flodhi1

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Application Cycles: 7/1/2011
Demographics: Male, 28
Home State: Alabama
Last Activity Date: 11/27/2012
SDN Handle: flodhi1

Undergraduate Area of Study: Biological/Life Sciences

MCAT: BS 1, PS 1, VR 1, N
Overall GPA: 1.00
Science GPA: 1.00

Brief Profile:

AMCAS submitted: 7/1/2011

Invited for Interview

Accepted

Morehouse School of Medicine - "WITHDRAWING in May pending scholarship offers; I mainly applied to this school because it is very so..."
Drexel University - "WITHDREW; My interview experience at Drexel seemed to have been fine. However, as I interviewed at ..."
Albany Medical College - "WITHDREW; The school is amazing but honestly I just can't picture myself going here. The school is e..."
Virginia Commonwealth University - "This is definitely my top choice but a 10k per year scholarship might have made this school the one...."

Summary of Application Experience

Finished most secondaries in mid July and I will be listing in the bottom why I think I got into medical school with below average stats. I had an extremely strong upward trend, I was getting straight A's in most of my core, upper division and pre-reqs which is important. Some of the classes that helped me boost my GPA and helped on the MCAT are the following courses I got A's in (Infectious Disease, Organic chem 1&2, Human Physiology, Physics 1 &2, Biochemistry 1 & 2, General Genetics, Ecology etc....). I feel like upward trends are critical for low GPA applicants.I'm honestly not in the mood of listing all the schools but I applied to more than 25 schools. As you can see medical school is not just about stats. Of course if your stats are strong things will get easier but nothing is a guarantee since there are so many other dimensions. For people with lower stats just remember the personal statement, your ECs, your LORs and applying early can seriously give you a shot. However, the key is that in all other dimensions you go above and beyond. My advice to individuals is the following:

Applying early and broadly:-
If you don't have stellar stats or if you are a reapplicant applying early and broadly is essential. I have seen so many cases where people with > 3.6s and > 30 MCAT scores are getting rejected or not making it because they either apply in September and even later or they only apply to 10 schools. You should apply to schools where you genuinely feel that you would be a "great fit". A "great fit" could just be something as basic as your mission/goals in life being similar to those of the school. I applied to schools that were very primary care/ social mission focused because that's where my true passion lies. In my opinion you should apply to at least 20 schools out of which at least 10 should be 'safety schools'. I can't stress the at least 10 safety schools enough. In your opinion based on your stats the school might seem like a safety school but it's not. You need to find a school that accepts more applicants based on your background and how do you do that? well you read their websites and figure out the mission of the school. At some schools you could have border line stats, nothing stellar at all but still end up with an interview because your personal statement, ECs and secondaries are focused towards the schools mission. Having a focus towards the schools mission is huge. A typical mistake premeds make is they apply to schools without knowing anything about the schools mission for example Georgetown. Almost every other premed applies to Georgetown but does not know anything about the " Jesuit tradition of Cura Personalis". Now obviously applying there would be a waste of time unless your Extra curricular activities are based on social missions. In the end of the day Georgetown and other schools can tell which students are desperately picking random schools and which students are an actual perfect "fit". Some people will find the perfect school where their stats coincide and the mission of the school is the same as theirs but they end up ignoring an important aspect the in-state and out of state matriculation rate. You have to pay attention to schools that are friendly towards OOS or IS. Obviously do not apply to schools such as Florida State University that have not matriculated any OOS if you're from let's say Arizona. Again the best way to find out this information is by investing $15 into MSAR. I know a lot of people think that it costs a lot of money to apply to so many schools etc.. but think about it if you reapply you're adding thousands of more dollars and missed out on 1 year of becoming a Physician making 150k+ a year. So, do you really want to sacrifice that over a couple grand seriously? Another important aspect is to have your primary application submitted in June and your secondaries submitted before mid-July. Applying early really does make a huge difference. You want your application looked at when the most slots are available. Most schools have rolling admissions and I can assure you that someone with a 3.5 and 30 in June has the same if not better chance as someone with a 3.6-3.7 and 32 in September/October. So, don't take the risk! Have your transcripts submitted in April or May. Have your LORs submitted in June and written way before June. A lot of people get screwed because everything is complete but their LORs aren't submitted till August which simply delays the whole process. You must have all these things submitted on time or you will be screwed when it comes to applying early. The best bet is to just submit certain things earlier than anticipated dates to avoid any delays. Also keep in mind that AMCAS has lost transcripts many times so when you send certain things follow up on them. Another key thing is taking the MCAT on time! I was totally unaware that it takes the MCAT 1 month to be graded. So, the best bet is to have your MCAT test date no later than May. The ideal test date would be end of April. If you're not ready of course you must not risk taking the exam early and you should just delay. Obviously a much higher MCAT score later on is better than an early crappy score. However, keep in mind that your Application will not be submitted till your MCAT scores are in.

Personal statement (PS):-
The Personal statement is the first impression the medical school gets of you after your stats of course. The first impression is usually the last impression so do not mess this up since this could very well end your chances for an interview. Personal statements are supposed to be just that personal and not some statement with chronological order of things you did in your life- that's already stated on your primary application under activities avoid this technique at all cost.. Your personal statement in my opinion should be sort of like a story and of course I'm just giving one perspective. Think of something very deep in your life that focused you towards medicine and try to make an interesting story about it. A lot of applicants get their personal statements reviewed by friends, family, professors they know and school advisors. I on the other hand feel like that's a wrong strategy. These individuals know you on a personal level even if it's brief so there will be bias and you must avoid bias at all cost. Take your personal statement to someone with a neutral or even negative perspective. Take your PS to someone who does not know you well even a professor at your school that seems to hate you or an old grumpy physician at your local clinic. Obviously some of them might decline to review your PS (personal statement) but that's fine, you must keep searching for others. In the end of the day these individuals with negative perspectives will give you enough information to eliminate all your weaknesses. A secondary place to have your personal statement reviewed is the Studentdoctor network forum but please be careful, pick and choose the right people. Usually sending your personal statement to individuals with a lot of helpful posts and a long term presence on the SDN network is advisable. Also it's okay to make your personal statement slightly emotional as long as it's genuine and moderate because on the other end it's a human being reading your statement not a machine right?
***I will be posting my personal statement after the cycle is over. If I don't just message me to remind me thanks!***

Extracurricular Activities (ECs):-
ECs should be something meaningful and quite frankly your personal statement should talk about your ECs or a special EC. There are certain things that are a must; clinical experience ( volunteering and shadowing), research ( if you're going to a top heavy school) and things that look good such as leadership, community service. Medical schools are looking for clinicians and compassionate individuals. You can only show your compassion by making a difference. So, in community service get out there and work at a rehab facility, homeless shelter etc.. Leadership is pretty obvious but subtle ways of leadership is through mentoring and teaching. Tutoring little kids can be a form of mentoring. It's preferable to actually have leadership in a group organization and have tutoring/mentoring but if you don't have time as I stated mentoring will slightly cover both bases. Clinical experience is the most essential. Clinical experience should be a long term commitment since the average is 1.5 years, you should go above and beyond. Try to get your volunteering in a clinical setting > 500 hours and shadowing > 100 hours. Please keep in mind though that in shadowing and volunteering you must build a personal relationship with patients and with the clinical staff preferably most with the Physician (MD) because a LOR from a physician will make a huge difference. Again the key to ECs is long term commitment with diversity. A major issue some premeds have is that they can't find any places to volunteer or shadow. Usually premeds run straight to hospital for clinical experience and that's fine. However, a much easier option is to volunteer/shadow at a primary care physicians office such as a family practice or walk in clinic. These places tend to have high flow of patients and some cases might not mind a premed volunteering. So, call at least 10 local clinics and set out your resume, you're bound to be welcome some where. **One very important thing I forgot to mention before, make sure you have an EC that is unique or uncommon. A unique EC can really make your interview a little more friendly and laid back. I was a kick boxing instructor for kids and during my interview I was able to connect with an interviewer that loves mixed martial arts. Similarly your unique EC could touch somebody and really make a difference. Therefore, get out there and find something to do that sets you apart from the other 40k+ applicants. Some things that I would find interesting would be athletics, military careers, sky diving, rock climbing, singing, political activism and the list goes on and on I'm sure you have something special in your life too.

Letter of Recommendations (LORs):-
LORs are the backbone of your application especially when it comes to the final decision post-interview. You could be the perfect candidate but if your LORs are weak or red flagged then your entire application could be jeopardized. Through out your academic career you will meet individuals that will seem like the perfect applicant but not get into medical school because they randomly went up to professors they barely knew and got LORs that most likely worked against them. A lot of applicants do not understand the significance of these letters of recommendations but trust me to ADCOM they mean a lot. Your LORs should be personal and you should know these professors pretty well. Please do not desperately go to a professor that barely knows you and get a LOR from them. Most likely you will end up hurting yourself as stated before. I can't stop emphasizing the point of personal LORs because every year I hear of applicants going up to barely known professors. The key is to make many office visits, interact in your class and to really engage intellectually and professionally with your professor. This will give your professor an opportunity to get to know you and write a very strong letter. I had 2 science professors that I took multiple classes with and really got to know on a personal level. Another important note is that most undergrad schools issue prehealth committee letters. These committee letters are essential to obtain IF your school issues them. Now you're probably wondering why the hell would I need a committee letter? well some schools such as VCU will automatically reject you if you do not obtain the committee letter if available at your undergrad school. The link below is from VCU medical school that explains why committee letters are so essential.

http://www.medschool.vcu.edu/admissions/md/documents/lettersofrecommend_instructions_2009.pdf

If you're too busy to read the link above then here's a few points about the committee letter. The importance of a committee LOR is that the prehealth committee is a representative of your school and your school should know you best. Plus committee letters consist of essential things such as Institutional actions, academic dishonesty cases, student's relationship with faculty, extra curricular activities at the school, awards in the academic school in a more in-depth manner. These committee letters are also used as the foundation to compare students from the same academic institute. Therefore, not obtaining a committee letter when available can be a major red flag, it makes medical schools think that you're hiding something. During my interviews many of my interviewers discussed and even quoted the strong recommendations made by these professors. One essential LOR that is ironically not discussed a lot is a LOR from a Physician (MD if applying to Allopathic and DO if applying to Osteopathic). As you can obviously tell a LOR from a professional in the profession you want to work in can make a pretty big difference. A lot of medical schools are worried about students running into the medicine profession without knowing much about it. Therefore, your application can go beyond the "cookie cutter" by having extensive shadowing and having a letter of recommendation from a Physician simply saying something along the lines of Mr. X shadowed, was extremely competent, showed a lot of interest in medicine, was compassionate towards patients and I highly recommend Mr. X be accepted into medical school.

Interview:-
If you have reached this point which you hopefully will then the school has accepted your stats and wants to get to know you as a person. This is probably the most important component of the final decision, just as LORs play a critical role in the final decision. Every single year you will hear about individuals that have monster stats and get tons of interviews but end up getting wait listed or rejected by many schools. Now if someone has an almost perfect application , interviews at let's say 10 schools and ends up getting wait listed/ rejected at the majority of the schools then most likely there's an issue with communication skills. Interviewing is really not that hard at all. You should follow these steps and I think you should be fine.
1) Dress very well, be well groomed and appear very professional. I have seen males show up to interviews without a jacket and just wearing tie, collar shirt, pants. Please let this be known that if you come to an interview without a jacket you will look extremely unprofessional compared to others.
2) You must have a smile on your face, be extremely outgoing and enthusiastic. Everyone is watching you, please for the love of God go and introduce yourself to others be energetic. I swear at every single interview I would see at least one socially awkward person just standing by themselves, without a smile on the face acting like they are in a torture chamber. I advise you to not be one of those individuals that appears bored. You have to appear as if you're absolutely excited! if that's hard for you to do then you might have a slight problem. Just convince yourself you won the Megamillion or Powerball lottery (for some getting into medical school is just as exciting) and I think you'll be excited enough.
3) When you meet your interviewer make a firm hand shake again for the 100th time have a big smile on your face and share your passion of medicine with your interviewer. When your interviewer asks you why medicine or why the school? you should be able to answer these questions with a passion. Speaking with a passion simply means to not regurgitate boring information to your interviewer with a monotone voice. You should be advocating yourself as if you're an attorney in court fighting for your clients life against death row. You should be acting as if you're a candidate fighting for the presidency election. Have you seen how those folks talk? that is called speaking passionately. If the interviewer does not see passion then you're just digging yourself a grave. A lot of times during an interview the school just wants to see if you're a genuine, passionate and committed guy. So, honestly if you are energetic and have a huge smile on your face then the interview should be a walk in the park. If you're socially awkward then try to talk to people, try to break that shell. Medical schools want a physician that can communicate passionately with their patients not a machine. Let me quote to you what one of my interviewers said, "If you as future physicians are not energetic and passionate about your careers then we might as well use computers to treat patients, computers have greater memory right?" and to be honest she is correct. What sets human beings apart from machines is not capability but the fact that we have emotions and feelings. So, my dear friends when you are at an interview or in the future when you become a physician you should show your interviewer or your patients that you are passionate about the cause. You are not just trying to become a doctor for the hell of it but because you truly want to make a difference and people will see that as long as you are genuine.

Well those are the major steps I took during my interviews. Luckily for me, I ended up getting accepted to the majority of schools I interviewed at. Again this was my perspective, obviously there are other styles and you're welcome to use whatever interviewing strategy makes you feel comfortable. I will repeat exactly what I did and you should do during an interview one last time. You should smile, be enthusiastic, show your passion for medicine, be genuine and extremely friendly.

Applying to medical school and achieving the major steps can be challenging. However, challenges are what define individuals and build character. Even when you feel like things are not going your way you must work harder and always stay committed. I want to thank you for reading through my profile and choosing medicine as your path. If you have any questions please let me know and best of luck in your journey to becoming a compassionate, honest and hard working physician.

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