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  • What's science got to do with it?

    by Ken Williams
    Graduate Special Student
    The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

    This is the first of what will be a series addressing the current state of premedical education in the United States and the debate that surrounds it. We will explore the role of the natural and social sciences, humanities, and the arts and how they relate to both the education of physicians-in-training at all levels of their schooling and to life as a doctor. With this year being the 100th anniversary of the Flexner Report, the seminal work that caused the educational requirements for physicians to be codified, it is the perfect time to ask questions about what, if anything, should be changed with the path we have to take to get into med school? Are the requirements creating better physicians? How are we measuring that?

    For the record, my first degree was in philosophy, where I focused on ethics and logics. Since then, I have studied all sorts of things: health policy, graphic design, architecture, culinary arts, religious studies, and environmental studies, among others. All of these have helped to color my current perspective on both life in general and health care specifically. I believe that they have made me a better prepared applicant for med school, even though the path has taken me quite a bit longer than most.

    What do you think about the current state of affairs for premedical education in the US? Let me know and we can explore it together over the next few months...

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  • Seven Essential Components of the Medical School Application

    Every premed is confronted with the question, “So, why do you want to be a doctor?” The knee-jerk response is almost always, “Because I want to help people.” But could it not be said that for nearly every profession or line of work, somewhere and to some extent, there can be found this very same motivation? Is it not true that people in professions as diverse as academics, sanitation, or politics may also feel compelled - impassioned – to help people?

    The question becomes, then, not “Do you want to help people?” (Of course you do), but “How does the medical profession uniquely provide for you the kinds of opportunities to help people that drive you to become a part of it?” The answer to this second question is not one that ought to be framed in the future tense, such as “I will be able to impact people at their moments of rawest human experience.” Rather, the answer ought to be historical – or more to the point, the answer ought to be found in your history, in your story.

    The question behind the question, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” is two-fold: “Why do you want to become a doctor?” and “Why do you want to become a doctor?” Read again these two questions – out loud if you can – to catch the difference. The first is asking about the uniqueness of medicine. The second is asking about the uniqueness of you.

    The entire medical school application process is designed to give you the chance to answer these two questions. And yet, these are the two questions, the second especially, that students are least prepared to give answers for. For every component of your application – and there are seven components – you must think about how the information you provide contributes in some way toward answering these two questions.

    The seven components of the medical school application are:

    1. GPA/MCAT
    2. Volunteerism/Research
    3. Personal Statement
    4. Primary Application
    5. Secondary Application
    6. Letters of Recommendation
    7. Interview

    Premedical students – you – have many questions: about your goals, your dreams, the challenges and opportunities before you, near and far, as you enter into your chosen profession. Sometimes you know what questions to ask, and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you know whom to ask; and sometimes, you don’t. The important thing here is this: you have to talk through this. You have to talk and ask questions, and listen and think. You have to be in conversation with your mentors and your peers. To that end, we invite you to join us in a special evening of dialogue on the issues that impact your entry into the healthcare profession.

    Kaplan Test Prep, in partnership with the American Medical Student Association, Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity, and the Student Doctor Network, will present a live online medical school admissions panel discussion called the Medical School Insider TONIGHT, Tuesday, May 11, at 7:30 pm ET. This two hour event will feature a panel of leading experts in medical school admissions, premed and medical education, and life in medicine. Following the panelist presentations, attendees will have the opportunity to engage with the panelists in an hour-long moderated Q and A session.

    Confirmed panelists include:

    Dr. Carlyle Miller
    Associate Dean for Student Affairs
    Weill Cornell Medical College

    Dr. Karen Hamilton
    Assistant Dean for the Office for Diversity and Community Outreach
    University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

    Dr. Adam Aponte
    Associate Director for Recruitment and Retention
    Mount Sinai School of Medicine

    Mr. John Brockman
    MS4, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
    National President
    American Medical Student Association

    Dr. Emil Chuck
    Health Professions Advisor
    George Mason University

    Mr. Budge Mabry
    Director, Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service
    Director, Joint Admission Medical Program

    Click here to enroll in this exciting event. This is a great opportunity to converse with medical education experts to learn from their perspectives about all the factors – your curricular and extracurricular activities, the MCAT, your personal statement, the primary and secondary applications, and the interview – that contribute to your success in gaining admission to the medical school that’s right for you.

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