Favorite phrases are usually to
be avoided. They frequently cause one to
use awkward phraseology or to forsake content in order to insure the
inclusion of the phrase.
- Experiences as a patient or as a relative or friend of a patient do
not necessarily qualify you to practice medicine.
Despite the intensity of these experiences, they often take up valuable
space that could be better devoted to addressing your qualifications for
the practice of medicine.
They should only be included if they are extraordinary or integral. (e.g.
You have had cancer or you have a devastating genetic disease and you plan
to practice medicine pertinent to those fields.)
Things to do:
Rewrite yours statement at least 4 times.
(But don't drag it out forever.)
Many people find it quite useful to rapidly write (in one evening)
two statements: one dry statement that merely states the facts; and one
very stylized statement, complete with thoughts and feelings, which tells
the reader about the things that are important to you even if they may not
be important to the admissions committee. This will help get certain
things out of your system. Ideally your final statement will be a
synthesis of these initial statements.
Put your name and date and phone number on rough drafts of your
(Put your name on everything.)
Give copies of other people's statement of purpose, especially those
who have gotten into good schools.
Advice and Criticism
- Have LOTS of people read you statement.
- Ruby Mason and other CDC counselors
- Verity Powell
- Professors and students of English
- Although you do not have to incorporate their comments, at least
you will have that option.
Do not equate criticisms of your personal statement with indictments
about your self-worth.
Encourage people to be critical. Let them know that they will not hurt
your feelings or self-esteem.
Until the advice you get from various people starts to contradict itself,
you have not have enough people criticize your statement.
Letters of Recommendation
- You should make it as easy as possible for your writer to write you a
good letter of rec.
- This means supplying as much information as possible.
- ***You should put your name and phone number on all material.
- Here are some things you may want to include:
- 1) copy of AMCAS application (may obviate some of the other items)
- 2) statement of purpose
- 3) resume listing other activities, employment, vital data
- 4) letters describing what particular things you would like the
writer to emphasize. Also note other things that are not found elsewhere
- 5) You may want to schedule an appointment after the writer has
had time to look over your materials
- 6) Grades or test scores if they are especially good, if they show
they range of classes you have taken, etc.
- (If appropriate, please refer to my additional instruction sheet
(Comments pertain to old version of MCAT, since I have not take the newer
- Stanley Kaplan is quite useful but not necessary.
- It provides a wealth of materials and a great source of exogenous
- Verisimilitude tests are harder than the actual MCAT.
- Try to take the MCAT in the spring or summer before you intend to
- Questions are always 101 level material. Do not read too deeply into
- Practice tests are invaluable, especially for concentration and time
- It is essential that you obtain a copy of the sample test.
- This is exactly the same level as the actual test.
- Some of the questions may even be the same.
- Organic Chemistry
- There is a reality paucity of organic chemistry questions.
- Most of the OC questions are about organic acids and bases.
Visiting Medical Schools
Take the formal tour.
Take the informal tour.
Ask the same questions to different people.
Make sure you talk to some of the students who are not part of the
Attend at least one class.
Make sure you stay in the area long enough to know if it is where you want
to spend you next four years.
- Make sure you arrive early.
- Look nice. Everyone knows it is a game. However, it should respect
for your interviewer.
- Cut your hair if necessary.
- Take your earrings out (if male).
- Know your application backwards and forwards. Be able to discourse at
length on any topic.
- Be prepared to ASK questions.
- Don't bullshit.
- Don't ramble. Don't say too much. The likelihood of sticking your
foot in your mouth increases exponentially with the length on an answer.
- Be specific.
- Do not hesitate to tell anecdotes.
- It is O.K. to talk about nonmedical/nonbiological things is your
interviewer brings them up.
- Do not hesitate to tell the interviewer about your strongest suit if
she/he has not mentioned it by the end of the interview.
- Relax. Refrain from Hyperventilation.
A Sampler of Interview Questions
- Why do you want to go to medical school - standard question, though
not necessarily easy.
- Why do you really want to go to medical school? - the hostile
- One student was asked to do half of her interview in Spanish.
- Tell me about your research.
- Tell me about your volunteer work.
- Tell me about your family.
- Tell me about your childhood.
- Is health care a right or a privilege?
- What do you think of Jack Kevorkian?
- What do you think of euthanasia?
(I think every ethnicity has the right to have children - Sorry,
- What do you think of abortion?
- What was your favorite class?
- I don't believe that AIDS education is very effective - What do you
- You are given the following scenario: Attending says don't bother him
unless it is an absolute necessity. At 3 am, Nurse calls you and says
patient is showing signs of infection and needs antibiotics. She has
written up the order and asks if you would please authorize it. The
patient is allergic and rapidly dies of anaphylaxis. What are you
going to tell the parents?
- Why do you think MD/Ph.D. will work for you?
- Describe yourself in the third person.
- What didn't you like about that question?
- Do you think this whole process is bullshit?
- If you could be anything else what would you be?
- Tell me something about your home life.
- What is something bad about you?
- What book outside of medicine have you read lately?
- What do you see yourself doing in ten years?
- What clinical experience have you had?
- "My second [interview] just kind of flowed from topic to topic. We
discussed some of the problems that the medical field faces today - why
some physicians are feeling disillusioned, et. He shared a lot of his own
opinions with me. We also spent some time talking about primary care.
Then he also asked me 'Where would you live outside of the United States?'
...I viewed the whole experience much more like an interactive discussion,
rather than as an interview." LL
- Generally, I think it is good to read an abstract or two from your
interviewer if you can find out their name ahead of time (especially at
research oriented schools like Stanford). This will often given you more
to talk about and will get the interviewer interested and talking.
This backfired in one interview where the interviewee did not seem
to know much about his own paper.
- Comments from a University of Iowa interview
"It was a strange interview. They had nine pre-selected questions, and
interviewers were not allowed to ask any additional questions." - AD
Questions included the following:
1. Why do you wish to pursue a career in medicine?
2. Why have you chosen to apply to the University of Iowa?
3. What single trait of yours best prepares you to be a doctor?
4. Medical school is very stressful .... How do you cope with stress?
5. Identify a significant event in your life in the past year ... what was
the impact that it had on you?
6. What impact do you think the changes in the medical field will have on
your practice as a doctor?
Some Questions You Might Want to Ask
- What is the nature of the grading system?
- What sorts of early clinical experiences are available?
- Is there anything unusual about the sequence of preclinical classes?
- Are there any teaching or research opportunities?
- How many students are admitted each year?
- Describe the hospitals in which students do their clinical rotations?
- What is the typical student make-up of the classes?
- What are the particular clinical emphases of this school?
- What are the particular strengths and weaknesses of this school?
- What is the summer schedule?
- Is there any opportunity for fourth year clerkships abroad?
Preparing for Medical School
"Here is one quick thought about med school. I found it really
interesting how most of my undergraduate prepared me exceedingly well for
med school, except in one area. I would HIGHLY recommend that undergrads
take a histology class before going to med school. Not simply on
cellular structure and function, but one that gets you behind the
microscope as well. There were a handful of kids here who had a histo
class before med school and it seemed to help them out quite a bit."
Kevin Madden, Feb 4, 1997
Where to apply
Taking time off before applying to medical school
Contacts at various medical schools
University of Arizona
Aaron Lehman, HB class of 1996
Former "HumBio types"
Nick Dement (now doing a residency in
Ying Ying Goh
Others, especially med school TAs
Pei Pei Mark
Tai-Ho Chen (graduated - now in Hawaii)
Michael McCullough (graduated - now at Stanford)
Sandy Ramirez (graduated - now at Stanford)
Lorri Leard - graduated
Caitlin Pickart - beginning fall 1999
Jeremy Moss - MSTP
Case Western Reserve
University of Pennsylvania
University of South Dakota
University of Vermont
Thank you so much for all your help in my medical school appplication
process. Every interviewer I had commmented on your great letter of
recommendation, and I know it helped me get into the schools! I
you writing it, as well as all your other advice, encouragement, and
support. Before every interview, I would read your web page of suggested
questions for interviewers, and I ended up using many of them--when I did,
often got comments like, "What a great question!" I really appreciate all
you have done, and please let any future advisees know that they can
me for information about the application process, about decision-making,
| Return to top of page
| The Personal Statement
| Letters of Recommendation |
| The MCAT
| Visiting Medical Schools
| The Interview
| Preparing for Med School |
| Contacts at various medical schools
| Feedback from students |
| Return to advising page
| Return to Bob's Home Page |
Last modified: July 5, 2009