Gaining admission to medical school isn’t getting any easier. GPA and MCAT averages are increasing, everyone has a stellar CV, and most important, more and more students are applying! With all of these challenges facing you, how do you stand out among the crowd? Well, allow me to show you! Grab your pen and paper….this is Pre-Med Marketing 101.
Have you ever walked onto a completely empty car dealership lot? Unless you are the owner of a dealership, I feel confident in saying that you probably haven’t. The first principle of marketing is that you must have a product to market. In the case of getting into medical school, you are the product. A key determinant of how successful a salesperson will be is how good his or her product is. If you sell me a watch today that breaks tomorrow, I’ll throw the watch into the garbage and never purchase from you again. So before you sell yourself to a medical school, make sure you are a good candidate.
What does a good pre-medical student look like? This is similar to asking what a good car looks like. It really depends on what you want from the car. If you have a large family, you may want a van or large SUV. If you are a businessman, you may want a luxury sedan. If you do construction, you’d love to have a pickup truck. While these are all different types of vehicles, to truly be considered good, they all need to have a reliable engine, functional brakes, and safety airbags. Comparing this to the pre-medical student “product”, in order to be considered good, you need a respectable GPA, a respectable MCAT score, and a good resume of activities and accomplishments. If you don’t have these things, then your product won’t sell, and perhaps it shouldn’t even be marketed. I say perhaps rather than definitely because sometimes you don’t know if you have a good product without testing the waters.
In business, the term “go to market” means that the product is deemed presentable to the world for sales. After you have confirmed that you are a good candidate, or if you need to test the waters, it’s time to go to market. I’m sure this concept is new to many readers. You may be wondering, how do I do this in the pre-medical world? Well, it’s really not that hard…there are 3 simple steps.
Step 1: Evaluate the market to get a sense of what is out there. You want to know where to promote your product. There are a few places that every pre-medical student should market themselves:
1. Medical School recruitment fairs (local and national). Traditionally, these fairs are where initial connections are made and networking begins. Attending such fairs demonstrates to the school that you care enough to put the time and effort into attending.
2. Medical School events. Actually visiting local medical schools and sitting in on their various evening or lunchtime events is a great way to meet faculty, staff, and students. This will help you get your foot in the door. Furthermore, it is something you can do once per semester and everyone will remeber you as the student who went the extra mile.
3. PreMed StAR. In the age of internet technology, online networking is of utmost importance and you should definitely use it to promote yourself. PreMed StAR allows students to create a profile and market themselves to medical schools. Schools can then recruit and interact directly with these students.
Step 2: Prepare your “go to market” package. A common mistake I have seen pre-medical students make is showing up to a recruitment fair or student event unprepared. Poorly dressed, no resume available (on hand or ready to email), and unable to answer basic questions about their goals. These students did not prepare to go to market. This is how you do it:
1. Draft your resume. It is in your best interest to always appear professional and an easy way to do that is to hand a recruiter your resume. Typically, good recruiters return home after exhibiting at fairs and review all the materials they acquired. You want your resume to be among these materials.
2. Look the part. If I look at you, can I imagine my life in your hands? Before going to market, ensure you “look” the part. By “look”, I do not mean you must be a certain height, weight, or skin complexion. Rather, you should simply appear well kempt in regard to hair and clothing.
3. Practice your value proposition. In business, a value proposition is a statement that tells the potential buyer why what you have to offer is valuable and worth their investment. We typically think of medical school as being expensive for the students, but it is also expensive for the school to educate them. Consider your value proposition your elevator speech. In 30 seconds, you must be able to tell anybody why they should believe you will one day be a great physician. Stand tall, speak with confidence, and smile!
Step 3: Go to Market. You have worked extremely hard to get beyond steps 1 and 2…Now, it’s market time! Preperation is of minimal value if you do not show up for the big game. If you’ve done everything I have suggested to this point, you are 10 steps ahead of the competition. Here is how you finish the race strong:
1. Execute! Carry out what you rehearsed in Step 2 above to perfection.
2. Network! Meet as many people as possible. Shake as many hands as you can. You don’t want the one person who you didn’t meet to be the one with your full ride medical school scholarship.
3. Follow up. Within 1 week of meeting a school representative, be sure to follow up with a nice email/message letting him or her know you are extremely delighted to have met and hope to stay in touch.
There are far too many great candidates in today’s pre-medical pool for you not to market yourself. Getting recruited is not difficult, just follow the 3 steps; Evaluate, Prepare, and Go!