MSAG: Don’t Apply Without It

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A nudge in the right direction.

“If I were you, I’d go for it with regards to the application…” — May 13, 2013

It’s now a little less than a year later, and a lot has changed since I received this email from Dr. Suzanne Miller, CEO of MDAdmit (an admissions advising service). At that time, I was applying to medical school, still compiling my school list, saving up money for applications (knocked over the tooth fairy), and trying to hammer out my personal statement. To say I was anxious would be an understatement. As industrious as physicians are, they can’t seem to escape the “service” based attitude in-grained after many fortnights of volunteering. Proof of this was the fact that an accomplished physician was offering basic medical application advising for free for a limited time — wouldn’t you snap at the opportunity? I know I did. I sent her my basic outline, my application strategy, and scores. She sent back a lengthy review of my plan, pointed me towards resources, and vetted my plan. And sure, we should all work towards being self confident in a vacuum, but it was really nice to have physician and someone knowledgeable about admissions give me the thumbs up.

Medical School Admissions Guide: A Harvard MD’s Week-By-Week Admissions Handbook (Paperback)  – By Dr. Suzanne Miller

Now of course, confidence is great, but confidence without a plan is a good way to repeat the AMCAS cycle. I had a habit of researching principal investigators prior work, checking their “prior work” is like checking each other’s Facebook in academic circles. So, a little investigation brought me to a great guide written by Dr. Miller, titled Medical School Admissions Guide (MSAG). It’s a very concise guide (never rambles, but has enough meat), lays out a timeline for applicants to apply to the AMCAS early, secondary period, interviews, post interview, personal statement examples. It also goes into other scenarios, like being a nontraditional applicant, and dealing with unfavorable grades/scores on the application. This book does a really good job of demonstrating what the AMCAS is: one unified application. I would highly suggest any premed, or advisors to pick it up, it’s a great reference! I spent more of less over $7,000, and this $15 and another ~$25 for the MSAR were the two best investments I made during my applications — besides actually applying. 

And though I’ve never paid for advising services, if the communication I received from the CEO of MDAdmit is indicative of their advising services, then I’d gladly would of paid for them if I didn’t make it into medical school. In fact, I can see the benefit of legit advising services, they’ll use their empirical experience to nudge you in the right direction so you’re less likely to be a re-applicant (or re-re-re-applicant). And a year later or so, thanks to a little nudge, I had the confidence to put forth my AMCAS and have a rather successful season including a seat at my top selection. That deserves a “shout out” if nothing else, wouldn’t you concur? 

MSAG definitely gets the #Doctororbust blog seal of approval. You can keep up with updates from Dr. Suzanne Miller herself on Twitter at @mdadmit. Finding good advice is pretty hard, so it’s best to get it from people who’ve been there and done that in most cases — most cases.