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Premedical Studies

Handbook

The purpose the Premedical Studies Program and of this Premedical Studies Handbook is to provide you some of the advice and assistance you will need to complete the application process to medical school. For the purpose of this handbook, "medical school" will be defined as any of the schools which grants their graduates a doctoral degree in one of the health professions:

  • allopathic medical schools which grant the M.D. degree and M.D./Ph.D.degree
  • osteopathic medical schools which grant the D.O. degree
  • Pharmacy schools which grant the Pharm. D. degree
  • veterinary medical schools which grant the D.V.M. degree
  • dental schools which grant the D.D.S./D.D.M. degree
  • optometry schools which grant the O.D. degree
  • chiropractic medical schools which grant the D.C. degree

Premedical Studies Advisory Committee

The people it will be most important to contact in deciding whether or not to pursue application to medical school are the heads of the Advisory program:

Premedical:
Kristen Waterstram-Rich, 585-475-5117, kmw4088@rit.edu

Preveterinary:
Dr. Larry Buckley, 585-475-7507, ljbsbi@rit.edu

The Successful Medical School Applicant

In general, medical schools are looking for applicants that they believe have an excellent chance of completing a rigorous medical curriculum and of becoming reputable practitioners following the completion of their training. You must bear in mind that there are many more applicants than there are available positions in a first-year medical class, so you must compete with others to prove yourself qualified. To judge your qualifications, medical schools will look for:

  1. a high GPA as evidence of your intelligence and scholastic ability high achievement on the standardized examination
  2. evidence that you understand the profession, have investigated it thoroughly, and have some degree of experience in the profession
  3. evidence that you are a well-rounded, well-grounded, and interesting individual
  4. evidence that you are honest, are respected by your peers, and have integrity

Your ability to convince a medical school admissions committee that you possess those qualifications is the key to your success. Each and every part of the application process gives you an opportunity to either succeed or fail in this endeavor. This program, and the members of the Premedical Studies Advisory Committee, will help you put together an application that will, hopefully, help you prove yourself to be a qualified candidate.

Premedical Studies Timetable

There is probably no such thing as a "typical" premedical student. However, most define this student as entering college directly from high school and completing the premedical requirements, along with a bachelor's degree, in the next four years. For such a student, this is a reasonable timetable.

FIRST YEAR:
Biology courses and General Chemistry courses
Begin English courses
Meet regularly with Premed Advisor
Join and participate in PSA activities

SECOND YEAR:
Organic Chemistry (or Physics) courses
English course
Meet regularly with Premed Advisor
Continue with PSA and/or other clubs and organizations

THIRD YEAR:
Prepare for Standardized Exam
Physics (or Organic Chemistry) courses
English course
Premedical Studies course (either Fall or Winter)
Have letters of recommendation into the Premed office by May 1
Take Standardized Test (usually in April)
Leadership roles in clubs and organizations
Interview with Premedical Studies Advisory Committee

SUMMER:
June 1 have primary applications completed
Complete and submit secondary applications

FOURTH YEAR:
Complete necessary course work
Interview with medical schools
Wait for the medical school's decision on your candidacy

NOTE: You should find the time, usually during the summers, to learn more about the field and to gain experience. Consider the Premedical Studies Co-op at Park Ridge Hospital, or find employment or volunteer your time at facilities near your hometown. Always read about, think about, and talk about your intended profession as often as possible. Talk with and "shadow" your local practitioner. Really understand what these people do, day in and day out. Discover how they cope with the day-to-day issues of the field. Be aware of all of the important issues, particularly those that engender public debate. Read, think, listen, study. Be informed.

The Application Process and Deadlines

The process of applying for admission to medical school is arduous, time-consuming and, unfortunately, expensive. You actually begin the process, typically, during your junior year, or about 18 months before you intend to enter medical school. The details of the process are contained within this handbook. In general, you must do the following in this order:

  1. register for pre-medical studies course 104-350 in fall or winter of junior year
  2. March 1, Junior year – notify premed office of intent to be included in the application cycle for that year
  3. April 15 complete mock interviews
  4. April – take standardized exam (no later than October)
  5. May 1 have letters of recommendation into the premed office
  6. May 15 have committee/composite letter
  7. June 30 have primary applications completed
  8. Complete additional "secondary" application forms
  9. Interview at the medical school's invitation
  10. Wait for the medical school's decision on your candidacy

A completed application consists of: primary application, secondary applications (not required by all schools), letters of recommendation, and scores on standardized exams. Once the application is completed it is reviewed. If the applicant is qualified, he/she will be extended an interview. The details of how the Premedical Studies Program provides RIT premedical students with assistance, guidance, and support in the application process are provided in the Premedical Studies course and are outlined below.

Interviewing with the Premedical Studies Advisory Committee

The medical school interview is one of the most important parts of the application process. On average, most medical schools will interview about 4-5 times the number of applicants they will need to fill their class. For example, SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse will interview about 650 applicants to fill their class of 150 students. Interviews at medical schools usually begin in September or October and extend through February or March. Your application must be compete before you are invited for an interview. The interview gives the medical school a chance to meet the applicant, to evaluate their personality, and to gauge the development of their interpersonal communication skills. In short, they want to see if an applicant is likable, interesting, comfortable to be with, and capable of communicating ideas effectively.

To help RIT premedical students prepare for the medical school interview, the Premedical Studies Advisory Committee conducts "practice interviews" during the Spring Quarter. These interviews are designed to provide you with a "dress rehearsal" for the real thing. We ask the same types of questions and try to create the same level of stress. Most past RIT students cite the interview as one of the most valuable and important services of the Premedical Studies Program.

Letters of Recommendation

The Premedical Studies Advisory Committee uses a standardized form for acquiring letters of recommendation to support your application to medical school. You can obtain these forms at any time during your college career. They are returned directly to the Premedical Studies Office by the letter writer and stored in your personal file until needed.

NOTE: These letters must be confidential--you must waive your right of access!

Who should write letters for you?

  1. Faculty, at least two, who know you well and can judge your scholastic abilities.
  2. Employers, particularly those you supervised you directly and got the chance to see you work with others; carry out assignments without constant supervision; use judgment, initiative and common sense; and accept additional responsibilities.
  3. Individuals who have worked with you in a health care setting. This is ESSENTIAL for all pre-vet students.
  4. As a last resort, the family doctor who delivered you and has talked with you often about a career in medicine.

Once assembled as a recommendation packet, Dr. Turner will write a composite cover letter which condenses the comments and observations gleaned from the letters, from the interview, and from personal interactions. This packet will be copied and sent to each medical school to which the student applies. As an alternative, students can arrange to have each letter writer send his/her letter directly to each medical school.

Standardized Exams

It's hard to under-emphasize the importance of these examinations. Although they represent only one day of your life, they are the only things that allow a direct comparison of applicants, so virtually all medical schools require them. You cannot over prepare for them--they are THE most important examination you will take during your college career.

  1. Medical College Admission Test (MCAT): April and August
  2. Dental Admission Test (DAT): The DAT is only available to be taken on computer, but it can be taken almost any day of the year. Go to the American Dental Association for more information
  3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE): recommended that you take it at least six months prior to applying.
  4. For more information regarding the GRE here on campus, contact:

AnnMarie Arlauckas
Test Center Administrator
Outreach Education and Training
Rochester Institute of Technology
2210 Eastman Hall
Rochester, NY 14623
585-475-5309 or axacms@rit.edu

You must apply to take each examination by stated deadline dates. Of course, a hefty fee is required. You can pick up the MCAT and DAT applications from me.

Standardized Application Services

  1. American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), not all schools are members.
  2. American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS)
  3. American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS)
  4. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
  5. Some Veterinary Medical Schools belong to an Application Service: VMCAS, many continue to use their own applications.

Co-op and Other Experiences

As medical schools are looking to find ways to reject a candidate (what else do you do when you receive 8,000-12,000 applications for 125-150 seats), lack of experience in medicine is used as an indication that the applicant has not investigated the field thoroughly and might, therefore, lack motivation. Who knows what they think?

For the Pre-vet Students experience is REQUIRED. Most schools insist that at least one letter of recommendation be for a practicing veterinarian. Animal experience (I've owned pets all my life) is NOT enough.

You can get experience in many ways.

  1. The wonderful Unity Health Co-op. We are looking into expanding this to include other hospitals and nursing homes. See the Experiential Learning page for more information
  2. Volunteer work. This is not hard to get, but does take some effort.
  3. Ambulance experience
  4. Shadowing--follow a practitioner around for several hours on several different occasions.

Leadership and Other Characteristics

There's no doubt about it--medical schools are more interested in active and interesting students than in the 4.0 nerd. Once again, it takes time, energy, and dedication to join and participate in extracurricular activities. DO IT!

  • Premedical Student Association-- it can't get much easier or more relevant.
  • Sports
  • Residence Halls or Off Campus Organizations
  • Student Government
  • Sororities and Fraternities, including Honoraries

Closing Comments

Let's face it. There is a strong wind of change blowing in this country. We must, and will, see a change in the way health care is administered. There are too many people without health care and the costs of those receiving it are bankrupting the country. The doctors of the future, your future, must be bright, committed, honest people who will undoubtedly have to work harder for fewer financial rewards. With a heavy emphasis on preventive medicine and primary care, they must be good communicators who can raise the health standards of their patients by teaching hygiene and changes in personal habits. They must understand diversity and appreciate differences in individuals and cultures because the world of the near future will have a different face. Of course, they must be caring and compassionate people who are sincerely dedicated to the relief of suffering. If you were on the Admissions Committee, what would you look for in a future physician?

Enrollment in Premedical Studies

As we begin this process of preparing for medical school application, it is critical that the Premedical Studies Advisory Committee have some information readily available. For example, it is important that we have your current address and phone number so that we can contact you if something important comes up.Further, it is important that we have access to your academic records so that we can determine that you have met all of the premedical requirements. Thisrequires that we have your signature giving us access to those records. Finally, if you decide to use the Premedical Studies Advisory Committee as a liaison between yourself and the medical schools, you must sign a waiver of access to the letters of recommendation that will be prepared and submitted to the medical school on your behalf. In other words, all letters will be confidential and you will not have access to them.

If you wish to continue this process, you must complete and return the attached forms. You may have provided us with this information in the past, but doing it now provides us with current information. Further, it gives you a final chance to consider your options.

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