how not to get into medical school

We've all heard it before.  If you want to go to med school, you better have a stellar GPA, great MCATs, glowing letters of recommendation, and some volunteer work (health-related) and research to top it all off.  Oh, and for bonus points, you can pull the minority or socioeconomic hardship card.

Well sometimes, premeds go a little overboard.  Yeah, it's possible.  They think that if they volunteer at three different hospital departments, 1 lab, and 1 clinic, they'll be sure to get in somewhere.  Well, WRONG when on the same application, their GPA is a mere 3.7.  True story: a dean of admission randomly shows up to an admissions committee meeting and picks up the file on top.  He glances at it, notes the GPA of 3.7 and the long list of random volunteer activities and asks the rest of the committee, "Is this student stupid?  Instead of doing all of these pointless activities, he should have been spending his time studying to improve his GPA.  We don't need to consider this applicant at all."  And just like that, this premed's dream of attending this school was dashed.

The lesson: there's always a fine balance to strike when it comes to trying to be the perfect applicant.  It's next to impossible, of course.  But it's all about balance.  They won't like you if you have a 4.0 and a 45 on the MCAT if you've done nothing to show any genuine interest in medicine.  But at the same time, no one will care if you volunteered at 16 different clinics if your GPA sucks.  I'm going to say it again: the key here is balance.  But really, to be honest, the numbers are of paramount importance.  Without these numbers, it won't matter if you ended world hunger, they won't even look at your file, which means they won't even know that you ended world hunger.  The numbers get your foot in the door.  Then the rest of your activities and accomplishments will shine through and help seal the deal.  No numbers, no deal.  So don't be stupid and sacrifice your grades for ultimately meaningless activities.  Besides, too many activities can send the message that you're indecisive and fickle, not qualities they look for in future physicians.  Trust me.  Nothing is worth sacrificing your GPA for.  Unless you're really not that serious about wanting to go to med school, in which case, be my guest and eliminate yourself from the pool.  Please.

P.S.  This argument might not apply to those who can pull the minority/hardship card.  But I'll waste too much of my last-minute-impending-doomquals studying time if I go into that now.  But trust me, I'll write about that soon.

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  1. how to get into medical school: gpa & mcat > publicationsSo Ivy League Intern Dude stopped by today.  And I could barely contain my disdain.  Apparently, he wants my major professor to write a paper on the work he did last summer so that he'll have a publication since he's applying to med school.  My question is: what work?!  He didn't even finish his project and what he did do was half-assed and likely wrong. It seems that his slacker ways permeated into his study habits because he has a mediocre GPA from his Ivy League school and didn't fare any better on the MCAT.  Which leads me to conclude that he wants this paper so that he can say he did "meaningful" research to help his chances of getting accepted somewhere.  Well, there are several flaws in this little plan of his.  First off, papers take a long time to write.  They take an even longer time to go through the review process and get published.  It'll probably be a year before he sees anything, which is way too late to help him with getting into med school unless he's already looking to be a reapplicant.  I won't even bother to mention the unethical-ness of my major professor including him as a coauthor when he didn't do any work at all.  Next and more important, nobody gives a crap if you have one lousy publication!  Not unless you're first-author in Nature or Science or something.  And lastly, nobody is going to read the rest of your file to even...
  2. medical student class attendance during the first two years of medical schoolIn this second study in our series of rather un-scientific studies on medical student habits, we examine medical student class attendance during the first two years of medical school. There has been anecdotal evidence of medical student attendance in class declining as medical schools adopted an attendance-not-required-except-at-certain-special-classes policy. To obtain actual data on this phenomenon, we conducted a longitudinal study of medical student class attendance habits during the first two years of medical school. Results were collected by the same carefully-placed-disguised-as-medical-students scientists as in the medical student hydration habits study. These scientists simply recorded the number of medical students attending class everyday in addition to their recordings of medical student beverage choice. These scientists followed the entering classes of 2005, 2006, and 2007 for two years to obtain the following results. Medical student attendance at class starts high at the beginning of every quarter but drops off as the quarter progresses, with the end of each quarter seeing the lowest student attendance. Fewer medical students attended class by the end of quarter six when compared to the end of quarter one. This drop-off in attendance may be explained by the fact that most medical students were freaking out and cramming for the USMLE Step 1 by the end of quarter six. Special notes: 1. There was not 100% attendance in orientation activities, showing that even at this early point, it seems that some medical students already think they are above attending hokey group activities. 2. Surprisingly, attendance was not 100%...
  3. oh how i miss medical school…So I’ve been away from medical school for almost two years now and I’m suffering from major burnout withdrawal. Yes, I WANT to be burnt out. I WANT to go to class at 8am. Come home at 4pm if I’m lucky. And study. Maybe eat. But mostly study. Go to bed at 2am and wake up at 7am to do it all over again. And again. And again. All the while still feeling woefully inadequate and undeserving of the trust placed in me by patients who trust me, a complete stranger, with seeing and caring for them at their most vulnerable. When I was going through it, I despised it. I was wrong. I miss it. I crave it. So much that I try to turn my current non-med student life into my med student life. But I can’t. So I’ll write about it instead....

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