Med School Apps and Interviews: You’ve Got This!
Written by: Krupa George
Edited by: Alexandra Alvarez and Kendyl Naugle
Happy Spring! If you’re in the midst of the medical school application process, this time might be a little nerve-wracking. You may be waiting for interviews, currently interviewing, or waiting for decisions. Maybe applications are looming in your future. Whatever step in the application process you’re on, here are some lessons and reflections from my time as an applicant!
- Apply early! Application cycles are rolling, which means that the earlier you apply, the greater chance you have of being invited to interview! Timelines vary depending on your application system (for instance, in Texas, we have the TMDSAS and that timeline is a little earlier than AMCAS). Make sure to go to your application website and read all their FAQ’s to learn more about these dates and deadlines. As for letters of recommendation, ask early! This gives your letter writers plenty of time to reflect and write a letter that paints you in the best possible light. And, of course, always remember to send them a thank you gift 🙂
- Trust yourself! This is a tough process. Applying to medical school requires you to take stock of everything you’ve done in the past few years, and sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough. Hindsight is 20/20 and you may find things to criticize. Sure, you could have done better in that one class, or scored higher in that one section of the MCAT, but it’s important to realize that no one is perfect, and if you feel ready to apply to medical school—trust your gut, you’re ready! However, if you’re truly not sure, a gap year is a wonderful thing. If you’re on the fence, I would recommend talking to your school’s pre-health advisors for some help.
- Forgive yourself! You may hear lots of advice regarding the application process from many different people, but even if you have every intention of taking it, sometimes life can get in the way. For instance, I wanted to submit my applications as soon as they opened. However, that summer, I ended up taking summer classes, retaking the MCAT, and having surgery. I submitted some of my secondaries, but had a few remaining once I returned to school in August. It was difficult to do them while taking classes. I really had to push myself to submit them, since I had already been disappointed in myself for putting them off for so long. But I learned to forgive myself and move on. It’s not worth reflecting on past mistakes to the point where they prevent you from moving forward. Just go ahead and do it!
So you’ve just gotten invited to an interview at a medical school—congratulations! You should totally take a moment to celebrate, that’s a big deal!
- Plan! Whether you’re still in school or working, you will probably need to take time off to travel to your interview location. You may need to drive or take a flight depending on how far it is. If you’re in school, you may miss a class or an exam. This is something I did not anticipate, and I’ve definitely struggled to keep up with some of my more challenging classes (e.g. anatomy) while also missing so many classes due to interviews. Let your professor know as soon as you receive an interview invitation so they can work with you to catch up on material and reschedule exams if needed! Also, in order to be well rested, try to spend the night before your interview at the interview location. Schools often have a “night before” social with current medical students, and that is a great opportunity to hear firsthand experiences and gather advice for the interview. Finally, do your research on the school so you can ask informed questions.
- Prepare! Between your primary application, and several secondaries, you’ve probably done a lot of writing. If you submitted your applications early, it’s probable that it has been a while since you’ve looked at them. Because of this, you may have forgotten some things on your application. Try to glance over it the night before if possible and make sure you remember details in case you are asked about them. Also, if you are asked a question you’re unsure of, remember that it’s totally alright to pause and take a moment to gather your thoughts before you respond. Finally, interviewers are usually trying to just get to know you as a person, so relax and be yourself! Check if your school offers mock interviews, or look up common medical school interview questions online and have a friend ask you a few questions as practice rounds. This might help you feel more prepared!
- Be thankful! I’ve had some interviews where I’ve walked out feeling amazing, and there have been others where I’ve left feeling unsure*. Regardless, you should be proud of yourself for making it so far, and grateful for the opportunity to interview. You can learn a lot from both the good and bad things that happen, and you get to meet a lot of amazing people: fellow interviewees, medical students, faculty, etc. You get to tour a medical school and see a new city. It’s a great experience that so many people may not get the chance to do, so just take a moment to be thankful. Of course, you can also send thank you cards to your interviewers and anyone who helped you throughout interview day – they’ll really appreciate it!
*interestingly enough, I ended up matching at the school where I had the most challenging interview! So there is always hope 🙂
The next step:
Patience! At this point it’s just a waiting game. As hard as it is to not worry, at some point you must realize that the decision is out of your hands. Having just come out of this waiting period, here are some tips: as tempting as it is to put the rest of your life on hold waiting to hear back, don’t do that! Live your life, have fun with friends, engage in your hobbies. You are a whole person apart from your career aspirations, and this is an excellent time to feed the other aspects of yourself.
Next next steps:
You know where you’re going, now what?
- Celebrate! Medical school has been a huge goal for a long time, and once you’re accepted, make sure to relax a bit and enjoy the feeling. Go tell professors and mentors who have helped you get there because they deserve to enjoy your success as well. But make sure you don’t relax too much and lose motivation, continue to do what you need to do (continue school–graduate!– or continue your job or internship).
- Explore the city (if you’re moving): try to make a trip there and look at apartments/housing options. Set up a second look with the medical school and/or attend preview weekend.
- Find friends/potential roommates! Most medical schools will invite you to join a class Facebook page. Introduce yourself and get to know your classmates. Make a roommate-finding spreadsheet if someone has not already.
This is such an exciting period that can be an emotional roller coaster. But no matter what happens, you’ll be fine—we, at AMWA, believe in you! (:
“A woman is like a tea bag—you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
Check back soon for our next blog post and if any of you have suggestions for future posts or any topics that you want to see written about, then make sure to email email@example.com!