit this topic later in the season as I gather more data to see if  this is a trend. Have any readers had similar experiences? Would you like it if your resident physician was chosen based on only three, five minute interviews?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Contacting MedEdits

Because of a server glitch, we have not received recent contact forms that were submitted via our website. We apologize for this mishap and encourage anyone who did not receive a response after filling out a contact form to email us directly:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Residency Interview Tips

Read my latest article on The Student Doctor Network. Written specifically about residency interviews, alot of this information will also be useful for medical school applicants.

Click Here to access the article.

Visit: MedEdits

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Follow us on Twitter! Like us on Facebook!

To all of my blog subscribers:

While I will continue to make traditional blog posts, I am making the transition to tweeting. I encourage all of you to follow MedEdits on Twitter and like MedEdits on Facebook so you can stay up to date with my posts.

Visit: MedEdits

Monday, October 4, 2010

Physician Shortage Worse Than Anticipated

The Association of American Medical Colleges just released a report detailing that physician shortages in the near future could be much worse than originally anticipated. If the number of residency training positions are not increased, in only 10 years, the US could face a shortage of 90,000 doctors. This shortage will affect all specialties -- not only primary care.

Click Here to read the report.

Visit: MedEdits

Friday, October 1, 2010

$100,000 For a Residency Match?

How much would you pay someone if they guaranteed to find you a residency match? Learn about one such company that offered this "service" to clients when the outcome wasn't so great.  I am quoted in this intriguing Wall Street Journal article. Click Here to read.

Visit: MedEdits

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Residency Interviews: Night Before Gatherings

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.

5) Don't say anything that you wouldn't want the program director to hear.

Visit: MedEdits

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Medical School Interviews: On Hold Status

"I am so excited. I was put on hold at Prestigious Medical School! I am so happy I wasn't rejected."

Many students can be misled by the meaning and significance of being put "on hold" before receiving an interview. When I reviewed medical school applications, rarely did I vote to reject someone outright. More often, I would click the "hold" box if I didn't feel the student should receive an interview invitation. In my experience, at the majority of medical schools, few applications in "hold" status convert to "interview" status. So, effectively, a pre-interview "hold" is almost like a pre-interview "wait list."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Residency or Medical School Interviews?

Click Here to read an article I wrote about some not so common interview pitfalls.

Do you need help preparing for medical school or residency interviews? Contact us ASAP; I am now booking in to early November.

Visit: MedEdits

Friday, September 24, 2010

Medical School Interviews: Checking Your Status

Unless a medical school gives instructions that applicants should not contact the admissions office directly, it is perfectly acceptable to call schools to check on your application status. For example, consider calling medical schools that are "in the area" of another school where you will be interviewing. You can also explain that you are trying to budget your time so you don't miss too much work or school.

If you are interested in mock interview services, please contact me soon. I am now booking appointments for mid to late October.

See where the MedEdits class of 2011 has interviews!

Visit: MedEdits

Monday, September 20, 2010

US Citizen IMGs and the Match: What do the Numbers Really Mean?

At first glance, data suggests that the chances of matching are less than 50% for US citizen IMGs (47.3% in 2010 to be exact) but is the landscape really that competitive?

Unlike US medical students, international medical students can accept residency positions outside of the match including prematch offers. Many applicants who accept these offers either don't submit rank lists or withdraw from the match. Since it is very difficult to track how many positions are offered to applicants outside the match, the NRMP does not offer that data.

Consider this: Assume, in 2010, all US IMGs who either withdrew from the match (17.5%), or did not submit rank lists (15.4%), actually obtained residency positions that were not tracked by the NRMP. If this hypothesis is true, in total, 80.2% of US citizen IMGs may have actually obtained residency positions.

Thus, the numbers might not be so bleak.

If you are interested in mock interview services, contact us soon. I am booking appointments in to the month of November. 

Visit: MedEdits

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Will Debt Destroy Your Marriage?

An intriguing article in the New York Times explores the impact that debt can have on relationships. One couple profiled in this article might interest MedEdits' blog readers; she is a medical student and he is an architect. How early in a relationship would you disclose how much debt you have? Would a partner's debt influence your commitment to him or her? Click Here to read the article.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Early Clinical Exposure in Medical School

The trend in medical education is for students to begin meeting and working with patients as early as possible. A great article in the New York Times today discusses this trend at several medical schools in the country.

Click Here to read the article.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Medscape Residency Interview Article

Dr. Dan Egan, a former medical student and current colleague of mine, wrote a succinct article about residency interviews. Click Here to read Dr. Egan's article. You will be required to log in to Medscape.

Can a Rainy Day Decrease Your Chance of Medical School Admission?

An interesting article in the New York Times today discusses the work of Dr. Donald A. Redelemeier, an internist and researcher, who likes to investigate quirky topics. One such topic he examined was if poor weather on your medical school interview day can impact your chance of acceptance. The answer is "yes."

I emphasize to clients that many factors influence an interviewer's disposition, mood and outlook. It doesn't surprise me that a rainy day might put your interviewer in a bad mood which might then "cloud" his or her view of you, the interviewee.

Be sure to read my book, The Medical School Interview, which discusses how other factors can influence your interview experience.

Click Here to read the NYT article.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do You Need to Submit ERAS on September 1st?

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

At this time of year, applicants anxiously try to complete their residency applications so they can submit on September 1st. Is this absolutely necessary? Not always. The majority of competitive residency programs such as dermatology, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, and radiation oncology, don't start reviewing applications until after the November 1st release of the MSPE. Less competitive programs may review applications earlier.

I am no longer accepting clients this summer but I encourage prospective clients to consider hiring MedEdits editors for help with their documents. All documents submitted are reviewed by two editing professionals and revisions are completed in up to three business days. Click Here to purchase services.

Students interested in working with me for the 2011/2012 application season should retain my services in advance.

Applicants interested in interview preparation services should also contact us as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No Medical School Interviews? Don't Worry (yet)!

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

Today I was helping a medical school applicant prepare for an upcoming interview. She was concerned because this is the only invitation she has received.

Every year, after an initial early flurry of interview invitations, there is often a "slow down" at the end of August. Why? There are a couple of reasons:

1) Medical educators, like you, take vacations, and the end of August tends to be a popular time for summer holidays.

2) First year medical students typically start classes in August and the same people who are likely involved in the medical school admissions process are busy welcoming this new class of students.

So, if you don't yet have interview invites, never fear. Schools will extend greater numbers of interview invitations after Labor Day. Don't expect alot to happen before then.

If you would like to work with me on interview preparation, please retain my services in advance. I am currently booking interview preparation services for the month of October. Also, be sure to read my medical school interview book: The Medical School Interview: From preparation to thank you notes: Empowering advice to help you succeed

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Far Would You Go To Get a Residency?

An intriguing article to be published in the Wall Street Journal tomorrow discusses a company that charged clients $100,000 to guarantee them a residency position. However, this deal involved hospital bribes, forged letters and run-ins with the law.

I am quoted in the article which makes it a must read!

Click Here to read "Hospital Bribe Alleged" by Michael Rothfeld.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Getting Into Residency: Free Resources

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

If you are applying for residency this year or in the near future, you should be aware of some free resources that provide invaluable information which can help applicants understand what factors are most important to obtain a residency match and how the application process works:

1) Roadmap to Residency: From Application to the Match and Beyond

2) Program Director Survey (2010)

3) Charting Outcomes in the Match (2009)

4) ERAS tutorials and resources for download

If you are interested in mock interviews this fall, please retain my services soon. I am no longer accepting new clients this summer but consider hiring my editors if you need help with documents. Click Here to view my editors' fees and services.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Medical School Secondary Essays

I heard I should complete all of my secondary essays within 24 hours of receiving them.
I heard the secondaries don't matter.
I heard the secondaries are the most important part of the application.

Needless to say, there are many myths about secondary essays floating around. Alot of them, like those above, are not true. Every piece of your application is important and the most important part is largely dependent on the perspective of the person reviewing your documents. This is why I encourage my clients to put equal effort and thought into everything they submit. Don't rush your writing; inevitably, this leads to sloppy work and weak documents.

Read my previous posts on secondary essays.

I would also like to congratulate our 2010 medical school applicants who have already received interviews at medical schools including Yale, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Duke. Click Here to see where MedEdits' medical school applicants have interviews.

I am no longer accepting new clients this summer and if you are interested in working with me on interview preparation this fall, please retain my services soon. If you would like to work with me for the 2011/2012 admissions season, please contact me. Each year, I stop accepting clients earlier in the season as more people learn about my clients' success. Read a sampling of my testimonials.

Visit: MedEdits

Monday, August 9, 2010

Plagiarism and Applications

I thought about blogging on a recent article in the New York Times which discusses plagiarism, but when I discovered that a colleague, Anna Ivey, already wrote an outstanding blog entry on this topic, I thought I would send you all there: Click Here to read Anna Ivey's blog.

September 1st ERAS Submission

Around this time of year I receive calls from anxious residency applicants eager to submit their ERAS application on September 1st. It is important to understand that for some specialties, especially those that are less competitive, this is important. However, for more competitive specialties, such as dermatology, for example, an early submission may be less significant. Why? Competitive specialties often wait for the November 1st release of the MSPE to review applications and have the luxury of knowing that students will accept interview offers whenever they are given. Less competitive specialties, in contrast, feel they are "competing" for applicants and want to grant interviews before applicants have already made their travel plans.

As a former associate residency director, I can tell you that we never started reviewing applications until October and rarely did we pay attention to an applicant's submit date. That said, once all of our interview slots were filled, late application submissions were put on hold.

Unfortunately, I am no longer accepting clients for this application season and I encourage applicants who want mock interview help to retain my services soon. I am now booking mock interviews for October. For clients interested in working with me for the 2010/2011 application season, please contact me in advance.

Visit: MedEdits

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mount Sinai Humanities and Medicine Program (HuMed)

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

An excellent article in the New York Times today discusses the Mount Sinai Humanities and Medicine Program (HuMed). This program allows students "from top liberal arts colleges and research universities" to gain early acceptance to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine when they are sophomores in college, two years before they actually begin their medical studies. If admitted, these students are not required to take some major hard science prerequisites (including organic chemistry) or the MCAT. In fact, they are required to pursue a humanities or social sciences major. This article was based on a study written by Drs. David Muller and Nathan Kase that is published in the August issue of Academic Medicine.

As a former faculty member at Mount Sinai, the aspect of this program that concerns me most is that some students enrolled in the program may not be fully committed to the practice of medicine. Interestingly, specific data for the numbers of students who took "nonscholarly leaves of absence for academic or personal reasons" was not revealed but the article did state the following:

"More troubling is the HuMed group's significantly higher rate of nonscholarly leave of absence. This may indicate that a very small number of students struggle academically and require leave before returning to school, or are unsure of their career choice and find their uncertainty compounded by the demanding medical school curriculum."

Based on my own work with medical students who took part in the HuMed program, they are all exceedingly bright and motivated and clearly had the academic potential to succeed in medicine and other disciplines. However, I did question, at times, whether they were as committed to the practice to medicine as their peers who had taken a traditional path to medical school.

Click Here to read the article in Academic Medicine.

Click Here to read the NYT article.

Medical School Interviews!!!

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

We would like to congratulate those MedEdits clients who have already secured medical school interviews at impressive schools including:

George Washington University
Ohio State University
The University of Pittsburgh
University of Texas, San Antonio
The University of Virginia

If you have not yet received interview invitations, don't be stressed! It is still very early in the season.

For students interested in working with me as they prepare for interviews, I encourage you to contact us soon. We are starting to book in to October for interview services.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Who's Who in America

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

I wanted to let all of my readers know that my credentials can soon be verified in Marquis Who's Who in America. My biography was selected for inclusion in the forthcoming 2011 Edition of Who's Who in America.

Marquis Who's Who "endeavors to profile the leaders of American society; those men and women who are influencing their nation's development." 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Residency Applications and Plagiarism

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

I am not surprised by the results of a study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine that discovered evidence of plagiarism in 5.2% of residency applications. This finding was more common in non-US citizen applicants. Each year at MedEdits, we have applicants who ask if we will write essays on their behalf. We do not offer this service but there are many companies that do. I have blogged previously about Turnitin software which is designed to detect plagiarism in applications and I am curious to see if the study results motivate other programs to utilize this resource.

Click Here to access the article.

ERAS Resources

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

The Association of American Medical Colleges has terrific resources this year to guide applicants through the residency application process. The most notable addition to their library of resources includes video tutorials about how to navigate the web-based application.

Click Here to access the AAMC ERAS resources.

If you are interested in working with me on interview preparation this year, I encourage you to retain my services as soon as possible. I am currently booked for the remainder of this summer but I am forming a wait list. Every year I have clients who postpone their plans to apply and I will turn to the wait list to fill their "spots." If you are interested in working with me this summer, contact our office.

I am also accepting clients for the 2010/2011 application season.

I encourage applicants to hire our editors for help with documents. MedEdits' small group of professional editors are all trained by me in the art of medical admissions.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Teach for America

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

Every year, "graduates" of the Teach for America program seek out my guidance and I have been impressed by the experiences my clients have had through this program. Teach for America is a nonprofit organization that trains recent college graduates to teach at public schools located in underserved areas. Teach for America has always been a popular choice for premedical students seeking to gain teaching experience  especially for those hoping to pursue careers in underserved areas. However, obtaining a job with Teach for America has become increasingly competitive. In 2009, there was a 32% increase in applications; 46,359 individuals applied for 4,500 positions.

An excellent article in the New York Times discusses the competitiveness of the Teach for America program.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Federal Funding for Foreign Medical Students

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

The Governmental Accountability Office recently recommended that the Department of Education collect information from US loan recipients who attend foreign medical schools. Some people question if this is a worthy investment since some students who receive these funds may never graduate from medical school or receive residency matches. Dr. Freedman is quoted in this informative article. Click Here to read the article.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Health Insurance For People With Pre-existing Conditions

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

A great article in the New York Times outlines the governmental plan to provide health insurance for patients with pre-existing medical conditions. This relief may come for some as early as July 1st.

As medical school applicants prepare for interviews, it is wise to habitually read the health reform and policy related articles in a publication such as the New York Times. While interviewers will never expect you to be an expert in these areas, they want to know that you have a general idea of what is going on in our nation and that you aren't living in a cave (or a laboratory)!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Federal Government Primary Care Initiative

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

The Federal Government will spend $250 million dollars to increase the number of primary care providers. Read the full article in The Washington Post which summarizes where these funds will be allocated.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hofstra University School of Medicine

By Jessica Freedman, MD,  MedEdits

Hofstra University School School of Medicine in Hempstead, New York, recently received the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accreditation and will begin accepting applications for the inaugural class on July 1st, 2010. The first class of 40 students will matriculate in the fall of 2011. Students can apply through AMCAS.

Visit the Hofstra University School of Medicine website.

Doctor Shortage Article

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

An excellent article published in the LA Times summarizes issues related to the doctor shortage. This is a must read for medical school and residency applicants.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Medical School Application Entries

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

Read my latest article on the Student Doctor Network, Your Medical School Application: More than just a personal statement.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Medical School Admission Success Rate

By Jessica Freedman MD,

When prospective clients call me for help, they often ask about my "success rate." My standard answer when asked this question is that we don't quote success rates because if my primary concern was about achieving a certain success rate, then I would be limited to working only with clients who were sure to gain admission to medical school. In other words, this would prevent me from working with clients who weren't a "sure thing" because they had a less than stellar MCAT or GPA. It would also prevent me from working with clients who really needed the help.

Out of curiosity, I decided to run the numbers from the 2009/2010 application season. Interestingly, of the clients who worked with me comprehensively, from start to finish throughout the entire application process, 95% were accepted to medical school. Congratulations to you all.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


by Jessica Freedman MD,

There is an excellent article in the New York Times about hospitalists that I encourage all medical school and residency applicants to read. The corresponding comments also bring up some interesting points.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

MCAT Score Improvement

By Jessica Freedman MD,

An interesting summary in Academic Medicine outlines behaviors of MCAT examinees. What I found most interesting regarding this data is that applicants identify personal study habits and taking practice exams as the two factors that have the greatest influence on score improvement.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MCAT Verbal Score

By Jessica Freedman MD, MedEdits

Many clients ask what they can do to improve their MCAT verbal score. I have some advice from one of my clients who earned an outstanding verbal score and is also an MCAT tutor:

1) Be sure to finish the verbal section. Do not "go back" to any questions or passages until you have finished the entire section.

2) Get the general idea of each passage and, if you are unsure of an answer, guess, based on the main purpose of the passage.

3) Do not leave questions unanswered with the intent of answering them later.

4) Do not waste time highlighting, underlining, mapping etc.

In other words, achieving your best score requires finishing the section and answering every question.

The Medical School Interview: From preparation to thank you notes: Empowering advice to help you succeedAMCAS can be submitted on or around June 1st! If you are interested in working with me to ensure that you submit the best application possible, please contact me soon.  Be sure to read my newly published Medical School Interview book which can be purchased on Amazon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Medical School Enrollment

The Medical School Interview: From preparation to thank you notes: Empowering advice to help you succeedThe Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible ImpressionBy Jessica Freedman MD, MedEdits

As most medical school applicants know, the Association of American Medical Colleges planned to increase United States allopathic medical school enrollment by 30% by the year 2015. The actual increase will be 23% by 2015. This data is outlined in the 2009 Medical School Enrollment Survey. Based on the results of the 2010 residency match, the competition for residency positions is increasing. Unless the number of residency training positions also increases, matching will become even more competitive. This is especially concerning for US citizen and non-US citizen international medical graduates.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Medical School Interview Book

By Jessica Freedman MD, MedEdits

I am happy to announce the publication of The Medical School Interview: From preparation to thank you notes. Empowering advice to help you succeed. This book offers applicants practical and straight-forward guidance so they are prepared and confident on interview day.

Here is some feedback we have received on the book:

"This book was the best thing out there. I searched everywhere for a book that would help me to do well on interviews. After reading Dr. Freedman's book, I had such a clear vision of what to expect and the different types of interviewers. I read all that existed and this was the best!!!" - a medical school applicant

"I wanted to personally thank you for all that you have done for my son. He was ACCEPTED to medical school. I used your interview book as a guide to help him prep for his interviews and I think this helped him greatly. THANK YOU!" - parent of a medical school applicant

"The book is easy to read and the topics flow logically from one to the other. I like that you can zoom in on a topic easily and that you don't have to search for the information you need if the reader doesn't want to read the whole book in sequence. I also like how you provide just enough information to be instructive and not overwhelm the student since, as you state in the book, you can't prepare for everything. I think your book helped raise my son's confidence as he prepared for interviews [at Harvard, Columbia and Duke]. Thank you." - parent of a medical school applicant

If you are interested in working with me this season on your application to medical school or residency, please contact me soon. I work personally with all of my clients and do not employ outside consultants.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Residency Interview Book!

By Jessica Freedman MD,

You asked for it, you got it.

I am happy to announce the publication of The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression. This book is based on my experience as a residency admissions officer together with my experience while privately advising clients with MedEdits. This comprehensive MedEdits guide will provide applicants with practical advice to help them perform well on residency interviews. Be the first one to buy this book and, if you are applying for residency this year, be sure to read it before you hit the interview trail!

Visit: MedEdits

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Cost of Medical Care: Teaching Medical Students and Residents

By Jessica Freedman,MD,

"How will the results of this test change your diagnosis or treatment?" This was a question I would routinely ask my medical students and residents when they presented their patient treatment plans. Unless they could provide a good reason that justified ordering the test, I typically advised them it was a waste of resources.

A great article in the New York Times discusses the importance of educating medical students and residents about treating patients while considering the cost of care. It also outlines what some medical schools are doing to better educate students about this issue. Yasmin Meah MD, a former colleague of mine from Mount Sinai, is quoted in this article and there is a corresponding video about the East Harlem Outreach Program (a Mount Sinai student-run free clinic) where she is interviewed.

Another aspect of this issue should also be considered, however. Sometimes patients insist on having certain tests ordered based on what they have read or heard on television. Many doctors find that, at times, it is easier to simply order a test they feel may be unnecessary, rather than try to convince a patient that the test is not needed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Importance of Away Rotations in Medical School

By Jessica Freedman, MD, MedEdits

If you are a rising 4th year medical student, you should be seeking out away elective rotations in your desired specialty. Many students worry that doing away electives at a program they would like to attend could do more damage than good. However, unless you have a poor performance, even someone who is perceived as slightly above average as a visiting student might be ranked higher than a student with similar stats and has not worked in the department. When I was the associate residency director, I always preferred to rank highly a student who was a "known entity" and had a predictable performance rather than a student whom I didn't know.

What can you do to ensure that you are perceived in the best light during your away rotations?

1) Show up early and stay late.

2) Work harder than you have on any other rotation. Do not plan to have much free time during this rotation.

3) Read about your cases.

4) Be professional and confident (but not over-confident).

5) Be independent and a help to the residents and attending on your team; you want to be perceived as a true team player.

6) Treat everyone well -- your fellow students, residents, nurses, staff and, of course, your attending(s).

7) Go to every conference and be sure to introduce yourself to the program director if s/he is not the attending on service.

I am now working with clients for the 2010/2011 match season. Many students need supplemental guidance or advising while in medical school and throughout the residency application process. If you would like to work with me this year, I encourage you to contact me soon. As a private medical educational advisor, I work one on one with students and play the same role as I did when I worked in a formal academic setting at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Compassion in Medicine

By Jessica Freedman, MD,

An enlightening piece by Katherine Rosman in the Wall Street Journal illustrates the importance of compassion when treating patients and their families. It also reinforces how our personal experience with illness nurtures our empathy and shapes our approach to patient care. This article, and the corresponding comments, should be read by anyone considering a career in medicine.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Residency: Are You Competitive?

By Jessica Freedman, MD,

When choosing your specialty, it is essential to determine your competitiveness for that specialty. How do you start making this evaluation? I suggest applicants first review the NRMPs Charting Outcomes in the Match which is published annually. This report outlines average USMLE scores, number of research experiences, volunteer experiences, etc. for US allopathic medical school graduates and "independent" residency applicants. A caveat in evaluating this data is that all candidates who are not US allopathic medical school graduates are lumped into the "independent" category.

It is important to be realistic. For example, if you failed the USMLE Step 1 on your first attempt and then barely passed on your second attempt, it is unlikely that you can match in the most competitive specialties. If your stats are on the "borderline," you should also consider applying for your top choice specialty and another "backup" specialty, just in case.

If you are interested in working with me for the 2010/2011 application season, please retain my services soon.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

AMCAS, TMDSAS and AACOMAS Applications 2010

by Jessica Freedman, MD,

The AMCAS application system will open "on or about May 4th, 2010." You can start working on your application when the system opens but you cannot submit until early June. For applicants who do not have a premed committee that is sending a letter packet, keep in mind that you can use the AMCAS Letters of Recommendation service. Only 14 medical schools are not participating in this option.

The Texas, TMDSAS, and osteopathic, AACOMAS, application services both open on May 3rd.

If you are interested in working with me on your medical school or residency application for the upcoming season, please contact me soon. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Personal Statement Article and Podcast

by Jessica Freedman, MD,

An article that I authored, Personal Statement Myths, was published today on the Student Doctor Network. You can also listen to the corresponding MedEdits podcast on iTunes.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Women, Residency and Childbearing

An interesting article in Academic Medicine this month examines residents' choices about childbearing during residency. This survey study of 424 male and female residents had a 77% response rate. It was found that "women residents postpone childbearing because of perceived threats to their careers." It would be intriguing to know what led to these perceptions.

Read the abstract in Academic Medicine.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Residency Match Success

By Jessica Freedman, MD,

Congratulations to all MedEdits' clients who matched! If you haven't yet informed us of your match result, please let us know. Thus far, we know of people who matched in dermatology, emergency medicine, pediatrics, anesthesiology, orthopaedic surgery, family medicine, internal medicine, neurology and radiology.

Here a few recent and unsolicited testimonials:

"I matched at XXX I am so excited! Thank you for everything during these past  months. The Match process definitely wouldn't have gone as smoothly without all of your help and guidance. Thank you so much again for all of your help! I couldn't have gotten my first choice without you! If you need to use me as a reference, I only have wonderful things to say!"

"Dear Dr. Freedman, I matched. Thank you very much for your help and support. I don't have words to express my gratitude. This never would have happened without you. Thank you so much."

"Hi Dr. Freedman, I'm so happy - I matched at XXX (it was my number one choice for derm!). I'm very happy for such an excellent match! This is really exciting for me and I wanted to thank you again for being there for this entire process! I think all the aspects of the application really came together well and put me in the best possible light. In addition, I felt very prepared for my interviews and was able to be myself and let my strengths shine through. This wouldn't have been possible without your help and I'm truly grateful! I will be happy to keep in touch and please let me know if you ever need any references for future clients."

"I was able to couples match. We are very happy and excited. A huge part of our success is due to your hard work. Thank you so much for your encouragement and advice, we couldn't have done it without you. I have already told some of my friends who are matching this up coming year about you."

"I MATCHED FOR DERM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You had faith in me from the beginnig and I will never forget that. SO HAPPY! =) "

"I matched for anesthesia!  Thank you so much for your help, and I wouldn't have been able to do this without you.  I am very happy, shocked and also very relieved. Once again, thank you for you help throughout this process."

I am starting to work with residency clients for the upcoming season so, please contact me soon if you need help for the 2010/2011 match.

Match Violations and Withdrawing From The Program Where You Matched

by Jessica Freedman, MD

"I really don't want to match there."
"Gosh. I hope I don't match at that program. It is last on my list."

Every year, when applicants decide how to rank programs, I hear comments like those listed above. The advice I give applicants is only to rank programs they would be willing to attend. For every program you rank, ask yourself, "Would I rather match at the program or not match?" If your answer is the latter, then leave that program off your list.

That said, what happens if you are devastated by your match result? Can you withdraw from the program and what are the consequences? Every year I receive calls from prospective clients who want to consult with me about how to withdraw from the program where they matched. If you withdraw from a program where you match, this is considered a match violation. It is also a major headache for the program that must now fill your spot. This is taken seriously by the NRMP. I strongly discourage individuals from withdrawing after they have matched but, if you decide you must do this, you need to contact the program directly and you must also contact the NRMP.

Read section 7.0 of the NRMPs Match Participation Agreement and the NRMPs policies for reporting a violation.

Monday, March 8, 2010

MedEdits Podcast!

Listen to the second MedEdits podcast on iTunes! The topic of this podcast is how to improve your chances of getting into medical school off a waitlist and what to do if you don't yet have any medical school acceptances.

I encourage listeners to provide suggestions for topics you would like covered in these podcasts. You can email me your suggestions and questions ( or leave a message at the MedEdits message center: 1-646-217-4674.

Subscribe to our podcast series to see if your topic is addressed on one of our future episodes.

Visit: MedEdits

Thursday, March 4, 2010

NRMP and For-Profit Scramble Services

by Jessica Freedman, MD,

I have blogged before about for-profit residency scramble services and do not advocate using these companies.

I found it interesting when a client forwarded me an email that was recently sent to applicants by the NRMP about this topic. If you did not read or have not received this email (which is below), please be aware:

TO: Applicants in the 2010 Main Residency Match

The NRMP has received numerous phone calls from applicants asking about for-profit services that claim to send unmatched applicants' applications to unfilled programs during the Match Week Scramble. The NRMP is a not-for-profit organization that does not cooperate with or condone the use of these services, and we do not provide them with the List of Unfilled Programs. Moreover, many residency program directors have told the NRMP that they do not review applications sent by these services because they clog email inboxes and telephone and fax lines.

We believe the NRMP is the only organization with reliable information about which positions are available during the Scramble, and that information is available free-of-charge to all unmatched applicants. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Our best wishes for a successful Match!
NRMP Staff

MedEdits does not offer scramble services.

Medical School Budget Cuts and Offshore Implications

A great article in Insider Higher Ed discusses budget cuts that are taking place at many US medical schools. It is widely known that, in 2006, medical schools planned to increase enrollments by 30% to address the looming doctor shortage. Because of the prolonged recession, however, many schools have fallen short of this goal. Some schools no longer plan to increase class sizes while others, including Pritzker which is mentioned in this article, are reducing class sizes.

In the past, the federal government has increased loan amounts for certain offshore medical schools. The hope is that financing the medical educations of more US citizens will translate into an increased number of primary care physicians practicing in the United States

For example, 81% of Ross Medical School's revenue comes from federal student loans (Click Here for the source of this data). With hundreds of graduates annually, some Caribbean medical schools are producing more doctors than any US medical school or state.

Read the Inside Higher Ed article here.

Listen to the MedEdits Podcast.

Visit: MedEdits.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

MedEdits Podcast!

We are happy to announce the launch of our podcast series on iTunes! We started this series because of feedback from our clients. If there are any topics you would like me to cover on a podcast, please let me know.

The MedEdits premier podcast episode is about waitlist strategies and letters of intent. This will be the first of a two part series on this topic.

Click here to access the podcast. After listening, please send me your feedback:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Baylor College of Medicine: NEW Emergency Medicine Residency

The Baylor College of Medicine Section of Emergency Medicine has just announced the start of a NEW emergency medicine residency and is currently recruiting residents to start in July 2010. Since this is a brand new residency, these positions will be filled outside the match.

Shkelzen Hoxhaj, MD, MPH, MBA, who is a friend and former colleague of mine, is the chair of this progressive department. Bobby Kapur, MD, MPH, who completed his residency training at Yale and received his medical degree from Baylor, is the residency director. The department's outstanding leadership together with the diverse and busy clinical environments will undoubtedly make this a top-notch program in which to train. I encourage interested applicants to apply; it is a phenomenal opportunity to be on the ground floor of what will be a premier residency training program in emergency medicine.

Email Dr. Kapur to submit your application:

Here is the link for the Baylor Section of Emergency Medicine website.

Visit: MedEdits

Friday, February 26, 2010

Medical School, Residency and Social Media

Do admissions officers look at Facebook? Are they on Twitter? Do they google applicants? Do they read the Student Doctor Network forums? Yes.

I find that many applicants are paranoid about what might be discovered about them on line. Take control. Why not make your virtual persona someone of whom you would be proud? Follow respectable people and organizations on Twitter. Create a blog where you showcase your writing, ideas or advocate for good causes. Create a public Facebook profile that any admissions officer would love. Leverage your on line presence to your advantage so that when someone "finds you," they will be impressed.

Social media is so new that many medical schools and hospitals are forming committees to discuss how to manage this technology. For example, a group of residents at a major medical center recently published a video on Facebook that was obviously created while "on the job." This was discovered by the hospital leadership and caused a cascade of events causing the hospital to examine their "policies" regarding social media. So, be careful. Seemingly innocent postings can sometimes lead to unforeseen consequences.

By the way, you can follow MedEdits on Twitter.
Become a friend of Dr. Jessica Freedman on Facebook.
Become a fan of MedEdits on Facebook.

Visit: MedEdits

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Registering for the MCAT

Be sure to sign up for your MCAT spring exam date now! Here is where you can register: MCAT registration link.

Visit: MedEdits

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Financing Your Medical Education

The Association of American Medical Colleges has a great resource where applicants, students and residents can become financially literate. The site allows individuals to learn about how to finance their education, pay back loans and transition to medical practice. The program is called FIRST (Financial Information, Resources, Services and Tools).

Visit: MedEdits

Follow MedEdits on Twitter.

Become a fan of MedEdits on Facebook.

Become a friend of Dr. Freedman on Facebook.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Medical Schools

An article published in the New York Times yesterday is a must read for medical school applicants, current medical students and international medical graduates. The article discusses the planned opening of new medical schools and the impact this will have on medical school admissions and health care in this country. While reading this article, keep in mind that it takes years to open a new medical school. Refer to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education website to check the application status of new schools. With the planned opening of many new schools and increased enrollments at existing schools, there is a need for more residency training positions. If this does not happen, the competition to obtain residency training will increase.

Read: Expecting a Surge in U.S. Medical Schools in the New York Times.

Visit: MedEdits

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Residency Rank Order List: What Factors Should You Consider?

Rank order lists must be certified by February 24th, 2010. My residency clients are asking me how to rank programs so I decided to blog on this topic. What are some important factors to consider?

1) Geography
Not only should you be happy in the city where you train, but a large percentage of residency graduates ultimately take jobs or fellowships in the same geographic area where they complete residency. This is not to say that if you train in New York, for example, that you can't obtain an excellent job in California. However, you will make contacts throughout residency so it is often easier to obtain a job or fellowship in the city where you complete your training. Many programs also hire their own graduates.

2) The Residents
Ask yourself if you would enjoy working and socializing with the residents whom you met on your interview day. Did residents seem happy?

3) The Faculty
The attendings under whom you train will be your role models and educators. If you want to pursue a career in academic medicine and research, for example, going to a program where none of the faculty have research funding might not be your best choice. Also, did you like the faculty whom you met? Do you envision working well with them?

4) Patients and Clinical Settings
To become the best clinician, you must see a diverse group of patients in a variety of settings. Where do residents rotate? Do they see a variety of patients with a wide range of diseases? If you are entering a surgical or procedure-based specialty, do residents obtain enough exposure to become skilled?

5) Teaching, Didactics and Curriculum
Evaluate the quality of the teaching that residents receive at the bedside and during formal didactic sessions such as morning report and conferences. Do residents have flexibility to pursue electives?

6) Overall Fit
I have a vivid memory of my interview day at the program where I matched. I had spent some time in the emergency department the evening before my interview, felt immediate rapport with the residents and faculty whom I met and had a great "gut feeling" about the program. I ranked the program #1 and matched there. Listen to your "gut feeling" seriously.

7) Your Personal Preference
Every year applicants are swayed by the positive feedback and communications they receive from programs and consider changing their rank order list in light of this feedback. Applicants cannot manipulate the match algorithm and there is a common misconception that how you rank the programs from which you received positive feedback will somehow improve your odds of matching. Rank your programs based on where you believe you will be happy and receive the best training. Also, never rank a program that you do not want to attend; your match is binding!

Good luck in the residency match this year!

Visit: MedEdits

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Announcement: MedEdits Offers Video Conferencing

MedEdits now offers video conferencing and screen sharing via Skype® and iChat® for consulting and mock interview sessions.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

No Medical School Acceptances? What Should You Be Doing Now?

Around this time of year, I receive calls from medical school applicants who are nervous; they have only received waitlist decisions or have not received any interviews. So, if you are in this position what should you do?

If you are on a wait list, try and gain acceptance to that school. Consider writing a letter of intent that also summarizes your recent accomplishments. Some schools encourage applicants to send updates while others do not. Follow the directions provided by each school regarding their policies on sending updates. At the same time, you must also consider what you will do if that waitlist doesn't turn in to an acceptance (see below).

If you have not received any interviews yet, consider what you will do to improve your candidacy in the event that you must repply. Some common themes that may limit an applicant's success are the following:

1) Submitting a late application.

I see this all the time. Do not submit an application in late August! Applicants also underestimate the endurance it takes to apply to medical school. After submitting the primary application, students must complete secondary essays. If these are also late (regardless of when the primary was submitted) you undermine your success.

2) Submitting a weak application.

Your written documents (personal statement, application, letters of reference) are your "ticket" to the interview. Poorly composed documents that inadequately highlight your strengths can hinder your success. Ask your premed advisor or someone whom you trust what is most impressive about your background and accomplishments. An objective opinion will help to see your candidacy in a different light.

2) Poor academics.

Critically evaluate your academics and decide if you need to improve your GPA or MCAT. If your MCAT is low, estimate how long you must study to significantly raise your score. If you need to improve your GPA, consider your options. In general, students can take courses or enroll in programs that are "undergraduate" or "graduate" level. Undergraduate courses will improve your undergraduate GPA while graduate level courses will be listed in the "graduate" category on your application. The AAMC has a useful listing of these programs and identifies which programs are specifically designed for academic record enhancement and if they are undergraduate or graduate level.

3) Lack of clinical experience.

Many applicants are "dinged" because they don't have enough clinical exposure. This one is easy; find a doctor to shadow or seek out clinically related employment or volunteer work.

4) Poor interview skills.

Some applicants underestimate the importance of the medical school interview and figure that if they got a great MCAT score and have a high GPA that they will succeed. Your interview performance is the key to success and you must prepare accordingly.

Most admissions offices are willing to speak with applicants. As students prepare for a reapplication, I encourage them to call schools from which they were rejected or waitlisted to ask, specifically, what the school would like to see to improve their candidacy. At times you may receive a concrete answer to such queries that will help. However, I find that many schools provide vague and wishy washy feedback that isn't too useful. This stems from the fact that giving negative feedback is never easy which is a prevalent issue in medical training.

Finally, it is important to evaluate your candidacy objectively. Reapplying to medical school (with success!) is quite common.

If you want an honest evaluation of your candidacy, contact MedEdits.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Residency Rank Day

Most residency programs are having their rank day meetings by the end of this week. Why is this significant? Applicants want to send letters of intent before these meetings occur. While the 2008 NRMP program director survey indicates that follow up does not influence rankings, letters of intent stating that you will be ranking a program #1 can influence your position on a rank list. Residency programs, especially those that are affiliated with prestigious medical schools, don't like to "go too far down on a list" because this looks bad in the eyes of medical school deans and administrators. The need to scramble is especially harmful not only to a program's reputation but also to the medical school of which that program is a part. Therefore, to stay on the good side of medical school deans and administrators, programs like to report that they did well in the match, matched with outstanding candidates and "did not have to go too far down on the list."

By the same token, this is why programs may send "love letters" or make phone calls to applicants they will be ranking highly. Remember that persuasion is a violation of the match participation agreement and you are not obligated to tell programs where you are ranking them. Respond to these communications respectfully and gratefully and say something like, "I would be honored to train with you." Do not allow these phone calls and letters to influence the order in which you will rank programs.

Read my previous entries on letters of intent.

Now is the time to start working with me on your residency candidacy for 2010/2011!

Visit: MedEdits

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Tool For Admissions Officers

A company called Turnitin for Admissions now provides plagiarism and content verification software specifically designed for admissions offices. I am not sure if any one in the medical admissions arena is using this resource yet but, as applicants write their essays, personal statements and applications, be aware that this exists! I always discourage applicants from using companies or individuals that offer to write your documents, and this "authenticity" tool should serve as a further disincentive.

Visit: MedEdits

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Residency Scramble Day Interview: What Not To Ask

Last night I attended a medical dinner meeting and a colleague of mine, who is now a leader at a major New Jersey hospital, was telling me about his match experience. This colleague did not match and entered the scramble. On scramble day, he had a phone interview with one residency director at a prestigious program in the midwest. The program director asked him, "So, why do you think you didn't match?" Sightly offended, this colleague instinctively replied, "I don't know; why do you think you didn't fill." This is a great story to tell but, needless to say, he was not offered a position at this program and completed his training elsewhere.

What is the lesson here? If you don't match and end up in the scramble, be prepared to answer the question, "Why do you think you didn't match?" and don't be offended! I know many great doctors who did not match and got spots through the scramble so, if you end up in this position, have faith.

Be sure to read my article about the scramble on the Student Doctor Network.

Visit: MedEdits

Letters of Recommendation: How Do You Ask?

If you are applying to medical school, you should be thinking now about who will write your letters of reference. Many clients ask me about the best way to ask for a letter of reference. Like most things, there is no "one size fits all" answer to this question.

For example, last week a former resident asked me to write a letter of reference on his behalf. Since I know this resident well, I did not feel the need to meet with him and simply asked him to send me an up to date curriculum vitae (CV) so I could review his more recent accomplishments and remind myself of when he graduated!

So, the manner in which you ask for letters of reference should be individualized. If you don't know your letter writer well, call them or their assistant to schedule a meeting. At this meeting, which could be in person or over the phone, ask if they would be willing to write you a strong letter of reference. The key word here is strong; hopefully, if someone feels they cannot write you an excellent letter of reference, they will be honest and tell you this.

At this meeting, ask your letter writer what materials they would like from you to make this task easier for them. Consider sending your letter writer an up to date CV via email before your meeting. Many things you read advise bringing a "portfolio" to your letter writer that includes your CV, personal statement and any additional materials that might be helpful. Since most people in academics are now accustomed to web based applications, they prefer electronic versions of all documents rather than hard copies but, again, ask your letter writer about their preference.

If your letter writer asks for a personal or a brief autobiographical statement, do not feel that you must provide what will be the final draft of your statement; the letter writer is asking for your statement to obtain a more complete sense of who you are which will allow them to write a more substantial letter.

Visit: MedEdits

Monday, February 1, 2010

MedEdits Blog Suggestions?

I was speaking with a former colleague and current faculty member from Mount Sinai today who called to consult with me regarding some details about the residency match. When I referred him to my blog, he said, "Jessica, you guys need a search box." Seems like an obvious suggestion but was an oversight on our part. A search box has now been added to the upper right hand corner of the blog.

In the same conversation, he said, "Why on earth do you do this and how do you know about all of this stuff?" I explained, advising and mentoring was always the aspect of formal academic medicine I enjoyed most. The topics covered in my blog address the same concerns that my students and residents had at Mount Sinai. Through MedEdits, I can continue to advise and help students.

The MedEdits blog readership has grown steadily over the past 2 years. I would like to thank our readers and ask all of you for suggestions of topics you would like to be covered in this blog. By the same token, if there are any other services that you feel would benefit MedEdits' readers and clients, always feel free to drop me a note:

Visit: MedEdits

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letters of Intent

This is the season for both residency and medical school applicants to consider writing letters of intent. The best letters of intent are individualized. Don't write a general letter that could have been written by another applicant. Use your letter to distinguish yourself and express your unique interest in the medical school or program.

So, what topics should be included in your letter?

1) Introduce yourself. Tell the dean of admissions or the program director who you are and when you interviewed.

2) Provide an update of any recent accomplishments.

3) Indicate your specific interest in the school or program. Try to relate these specifics to your background and interests.

4) Tell the school or program that they are your #1 choice (only write this if it is true!)

I have blogged about letters of intent in the past so be sure to read these posts.

Visit: MedEdits

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Medical School Interview

Read Dr. Freedman's article on the Student Doctor Network: Not So Common Interview Pitfalls.

If you need help preparing for your medical school interviews, contact us!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Residency Scramble: Do You Stand A Chance?

As I was browsing the web today, I came upon one of those services that claims to help applicants attain residency positions in the scramble. This inspired me to write a post about the scramble so readers can better understand the odds of obtaining a position.

Representatives from the National Residency Matching Program presented some interesting data this year at the Association of American Medical Colleges Meeting. In 2009, the number of unmatched US seniors was nearly equal to the number of unfilled positions. Why is this significant? First of all, US students typically have support from their medical schools to "land" these open spots. Most program directors would rather take a US student who has a reputable advocate at their side with whom they can speak. Independent applicants, most of whom are international medical graduates (IMGs), on the other hand, are often alone in this process. Therefore, the independent applicant has an extremely slim chance of earning one of these open positions.

What are some other important facts? In 2009, the majority of unfilled positions were preliminary and not categorical positions and 2/3 of these positions were filled by 4 PM on scramble day. More than 13,000 individuals, most of whom are IMGs, enter the match just to obtain a list of unfilled positions. As you can see from the numbers, entering the match to obtain the list of unfilled spots is not a great strategy if you want a residency position.

One of the formal definitions of scramble is "to struggle or contend frantically in order to get something." With more than 14,000 people competing for roughly 1000 open positions, you can see that the word "scramble" accurately describes the process in its current form. I wrote an article about the scramble on the Student Doctor Network in 2009, which discusses the scramble in greater detail and, as mentioned in the article, scramble reform is on the way. The proposed "managed" scramble, which may be implemented as early as 2011, will prevent applicants from entering the match just to obtain the list of unfilled positions and will make the process more controlled.

If, after reading this blog entry, you still plan or need to find a residency position via the scramble, you can find the list of important dates and times that pertain to scramble 2010 here.

Please note that MedEdits does not offer any scramble services but we are already working with residency applicants who want to improve their candidacy to apply for residency in 2010/2011.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Doctor Shortage: The Need For More Residency Positions

Dr. Darrell Kirch, president of the Association of American Colleges (AAMC), whom I heard speak at the annual AAMC meeting in November 2009, wrote an op ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend about the need to increase the number of residency positions in the United States to alleviate the looming doctor shortage.

He mentions that US medical schools aim to increase class sizes by 30% to ease this shortage. Something else to consider is the growing number of both Caribbean medical school graduates, most of whom are US citizens, and the traditional international medical graduates who are not US citizens.The potential ramifications of increases in US medical school class sizes as well as of these two other groups of applicants are twofold:

1) The competition to obtain a residency position will become fierce. And in this more competitive environment, programs may not necessarily show a preference for US students. Indeed, with many excellent students now going to Caribbean medical schools, some programs prefer to take international medical graduates.

2) If the increase in the number of US medical school graduates is not accompanied by a parallel increase in the number or residency training positions, many able people, both US citizens and non-US citizens, will be unable to obtain residency positions and therefore can not practice medicine in the US.

The AAMC must collaborate with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to ensure that we don't create a bottleneck of residency applicants.

The AAMC also has a great physician workforce resource page. When asked about the problems in health care today on your medical school interview, why not give an answer that is a little different than the rest?

Visit: MedEdits

Narrative Medicine: What is it?

As a doctor, you listen to stories all day long. Knowing how to listen to these patient stories, or histories, takes practice and a unique skills set. I am sure you have all been to doctors who are not good listeners; they pepper you with questions to obtain a detailed history in an order with which they are comfortable. But, so much great information can be obtained by allowing patients to speak without interrupting them. There is now a discipline in medicine focused on listening called narrative medicine. An article this past weekend in the New York Times discussed a new Master of Science program in narrative medicine at Columbia run by Dr. Rita Charon. I think this program would be a great option for the individual who would like to take a gap year, has a special interest in literature or story telling or who wants to develop a niche in their career. This program could also be an alternative to a Special Master's program and provide applicants a hook to get into medical school.

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish all MedEdits blog readers a happy new year. To all of our clients, congratulations on your success and thank you for allowing us to be a part of your medical educations and careers. MedEdits looks forward to 2010 as we continue to improve our services and broaden our offerings.