Medical School Admissions 2015-2016: A Dean’s Perspective

It is ‘Medical School’ time of year.  Some of you are getting ready for the interview. Others are dealing with being waitlisted or rejected. And some of you are getting your applications ready to submit this summer for the first time. Now that MCAT 2015 is another and new ingredient in this volatile mix, we thought it was time to bring a medical school admissions expert, Jennifer Welch, to our podcast.

Jennifer Welch, currently the Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at SUNY Upstate Medical University, has been a medical school admissions director and dean for over twenty years.

Listen to the recording of our conversation as Dean Welch graciously shares her time and insights on medical school admissions 2015-2016.

00:4:07The New MCAT – a different focus.

00:5:35 – MCAT – are high scores still necessary for acceptance?

00:7:00 – New vs old MCAT scores, how to evaluate?

00:8:05 – The goal of the medical school interview.

00:9:25Interview day – time to make sure you are a good fit!

00:11:45 – Speaking with students on campus?  Chatting with a receptionist?  The “interview” isn’t over.

00:12:31 – Be real…feel real…in a suit.

00:13:47MMI Interviews – what is the SUNY Upstate’s approach?

00:17:00 – The student who did not get an interview and why. Suggestions so that you snag the med school interview invitation.

00:19:45 – Great GPA and MCAT but no clinicals – what are your chances?

00:21:35 – Details, details, details!

00:22:50 – How to make shadowing count.

00:26:59 – 2016 Applicants – get the applications in early!

00:28:26 – Took a gap year?  Explain. (It’s to your benefit).

00:29:24Reapplicants – what should your focus be?

00:30:15 – Think being a waitress or camp counselor wasn’t important?  Think again.

00:32:33Waitlisted – When is updated information helpful?

00:33:43 – Dean Welch gives advice for college students thinking of med school.

00:35:43 – Final pearl’s of wisdom for all applicants.


Listen to the full conversation to learn more!Relevant Links:

• SUNY Upstate Medical School Admissions
Navigating the Med School Maze
• A Second Chance at Medical School: The A-Z of Applying to Postbac Programs
• Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success

Related Shows:

Getting Into Medical School: Advice from a Pro
Med School Conversation with Cyd Foote
All Things Postbac
MCAT Scores, MCAT Prep, and MCAT2015
MCAT Mania: How to Prepare
A Window into the World and Life of Medical Scribes
 What You Need to Know About Post-bac Programs

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7 Must-Do’s After You Get Your Med School Interview Invite

Learn how to use medical school rankings to choose the best med school for YOU.

Exercise has been proven to increase mental acuity—this will help you stay sharp and focused on your goal!

Congratulations! You have been identified as one of the most promising applicants for medical school this application cycle. Follow these seven steps to ensure that you will ace your interview and receive an acceptance:

• Celebrate!

While you may be nervous about embarking on the next step in your journey, don’t forget to celebrate each small victory along the way.  Take some time to fully acknowledge all of the people and effort that have contributed to your success.  Share the good news and express your gratitude!  

•  Stay Active

To ensure that you will be in the most positive frame of mind, work out at least three times a week. Staying physically active will allow you to burn off all that nervous energy and help you to regain your focus while increasing your endorphins.  The closer it gets to the interview, work out more frequently but not to the point of injury.  Exercise has been proven to increase mental acuity—this will help you stay sharp and focused on your goal!

•  Review your AMCAS application

The most important thing you can do to prepare for an interview is to review your AMCAS application every day leading up to the interview as well as the secondary essays you submitted to the school. Reminding yourself of all of your experiences will make it easier for you to answer specific questions about them and to provide an overall timeline of what you have done to prepare for medical school.

•  Update your CV/Resume

Arriving at your interview with copies of your updated CV/Resume and reviewing it on the way will help you appear organized and focused.  If it’s a traditional interview, it may guide the direction of your conversation.  Use it as an opportunity to update the interviewer on what you have been doing since you submitted your application.

•  Research the School

Take some time to read the school’s website.  If you have friends or family attending the school, contact them to ask questions about what they do and don’t like about studying there.  You should prepare at least three questions for your interviewer(s) that demonstrate your knowledge of their curriculum, special programs and volunteer opportunities in the community.

•  Prepare with Mock Interviews

Whether it’s a traditional interview or a MMI (mini multiple interviews), mock interviews are the best way to prepare yourself for the actual interview day.   Running through all possible questions and scenarios can help you formulate the strategies that will earn you the most points!  Take the time to practice. Mocks will not only ease your mind but give you an edge!

•  Test Drive your Interview Outfit

While that suit or outfit may look fabulous on the hanger, you won’t know until you try it on whether the buttons are loose or if it would benefit from a visit to the tailor.  Wear the outfit you’re planning on using for the interview for a few hours and see it is comfortable and professional enough for the interview.  You don’t want to have any wardrobe malfunctions when you’re traveling and unable to find a replacement.  It wouldn’t hurt to bring a couple of back-up outfits, just in case.

Having helped students successfully prepare for medical school interviews for almost a decade, I hope that the tips that I have shared will lead to a wonderful experience and that you will be offered an acceptance.  Most importantly, be yourself.  And answer the questions honestly and thoughtfully.  Good luck!

Multiple Mini Interview Webinar

Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

Related Resources:

The Ultimate Guide To Medical School Interview Success
Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression In Your Medical School Interviews
Common Myths About Medical School Interviews

Not So Secret Secrets to Nailing the Medical School Interview

More med school interview advice.

Sorry, there are no magic tricks to interviewing and getting accepted to med school.

Journeys with Joshua: Joshua Wienczkowski walks us through med school at East Tennessee’s College of Medicine with his monthly blog updates. Get an inside look into med school down South and life as a student adcom member through the eyes of a former professional songwriter with a whole lot of clinical experience — thanks Joshua for sharing this journey with us! 

Right now, every week, there are a slew of fresh faces coming to interview for a coveted spot at our medical school. They come mostly from Tennessee; many have done undergraduate work all over the country, had previous careers, and are very impressive on paper, but they all share one thing in common: a feeling expressed on their faces that hints at sheer excitement and terror mixed evenly. Interviewing for medical school is one of the most exciting things someone can do; the hours have been poured into taking classes, studying for the MCAT, writing the lengthy application, shadowing in hospitals, researching in labs, and often times neglecting personal life to become one of the few to don the white coat as a student doctor.

There are a few things that I feel should be said to students getting ready to interview for medical school. Just a year ago, I was in those nervous, excited shoes and suit, and I’m incredibly thankful for the mentors that guided me in the following ways:

1. Practice. Hours are spent practicing for the MCAT, why not practice for the one thing that could make or break an acceptance into one of the extremely competitive seats of a med school? Each undergraduate school has a career development center that is well versed in preparing students for professional interviews, both academically and industry-oriented. I always recommend setting up a practice interview with a career counselor, and gaining invaluable feedback on some personal quirks that aren’t always apparent to ourselves. A fault of mine is that I have unfaltering eye contact with a big, forward personality to match, and this is sometimes mistaken as aggressive and commanding to people. This was pointed out to me in a practice interview I scheduled, and I was guided on how to lighten up my intensity to let the more communicative, and expressive parts of me come across more clearly. A good way to practice answering interview questions and getting solid feedback is to work through Dr. Jessica Freedman’s, “The Medical School Interview” with friends and family. It’s a quick read and I found it helpful to hear my parents’ perspective with tidbits they thought would be important in telling my story while answering interview questions.

2. Read up! I’m baffled sometimes when I give a tour to interviewees, and some have very basic questions that are easily accessibly on our website. The ones I know have invested time into reading about our school already understand the mission of the school, and want to know more in-depth things like what the student life is like, what things there are to do in the area, how accessible and helpful faculty are, and they essentially are interviewing me to see if my little corner of the world is somewhere they can see themselves fitting well in. It’s absolutely ok, and I encourage interviewees to treat the interview day like a two-way interview. When I was in the hot seat, I asked so many questions about why my interviewers chose that school, why they like the area, and the pros and cons of that school. You’re the one that has to spend the next four years with your hands at the grindstone, so you should absolutely be invested in choosing a school that YOU see yourself at, not just one that offers you a seat. This is YOUR education, and I am a firm believer that you should take control and command of it, starting with the school you want!

3. Don’t try and impress anyone. What I mean by this is that everyone already knows about everything you’ve ever done, because those things should have been well articulated in your application and secondaries. When we invite students for an interview, we’ve already thoroughly screened them, scrutinized their credentials, and know they are qualified to succeed in the rigorous medical education. The interview isn’t to test academic prowess, but it’s so we can meet the person we’ve been reading about, are excited about, and see if we like each other. Come to your medical school interview prepared to show everyone the person you’ve written about in your application! We already know about your awards and what everyone else to say about you in your recommendation letters, and now we just want to spend some time and see if we’re a fit for you, and you for us. Be yourself. Be yourself. BE YOURSELF! Interview day is a lot of pressure, but it’s the most enjoyable and exciting part of this whole process, in my opinion.

Having just gone through the rigors of applying and getting accepted to medical school a year ago, all I can say is that you should be extremely proud of the obstacles you’ve overcome to reach this momentous achievement. There are no magic tricks or secrets to interviewing and getting accepted to medical school; however, being an honest person with the integrity that I hope you wrote about in your application, and showing that person to us as a medical school and student body is a fast-track to an instant acceptance. The people we end up accepting are the people that I want to spend the next four years with, through the good and the bad, and they with us. The person I’m willing to go out of the way for and write an email to the admissions committee is the person that would do the same for me, and is also someone I’d want to have a beer with next year. So, in your interview, show them that person.

Good luck!

Click here to download your complete copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success! Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression in Your Medical School Interviews
Multiple Mini Interviews: Method or Madness?
Common Myths About Medical School Interviews

Post-Interview Advice for Med School Applicants

Click here to download your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success!

All that’s left for you to do is wait patiently for an acceptance.

“Post-Interview Advice” is excerpted from the special report, The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success. To download the entire free special report, click here.

As the interview day is nearing its end, you may find yourself in the company of other applicants. Try not to engage in discussion about your interview in detail. These conversations only serve to increase anxiety and often lead to self-doubt. Talking about the school or topics you may have discussed with current students is great, but steer clear of discussing the actual interview content with your fellow applicants.

Also, don’t forget to follow-up with a personal thank you note to your interviewer(s). If you had a special experience with a student, student group, or a non-interviewing faculty member, then include that experience in your note.

When your interview experience is over, spend some time taking stock of all you’ve heard. Think about whether this school felt like home to you. Could you blend in with the current students? Did you connect with the faculty? Did you feel like there was a place waiting for you there – a place where you could grow both personally and professionally? If so, then all that’s left for you to do is wait patiently for an acceptance.

Click here to download your complete copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success! Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• Insights, Advice and Experiences of a Non-Traditional Med Student
• Med School Application Process: From AMCAS to Decisions
Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Worry about Your Med School Interview Invite

Need med school admissions advice? Check out our Medical School Admissions 101 pages!

Keep in touch with the adcom.

Yes, it’s November and some of your fellow applicants may have already been invited to their medical school interviews. But that doesn’t give you due cause to throw a fit and assume you’re as good as dinged.

Don’t worry. There’s still hope for you.

Consider the following:

1. When did you submit your application? Did you send it in early August, or just a few weeks ago? The later you send it in, the later the admissions committee will review it and get back to you with an interview decision. In fact, the adcoms are only NOW reviewing and interviewing for those applications submitted in July and August.

2. Keep in touch! Unlike most other admissions categories (like college admissions or MBA admissions), med school adcom sometimes allow applicants to keep in touch after they’ve submitted their applications but before any decisions have been made. If you submitted your application 8 or more weeks ago, then you may want to drop the admissions office a note (or call, depending on their preference) and ask if/when you might expect an interview invite. If you know you’ll be in the vicinity of the school over the holidays, you may want to mention that and ask if you can schedule an interview during that time. (This is a particularly good idea if you’ve applied to more than one school in a given city.)

3. Send new info. If your target program allows you to send new/updated information, you should definitely do so, but please make sure that it is really new and that it will enhance your application. This would include any recent achievements (either at school, in the workplace, or in a volunteer position), improved test scores, a new med school recommendation, or something else of that sort. You should send this med school admissions updated information in the form of a brief – not more than one page – letter with important documents attached.

Did you already score that coveted interview invite? Prep with the best when you purchase’s med school interview services.

Click here to download your complete copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success! Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• How to Write Waitlist Update Letters
• Not So Secret Secrets to Nailing the Med School InterviewThe Medical School 
• Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression in Your Medical School Interviews