Today, I am extremely excited to introduce Linda DuPuy as our guest blogger. She worked as the Director of Admissions and Recruitment at my med school, The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) for 15 years. Now, she has her own business, Premed Coach, where she helps students with their medical school applications, from developing goals and a plan to accomplish them to the personal statement and interview. Most of her clients are those applying to UAMS, but she also has a Facebook page where she shares tips and other insight that would be helpful no matter where you are applying.
–Here is what she says are the 5 “Ws” of applying to medical school.–
Know WHO You Are
Everyone has a story: know yours. If we squish everything together, most med school applicants pretty much look alike. Science courses. As, maybe a handful of Bs. Shadowing or scribing. Volunteering. Good people doing good things. There are two places you can shine and reveal what makes you unique: the personal essay and the interview. You can only do this if you’re willing to consider your life. The ups. The downs. The successes. The failures. The lessons. The losses. Your starting point doesn’t matter. What you have done with what you have been given does. Be transparent. Tell your story.
Know WHAT You Want To Do
You’ll need to develop a plan. Make a checklist. Check things off. Add new checkboxes to the list. Identify your premed advisor and schedule an appointment. Research pre-matriculation requirements and see where they fit in your schedule. Study for your MCAT. Study for your classes: they’re the best MCAT prep. Schedule your MCAT test. Make a list of application deadlines. Schedule interviews. Complete secondary applications. Gunners gonna gun. Don’t let them distract you from your plan. There are over 20,000 seats available across the United States. You just need one of them. Apply to medical school. Check. Get accepted. Check.
Know WHEN You Want To Do It
This isn’t your checklist. This is your master plan. You can’t wake up as a college senior and decide that morning to apply to medical school. Well, you can but it’s not likely you’ll be successful. Once you have decided to pursue medicine, target your application year. Setting your application year will drive all your other deadlines. This is that long-term goal stuff. Delayed gratification. Sacrificial decision-making. Everything counts. Keep your eye on the prize. Admissions committees will look back over your journey. They will expect to see a sustained history of solid performance, character, and purpose. Don’t disappoint yourself.
Know WHERE You Come From
Keep a journal. Or at least some sticky notes. By the time you begin working on your application, so much will have faded from memory. That moment you saw fear on the face of the daughter whose elderly dad was an Alzheimer’s patient. You thought more deeply about end-of-life issues. That time there was a belligerent alcoholic in the emergency room. You were conflicted about transplant lists. That time the doctor you were shadowing lost a patient. You had second thoughts about medicine. This is a journey. Be familiar with the journey that brings you to the doorstep of medicine.
Know WHY You Want To Do It
Committees want to know that YOU know the answer to the question, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” You will have to go deeper than the cliché, “I love science and I want to help people.” Motivation can be the gold that makes the difference between equally qualified applicants. Committees know that sheer motivation will sometimes move you through the dark and lonely nights of med school. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to be a doctor?” When you’ve answered this for yourself, then ask, “But why?” Do that a bunch. Dig to discover the answer. Go deep.
What do you think? Anything else you believe should be added to this list? I’d love to hear your ideas. Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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