Inside scoop: Applying to med school

Applying to med school is not a walk in the park. Once a prospective med student passes the Medical College Admission Test, they begin an application process that is lengthy and tedious.

The official application process begins with filling out the AMCAS, or American Medical College Application Service, during the student’s junior year. This is an in-depth resume that features up to 15 entry spots for extra curricular activities, along with space for letters of recommendation.

“Fill them all out,” first-year medical student David Hales said. “Even if you have a hobby of playing the guitar, fill them all out.”

Each school looks for different aspects about each student. Some prefer service related activities while others prefer student organizations.

According to the admissions staff at CMed, when looking at the AMCAS, they look for at least 200 hours of experience with community service, research, and leadership positions.

“If you know  you’re applying [to med school] keep track of what you’re doing. Keep track of who ran the activity, how many hours, their phone number,” first-year medical student Trista Osantoski said. “That’s going to save a ton of time.

With the letters of recommendation, some students may have three, some may have five, but Hales and Osantoski said quality was more important than quantity.

“I tried to get one professor, one job shadow, one person I volunteered with,” Hales said.

Choose professors and advisers that can say endless things about your ambition and qualifications.

“You have to build those relationships early to get the really good letters,” Osantoski said.

Director of Admissions at CMed, Christopher Austin, agrees in the importance of having someone that truly knows the applicant write letters of recommendation.

“[Make sure] they can clearly portray you and the qualities and characteristics you pose. That helps show the admissions committee why you would be a great physician,” he said. “In addition, it is important for the letter to talk about your strengths and how they would translate to the field of medicine.

Filling out the AMCAS properly is very important as well. This is their one chance to wow the admissions board where the applicant is applying. The whole AMCAS process took Osantoski and Hales about 20 hours to complete, plus the interviews and secondary applications that follow.

“Get the application out as soon as possible,” Osantoski said.

Since applications are accepted on a rolling basis, the early bird does really get the worm.

“They’re accepting people as they go, the later you apply the less chance you have,” Hales said.

Once the application is made available in April, begin taking the time to gather all extra curricular activities and letters of recommendation to ensure that you can catch the interest of your dream school.

To find out which is the right school, Osantoski looked at the mission statements to make sure that each school she could potentially attend was the right fit for her. Hales looked for schools closer to home, with the exception of a few out of state options.

The most crucial aspect of the application process is time. Take the time to look into schools that are interesting. Make sure that your personality, accomplishments, and achievements have been accurately portrayed on the application.