Showing posts from 2014

CHM: 50 Years (And Beyond) of Innovative Thinking

Today marks the last day of 2014, officially closing out a very special year for the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM)—our 50th Anniversary.

Green. White. Golden.

MSU College of Human Medicine 1964–2014 from MSU MD on Vimeo.

As national pioneers of community-based medicine, the trait that Dean Marsha Rappley feels is most commonly associated with the College is innovation. And through innovative thinking, our goal has always been to prepare future physicians to meet the ever-changing needs of the medically underserved.

A main way to do that is naturally through curriculum. With so many medical advancements in the last half-century, CHM has always understood that thoroughly preparing our students means being continuously self-aware in regards to updating the curriculum through time.

From emphasizing new angles on primary care and family practice to growing the concepts of problem-based learning, medical students have had the opportunity to get actively involved in consuming the scie…

It's All About Fit: A Holistic Approach To CHM Admissions

By Joel Maurer, MD, FACOG
Assistant Dean, Admissions
Michigan State University College of 
Human Medicine

Over the last five years, CHM Admissions has solidified its commitment to an admissions process that uses principles of holistic review (a balanced consideration of academic metrics, activities in preparation for a career in medicine, and personal characteristics consistent with the kind of physician we strive to train and graduate) in selecting each incoming class of medical students.

Historically, our College has long understood that intelligence is a key component in becoming a successful doctor, but it also appreciates that above and beyond a certain level of "smartness" does not necessarily make a better doctor.  While activities listed and discussed on a medical school application and during an interview process also remain a key component in the decision-making process, the evaluation of personal characteristics consistent with becoming a successful doctor has been m…

Waiting On A Decision: Post-Interview Outcomes & Scenarios

The interview process for the incoming class is in full swing and applicants are now receiving word on their decisions. If you're out there interviewing, that's a good sign that your application is competitive. A strong showing in the interview can decide what you ultimately hear from the school.

Generally, there are three scenarios post-interview:


Congrats! Your path to becoming a med school student just got a bit clearer. But there are still some issues you must consider. For instance, if you are accepted at several institutions, a decision on where you'd like to attend is imminent.

Not many people get the luxury of receiving several acceptances so if you are certain of which school you'd like to attend, it's helpful and considerate to withdraw your application from the school(s) you choose not to attend. This way, they are clear about having that spot open for other candidates. Admissions offices appreciate it.

Some schools also allow applicants to defer…

All About The MMI: Tips on What To Expect and How To Prepare

Applicant interviews are underway across the country and medical schools are finally coming face-to-face with candidates for their incoming classes next fall. Each institution has their own characteristics to look for as well as their own strategies for evaluating applicants.

Here at MSU, we've utilized the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) format in our Interview Day since 2011. In fact, the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) was the first medical school in the state of Michigan to implement the method.

While this is a relatively new interview format in the United States, it has been used successfully for years throughout Canada and Australia.

Developed at McMaster University (Canada), more and more stateside schools are adopting the MMI each year, which has become increasingly popular beyond just medical schools. To understand why, it's important to know what the MMI is.

What is the MMI?
The MMI is a series of short (timed), highly structured "interviews" through whic…

College of Human Medicine Assistant Dean for Admissions To Host Workshop at Nation's Largest Pre-Health Conference

The largest pre-health conference in the country is just around the corner, with CHM's head of admissions scheduled to lead a workshop. The 12th Annual UC-Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference will be held just 15 minutes outside of Sacramento on October 11-12.

The two-day event will cover health professional topics just as varied as the selection of keynote speakers, panels, and workshops. Our very own Joel Maurer, MD, FACOG, Assistant Dean for Admissions at the MSU College of Human Medicine, will be speaking at the conference for the fourth consecutive year.

"I always look forward to describing the mission of our college, as I believe there are certain components of it that should truly resonate with most people who attend. Since we typically matriculate 15-20% out-of-state applicants (much higher than most state-supported medical schools), I like to encourage them to at least look at us," says Maurer.

The AMCAS Personal Statement, What…

CHM Admissions Uses A Mission-Based Assessment Beyond Academics

As we've mentioned before, the reality of the medical school application process is that it is competitive. Tens of thousands of students across the country are vying for what amounts to only a few thousand spots. Sure, good grades and high scores are important to being a competitive applicant.

But that will only get you so far.

More and more schools such as the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM) are looking beyond one's academic profile. Truth is, every cycle is full of applicants with terrific scores and grades. What sets you apart?

While we strive for a class with GPA and MCAT scores approximating the national average of accepted students, the CHM admissions committee uses a mission-based assessment of applicants that strongly considers nonacademic variables. For this reason, the CHM Office of Admissions does not use specific GPA and MCAT cutoffs.

That isn't to say your numbers aren't important. They certainly are. Admissions teams need to k…

Head of CHM Admissions Office Takes On ALS Ice Bucket Challenge; Offers Hefty Challenge of His Own

Ordinarily, having a bucket of ice water dumped over your head isn't something someone would do for fun. But this is more than that. There's something special going on here.

Folks from coast to coast are taking up the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in what has turned out to be a national craze on social media. Uploaded videos across the internet show people taking on the challenge and daring even more souls to either accept within 24 hours or donate to the ALS Association.

Adults and children from all walks of life have participated, raising awareness and funding for the cause.

Sure enough, the challenge was bound to reach the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM). Faculty and staff are taking Dean Marsha Rappley's lead, which includes our very own Joel Maurer, MD, Assistant Dean, Admissions, who was recently challenged by a long-time friend.

With students from CHM's incoming class on hand and the Magic Johnson statue towering above, Dr. Maurer issued his own challenge: for …

How To Tailor Your Secondary Application

The secondary application process typically begins around July, when verified primary applications from AMCAS start getting sent to individual institutions.

Some medical schools, such as the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM), automatically invite all applicants to submit secondary applications. In contrast, other schools review their candidates before deciding who is allowed to send a secondary.

Now in August, you may already have a nice stack of secondary applications, each with several essay prompts. The secondary essay prompts, in general, should help address any deficiencies in the application, helping the reviewers better assess the applicant.

Each school has their own set of prompts, specific to what they are looking for in a candidate. So while applicants may encounter similar questions and prompts, note that secondaries should be tailored in two specific ways that, essentially, go hand-in-hand.

1. Secondary applications should fill in the gaps.

Reviewers and admissions t…

GUEST POST: Medical School Not Exclusive to Students from Affluent Backgrounds

By Brian Ulrich, MA

With all of the ways that physicians are portrayed on television and movies these days, it can be easy to form a certain perception of what it means to be a doctor. Often, these portrayals have less to do with healthcare and more to do with an actor’s physical appearance, status, power, or on-screen charisma.

This image, however, is a mirage.

The point here is that it can be easy to mentally put ourselves in certain boxes based on messages that we receive or perceive from the world around us. While these boxes can be empowering for some, they are often very limiting for others. Literature within the field of student affairs calls this “meaning making”, or, put another way, the way we make sense of our individual identities based on the messages we receive from the world around us.

So, as a prospective student to medical school, what types of messages are you receiving from the world around you about pursuing medicine as a career? What kinds of inferences are y…

Early Decision Program Applications Due August 1st: Is EDP Right For You?

The MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) is one of the many medical schools that prospective students can apply to via the Early Decision Program (EDP). Those looking to participate in EDP must submit their AMCAS application by Friday, August 1st.

Before applying through EDP, however, applicants need to decide whether this route to medical school is right for you. It's extremely important you fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of applying as an EDP candidate.

What is the Early Decision Program and how does it work?

Simply put, the Early Decision Program allows prospective medical students to apply early and be assured of a prompt response.

EDP applicants apply to one U.S. medical school with the full intention of attending if accepted. The school, in turn, agrees to notify an applicant of a decision by October 1st—much earlier than a regular admissions process, which can extend into the following spring.

People go the EDP route when they have a clear first-choice in m…

CHM Kicking Off 2nd Annual Gran Fondo: Rolling Party Benefits Skin Cancer Research

The College of Human Medicine (CHM) kicks off its second annual Gran Fondo this Saturday with proceeds once again going towards skin cancer awareness, prevention, and research.

The Gran Fondo is a non-competitive cycling event for riders of all skill levels. Beginning in downtown Grand Rapids, participants can choose between four different routes ranging in distance, including a scenic 80-mile trek to Lake Michigan on the state's gorgeous west coast.

Along the routes, riders can also enjoy catered rest stops offering the area's finest cuisine.

Riders will return downtown after snaking through the cityscape and West Michigan countryside, as the event culminates with the Finish Line Festival. The public can welcome back riders outside the B.O.B. at this post-ride celebrationcombining live music, craft brews, wine, and great food.

Italian for "Big Ride," Gran Fondos are typically long distance, mass participation cycling events and have become increasingly popular…

4 Ways for Potential Applicants to Maximize The Summer Months

Sure, getting in some relaxation over the summer to recharge should be on the agenda. Yet keep in mind that the summer months can be vital in acquiring the exposure and/or training necessary to pursue higher degrees in any competitive field.

If you're thinking about applying to medical school next year, consider this a great time to springboard yourself into the school year and, ultimately, the medical school application process.

The med school application process is competitive. The majority of applicants hold impressive academic profiles each year. Factors like experience and the personal statement are great ways candidates set themselves apart.

While it's understandable that carving out time to gain a good amount of experience can be difficult to do, prospective applicants should not feel like they need to gain really extravagant experiences from summer months, as some may not be able to afford taking the summer off to travel. Others may need to work to support the…

Reapplying to Med School Means Changing Up Your Approach

While the current application cycle approaches its final stages, another begins with the next group of wide-eyed #medschool hopefuls, carrying more dreams of scrubs, stethoscopes and surgery rooms. Within the incoming wave of applicants, perhaps no one knows how competitive the medical school application process is more than unsuccessful applicants.

Less than 45% of 2013-14 applicants were accepted into medical school. So as the AMCAS application opens for submissions in less than a week (June 3), some of the more persistent applicants are preparing to go through the process for a second—even a third—time.

While having to reapply can surely be frustrating, consider this an opportunity to learn from your missteps and show your commitment to medicine. For those looking to reapply, improving your chances of matriculating may require you to simply reflect and react

If you applied to medical school and were not admitted, some personal time for self-assessment is a must. Hopeful…

4 Things To Consider When Finalizing Your Personal Statement

The AMCAS application for the cycle is now open and accepts official submissions in June. While we're sure a good number of applicants may have finished their personal statements already, there
may still be a few with some finalizing to do.

Some applicants may have written a few drafts yet are looking for ways to polish their statements. The personal statement, after all, is one of the most important portions of an applicant's review.

As MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) admissions advisor, Brian Ulrich, points out, "The personal statement is where applicants can demonstrate the personal characteristics and attributes that are required in medical school. Many applicants will have great MCAT scores and a solid GPA. The statement helps set people apart."

We hope that by now you've written a draft or two. So if you're looking to tighten it up or round it out, here are some things to consider to ensure you'll have a solid personal statement.


Self-Assessment Guide: A Good Tool For Unsuccesful Applicants To Utilize

It is a fact, unfortunately, that over half of the nation's medical school applicants do not get accepted, meaning most students fail to matriculate into any of their medical school choices when they first apply.

More specifically, American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) statistics show that just under 42% of applicants in 2013 matriculated into medical school. The reality is there's a ton of great applicants for which schools simply don't have open seats.

At MSU in particular, we receive thousands of applications annually from students who have put in a great deal of time and effort to prepare their medical school applications. We understand how one can feel taxed after not receiving an acceptance.

If the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) was one of those choices that you were unsuccessful with and you have not been admitted to any of your additional choices, there are steps you can take to become a more competitive applicant should you intend to reapply to C…

5 Steps to Take In Preparation for the AMCAS Application

Let's face it. The medical school admissions process can be very competitive. Here at the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM), for example, over 6,000 applications are received annually.

It is said often and truthfully that one of the keys to successful admission into medical school is applying early. Applicants should be ready at every stage of the process, which means preparing before the process even begins.

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application is available in May and allows submissions in June. With the starting line for the next cycle right around the corner, now is the time when potential applicants are wondering how they can prepare in order to place themselves in the best position for when the AMCAS application opens.

Here are some tips of what you can be doing to prepare in the meantime.

Make A Plan
Or in other words, make a timeline if you haven't done so already. This means doing some digging for relevant dates and deadlines. Each m…