Latest Event Updates

MSAR for DO Schools?

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A while ago a reader asked me if there was a program analogous to the MSAR for DO schools. I’ve harped on and on about how to purchase the MSAR without mentioning that the MSAR doesn’t provide information about DO school. When I applied to medical school I didn’t submit to DO programs, partly because of financial reasons, some part ignorance, and generous helpings laziness after finishing the AAMC MD applications. I’d reckon the reason the MSAR doesn’t cover DO programs is because the overarching agencies representing both medical colleges are disparate entities. when applying to medical school the AAMC has purview over the MD schools, while the AACOM covers the DO schools. As a consequence, the MSAR database is restricted to MD programs.

However…apparently the AACOM does provide a manual to applicants with similar information — how similar I do not know. I’m learned about this from a Twitter user, not because I’m omnipotent :

You should follow and thank this person: 

What the AAMC and the AACOM have in common is that they provide a lot of information for applicants. In fact, there isn’t much on the MSAR that can’t be found for free on the AAMC, it’s just that it mostly saves you A LOT of time by grouping the data for applicants. One of the best parts of the MSAR, that I couldn’t find on the AACOM site was the gradation of scores and GPAs for matriculating students found on the MSAR (but you may be able to find this in the manual, if someone verifies that please let me know!) — but, right now I’m not sure if that data is actually “captured” by the AACOM so you’ll have to take the plunge yourself. Though, as people update me, I’ll update this post.

However, with a little time investment you can find your school’s tuition, applicant data versus matriculating students (2013), and average scores. I don’t think there’s a comprehensive list about the secondary fees and dates for each school. But, I think with the information provided by the AACOM you should be able to make an informed decision:

Applicant score averages w/o school:

Applicant data per DO school:

Compare against the matriculate data:

Tuition information:

Citation, previous reply to post =)

 the AACOM  has noticed the need to make an easy searchable database to act as a clearing house for all DO programs. Though, I still think it’d be nice if they worked more in unity, they are cousins the AAMC and AACOM.

Hope that helps for the DO applicants! Thanks again to   for the update.

If you have anything to add, corrections etc., don’t be shy to message me or post a comment, so I can add more information to this page.


Moving to Boston in a Few Days (30th)

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This past weekend I went to luncheon medical students. I had my provisional one glass of wine, and met a few of my future classmates (4 out of the 165)  and an upper class mate. It was interesting to meet them, we have some important things in common, but there’s a lot of good diversity among us — it was a fun group. We all met the dean, she flew from Boston to California just to come to that event. Apparently, she does this every year. I guess, it small sound like a small token of appreciation to some, but to everyone at the party it made us feel welcome. That feat alone would have been enough to convince me that I had the right choice in schools, but meeting BUSM alumni and staff really put things over the top. The environment of the party alludes to a reality where I might both work hard and have fun.

My flight is on July 30th, my school starts on August 4th. I land a few days before my lease starts at my new place, so my new roommate will let me crash with him until the 1st; then we’ll both move into our new place. He’s also an incoming M1, should be a good combination. I have about a 17-20 minute bike ride to the school, or half an hour train ride from a station that takes me 7 minutes to walk to says Google. We’ll leave about 5 minutes walk from this huge body of water:

Photo credit Rich Williams
Photo credit Rich Williams

I’m done packing more or less, now I’m just tossing stuff because I can’t bring it with me — this is a lot harder than packing. I’m leaving almost all of my books, taking pictures of pictures so I can leave them, and both giving and selling off my personal items to friends. It’s a cleansing experience really. I’ve moved around more times than I can count, each time I loss more and more things. At first it gets to you, if you’re nostalgic about things, but eventually you see how much those items never meant to you — memories are typically all you need to cherish, and perhaps is the only real thing in this quantum world.

My white coat ceremony and orientation both start on August 4th, the real courses actually start on August 11th. As I arrive on the 30th, at night, I only have a few days to settle in before school starts up — tough cookies. I’ve already pre-ordered my scrubs from a BUSM club for anatomy lab (keep the money local), I’ll pick them up when I arrive. I received a few emails from upper class mates about some get-together events coming up, I saw beer somewhere in the email so I like where this is going already. We’ve been decided into “schools”, this is common at medical schools — I also went ahead and joined the Facebook group for this school. Facebook is usually a horrible desolate wasteland, but chances are your Facebook medical school group will be pretty awesome — I’ve already learned a lot there from both older and new students. I’ll definitely need to consult with them about winter clothes, because that “pond” I showed you looks like this in the winter( for some reason in the winter time we should all dress Victorian, go figure!):

1859 tom-foolery
1859 tom-foolery


Low Stats? Don’t Give Up, Accepted Webinar

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Hey All,

Just wanted to drop a resource for my applicant friends with less comfortable stats. So, passing on the message I received from admissions advisory service:

Can You Get into Med School with Low Stats?

You are invited to attend’s upcoming webinar, How to Get into Medical School with Low Stats, a MUST-ATTEND event if you’re applying to med school with low GPA/MCAT scores!

Date: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Time: 5:00 PM PT/8:00 PM ET

Register now to learn important strategies that will help you get into med school, even with low test scores or grades.

Don’t let you your low stats keep you from pursuing your medical dreams!

The 5 Stages of Studying for the MCAT

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Good luck on the MCAT!

Originally posted on doctororbust:

1. Denial and Isolation


The denial phase of the MCAT won’t start until you’ve taken your full length. At this stage you’ll find yourself saying things like:

“Maybe the answer key is totally wrong?” — after grading & receiving your practice score.

“Well, I’ve heard of time dilation, maybe I was in one, and that’s why I actually ran out of time” — after realizing how little time you actually have to finish the problems you’ve glanced at while doing the content review and thought “I totally got this”.

2. Anger


This phase usually comes after the first full length, and remains through a few practice tests when you see no improvement, and you realize the number of practice test (AAMC officials) are a limited resource:

“Brownian Motion?!?? What the expletive does this exam have to do with being a doctor?” — says a premed after no improvement from first…

View original 593 more words

Interview with Incoming Stanford M1 Accepted

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 Hello Everyone!

As promised, here’s the confidential(identity) interview from the accepted Stanford student. They’ll be starting this year as a M1. As a nontraditional premed, switching majors several times before finally deciding to apply to medical school.

It’s interesting to note we both applied to Boston University and Stanford, however we both never received interview invitations from each other’s respective current medical school – it really goes to show there’s interpretation about what constitutes a good fit for their institution, and we found our own fit.  For myself another interesting point of this person is that, like me, it took them many years to finish their college career — we both took multiple breaks for work and switched majors innumerable times before deciding on applying to medical school.

Anyways, I had to distill a nearly two hour conversation where we easily went into tangents (mostly entirely my fault). After laughing and removing the tangents, here is the more educational and likely useful results:

Q. 1. When did you decide that medicine was for you, and why?

Basically, I realized medicine could be a career for me because of the position it occupies in relation to other fields. As a community college student, I had the opportunity to take a wide variety of classes in different fields, without needing to prematurely declare a major. I had always been interested in fields where I thought I could make a difference, I dipped my toes in psychology, sociology, political science, “hard” sciences (thought about a PhD), public health, and even art (documentary photography). For me, medicine fits snugly between public health and the hard sciences, and gives me the best of both worlds (well, what I feel is the best of both worlds). Public health was hard for me because it was a bit far removed from the individual level, obviously since it’s more focused on populations. This is great of course! But that was hard for me to work with, because actually seeing change takes a LONG time, if you see it at all. Bench research is cool too, I still love it, but couldn’t see myself devoting my life to it because it was easy to get caught up in the little things, without the human perspective, and I felt a little lost there, honestly. Medicine allows me to inform both fields with a clinical perspective, work with both fields as part of the health team, and still enjoy what I do


Q. So, do you think being a nontraditional gave you a different point of view? For example while studying.

I think so. I can’t say that more traditional premeds didn’t learn the same things I did, but I can say that I wouldn’t have the perspective I do without doing it my way. Having studied a variety of topics, I kind of felt that medicine was just one career path that could be taken. It fits a small niche in between all the other things people can do with their lives, or to help others. Plus, being nontraditional, working through school, all of that…I had to learn to prioritize and really figure out WHY I needed to do some of these things. I think premeds often get caught up in “the list”, the list of shit we’re supposed to do to be competitive. And a lot of us end up with huge resumes of shit we did that had no impact on us or our communities

The end goal is to be a great doctor…so these experiences should be towards that goal. Activities aren’t just there for filler. Med schools look for these activities because they think we have something to learn from them. And as a nontraditional student, I think I may have had an easier time figuring that out


Q. Lately, schools have really been pushing for diversity, how do/will you bring diversity to your program?

As for the diversity question…I STILL have trouble answering it. I think it’s because there’s no single factor that stands out as HI THERE DIVERSITY. I’ve mentioned before that I am certain that all of us are really diverse. We have our collections of scores and activities on the applications that look the same in bullet-point form, but different students get into different schools. In any case, I think being a nontraditional premed has given me some interesting opportunities. I took extra time in school; it took me eight years to finish up my degree, so I was able to explore a number of different areas of study and work part-time throughout undergrad.  After all of that…I can’t help but see medicine as integrated with every other field, and my approach to healthcare in general requires that we don’t separate “health” from the rest of our patient’s lives. I also had time to make big commitments to projects that I cared about, and learned more than I could have imagined. I helped get a nonprofit global health organization started, which taught me as much about public health as it did about team work, leadership, and resource management. I worked in a research lab for a few years doing more engineering-based health projects, and was inspired by the potential future of stem-cell based diagnostic devices and therapies. I think the biggest opportunity I had while being nontrad, and perhaps bringing some diversity to the mix is my restaurant work history. I got my first job at 16 working in a cafe and bakery, and from there moved on to other cafes and finally ended up serving and bar-tending at a restaurant as I got older. It seems like working during undergrad isn’t typical for a lot of premeds, so I’m so glad I had a chance to do it. Of course, I hated it at the time and it was stressful, but being forced to talk to strangers day in and day out will probably help my bedside manner more than any amount of shadowing doctors could do. I learned a lot about making people feel comfortable and responding appropriately to misplaced anger by waiting tables. Although it isn’t directly related to medicine, waiting tables taught me a lot about professional communication in strained situations. People can get really upset about their food, it seems! Or parking, or having to wait for a table…about a lot of things outside my control. And I feel that happens in everyday medical practice often, so having a little bit of experience managing those situations will likely help me in the future. Waiting tables was also a great teamwork exercise; you really can’t survive the floor without working together, even if you don’t always get along with your coworkers. Maybe that gives me some of that coveted diversity? Who knows, I think it’s the summation of our experiences that gives all of us a unique perspective.


Q. So, as a nontraditional or traditional premeds was there anyone who mentored you? Also, applying to medschool is pretty nebulous; have any guidance or tips along the way?

I’m lucky to have had a great mentor in this whole thing. I think as you’ve pointed out a few times, there are a lot of people who are just waiting for us to fail, to not make it. So, I had my mom, who is a doctor and a teacher. When I have questions about how to be a great doctor, I always turn to her. For the premed-y things though, I kind of just went with it. Internet-searching. Berkeley doesn’t have official premed advisors, so I kind of went at it based on anecdotes from friends and the internet

As for my tips…I think the best ones I have are to do what you love…pick a few key activities that will help define and shape you, and give them your all. Don’t mess around with 100+ random activities that you only contribute 10 hours to.

Also, keep a journal of everything. Not only does it make it so much easier to learn from and reflect on your experiences, but you will thank yourself SO MUCH when applications roll around.

And surround yourself with good people, even if they’re not premed or doing the same things you are. Don’t let negative folks discourage you, don’t take SDN too damn seriously, and don’t put other people down because we never know where they’ve been

Regarding the question of, “For premeds without a committee or reliable advisors do you have any tips?” that’s a hard one. Reliable information is difficult to come by, and you don’t want to get sucked into the anecdotes too much, because they may be wrong! I think some of the books out there are pretty good –the ones written by previous admissions officers. I guess my major tip for anyone is just always frame your activities or potential activities by thinking “How will this make me a better doctor? What am I learning or contributing?” If you can come up with solid answers to that, then it’s a worthwhile activity lol.

And the usual: don’t let your GPA slide, set study schedules to keep it up, check school websites to meet prereqs, and don’t think the MCAT will be a breeze.


Q. I suppose you should probably jot down that answer [from the journal etc.] as well for later during secondary/interviews?

  • YES, absolutely. Take notes, always. Makes life so much easier down the line when time is of the essence. I was lucky that I had some notes and journals, but I WISH i had an updated CV.
  •  Oh…another pro tip. Start saving a lot of money — like yesterday. Charging app fees to your credit card is awful (that was me, it sucked).


Q. As you already know, I don’t report MCAT scores; but, you did very well, do you have any study tips?

Well, since everyone studies a bit differently, it’s kind of a hard thing to say for sure. The one thing that I think will work for everyone is to set a study schedule. Like map out every single day, what you’re going to review, how many problems you’re doing to try, etc. Even map out your break days

  • I also tend to think that you shouldn’t review all of one area, then the next. Should probably do one chapter of physics, one chem, one orgo, one bio, then repeat with the next chapters
  • Practice problems are golden, obviously. do as many as possible, but I think it’s best if you don’t re-do the same ones. I saved all my AAMC practice exams for the last month
  • Flashcards are great for random facts, and can be taken anywhere for quick review (on the bus, between classes, etc)
  • Always focus on understanding and connecting concepts, rather than memorizing shit

*Doctoorbust: a caveat, remember pick tips that work for you, ignore any that don’t.


Q. I know you’re tired of hearing this but, any idea what you’re going to specialize in?

Not a clue! I’m trying to go into it with an open mind, simply because I know I haven’t seen even half of what specialties are out there. Even for the ones I have “seen”…it’s difficult to know if my experience in them as a premed was anything like the way they actually are. So, I’m trying to be open.

Plus, it’s hard to know where the field will be in 4-5 years. Things change. The structure of medical practice is undergoing some pretty significant changes, and I’m not really sure where it will all end up.


Q. How do you feel about the coming changes (healthcare)? There’s a lot of anxiety in some groups about it.

I honestly don’t know. I see it as a good thing, a step in the right direction for expanding patient coverage, but I can also understand the concerns from a doctor’s point of view, as far as who is getting reimbursed for what, and additional constraints on their time I think it is easy for us to say, as folks who have yet to enter the medical field for real, that expanding coverage is GREAT and it’s easy and things like that. But I’m not sure we really know what it’s like in the trenches. I’m thinking specifically of primary care, it seems that it’s going downhill fast for those currently in family practice and internal medicine.

For the record, my personal opinion is that expanding coverage equates to awesome. But I don’t think we can neglect the concerns that have been brought to the table by our colleagues, either.


Q. What are some things you wish you did as a premed now that you’re going into medschool?

I wish I had traveled more, and taken more time for non-premed activities. I definitely enjoyed all the work I did in preparation for becoming a doctor, but I let some things slip too

I would just advise people to always make time for hobbies, for themselves. This is because hobbies are every bit as important as engaging in research or volunteering. Being healthy and happy will make you a better doctor, too.

Maintain relationships! Friends, family, don’t let it slide because you’re too busy studying.


Q. Now, you’ve been there and done that. What are some misinformation points you’ve heard about being a premed or applying that you believe to be false, at least from your experience?

 The biggest thing I think is that you need a perfect GPA and perfect MCAT score, or that having X hours of these activities are all it takes. Or that it’s guaranteed to get in if you have those things. And you see this everywhere. “My friend has a 4.0 and a 42 MCAT and thousands of hours of volunteering and research and didn’t get in” or the other commonly seen thing “I need a 4.0 and a 42 etc in order to have a shot.”

Yes, you need decent numbers, but that will only get you so far. We have to learn from our experiences in order for them to count. The hours spent doing an activity are usually correlated with learning and reflecting, but the hours themselves don’t mean anything

The other thing about applying that I saw a lot is the obsession with school rank and the numbers. It’s not all a numbers game. Schools have different missions, different focus points that they look for in their applicants

The smart applicant will choose schools that they will fit into, whose goals are in line with the applicant’s, or the applicant feels he/she can contribute to

The process feels like a crapshoot. To some extent, it probably is, but that doesn’t mean that applicants can’t maximize their chances. Obsessing over numbers won’t get you anywhere. and the thing is, just because your experiences don’t fit into one school doesn’t mean they don’t fit somewhere else. For instance, I was rejected outright from BU! But I got in somewhere. And you got into BU! And were rejected from other places we all have different strengths, just have to play to them. it takes some serious self-reflection and honesty on the applicant’s part. Still, no one’s saying it’s not competitive. But…always remember the numbers aren’t everything. My GPA sucked, and I got in somewhere.


Thanks for reading!  I’ll try to keep posting while moving!


AMCAS II Ex. 6 — When Have you Faced Criticism?

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Eventually along the way you’ll find a secondary question asking you about how you deal with criticism. It’s an  important question for innumerable reasons. The question for this essay is pretty much asking you, “Have you learned how to accept criticism and then do something constructive without having tantrum?” Medical students receive critiques to hone their skills prior to being flung into residency.  Once there in their internship, they’ll be a lot more of it, most will be legit some unwarranted. Other physicians may criticize new interns, these new doctors find themselves bombarded by critiques that are no longer didactic exercises, but are now instead life and death lessons. Patients will berate you for being late, how could they know you were doing chest compression upstairs in room 215 for 20-minutes?  But, without getting too far ahead of ourselves, let’s just remember that the medical school wants to see how you will handle criticism when they dish it out to you — there is also an undertone of show your maturity here please.

If you’re not used to handling criticism, you should get used to it. I finally learned what criticism meant when I was just accepted as the co-principal investigator for a project. I turned in my research thesis for my senior project to my principal investigator. He gave it back a few weeks later, but for some reason he had changed all of the font to red. I was wrong, he meant the whole thing had to be scrapped. I faced more criticism during lab meetings where we had to present new or class electrophysiology research articles and our interpretation. After some time, you just learn how to take criticism and become better from it. If there’s room to criticize then there’s room for improvement.

During this essay you’ll try to do several things:

1. Show that you know how to take criticism, i.e. you don’t bite off people’s jugulars when they give you an honest critique.

2. Show that you understand that accepting criticism can be a learning experience — this can be true regardless of who’s “right or wrong”.

3. You can show that you have some real world experience, i.e. will the school also need to teach you “life skills” or do you already have some.

Tell us about a time where you’ve received unexpected feedback or critique. And, how did you react to the situation?

As an Institutional Review Board (IRB) [title redacted] my first and foremost goal is to ensure that research projects meet ethical and regulatory standards. However, principal investigators (PI) often have disparate concerns, namely the timely completion of their investigative study. In one particular protocol conducted by a well-established (PI) I found the protocol didn’t meet my interpretation of ethical compliance. In response, I received a deluge of emails noting my incompetence; it became apparent to me that my review didn’t sit well with my (PI) colleague. I’m not infallible, and there’s a lot of “grey areas” in law interpretations, so I launched an investigation into my own decision. I poured through ethical reference texts and case studies to establish an ethical precedent for my decision, after I proved my case I reported my findings to the IRB and PI. After the protocol was modified, the study was approved and I have a good working relationship with that same PI.

The hardest part of this entry was actually writing it in such a way that I could still be professional, and be certain to represent both sides of the argument. Also note that I decided to not defend some of the criticisms against me, and instead accept it and show how I grew from it.

Good luck!

Nominated for Liebster Award

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This evening I received a message from a mutual reader:

“Hello! I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! Your blog is extremely helpful and it’s nice to read about other premed majors”


My first step of course was to immediately thank them, then Google what it mean, because I’m a blog newbie. So I found out that the Liebster award is a ceremonial award for bloggers by bloggers. The word derives from German, and is a term meant to invoke feelings of endearment — I won’t try to butcher the translation here. I suppose one could argue that the Liebster is the bloggers equivalent of the Academy Awards (without a centralized panel).

In order to “accept” my award, I need to follow the rules:

The Liebster Award Rules

  1. Thank the nominator and post a link to his/her blog
  2. Display the award on your blog
  3. Answer the eleven questions provided by the nominator
  4. Nominate 5-11 blogs which have less than 1,000 followers, and let them know they’ve been nominated
  5. Make up and Post eleven questions for your nominees to answer
  6. Post these rules on your blog

My nominator was Simplexvita, thanks for nominating me. I hardly write about the details of my life, so I guess people will find out more about me tonight.

So, here are the questions and my answers:

The 11 Questions:

1. What is one thing that you would change about the world and why?

Just listen to Imagine by the John Lennon I agree with every single naive lyric, though most of all I wish for violence to stop around the globe. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, and I hope one day you join us, and the world will live as one.

Why? because look at what we do to each other — to each other.

2. Your favorite color?

I actually don’t have one, well I do but it changes depending on the object. For example, I like navy blue, however only on shirts and bags. Yet, I don’t feel comfortable in navy blue pants. I like red, but own no red clothes, however I like red objects and when others pull off red. This could last all day, so let’s just say I really like natural tones.

3. Tell me about your best friend. Why are you guys friends?

My best friend, we’ve been friends since we were kids, I was his best man. I think one of the things that keeps us friends is that he’s good at things I’m not, and I’ve learned a lot about life from him. He’s really good at living life to the fullest, I’ve picked up a lot of good tips from him about what’s important in life.

4. What is your accomplishment that you’re most proud of?

I suppose getting into medical school ranks pretty high up there. But, actually I think the biggest accomplishment for me was overcoming my speech problems as a child. In elementary school I had to go to speech therapy because I had a difficulty speaking and interacting with people. So, it’s funny that now one of the things I’m known for are ‘motivational’ public speeches and interviewing skills. I’m proud that people could be duped into thinking that of me.

5. What do you most fear?

Well, if you saw #4 you’d think it was public speaking (haha). This may have been true before, now I really don’t care. Right now, my biggest fear I think is that I’ll never be satisfied — I know that sounds weird.

6. Would you ever run for president/prime minister/ruler of your country?

No. I don’t want them to ask about my transcripts to prove I’m smart. =)

7. Favorite scent?

I think baby powder is the most awesome smell in the world, it’s scientifically designed to smell like comfort.

8. Cat or dog person?

Dog. I like cats though, I’m just too aloof to have a cat, we’d just ignore each other all day.

9. Guilty pleasure show?

Judge Judy. I like seeing her reason through a usually intentionally convoluted story, and eventually finding the truth with a matter of minutes. There’s a bonus that occasionally I get to learn legal advice.

10. What was the best day of your life so far?

Getting into my top choice for medical school. My interviewer called to tell me, I was sure she was calling to let me down gently.

11. Are you involved in any clubs?

Not at all.

Well, with me out of the way, here are my nominations:

1. Dreamer Doc

2. The Health Scout

3. This Medical Life

4. MD PhD to Be

5. Nurse with Glasses

My questions for them:

1. If you could change something about yourself what would it be?

2. If you could be fluent in another language, what would it be?

3. Have you traveled to another country, if so where, if not where would you go?

4. What was the proudest moment in your life?

5. If you had a super power, what would it be?

6. Do you have a talent most people don’t know about?

7. What’s the most risk taking thing you’ve done?

8. Why do you write, did you enjoy writing growing up?

9. If you could keep to your future, by passing all of the hard work to get to your goal, would you?

10. Can you tolerate spicy food?

11. Are you a morning or night person?