Everyone knows that New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. If you want to get into med school in 2017, then you’ll want to keep these New Year’s resolutions:
Resolution #1: Sign up ASAP for an MCAT course so you’re completely prepared to take the test early.
It’s preferable that you take the MCAT in April so that you’ll receive your score by the end of May 2016. Your score needs to reflect the very best of your ability, so take the course and take it seriously.
See the 2016 MCAT Registration Deadline and Score Release Schedule for more details.
Resolution #2: Begin or continue clinical exposure.
If you’re going to pursue a medical career you need to have experienced the hospital environment. You should know how it feels to work under pressure, deal with sick people, respond to family members, and interact with coworkers who may be even more tired and pressured than you are. These clinical experiences are also an important part of your med school application. If you haven’t already sought out clinical experience during your undergraduate years, it’s time to fill that gap—before you start working on your applications.
Resolution #3: Develop a relationship with faculty members and supervisors who will be able to provide you with letters of recommendation.
You want the people who write these letters to know you well. Cultivate relationships with TAs, lab supervisors, research sponsors (who you work closely with) – not only will you benefit from the intrinsic value of this mentoring, but you will also put yourself in a great position to ask for compelling recommendations. Be sure to give your recommenders plenty of time to write their letters.
Resolution #4: Clarify what’s important to you in a medical school.
What kind of medicine are you primarily interested in – direct patient care or research? What type of setting do you prefer – city, suburban, or rural? What approach to medical education do you find most appealing?
Once you’ve established what your ideal would be, consider if those schools would be feasible. If your grades or MCAT scores aren’t competitive at certain schools, then your qualifications could be a constraint. Although it’s easy to apply to multiple schools through AMCAS, it can become financially restrictive. Choose your target schools based on what’s important to you. This will save you time and money.
Resolution #5: Carefully and honestly look at your strengths and weaknesses as a med school applicant.
Are there gaps in your experience, and do you still have time to fill them? For example, if you’re lacking in volunteer involvement or research practice, now is the time to bump them up.
Resolution #6: Spend some quality time reflecting on the experiences that have inspired your interest in medicine.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your personal statement! Consider the stories you may want to use when you write your essay, then go ahead and start to write. You may find it helpful to jot down notes about the experiences you want to include, and return to your pre-writing later on.
Resolution #7: Check deadlines for requesting transcripts and other documents.
Avoid the stress of making last-minute requests. You will be under enough pressure completing your application without worrying if you’ll have all of your supporting documents in on time.
Resolution #8: Update your resume.
This will help you when you need to put together the activities section of the AMCAS app. Your resume will also be a helpful document for your recommenders to refer to when writing their letters.
No matter how many New Year’s resolutions you’ve broken in the past, be sure to keep these. Your med school acceptance and future depend on them!