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Learn what the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine adcom looks for in applicants [Show summary]
Paul White, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, dispels common misconceptions about the program and explains what applicants can expect from an admissions process altered by COVID-19.
What makes Johns Hopkins School of Medicine unique, and how can YOU show your fit? [Show notes]
Do you want to know how to get into Johns Hopkins School of Medicine? Are you wondering what its curriculum is really like, and how it has adapted to COVID? Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs is here with answers.
Before arriving at Johns Hopkins, Paul White attended Yale for undergrad and Georgetown for his law degree. He has worked in admissions, both undergrad and med, since 1979. Since 2012, he has served the applicant community as the Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at Johns Hopkins and made a previous appearance on Admissions Straight Talk in 2016.
Can we start out with an overview of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine program, focusing on its distinctive elements? [1:50]
Johns Hopkins has a wonderful educational program. Hopkins is one of the schools that really pioneered prerequisites for medical school, and the Flexner Report, which came out in 1910, said Hopkins was one of the schools that did it right, and we’ve never sat on our laurels. So we’re always asking, are we keeping current? Are we teaching students what they need to know to work with patients? A few years ago, easily 12 years ago now, Hopkins completely revised its curriculum to focus more on the social determinants of disease.
We incorporate that throughout the curriculum when our students come to Hopkins. You have a course that begins right after orientation that focuses on healthcare disparities. There are several intersession courses you’ll have between major components, like anatomy and so forth. But the very first one focuses on healthcare disparities and brings in someone from the community who talks about their issues, and so forth. We also have our students do an ambulatory longitudinal clerkship later in their first year, which gets them out into the community and working alongside a physician who works with patients from underserved populations.
Continuing with that, we integrate, throughout the curriculum, the social sciences, ethics, public health, and interprofessional education. We give our students opportunities to do research. Many of them have already had research prior to coming to Hopkins. Although it’s not required, I would say easily 95 or 96% have had research prior to their matriculation. But by the time they graduate from Hopkins, easily 99% will have research, and nearly 99% will have a publication by the time they graduate from Hopkins. So that has really strengthened the profile of our students, which was pretty strong to begin with, but it has really made students that much more attuned to what’s going on in the world and ready to address it using scientific methodology.
When you talk about a longitudinal ambulatory clerkship, what are they doing? [4:55]
I think of it as advanced clinical shadowing, and actually in the community working with the physician. But rather than being a pre-medical student, they’re actually medical students, and it is something which they are evaluated on as part of their curriculum as well. Who they see depends on who the physician is seeing as part of the clerkship. That’s why it’s several weeks rather than a two-time event.
What’s a common misconception about Johns Hopkins that you would like to dispel? [5:36]
That the only thing we’re interested in is research. That is a misconception that can impact how someone is viewed in the admissions process. Even though I am not a physician, I’m a lawyer by training, I want to make sure that the students who come to Hopkins have a strong commitment and interest in patient care. So we look for students who’ve had meaningful patient interactions prior to applying, not something they hope to get once they’re in medical school. And if they haven’t had that, and instead they’ve had research, that’s great. But the research has to involve some type of patient care. Most of our students who are successful in our admissions process have had significant clinical interaction, and that goes well beyond shadowing. I’m talking about actually interacting with patients, and sometimes they’re scribes, but in a position where they interact on a regular basis. All have interest in patient care, and how they would benefit from the research that they’re doing.
Obviously, clinical exposure early-on and throughout the four years of med school is a critical element in the curriculum. How are students getting that during COVID? [7:25]
Certainly the third and fourth year students had to pause in the spring, but they were getting right back into the clinical component in early July, if not slightly early. They didn’t miss a beat. The first and second year students, it’s a little different for them, and it’s more controlled with the standardized patient program instead.
Now let’s turn to the Johns Hopkins secondary application. It’s a thorough secondary and asks for five essays. When you examine the secondaries, what are you attempting to glean from them that the primaries don’t provide? [8:09]
We’re looking for people who will be the best fit, and you don’t always get that from the primary. You get some of it from their personal statement. That’s why there is a personal statement, frankly. It is our questions that will impart, hopefully, to the applicant what we value. One of our questions deals with adversity. Another question deals with a time when you were not in the majority. What interests do you have? What kind of medicine are you interested in?
It’s not that we are looking for anything conclusive, but we want to know, have they ever dealt with patients? So they have at least an idea. I do interviews as well, and I screen, and I’m one of the interviewers, and I’ll say, “You know what? I think this person really blew off X question.” And that will lead to much discussion. I’ve had applicants tell me, “I love your questions on the secondary.” We have some questions in our interview that get at what we value as well.
Click here for our Johns Hopkins secondary application essay tips >>
Does Johns Hopkins have any automatic screening of secondaries? [10:26]
No, not at all. It would make life easier, I think. But as long as I’ve been with Hopkins, we have never done automatic screening. Every application is reviewed. I probably read 40% of the applications, but every one is read by two different people. We made some major changes in our review process this past year, and not knowing that there’d be a pandemic, we decided to go ahead and plow through it, and it has not been easy. But we’re still on track. And, this is crazy, but our applications are up almost 25%. They’re up nationally, about 17%. But even among our peers, our increase is outpacing them.
The deadline just passed for the primary, but the secondary one is not until November 1st. But we’re going through every application, and I can tell you I doubled the number of screeners. And these are people who’ve been veterans of the admissions committee, but they’ve never had to screen. There are three of us who are screeners, out of a dozen, who’ve been on this committee for 20 years or more. “Screening” means we’re screening those to be considered for an interview. We screen every applicant who submits a verified AMCAS application, and then from whom we receive the secondary. So we don’t just base it on their primary; it’s on the completed application.
We truly use and believe in a holistic review process. So that includes the MCAT, as well as the academic record, meaning the course work they’ve done, as well as their performance or GPA in those courses. But it means that there are no cutoffs. There are students who I will say no to, but the other reviewer says yes, and it automatically goes to a third reviewer, and the majority wins. I know I’ve seen a couple students where I really wondered, is this someone we should be bringing in? But someone else saw something there that I may not have seen, but I’ll say, let’s see how the person does in an interview. And an interview doesn’t mean you’re in.
In addition to the two screenings before you get to the interview, any student invited to interview at Johns Hopkins will have two interviews, correct? [13:08]
That’s right. Everyone has to have two interviews. Both interviewers are members of the admissions committee, but one is always the faculty member and the other is a medical student. The medical students are actually selected by the rising fourth years to represent the entire student body, so we have 20 medical students on the admissions committee. They are terrific. They’re typically campus leaders. Not only that, they’re interviewing for residency themselves. They are in their final year, and yet they were able to do it. I always talk to them and see how they’re doing, and they’ll say, “This has been really incredible and has helped me with my residency interviews.”
Given COVID, are there other activities for the invited students? [14:07]
All virtual. If they were in Baltimore, they would be taking a tour of one of our principle housing residences. Housing is run by a corporation that owns numerous hotels that you’ve heard of. It’s a 23-story tower that we give a tour of. We’re not doing that. Then they would typically meet with me on Thursdays and with the woman who is our director, who reports to me, on Fridays. So for both days now we send out a video of me welcoming them. That was interesting because I pretty much did it in one take. It’s just 10 minutes giving a high level overview of what they can expect. We also did a PowerPoint presentation, and we present that from our financial aid office, which I think they’re delighted to have. And then on the actual interview day (so that’s anyone who’s been invited to interview) on Thursdays, I’m on the computer all day, and they meet with me and I give them some last minute things, housekeeping details. I ask them if they have any questions, and I serve as the traffic controller for Thursday interviewees. So I’m typically on a little before 9:00 our time, and as late as 5:00 in the afternoon. Even though it is eating up my entire day, I’m able to review applications online if I have 45 minutes. So I’ll do that while people are doing their interviews.
Watch: Med School Interviews During COVID-19 >>
Per AMSA, Johns Hopkins Medical received 6,016 applications in 2019. You’ve just said that you’re up over 24%, is that right? [16:11]
We’re at just under 7,000 applications. Last year, we actually saw a decrease, and we were puzzled about that. It was around 5,600 applications. Then this year we’re over 6,900 right now, and they’re still being processed, the ones that met the deadline. So we made it to 7,000.
In 2019, you interviewed 657 applicants and matriculated 120. When you get to the interview stage, statistically, your chances of acceptance go up dramatically, is that right? [17:03]
Yes, though last year, we actually cut the number of interviews to about 574 for the MD program, and roughly 90 for the MD/PhD. This year will be similar to last year, approximately. I know I’ve talked to some of our peers to see what they were going to do, because they’re experiencing an increase as well. One school said they felt like they needed to increase the number of interviews. Frankly, out of the 574 that we interview, we could easily admit 300 of those, so I don’t see the need to increase the interview numbers.
But then I do keep my eye on who’s accepting our offers with the new process, where you have the Choose Your Medical School tool, rather than when you had to enroll or commit to enroll. The first year of that, Linda, may have been the year you and I last spoke. No one knew what that meant. Everyone was committing to enroll. I think something like 96% of our students committed to enroll by April 30th. This past year, which was the second year, they got a little wiser, and I would venture to guess maybe 50% committed to enroll. Once you commit to enroll, you can’t stay on a waiting list. We actually went a little further into our waiting list because we weren’t sure who was going to come. Money played an issue more so last year than previous year, but who’s to say what will happen this year? As long as I’ve been doing it, there hasn’t been a typical year.
When you have close to 7,000 applications, and you’re trying to get it down to 500 lucky people who are going to be invited to interview, how do you do it? What makes an applicant jump off the application page for you? [19:19]
We have 12 very different people who are our screeners. Two people besides myself, so three of us, are not physicians. Two are researchers. I am obviously not a researcher or a physician, but I’ve got the experience. And then everyone else is an MD, and in some cases, an MD/PhD. You’ve got surgeons, cardiologists, bioethicists, HIV researchers. It’s just a fascinating group. Psychiatrists. I only meet with them once a month. They get their files weekly from my staff, and I only meet with them once a month, but I send them emails and I track how they’re doing, and I remind them that it is incredibly important that we get people who know what it means to interact with patients, who can talk about why patient care is so important, why doctors have the role they have on a medical team.
Are you a competitive applicant at your dream school? Check out the Med School Selectivity Index to find out >>
I don’t say, “These are the cutoffs,” or anything, but I tell them that our GPA for applicants and MCAT were X last year, just for applicants, and then invited to interview, people admitted, and then those who matriculated. And I don’t say you have to have a 3.93 to get an interview. I don’t say you have to have a 521 to get an interview. But at the same time, they know that if someone is in the 50th percentile on the MCAT, that’s not as competitive. We’ve got too many extremely qualified applicants just by the numbers. Their job is to look and say, “Okay, we know that the people who come to Hopkins are campus leaders,” as undergraduates, because that’s who they are when they come to Hopkins as well.
One of the things we think we do a good job of is training people to be medical leaders. We take advantage of that and look for people who’ve been in leadership positions. We also know we’re a great place for anyone who is interested in serving the public. That is something you can definitely do in Baltimore. And because they get out in the community, and we want them to be comfortable with that, familiar with that, we’re a great place to learn. One of the things people don’t realize about Hopkins is that it’s a great place for primary care training. And we have a primary care leadership program. We know that our students who do that program will be leaders of primary care, teaching primary care, not just seeing patients, but actually teaching at major academic institutions. And so we look for people who we think are going to be these future leaders in medicine.
About what percentage of the class goes into primary care specialties? [22:22]
It’s not high enough. The primary care leadership track is actually something they can only choose once they’re out of Hopkins. That is, by design, small, though the number has tripled since it was introduced about six years ago. But I would say in a class of roughly 120 graduates, maybe 12%, 14% will go into what I think of as primary care. What the Department of Education thinks of as primary care may be a little more expansive. For instance, going into internal medicine, which some may not think of as primary care, really is. I think it is, but some people think when we’re talking about primary care we’re thinking family medicine, pediatrics, and then certainly geriatrics. That’s part of the program here as well, especially if you’re doing the primary care leadership track: You get early exposure to mentoring. You get mentoring all four years, but they have mentored workshop, which is with primary care folks in geriatrics, family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, and so forth.
Is there anything that you look for in applicants today or value more in applicants today than you did two or five or 10 years ago? [23:32]
I would definitely say knowing what type of students succeed at Hopkins. I look for people who have perhaps overcome challenges and are capable and have the resiliency to figure out how to make things work. I think one of the things we do better today than we did when I came to the medical school in 2000 is support our students. Even though we have a lot of support, when we changed our curriculum, we introduced the college system. All of our students are assigned to one of four colleges, which has nothing to do with your intended field of medicine. Some schools call them learning communities. The students have support throughout with faculty members who serve as their mentors and advisors for all four years, and then you still have the resources of the Dean of Students office. But we know that times are different today. They certainly are different than from when you and I were in undergrad and grad school I’m sure. We had to be resilient. But we also didn’t have the same pressures then that they have today.
Students compare themselves to other people. We didn’t have social media, so we weren’t able to figure out that we weren’t as good as someone else perhaps. I was no slouch when I went to college, but I remember toughing it out. Students today have a lot more pressure on them, external pressures, let’s put it that way. So we offer more support to the students with the wellness program. We have a woman who works with students who encounter academic difficulties, which no one would think of when they come to Hopkins. But sometimes they’ve had to overcompensate for issues affecting their learning in college, and they’ve had that down pat, but then you get to medical school and it’s like a fire hydrant with the cap off. This woman has done a great job. It’s just a handful of students, but that kind of support means a lot.
I’m not saying that we look for this in the application, but if someone clearly expresses unease with asking for help, they’re not going to get very far. You have to be able to ask for help. Particularly if we’re talking about this kind of student, I think at Hopkins and at other medical schools, it’s difficult to ask for help. It was difficult for me as a freshman in college, 120 years ago, whenever that was. But you learn. It’s okay to fall. It’s how you pick yourself back up.
How do you view letters of intent or correspondence from waitlisted applicants? [26:58]
I don’t pay any attention to them at Hopkins. We want there to be a level playing field, and if you’re interviewed that’s your shot. The way we do our admissions process is that we have a vote at the meeting, and we don’t even tell the admissions committee how someone has done. Maybe three months later, three of us will sit down and review the transcript of the meetings and the scores. That dictates who gets in, and that will dictate how far we can go. We know our yield will be X percent, so we try not to load it up with people who were fortunate enough to be discussed earlier.
We notify people in three rounds, depending on when they interview: December, end of January, end of March. And yet the percentage of acceptances is about the same relative to however many were interviewed. If they were discussed and they’re placed on the waiting list, once we know we’re going to use a waiting list, we go by their initial voting score. An additional letter means absolutely nothing to us. I don’t welcome them at Hopkins. I know that’s probably heresy compared to some medical schools. As I said, we want there to be a level playing field. I also know a letter of intent is not a contract. They may be sending it to numerous other schools.
I will accept an update from someone who’s interviewed. Post-interview they can submit, and I tell them that’s part of their orientation when I meet with them on my Thursdays or when Val meets with them on her Fridays. Other than that, I don’t track anything. So if someone says, “Here is some information, I’ve applied,” I have a standard email now that I send, “Thank you very much. But unfortunately, we’re not able to retain this, but if you’re invited to an interview, you’ll be given information as to how you may upload the information.” I want it to go to one person because that person will keep it. She’s the repository of all updates, and I’m afraid if they send it to me or to someone else, we won’t know. And we only do it for those people we’ve invited to interview. Keep in mind, 7,000.
At this time of year, I almost always get calls (frequently from parents, less so than from the applicants themselves), and the call goes something like this: “My son applied to 20-something top schools. His application looks great, but we haven’t heard anything. What should I do? Should we start preparing for next year? Should he apply to additional schools?” I tell them you’ve got to wait. What would you say? [29:44]
There are two things I want to mention. One is that not every medical school has the same process. There are some schools that will encourage early applications. We’re not one of them. I’m basing it on historical data. I can point to where we see the application process and the influx of candidates and so forth. So why would I go out with more offers early in the process, when I know that I’m going to see some great folks later as well?
We don’t get the verified application until the last Friday in June. This year was a little different of course. 10 days later, I think this year. But normally it’s the last Friday in June. We would take a couple of days and then send them access to our secondary, and we use the AMCAS secondary now, through WebAdMIT. I’m the Guinea pig, so I review it to make sure that everything new that we put in is working. And that means I’m reading probably 30, 40, 50 applications before I tell the screeners, “Okay, let’s have a meeting to talk about the plans for this year.” So normally, we don’t start reviewing applications as a committee until mid to late July. This year I think it was late July, beginning of August. We were right on time with interviews.
We’re actually in our ninth week of interviews. I was shocked when I talked to some of my colleagues. A couple of weeks ago, some of them were in their third week of interviews and deliberately started late. We saw no reason to. Because of all the changes, we wanted to start small and figure out where we could go wrong, and you can only do that when you’re starting small. And it was small, trust me, but that’s okay, because we saw what the bumps were. Now we’re in week nine, and our interviewees have told me that it’s been an unbelievably smooth process for them, because we figure out who to put where and what, and the times.
We expanded our interview times. Typically, if you were on campus, you would only be interviewing at 2:45 or 3:30. You can interview now anywhere from 9:00 to 4:00. It’s much more flexible. I was shocked: I had students who were clearly in Berkeley, California, who were interviewing at 9:00, and they said, “Well, I have classes later, and this is great, because I’m not missing any class.” A real early riser. I’m like, “Well, good for you.”
To get back to your question, patience is rewarded. It’s a long process. I have a timeline on our website, and I want to remind students that it is a six month process for us as well. There are students I may not review until early December or even January, and they’re still invited to interview. It says nothing about their quality. It’s just that we go in the order in which their file is processed, but we don’t over-admit, so they shouldn’t worry about that.
I think there’s only been three times where Hopkins had a little sweat about the end of the process. And one was before I got there, in 1999, when they first became an AMCAS school, because prior to that, they were not an AMCAS school. They used to accept just your SATs or ACTs or GREs, and then, to be a member of AMCAS, you had to require the MCAT. They went from approximately 3,000 applications to 7,000 in one year. That’s because you knew you had to make an extra effort at that time to apply, you remember? The idea of a common application is that it makes it easier, but it creates this kind of frenzy and froth. And that’s what we see, and then students talk themselves even further into the frenzy thinking, “Oh, if I don’t get in, it’s because I didn’t apply early. I waited until it was August 1st.” And there’s some people who should wait until September or October to apply.
I’m constantly telling people, apply when you are at your strongest. And if that means you had to wait because you were taking summer courses, or you were having a summer experience that would really enrich your application profile, in terms of your clinical exposure, your leadership, your research possibly, and you want to be able to talk about that in the AMCAS application, particularly since we don’t take updates. Then, wait. There are students who are smart enough to figure that out and really benefit from that.
What about waiting a whole year and doing a gap year or two? [36:25]
I have no problem with that. Over 50% of our students have had at least a year off before applying, but what I don’t want them to do is feel that they are disadvantaged unless they take a year off. I’ve talked to our own undergraduates, and they’ll say, “Yes, but I’m planning to take a year off.” And I ask, “Why?” “Well, because a counselor thinks I will be a stronger candidate.” And I’m thinking, if you’ve done every X, Y, and Z, and we look for X, Y, and Z, you’ve got a competitive MCAT or competitive GPA already, you’ve been a campus leader, you’ve spent every summer doing research and you have significant clinical exposure, what more do you need? I can’t get that message out often enough though. There’s no one size fits all for every medical school.
COVID has affected every corner of our lives, including medical school admissions, and medical school applicants are sometimes anxious, to put it mildly, about not having taken the MCAT early, applying late, taking online classes, taking a class pass/fail, or having trouble getting the clinical exposure that is so important for medical students. What is your advice? [37:28]
We’ve never really prohibited pass/fail. We said that you had to have a conventional grading system. Someone said to me, “Oh, well, I think a pass/fail isn’t conventional.” Yes, it is. We accept that. What I was talking about were those students who go to the rare colleges, you probably know which one I’m talking about, that use narratives instead of letter grades. That’s what we’re talking about when we say that’s not enough. But pass/fail, we can work with that. And certainly this year, we had to work with it, and we have no problem. I even put that out on my website ages ago.
One of the other changes we had to make this year is we never accepted online courses for the prerequisites. I had to update the MSAR repeatedly, because we do accept it now. Maybe that also explains a huge spike in our number of applications, but in some cases that wasn’t even approved until late July/early August. So it was after when people had applied, in many cases.
We’ve had to be flexible. They need to be flexible. And that includes understanding that they may not have the meaningful deep clinical experience this year. What I want to know is, what did you do pre-pandemic? I’m not thinking they have to have a thousand hours of volunteering at Cedars-Sinai hospital, but I’m looking for some indication that they had some interactions with patients prior to that. There are some opportunities. One of the things I talked about with a group back in the early summer was that states need people to do contact tracing. I’m seeing that now from applicants. I think it’s fantastic. Hotlines. If anything, it’s a chance for students to think outside the box. They don’t have to be holding a patient’s hand to have patient interaction.
What advice would you give to med school applicants thinking ahead and planning to apply in 2021 for 2022 matriculation or later? [40:40]
First of all, I think the AAMC did a wonderful job with the MCAT. There are people who say, “Oh, well, it’s terrible. They keep canceling.” They added numerous dates and times. They were being offered at 6:00, 12:00 and 6:00. In fact, out of our almost 7,000 applicants, only 74 don’t have an MCAT score. That is remarkable. And that’s data from theAAMC. We require the MCAT, and I moved by a couple of weeks the deadline by which they needed to take the MCAT examination. But what I’m not doing is moving it to January. We’re almost done at that point. They sped up the turnaround time for score reporting from four weeks to two weeks. I think that was terrific. Going forward, I think those students, and AMCAS is probably learning this, should sign up for earlier dates. If they’re canceled, you still have time to take them. I’m not even sure if there’ll be a problem, but you should certainly anticipate that there may be a need to sign up, and be prepared to take the MCAT a little earlier, and to take it if need be a second time, a little earlier, rather than waiting until August or September.
So that’s one thing. I think we’re thinking about two different processes: one that it’s going to be in-person, and we’re still thinking about a virtual one. I won’t start thinking solely about an in-person interview process until I know that there’s a vaccine and that all of the people have taken it. We’re in the 2021 cycle now, and 2022 may still look like this. It may not be until 2023, and even then, it may look different than it did prior to 2021, because there are some things that we’re doing now that we weren’t able to do before.
Students clearly aren’t being disadvantaged by having to travel somewhere. Offering interviews throughout the day on Thursdays and Fridays, instead of afternoons only, means that our faculty kind of like it. I’m old school; I still print out the papers, but I know when I talk to someone who’s in their 20s, they say, “Why did you print it?” But I’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight interviewees this Thursday. Normally, I might have five people interviewing. And now I’ve got eight. Some of them are only doing one, but hey, that helps. One person started at nine o’clock, and I remember admitting her as a student, and now she’s on the faculty and has been for a couple of years. It’s mind-boggling that some people were interviewing until four o’clock.
It’s given us flexibility, frankly. We were doing Skype. That’s something you haven’t heard in a while, probably. We were doing Skype interviews. Differently, though. The people who were doing Skype were on scholarships, fellowships and so forth, or in another country. They were in England. I’ve interviewed students in Israel, South Korea, China. We can do that now too, but they’re a part of a group, whereas before it was an individual. We have group exercises for them. They’re actually interacting with our current medical students on three different occasions as part of the process.
Is interacting with current students part of the interview process? [44:59]
It depends. The greeters program is voluntary, but that’s where they’re going to hear from first and second year students. It’s all off the record. Unless someone says something really stupid, I shouldn’t know anything about it. The meeting with our underrepresented students, it’s all off the record. And that’s voluntary, by the way.
The afternoon sessions are with our fourth years, who are members of the admissions committee, and one of them may be your interviewer. That’s all on the record. Years ago, I used to tell the students to be on your best behavior in that interaction, the in-person with our students. Not that they shouldn’t be anyway. I mean, I don’t need to tell them that. But I recently had an encounter with someone who didn’t realize that they’d been interacting with me. This was an exchange of email. I answer emails left and right. I’ve answered email since I started at the medical school through my secondary account. I don’t put my name on it necessarily, and I have other people who may answer some of them. If I’m not sure, I’ll forward them to the registrar’s office, things like that. I have seen some rather shocking behavior. And then the person applies, and lo and behold, they get an interview. I’m like, “Well, I’ve got this.” And I had to say, “This matters.”
It’s how you’re acting when people aren’t looking at you. I could tell you some stories. That’s the one thing that we’re not getting necessarily when they interact with live people and how they do with our staff, but also with the interviewers. I remember a committee member saying when we had interview rooms (which we’re not using right now, obviously) set up with a table and two chairs, matching chairs, but we always put the student chair here and the faculty on this side. And we had a student bring his chair and sit right next to the faculty member. And the faculty member said, “What are you doing?” The student said, “I thought it was important that we be close.” She said, “Get back over there!” And she told the admissions committee about that. That wasn’t that long ago.
What would you have liked me to ask you? [48:35]
We’re interested in all kinds of students at Hopkins. As I said, there are no cutoffs in terms of scores or anything. We want people we think will take advantage of the educational opportunities that exist at Hopkins, and we can only get a sense of that if you’ve done that as an undergraduate. You don’t have to be perfect, because gosh knows we’re not perfect. We need to hear from your recommenders, for instance, who say, “This is someone who’s made a real effort to learn and apply that learning to others and improve things.” That’s the kind of person that I think will flourish at Hopkins.
I’d also like people to realize how important it is for Hopkins, and all of medicine, but especially for Hopkins, that there be collaboration with students. There are two things that, I tell people, really define the kind of student who succeeds at Hopkins. The one who is accustomed to collaborating with the other students or faculty, because the faculty treat the students as junior faculty. We want to teach, and so you’re going to succeed and take over from us. And the other thing is, what helps our students stand out is their entrepreneurial spirit. And I mean that in the best sense of the word. They really are creative and dynamic and coming to decisions in a group setting. And I think if people think of Hopkins that way, that may dispel anything they may think of or have heard of 30, 40 years ago.
I’ve been affiliated with a medical school for what feels like forever, going on 21 years. And I remember in our discussions early on thinking, “Okay, where is the ‘uptight’ whatever?” We didn’t see it. Part of that is because the screeners do a pretty good job of weeding that out. We know that the students who succeed at Hopkins are the ones who are accustomed to working with other people. It is a team sport. It’s so different than it was 40 years ago. “I’m the doctor and I make all the best decisions.” Really? People hear that now, and they think, “What a bizarre thing to say.” At Hopkins, it’s about being a member of a team. One of our committee members (and I wrote it down) who’s on the admissions committee, but she’s also the head of curriculum, said, “Medicine is a team sport.”
Where can listeners learn more about Johns Hopkins School of Medicine? [51:30]
They can go to our website: www.hopkinsmedicine.org/admissions.
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