Friday, June 9, 2017

Choosing Where to Apply to Medical School Means Balancing Several Important Factors

With over 150 combined accredited MD- and DO-granting medical schools across the country, how
do you decide to which schools to apply?

The Association of American Medical College (AAMC) says that most students typically apply to about 16 schools. Applicants can apply to as many schools as they wish, but each student's situation is different and so you must decide how many schools is reasonable and, frankly, affordable for you.

Beyond the AMCAS, additional costs include secondary application fees as well as potential interview/travel expenses. For those eligible, the AAMC Fee Assistance Program is a good option to help alleviate a big chunk of those costs.

While it's certainly an investment in your future, the money and time you spend filling out secondary essays, interviewing, acquiring letters and other paperwork will be substantial.

Deciding which schools to apply to means doing a bit of research and streamlining your focus to identify which schools are worth the money and time as a potential landing spot for your medical education. Each applicant should have a good mix of schools to consider, so research can go a long way into recognizing the schools for which you would be competitive.

Plainly put, it would be wise to find a balance between where you (1) believe your candidacy would be the strongest and (2) where you could see yourself training for the next four-plus years.


1. Comparing the Figures


MSAR
Comparing your academic record with admissions stats from your list of schools will help you determine where your figures will be competitive.

The AAMC's Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) database is a great tool for getting a more detailed look at each school. Do note, however, that there is a fee to gain access.

With a comprehensive listing of U.S. medical schools, potential applicants can review school-specific admissions requirements along with all of the applicant and acceptance statistics. Compare your GPA--especially the science GPA--- and MCAT scores among other factors.

Yet, as more schools take a holistic approach to admissions, comparing grades and scores is just a start.

Resident Preferences and Out-of-State Figures
If you're looking at schools outside your state, it's helpful to see what percentages of out-of-state applicants typically are accepted at each of your respective options. Research the figures and decide if it's worth a try. 

While some schools only accept in-state students, many schools like the College of Human Medicine (CHM) do prioritize room for students outside the state. At MSU, we believe that non-Michigan resident diversity is an important component of every CHM entering class. Approximately 20-25 percent of each CHM incoming class is from outside of Michigan.

Tuition Costs
The age-old question: How much does it cost?

Let's face it, medical school is expensive. Wherever you decide to go will most likely carry a hefty price, so it's good to know at least a range for how much each school will cost. Typically, applicants can find that out in the MSAR as well or on the school's website.

Of course, this is only an initial look as it's still too early to know the financial aid packages that each school can offer. Don't be overwhelmed by what you see. Rather than concentrating solely on cost at this point, perhaps a better question to pose should be, "Is this particular school worth it?"

Do they offer the precise elements you are looking for in a medical school? For example, if you plan on a career in research, it may be worth it to apply to a school with higher tuition for the additional research opportunities. For those who have ambitions of working with underserved communities, many students have found CHM's community-based history and community campus model attractive. 

The worth depends on how you value what the school offers and what traits it crosses of your checklist. And one thing applicants should certainly place value in is fit.


2. Finding the Fit


Finding the right fit is about asking the right questions and being honest with yourself.

In the following you'll find a set of helpful questions to consider. But each person is different, so along with these questions, think about what's important in a medical school for you. Think about the
medical school traits that you believe will help you succeed in training and, ultimately, as a physician.

Academics and Programming
-Is the education style and/or curriculum format good for me?
 The reality is that every medical school can train you to be a doctor. Yet it's in the way they train you that can drastically differ. Curriculum and the academic structure of the various medical programs should be an important factor in your decision.

Some students prefer a lecture-heavy curriculum while others find small-group and activity-driven curricula more appealing. The College of Human Medicine's new Shared Discovery Curriculum, for instance, is reinventing medical school training with an innovative, modern approach to adult-learning that uses small groups (or "learning societies") as the active engine for the curriculum.

The Shared Discovery is also an integrated curriculum that blends learning with action, introducing early and ongoing clinical experiences through all four years of training. In contrast, many schools still employ a more traditional "2+2" model of education that initially uses lecture-style classes to teach the medical sciences in the first two years before introducing clinical training in the final two years.

Lastly, consider flexibility in the curriculum and whether there will be enough electives and/or free time to pursue personal topics of interest. CHM students can pursue those interests in periods we call intersessions

-Does any of the special programming interest me?
Each medical school has their own set of special programs, emphasizing and enhancing the college's mission.

Schools can offer a wide range of academic programming with various certificates and Leadership in Rural Medicine and Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved) and dual-degree options, allowing a variety of career pathway options.
dual-degree
options. The College of Human Medicine offers several certificate programs (

If either research or a career in academia is important to you, decide where you believe you'd receive the best opportunities. With an increasing research imprint in Michigan and partnerships with organizations like the Van Andel Institute, for example, the MD-PhD program at CHM is a good option for those leaning towards a physician-scientist type of career.

The MD-MPH and MD-MBA programs are also popular if public health or a career in business/administration is in your sights. For students who wish to practice outside the country or are simply interested in global health components, consider schools that facilitate travel abroad and service-learning.

Location and Student Life
-Does the school's mission and ambitions resonate with me?
Each medical school's mission guides the institution and can extend to admissions. Even here at CHM, we use a mission-based assessment of applicants beyond academics. For this reason, it's important to identify which missions resonate with you and the type of physician you're aiming to become. The benefit of that match is for both the school and student.

Admissions committees evaluate students based on interests, professional goals and demonstrated experiences. While schools aim to produce residents who can fill wide ranges of roles within the field, some schools have specific histories and objectives.

Consider each school’s mission and whether or not it matches your goals and interests.

-Would I enjoy living there?
While we hope geography and weather wouldn't be a deal-breaker, where you live can play a big role in quality of life and happiness. We can understand if some students put a lot of stock in wanting to be at a particular place. But be careful not to over-restrict yourself geographically, as that may limit your opportunities.

Learn what each location offers and keep balance in mind. Remember to think about life outside of school and consider any hobbies or personal interests you may have.


Students with spouses and/or children have a lot to think about in addition to what's been discussed. So it helps to decide on schools with realistic expectations for what would be possible should an acceptance at one of your options facilitate a move down the line.

Some students want to be closer to family while others may be excited to seek out somewhere different. This is a good time for new scenery.

-Is the student environment a good match for my character?
Along with where you will train, you're also deciding with whom you'll be training for the next few years.

Using an integrated, group-style approach, the new curriculum at CHM genuinely emphasizes a collaborative climate, not only between students, but between the students and faculty as well.


Class size and format is pretty easy to learn upon initial review. But, again, because it's still early, a true picture of student life may need to wait until you can see facilities for yourself and speak directly with students and staff.

At CHM, the entering class of 190 is split between our East Lansing and Grand Rapids community campuses. Further, the students at each location are split into four learning societies and subsequent scholar groups for more intimate and collaborative learning.  

Finances Beyond Tuition
-Can I afford to live there?
There are many factors that determine the cost for you to attend medical school, including location and resident requirements, whether it is a public or private institution, and your personal financial aid package.

While we've already touched on the cost of schooling, additional financial consideration should go to cost of living. This is definitely a factor as well, but we suggest really considering living costs after being (cross our fingers!) accepted and when the time comes to decide between schools to matriculate.

By that point, you may be aware of what each school can offer in terms of living assistance and stipends. For now, it wouldn't hurt to do some research, but don't let this deter you from applying to schools in pricier areas if you're genuinely interested for reasons directly tied to opportunities and your career path.

***

As you'll learn through the process, not much is easy about applying to medical school, and that includes deciding where and who your application goes to.

Meeting with a pre-health advisor can help and don't hesitate to reach out to admissions offices should you have more questions--it's what we're here for. Once schools receive your verified AMCAS application, the next step in the process is the secondary application. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Office of Admissions Discusses The Personal Statement In Latest Facebook LIVE Stream

The College of Human Medicine (CHM) Office of Admissions hosted its second Facebook Live stream last week, purposefully touching on a timely topic.

While the first stream, held last December, spoke generally about the entire admissions process, admissions counselor, Brian Urlich, joined the chat this time around to speak specifically about the personal statement.

With the AMCAS application opening this month, many applicants are currently working to organize their application and finish up their personal statement. In particular, Brian offered tips and insight on how to write an effective statement, giving consideration to theme, frame, and structure among other things. He also offered some do's and don'ts to follow as well. 

Admissions staff will be utilizing the widely-used social media platform's LIVE function to broadcast directly to potential applicants and offer in-depth insight on various themes and topics.

Following the initial stream's format, this broadcast once again included a quick Q&A after the main presentation. Followers had been asked to submit questions for several weeks prior to the live broadcast.

Follow the Office of Admissions on Facebook and Twitter for more updates and events.

A recording of the stream can be found below:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Admission Staff Discussing Personal Statement In Upcoming Facebook Live Stream

The College of Human Medicine Office of Admissions is excited to announce that we'll be hosting another Facebook Live stream on Wednesday, April 26th at 3pm (ET).

The topic of discussion for our second live stream chat is the personal statement. Admissions Counselor, Brian Ulrich, will be on hand to offer in-depth tips that touch on essay structures and topic ideas among additional information.

Mark your calendars!


With the AMCAS set to open in a few short months, a timely discussion on the personal statement for the next crop of applicants could be helpful for the next crop of applicants. Students across the country are working to finish their applications for submission and the personal statement is a topic for which we receive many questions.

The office's initial Facebook Live stream was held last December and took an overall look at the admissions process timeline.

Once again, followers can submit questions at any time leading up to the event via our Facebook page, Twitter page, or through email. Viewers tuning in during the event will be able to post additional questions/comments in the stream's comment section.

What is Facebook Live?
Facebook Live is a streaming service on the social media platform that allows users to broadcast live video to their news feed.

How can you participate?
Simply "Like" and follow our Facebook page. Send us your questions and tune in on the 26th! A video recording of the chat will be available to followers once the live stream has ended.

Interested in applying to the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine? Would you simply like to learn more about the nation's pioneer in community-based medical training? Feel free to contact us at any time to find out more about what it takes to become a Spartan MD.

Friday, April 7, 2017

College of Human Medicine Admissions Reps Heading Out for Road Trip Across Southern California

We're hitting the road!

That is, after a flight.

Admissions representatives from the College of Human Medicine (CHM) will be taking a road trip across Southern California this month to represent the college and further discuss the admissions process with interested undergrads.

To do that, representatives will be making stops at campuses in the greater Los Angeles-area as well as San Diego to attend several health career fairs and host a number of informationals.

"We want be able to connect with the pre-medical students in the state. We received  over 1200 applications from California in the 2017 application cycle, so I believe it is essential to reach out to prospective applicants there and provide them information about CHM and, in particular, our mission," states Elizabeth Lyons, admissions counselor and Director of Minority Recruiting.

Residents from California have consistently made up a big chunk of applicants to the College of Human Medicine, second behind only Michigan students. The admissions staff feels it's important to reach out to potential applicants from the Golden State so that those students have a better understanding of what the college has to offer while also giving tips on what makes a competitive applicant.

"Fit is very important and I think this trip is going to give us the opportunity to talk to prospective applicants about that fit with our mission at the various events we have attend."

Lyons adds that, "If applicants are truly interested in applying to the college, they will find our discussions very informative and, in turn, it will help them prepare an application that truly stands out to us at CHM.

To start the road trip, admissions staff will be attending the first of three fairs on the schedule. Reps will be in the Westwood area of Los Angeles at UCLA for the Spring 2017 Health School Information Fair on Monday, April 17th. Later in the week, they'll head east for The Claremont Colleges' Health & Science Professions Fair at Pomona College on Friday, April 21st.

The trip takes them south to wrap up the fairs at San Diego State University for the Catch The Wave To Success Pre-Professional Health Conference Graduate School Fair on Saturday, April 22nd.

In addition to those three fairs, the College of Human Medicine will also be hosting a few informationals across area campuses. Students from the University of Southern California (USC) can meet with admissions reps at the main campus that Tuesday, April 18th.

On Thursday, April 20th, those interested at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science will also be able to learn about the college and meet with admissions staff.

Beyond those events, Lyons points out that they'll also be meeting with some SoCal residents who already know a thing or two about the college.

"Along with meeting prospective students, we'll also be reconnecting with some of our CHM alumni and hosting for the very first time a meet and greet for our accepted applicants in the area," she says.

"I’m very excited to see and hear about all the new and exciting experiences our alumni have been a part of in California. We also look forward to meeting our accepted applicants again and answering any questions they may have about the MSU CHM to help them make that final decision."

At the moment, the college's admissions office is working on scheduling possible additional events. Stay tuned.

For residents and students in Northern California, not to worry. Moving ahead, CHM admissions is also working on making stops across the area come the fall and are schedule to attend the UC-Davis Pre-Health Conference in October. More information and a schedule will be forthcoming at a later date.

For this trip, the following is a full* detailed schedule:

Monday, April 17th
Spring 2017 Health School Information Fair at UCLA
Ackerman Ballroom
11am - 3pm

Southern California Alumni/Accepted Applicant Meet & Greet (Invite Only)
Santa Monica
7pm

Tuesday, April 18th
Informational at University of Southern California
Hedco Neuroscience Building Room 100
12pm - 2pm

Thursday, April 19th
Informational at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
Keck Auditorium
12pm - 1pm

Friday, April 20th 
The Claremont Colleges Health & Science Professions Fair at Pomona College
Smith Campus Center
Edmunds Ballroom
11am - 2pm

Saturday, April 21st
Catch The Wave Pre-Professional Health Conference Graduate School Fair
San Diego State University
Union Courtyard
2pm- 4:30pm

*Schedule subject to change and additional events may be added.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Next Class of Spartan MDs Ready To Move Onto Residency Positions Following Match Day

The results of the 2017 residency match process are in and over 96 percent of the College of Human Medicine's graduating students secured a match.

In total, 200 students matched for postgraduate medical training positions at teaching hospitals throughout the United States.

Residency placements were confirmed for students through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) as well as for those who participated in the SOAP/Post-Match, Military Match, and Advanced/Independent Matches.

Of note, 42.5 percent of students chose primary care residency programs, similar to prior matches. The top six specialties placements changed a bit from last year, however, when pediatrics was at the top spot.

The top six overall specialty placements this year are as follows:
1. Family Medicine (38 graduates)
2T. General Surgery (23 graduates)
2T. Internal Medicine (23 graduates)
4. Emergency Medicine (20 graduates)
5. Pediatrics (19 graduates)
6. Obstetrics-Gynecology (14 graduates)

Interestingly, those 38 graduates were among a total of 3,237 medical students to match with a family medicine residency program. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, that's the most in family medicine’s history as a specialty.

Psychiatry, Anesthesiology, Neurology, Radiology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, and several surgery specialties including Orthopedic Surgery are also some specialties that were represented in choice.

Close to 40 percent of the class will be staying in Michigan after graduation. Of those heading outside the state, Spartan MDs will be placed on all coasts and practically everywhere in between, from California to Connecticut, New York to Florida.

But before they head out to make us proud, graduating seniors had the opportunity to celebrate those results with friends and family on Match Day, held this year on March 17. Match Day is a rite of passage that's celebrated across the globe.

At noon, students opened their envelopes and learned the location and specialty of the residency programs where they will further their training.

While every Match Day is special, this year's rendition was unique for several reasons.

The NRMP recently announced this year's results were the largest in its history. A record-high 35,969 US and international medical school students vied for 31,757 positions, the most ever offered in the Match.

In the last six years, positions in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics have all increased.


Closer to home, the College of Human Medicine implemented a Match Day tagboard for the first time so that students, friends, and family could celebrate "together" from across all seven of the college's community campuses or anywhere at all.

As a community-based medical school, the college hosts celebrations across the state. The social media stream helped unify posts from across celebrations and social media platforms. Using the hashtag #MSUMDMatch, people posted celebratory pictures and messages to congratulate the soon-to-be physicians.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Early Data Shows Students Grasping Content Faster, Scoring Higher In New Curriculum

With the first semester of the new Shared Discovery Curriculum in the books, data is showing that students are getting a good grasp on the content they're learning at a faster pace, consuming the material 50 percent quicker.

“Students even at seven weeks were already clinically performing essentially at the level of students
who were at the end of their first year in the previous curriculum,” said Dr. Aron Sousa, senior associate dean for academic affairs for the medical college. “It’s the experiential learning aspect of the program that’s making this happen.”

Among the many differences between what has been the traditional model of medical education and the College of Human Medicine's Shared Discovery Curriculum include early and ongoing clinical experience for students that integrates the basic and clinical sciences. Whereas schools typically split the learning of the sciences and the clinical experiences, students in Shared Discovery are learning with a hands-on approach.

The competency-based medical curriculum focuses more on learning through clinical experiences beginning within weeks of the first day. This provides an environment for students much closer to residency rather than the settings of a traditional medical school curriculum.

The implementation of learning societies, small groups of students, clinical faculty, basic and social scientists, have allowed students the ability truly absorb information more efficiently.

See "Evolution and Revolution: 5 Takeaways from the New Shared Discovery Curriculum"

It's working.

Sousa says that students are also scoring higher on progress tests that are similar to board exams. While the average score on these tests is 45 for students with a full year of medical school under their belt, the average score for students in the Shared Discovery curriculum is 41 after just a single semester.

A progress suite of assessments gives pace to what the students learn. From the first weeks of medical school and through regular intervals, the assessments enable students and their faculty to verify the achievement of competence and readiness to move through the curriculum.

While the data is still early, it is promising. If the efficiency of the new curriculum holds up, the implications for students could mean entering residency sooner and thus, paying less tuition.

Read the official announcement for more information.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Admissions Office Hosts First Facebook Live Discussion, Q&A; More Sessions to Come

The College of Human Medicine (CHM) Office of Admissions used Facebook Live to hold the department's first stream this week. Admissions staff used the live broadcast to connect with potential applicants and thoroughly discuss the medical school application process, from A to Z.

Elizabeth Lyons, Admissions Counselor, detailed the different phases of the application and also offered tips and advice for students who may potentially apply to medical school.

Along with providing that overview, Elizabeth also talked about factors that make applicants competitive and traits that sit well with the College of Human Medicine, in particular.

Joined by Francisco Velazquez, Communications Coordinator, the staff members also facilitated a quick Q&A. The Office of Admissions had asked Facebook and Twitter followers to submit questions for a week prior to the stream.

The team also announced that they will be going "live" again in the new year. Follow the Office of Admissions on Facebook and Twitter for more updates and events.

A recording of the stream can be found below: 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Office of Admissions Hosting Facebook Live Stream Discussion

The College of Human Medicine (CHM) Office of Admissions is hosting a Facebook Live stream on Wednesday, December 7th from 7pm-8pm (EST).


Representatives from the admissions office will be on hand to discuss the college and selection factors, while also offering admissions tips and a Q&A. Staff will answer questions directly from personal submissions.

Followers can submit questions any time prior to the stream via our Facebook page, Twitter page, or through email. Viewers tuning in during the event will be able to post additional questions and comments on the stream's comment section.

What is Facebook Live?
Facebook Live is a streaming service on the social media platform that allows users to broadcast live video to their news feed.

How can you participate?
Simply "Like" and follow our Facebook page. Send us your questions and tune in on Wednesday! Once the broadcast has ended, followers can view the recording on our page.

Interested in applying to the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine? Would you simply like to learn more about the nation's pioneer in community-based medical training? Join us for a closer look and find out what it takes to become a Spartan MD.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

AAMC Honors College of Human Medicine For Service Efforts Across Michigan

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM) received the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service. The award was presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) on Nov. 13th in Seattle at their annual Learn Serve Lead meeting.

The AAMC honored the community-based medical school for outstanding contributions to medicine and community service. In particular, the AAMC acknowledged CHM's efforts to improve health in Flint as well as in rural communities across the state.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha—pediatrician and assistant professor—exposed lead poisoning in Flint
College of Human Medicine staff played an integral part in exposing toxic levels of lead in Flint’s water supply. Subsequent measures by CHM to aid local communities have also been carried out in maintaining the college’s public health–focused initiatives. Partnering with the Flint community also led way to the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a collaboration with Hurley Children's Hospital.

Flint is also home to the Late Clinical Experience for students selected to the Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved Program.

In addition to the college's efforts in Flint over the last year, the school was also acknowledged for reinforcing collaboration in rural areas by way of the Rural Physician Program and the Rural Community Health Program. The initiatives aim to relieve rural physician shortages and provide enriched clinical experiences with community service opportunities unique to rural settings.

Students from the Leadership in Rural Medicine Program
The college has many diverse partnerships and has worked within communities throughout Michigan for decades, since its founding in 1964 as a national pioneer in community-based medical training.

To learn more, please see the official announcement

Friday, November 4, 2016

Student Post: Keeping Medical School Motivation

Approximately 60-80 hours per week.

That’s an average of how much time a medical student spends studying. I remember first hearing this at orientation and thinking there was no way that could be possible.

Now having one year of medical school under my belt, I learned how accurate that statement truly was. Between classes and clinical training sessions, the 60-80 hours a week flew by. I was trying to absorb all the new information and become the clinician I always wanted to be.

Moving from my first year into my second, I found myself hitting a wall when it came to school. Spending time reading about different drugs and diseases felt disconnected from the patient-physician experience. It was becoming harder and harder to get up early for a long day of studying.

With domain exams every 2-5 weeks and Step 1 on the horizon, I didn’t have time to waste. I needed to reignite the spark that first got me interested in medicine.

I found that getting involved with the community was one of my main motivators. Spending my time as a health educator gave me the opportunity to share the knowledge that I learned in school and also get to know the community better.

It was interesting to relate the health issues they face, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, to topics that we learned in class. It was more motivating to study knowing my knowledge could directly help others.

While connecting with the community re-energizes me, everyone finds their own way to cope with hitting a wall while studying.

Volunteering

Many students were enthusiastically involved with volunteering in undergrad, and they bring that same passion to medical school. Each break there are international service trips where students get clinical experience while exploring a new country.

Local involvement is also very popular. Below is a group photo of first and second year College of Human Medicine (CHM) students helping at an oral health fair in Flint. Other students work with kids in the community, such as through Big Brothers Big Sisters and Girls on the Run.


Professional Events

Learning more about your future profession is always a great motivator! There are opportunities to shadow local physicians or attend interest group meetings in order to discover more about a particular specialty.

Many students attend professional meetings to network and learn about other opportunities in the field. Below is a picture of students attending the American Medical Women’s Association Region 6 meeting.


It can be motivational to get a glimpse of what your future could be, and reminded of why you are working this hard.


Running Away from It All

Sometimes you need to run away…and some students are doing that in local marathons and half marathons!

Students frequently destress together through physical activity. Yoga, weight lifting, running, and bouldering are just a handful of the activities that students do together. Being able to clear your head can allow you to approach the material with a new outlook. It also helps to prevent burnout, and helps with retaining information.

Some CHM students recently completed the Detroit Half Marathon
In the end, every student finds their own way to reconnect and rekindle their internal motivation. Whether it’s being involved with the community or letting off some steam, it’s important to reconnect with yourself from time to time.

Even before medical school, you should find the activities that are important to you and make sure to prioritize them even when life gets crazy.




Anne Drolet is a second-year College of Human Medicine student from Clarkston, MI. Anne will be lending her voice as a student blogger to periodically offer tips on the admissions process as well as an inside look at the College of Human Medicine.