By Alexa Lepold
The preparation period for medical school can be challenging and quite intimidating. Whether a student comes straight from their undergraduate university or has already had their fair share of career experiences, our Post-Bacc Pre-Medical Peer Ambassadors offer their best ten tips on how to make the process less stressful, more smooth, and more rewarding.
UVM post-bacc pre-med student Grace Chiodo shares her tip in this short clip.
- Create a Timeline with Deadlines. The process can be overwhelming and there is so much to do. Write out the things you need to get done and set a deadline for yourself to carry them out, e.g., build a personal statement rough draft by Friday, request a letter of recommendation from my Professor by May 1st.
- It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint. This program and this process isn’t a competition with others – as much as we may convince ourselves that it is. It is a competition with yourself. Will you find the best way to succeed in this process? Sharing your success and struggles with others won’t reduce your chances of getting accepted to medical school, but it will build stronger bonds that can help you when the time comes.
- Ask Lots of Questions. Ask your advisors for help, ask your peers for advice, ask your professors for feedback, and ask people in your network for their input. Build a constellation of support! And don’t forget to lend a helping hand to the people in the program as a doctor would lend one to a patient.
- Find Opportunities Early. Look for non-academic opportunities early and often. Sometimes, merely paperwork and onboarding for volunteer and research opportunities can take weeks. Start your search early and start racking up those hours.
- Follow Your Interests. While patient-facing experience is an essential part of this process, not everything you do has to be directly related to medicine. Find something that interests you or demonstrates passion and humanity and do that! If you find more satisfaction and meaning from volunteering at a soup kitchen instead of a hospital, then go with that.
- Demonstrate Commitments. How long you have been committed to certain causes – can be important. Demonstrate causes that you have been dedicated to over a period of time, whether related to medicine or not. Long-term commitments are important.
- Create a Functional School List. When it comes to creating your school list, make an Excel spreadsheet! Compare the different metrics and requirements for the schools you are interested in. Look side-by-side at things like median GPA and MCAT scores, tuition costs, fees, etc. And it doubles as a checklist when you are trying to keep track of submitting secondaries and other materials.
- Find Valuable Resources. The AAMC offers a tool called MSAR (Medical School Application Requirements) that has a wealth of information on every med school you can apply to through AMCAS. It costs around $30 for a full year, but it is super convenient for generating your school list, as it allows you to favorite certain schools and keep track of things quantitatively. Also, use Anatomy of an Applicant!
- Make Connections. Getting to know your professor outside of class – it can be a challenge, but can be very beneficial. Leverage connections that may or may not be related to medicine/health care. Find opportunities through the network you have built in the community (ex: Zoom English tutoring can lead to opportunities in the health field). Leverage those connections, even if they are not directly dedicated to healthcare and build those relationships.
- Take Care of You. Take breaks, get outside, take care of your mental health so you don’t burn out. Schedule in time to relax, go on a hike, visit your favorite brewery, get out with friends. You chose to come to a Post-Bacc Pre-Med program in an incredible place—Burlington, Vermont—so don’t forget that taking care of yourself is incredibly important to your success, both professionally and personally.
The Post-Bacc Pre-Medical program at UVM offers the opportunity for anyone interested in medicine to gain the necessary course requirements and foundational knowledge needed for medical school. The programs Peer Ambassador’s advice is just the start of the support that students receive when enrolled in the program. Learn more about the Pre-Medical Community Hub here.