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Medical School Dean Panel: AMSA Convention

Lorenzo R. Sewanan
Trinity College, Class of 2012

The medical schools admissions deans didn’t seem to me at all that terrifying. But someday, these four people, two from MD schools and two from DO schools, might hold my fragile dreams in their hands, weighing all they know of me to make a decision. The decision for admission. However, they were eager to share with us some vital tips, some common and some less common and more sincere, on what the premedical students should strive to be and on what medical schools look for in applicants.

Each and every dean emphasized that the key assessment revolves around how prepared the applicant appears for the challenges of medical school and a medical career, academically, psychologically, and emotionally. The applicant must present himself/herself on paper and in person such that patients could feel comfortable seeing you down the road. In addition to intelligence, the applicant must display good listening skills, empathy, compassion, and the variety of softer interpersonal skills necessary to interact well with other human beings. Of course, the applicant must not fake it; he/she should be himself/herself (within reason).

The deans also stressed the importance of using the personal statement to not only reiterate one’s reasons for wanting to go into medicine but also one’s achievements and especially medical experience, including shadowing and volunteering. No one should go into medicine without first testing it though first hand significant clinical experience. As one dean put it, the premedical student should have been able to smell the patient in his work or volunteering.

During interviews and visits, everything is taken into account. Applicants should demonstrate honestly that they are excited to be there and that they are willing to engage with anyone and everyone. The applicant should also know thoroughly the school philosophy, curriculum, and opportunities. Take advantage of online resources and student ambassadors to find out more about schools. And, when it comes to questions, applicants should be honest, be humble, and spin the question to their advantage.

The ultimate admissions decision rests on two questions. “Are you someone I want as my partner and peer in medicine?” “Are you someone I want taking care of me somewhat down the line?” All of the deans emphasized that medical school changes your life, and if it’s meant to be, don’t ever give up hope.

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