Many parents of premeds want to offer support and encouragement when their adult children are applying to med school. But first, they need to understand what goes into this arduous and lengthy process.
Our recent workshop, Parents of Premeds: Understanding the Med School Admissions & What YOU Can Do to Help!, provided a concise but thorough primer for parents on this very topic. Linda Abraham, Accepted President and Founder, explained the foundations of a successful med school application, beyond MCAT scores and GPA. For example, Linda explained the value of gap year programs, leadership and teamwork experience, clinical exposure (including physician shadowing), and community service in building an applicant’s profile.
“Service is foundational for medicine,” Linda told the participants. “Med schools want to see that commitment, as well as service to the disadvantaged and multicultural fluency.” With the average age of entering med students now 24, premeds have more time to pursue these formative experiences, which allow them to demonstrate impact and gain important insights about themselves and their career goals.
The AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS applications present space for applicants to reveal the kind of self-awareness and maturity required for future physicians and which they will have developed through their leadership and teamwork experiences.
“These applications ask applicants to list various activities they have participated in. Each element can reveal a different piece of the applicant’s story and show the fitness to be a doctor that schools are looking for,” Linda added.
In their enthusiasm to help their adult children, parents may unintentionally create friction in the relationship and add stress to an already stressful process. But there are ways to smooth this path. “If your kids ask for your input, offer it in a constructive, positive way,” Linda counseled. “Never nag about any aspect of their application. It’s completely counterproductive. To ensure your applicant is following ‘best practices,’ it can be helpful to offer to fund guidance from an experienced med school admissions consultant. This lets them work with an expert who is an active expert in the field but with whom there is no personal or emotional ‘baggage,’” she added.
This consultant can guide the applicant through the flurry of secondary applications and the tailoring they each require, and provide mock interviews to prepare for those meetings. Interviews provide a critical opportunity for the applicant to continue to demonstrate “fit” with a medical career and with the med school program.
While rejection from med school is tough, it’s also surprisingly common. “Most med school applicants are rejected,” Linda told parents. “Sixty-five med school programs in the U.S. accept fewer than 5% of all applicants.” Disappointment may lead to anger, and parents may be on the receiving end of this venting. “Let them have their moment of disappointment. Give them time to absorb the blow before they reassess their plans,” Linda advised. “If they still want to become doctors, something needs to change to create a different outcome.” A good next step will be evaluating their credentials, how they presented those credentials, and suitability for the programs they applied for.
Linda concluded with a warning: there are many free resources on the internet to help premeds in their application journey, but they are written for a generic, faceless population. “Some advice may be good, but none of these resources can take into account your adult child’s unique situation, strengths, weaknesses, goals, or dreams,” she cautioned. Accepted’s expert consultants offer advice tailored very specifically for each individual. This advice is based on many years of experience and seeing what works. Linda did announce a new free resource for parents through Accepted: a Facebook group for Parents of Pre-Professional Applicants. “This is a place where parents can share experiences, frustrations, and successes in a supportive community.
For 25 years, Accepted has helped applicants gain acceptance to their dream healthcare programs. Our outstanding team of admissions consultants features former admissions directors, admissions committee members, pre-health advisors, postbac program directors, and doctors. Our staff has guided applicants to acceptance at allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) medical schools, residencies and fellowships, dental school, veterinarian school, and physician assistant programs at top schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Penn, UCSF, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and many more. Want an admissions expert to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!