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UPDATE: Check out our latest Johns Hopkins podcast interview: What Med School Applicants Must Know About Johns Hopkins >>
Johns Hopkins Medical School is ranked #3 by US News for Research and #17 for Primary care. Last year, JHU received 6090 AMCAS applications and 4327 secondary applications, and interviewed 623 MD candidates and 63 MD/PHD applications. It accepted a total of 271 very lucky and happy candidates.
The gatekeeper and head of admissions at Johns Hopkins is Paul White, one of the most respected and experienced medical school admissions deans in the country. He became Assistant Dean for Admissions at Johns Hopkins first in 2000, went to the University of Minnesota for a few years and returned to JHU as Asst Dean for Admissions in 2012. Welcome, Paul!
What is one thing that you want applicants to know about Hopkins? [1:50]
People often think about us in terms of the amazing research at Hopkins. But we want people to know that we’re a phenomenal place for patient care.
What is JHU’s approach to physician training? [2:20]
It integrates all aspects. Right away when they get here, students learn how to do physical exams – their clinical exposure starts right after their orientation. (From Day 3.) Clinical rotations occur earlier than in other programs, so students get 2 ½ years of clinical rotations in addition to that early exposure. And we have world class hospitals – patients come from all over the world for care here.
What is the goal of the Genes to Society curriculum and approach to medical education pioneered by Johns Hopkins? [4:50]
We want students to approach health as a continuum – from the cellular level, to disease, to society. We approach health disparities as part of the continuum.
In terms of that social aspect of the continuum, are there classes or is it more experiential learning? [5:50]
Both. In addition to courses, there are intersession programs.
Turning to admissions now. How are you adapting to the new MCAT? Is it still a transitional phase? [6:50]
I think it will take a little time to complete the transition and get comfortable with the new exam. We’re still seeing people with scores from both the old and new tests.
We’re relying more on grades, looking at the rigor of the coursework, and recommendations. But we’ve always done admissions holistically, anyway.
The MSAR data shows that the average MCAT of your matriculated students is actually slightly lower than the average score for applicants. What would cause you to turn away an applicant with a higher MCAT score and admit someone with a lower score? [9:20]
(The MSAR data that Linda cites is from the 2014-15 application cycle. After the podcast, Paul White provided 2015-16 data, and we have his permission to share it here: 6,618 AMCAS and 4,799 secondary applications received. There were 569 applicants interviewed for the MD program and 66 for the MD/PhD program; 277 were admitted and 118 enrolled. )
Well, again, it’s a holistic process. Our average GPA is very high.
If a high MCAT score is all someone has, then that doesn’t inform the committee of anything other than that they test well.
We’ve always done holistic review: we’re looking for students with leadership, involvement, etc. We’d rather see someone who’s done well overall and has all the qualities we’re looking for in a student and who we think will make a good physician.
You mentioned leadership. What are some other things you’re looking for? [10:50]
People who are team players – who work well with others. A strong service orientation – someone who’s going into medicine for the right reasons.
Are you looking for both clinical and research experience? [11:30]
They’re actually not required except for MD/PhD applicants. But how do you know you want to be a physician unless you have some clinical exposure? We find that people with research experience have a stronger understanding of the science behind medicine.
Some applicants pursue extensive firsthand clinical exposure (EMT certification, scribe, etc). How do you feel about shadowing? [12:50]
Shadowing is a wonderful introduction, but if it ends there, it probably doesn’t give an advantage in our process. More hands-on experience gives more insight into how medical teams work, the patient relationship, etc.
It’s also about demonstrating action and initiative – which is another reason research and service are important.
Can you share some advice for handling secondaries? [16:00]
I don’t think they’re as time consuming as people think. A lot of information is repeated. But applicants do need to look at the question carefully and see what each school is asking them.
How can students show fit in their secondaries? [18:05]
Part of what we look for is how applicants answer our short essay – how they meet our values.
What is a respectable turnaround for secondaries? [18:45]
We really do read applications from August to February. If applicants want to get an interview, they really need to be aware that it takes 2-3 weeks to process. It’s best to submit within a week.
What is your specific advice for JHU’s secondaries? [20:15]
Read the question.
One of our questions has to do with adversity. If they talk about someone else’s medical condition, they really haven’t addressed our question about adversity.
Another question asks what area of medicine they’ve considered. If they say, “I’m going to figure that out in med school,” I’m not sure they’ve really thought about the question or why they want to be a doctor.
What is a Johns Hopkins interview like? [21:50]
I always try to make the candidate relaxed and at their best. They’ve already cleared a hurdle most applicants won’t reach.
There’s no wrong answer – we just want them to be thoughtful. There are two interviews – one with a faculty member and one with a med student.
Are there activities on Interview Day? [23:30]
Yes. The evening before, they’re invited to meet with current first year med students – it’s a relaxed environment, off-the-record.
On Interview Day, they come for a tour of our housing facilities, and then a presentation from Admissions and Financial Aid. (With info on research opportunities, the average loan debt, etc.) After that, there’s lunch with faculty and current students. Then students take them on a tour of the hospital, after which they have their interviews.
It’s now October. What would you tell a strong (but not stellar) applicant who is considering an application – apply next year? Or try a late application? [26:40]
There are some med schools that tell you to apply as early as possible. I say to apply when you’re strongest. If you took a summer MCAT or were waiting for summer grades, and you’re in a strong position now, then apply. We don’t make decisions until December. We’re still meeting in March.
Any advice for reapplicants? [29:40]
We don’t provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants, but some schools might.
Look at your profile and see where the weak spots are. If you need to take some time to improve your profile – academic, clinical experience, etc – then do that. That might mean taking a year or more to really improve the application. Don’t reapply without strengthening your application. I’ve seen people apply 7, 8, 9 times with no change in the application.
Any advice for applicants looking ahead to next year’s cycle? [32:35]
Do some reflection on the possible gaps in your application: if you don’t have much clinical experience, then get some. If your GPA is low, work on your academics.
Do an honest self-assessment – even during sophomore year. Look at MSAR and see what med schools are looking for in an applicant.
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• Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Rips for Success
• How to Nail Your Med School Interviews
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• Put the Med School Application Puzzle Together: Advice from C. Foote
• 3 Ways Temple Can Help You Become an MD
• Attn Med Applicants: A Class Is Matriculated Every Single Year
• Baylor College Of Medicine: A Holistic Approach To Admissions
• The Do’s ad Don’ts of Med School Interviews