If you look up “What Medical Schools Are Looking For” on Google you will get 8,330,000 entries. You’d think that among some eight million entries you can find the much coveted answer. I found that most answers are too vague and unhelpful. “Be yourself” is not something that could help me build an impressive AMCAS profile!
I decided to look for answers from people who were on admissions committees at the schools I was interested in. Below I will share some information I found useful.
New England Journal of Medicine published two very interesting and helpful perspective articles on what schools were looking for in their applicants.
One was written by Dr. Jules Dienstag titled "Relevance and Rigor in Premedical Education". I cannot offer the entire article on the blog for copyright reasons, but you can get it here. Dr. Dienstag is the dean of medical education at Harvard Medical School and sits on their admissions committee. You can trust his opinion. If you find his article online look for supplementary information link – it’s a fifteen page word document which delineates Harvard admissions guidelines. A gold mine!!!
The second helpful article published in the New England Journal of Medicine is titled “From All Walks of Life – Nontraditional Medical Students and the Future of Medicine”. I highly recommend reading this article even if you are not a non-traditional applicant (I wasn’t). It’s written by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, an MD/PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. You should primarily focus on what he thinks non-traditional applicants bring to the table. Realize that you don’t need to be a non-traditional applicant to be mature, informed, curious, etc. When you write your secondaries – this is the language to use! Finally, there was one book I read that was helpful in writing secondaries. It’s titled “How Doctors Think” by Dr. Gerome Groopman from Harvard Medical School.