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In this week’s episode, meet D of Doctor or Bust, currently a second year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine. He speaks to us about applying to med school as a non-traditional applicant, his advice for this year’s applicants nervously awaiting interviews, pre-meds looking ahead—and more.
D’s experience as a non-traditional applicant (1:25)
He decided to apply to med school late in the game, after preparing for PhD programs—so his activities during college weren’t geared toward a medical school application. He took time in between undergrad and med school to shore up those experiences, gain more exposure to the medical field through volunteering/shadowing, etc.
Why those clinical experiences are important (3:30)
It’s important to establish why you want to go to med school: it’s a long journey, and pursuing medical experiences isn’t about a checklist so much as showing you’ve thought seriously about your goals and know what you’re getting into.
Addressing the challenge of waiting- waiting for MCAT scores, waiting for interview invitations, waiting for acceptance/rejection decisions — so much waiting! (8:10)
This can be an emotional roller coaster, but it’s the reality. Waiting for interview invitations at this time of year can be anxiety provoking, but isn’t necessarily negative. D points out that he knows several people who interviewed late and were successful.
D ultimately received multiple offers. How did he decide on BU? (11:48)
He received five acceptances. When it came to choosing, he focused on what he’d found most compelling before medical school: research. Research opportunities were a big attraction of both BU and Boston generally, and he’s had the chance to participate in a couple of projects already (related to cardiology and patient education/care).
What was D’s most difficult adjustment as a new medical student? (14:25)
The schedule and workload. Especially at the beginning, it can be overwhelming, before you learn to manage what’s important. It can also be a challenge, in a new environment, to create study networks right away.
Something D wished he’d known (20:50)
That early in med school, almost every student struggles with the feeling that their goal has never been farther away, and the sense that they don’t know anything. Being able to connect with other people is key to overcoming this.
Making time for life outside med school (24:00)
You have to schedule free time and exercise.
D’s tips for applicants preparing for interviews (27:20)
Your interview should back up what you provided in your application and give you a chance to take it deeper– not subvert it or make the committee question the portrait you already gave them. A disconnect between the two is a big problem. Review all your written materials carefully and be ready to go deeper.
Know that if you’re invited for an interview, they really want to get to know you!
D’s advice for current pre-meds who are preparing for next year’s application cycle (32:00)
Take the time to shore up any holes in your application (community service, etc). You also have plenty of time to write and improve your personal statement. It will be better if you take the time to rework it.
You also have time to work on lining up good letters of rec. D notes that he was very conscious that recommenders are giving their time and putting their name to their letters, so this is a process to take seriously.
It’s also a good idea to save money! The application process is expensive.
It’s important to apply to enough schools: better to apply to a couple more schools than to reapply.
Finally, prepare family and friends for the fact that you might disappear for a while; this is an intensive process.
Where to learn more about Doctor or Bust? (38:00)
• Doctor or Bust Blog
• Doctor or Bust on Twitter
• A Non-Traditional Med Applicant’s Journey to Multiple Acceptances
• Insights, Advice and Experiences of a Non-Traditional Med Student
• Overcoming The Odds: A Story Of Med School Inspiration
• Elliptical, Meet Med School: Interview with Andrea Tooley
• The Doctor As Renaissance Man
• Medical School Admissions 2015-2016: A Dean’s Perspective
• Baylor College Of Medicine: A Holistic Approach To Admissions
• Attn Med Applicants: A Class Is Matriculated Every Single Year