By Patrick McBride
Medical schools practice holistic admissions these days. This means that they look at more than just your grades and your MCAT scores; they also look at your experiences and attributes. While grades and MCAT scores are still vital due to the academic rigor of medical school, schools recognize that physicians — and anyone in a health profession — must be able to work well on a team and communicate effectively.
So, how do medical school admissions committees evaluate this? They start with your work experience. Have you demonstrated that you can work collaboratively with other people in a healthcare setting? Have you shadowed any clinicians to gain more exposure to healthcare? It is critical that you do so, and in several specialties.
Another area that schools look at is service. Do you have any experience with community or international service? Schools want to see that you’ve demonstrated a commitment to service, as this is what the practice of medicine is based upon.
There are many ways to get community service experience. Here are some examples of places you can volunteer:
- A food bank
- Free clinics
Schools are particularly impressed with applicants who have volunteered with Teach for America, the Peace Corps, and other major service organizations.
The use of holistic admissions really highlights the importance of application essays and interviews. Schools want to know who you are, what unique qualities and experiences you will bring, how genuine your interest in medical practice is, and how you will fit into the culture of the school you are interviewing at. Your essays should focus on your commitment to clinical care and service, and you will need to spend time practicing for interviews.
There are many social media sites that offer suggestions for how to crack the medical school admissions process, but individual coaching can make a significant difference for you personally. You must be ready to let schools really know who you are and what you bring to the table. At Galin Education, we give you the personalized advice to help you thrive as an applicant and a future medical student.