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Preparing for Pre-Med Study How Counselors Can Help Students Start and Stay on Track Sunny Gibson, MSW, PhD Candidate Director, Office of Diversity Feinberg.

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Presentation on theme: "Preparing for Pre-Med Study How Counselors Can Help Students Start and Stay on Track Sunny Gibson, MSW, PhD Candidate Director, Office of Diversity Feinberg."— Presentation transcript:

1 Preparing for Pre-Med Study How Counselors Can Help Students Start and Stay on Track Sunny Gibson, MSW, PhD Candidate Director, Office of Diversity Feinberg School of Medicine

2 The journey into medicine Becoming more flexible Encouraging of diversity in a broad sense Has numbers that determine consideration, but not necessarily admission Requires persistence, dedication, and support Should flow from a “how” framework rather than an “if” framework for advising

3 Premed Preparation GPA Science GPA MCAT scoreMedical exposureLeadership Interpersonal skills Research experience Community service & evidence of altruism Civic and campus engagement Letters of recommendation ProfessionalismWriting skillsAcademic skills (study skills, learning tools)

4 How it is advertised High school undergrad Medical school residency fellowship practice

5 What it really can look like research High school undergrad Volunteer for TFA Post bacc classes Time off Career pursuit residency Master’s program Medical school fellowship Stopping out for family practice

6 College choice If a student is headed toward professional school, how does that affect their initial undergraduate college choice?

7 Choosing the right college Size Selectivity Public/private Research intensive Size of surrounding community Enrichment opportunities Curriculum Campus community/support

8 A note about community college Medical schools have different approaches to applicants who have attended CC If a CC is the best option for a student, it’s okay, BUT Ensure the student has a transfer plan and time line Ensure the student takes some prereqs at a four-year school Understand that earning a BS degree is less likely if a student attends a CC

9 Premed advisers Do NOT choose a school based on the premed advising ‘record’ of success Many advisers act more like gatekeepers than facilitators Advising varies from a full time dedicated adviser with a program budget to a professor assigned to keep track of students however they see fit (sound familiar?) Students can get access to ALL information advisers have through the AAMC

10 Premed advisers Caution your student that they have to take charge of their preparation and may not have a solid advisor upon which to rely. Seek alternatives. Some advisers are discouraging and negative – if a student encounters a supremely unhelpful adviser, they should walk away from the adviser, not medicine!

11 Premed requirements Subject to change, but haven’t in the last 100 years 1 year of biology 1 year of general chemistry w/ labs 1 year of organic chemistry w/ labs 1 year of physics w/ labs Usually calculus is a prereq for physics Can include: statistics, biochemistry, diversity courses, medical terminology, etc – vary slightly by school

12 Science Courses No science courses above beginner/introductory level freshman year. (maybe none at all) Regardless of how prepared the student is Take the most difficult science courses latter half of sophomore year and beyond. Protect the GPA Given the dilemma, a “W” is always better than a D or an F.

13 GPA basics The GPA will not get them in, but it will keep them out Make sure students understand rules about withdrawing/dropping classes Teach them how to calibrate and predict performance Think about classes over 4 years including summers No more than two science or math at a time, especially in the first two years

14 GPA rules Every class they have ever taken for college credit is calculated into the GPA for applicants to medical school –Includes concurrent enrollment –Includes any repeated courses (grades are averaged in, not replaced) –Includes coursework at colleges where no degree was earned

15 Science courses Utilize the summer to ease the load of simultaneous difficult classes (even at universities closer to home) Understand that counting toward premed and counting toward degree don’t necessarily have to overlap Understand that most schools’ premed “tracks” are ANTIQUATED and far from ideal for any student, let alone a first gen, low income, or minority student

16 Why wait for science classes? They have two years of gen eds anyway They will want the content fresh for MCAT, PCAT, etc. Taking classes too early potentially means less effective learning/performance. They need letters from professors in science areas, therefore they want to perform well in those classes and have professors remember them and endorse them.

17 Why wait for science classes? Students who underperform in science classes in the first two years of college change their career aspirations more often and more drastically. The pace of science courses in college is intense, therefore they need to be well established as a student before they take science courses –Academic calibration and self knowledge –Resource savvy (supermall example)

18 Questions about premed coursework – what counts? What about AP credits? What about community college courses? What about online courses? What about concurrent enrollment courses? Are they flexible? What can be substituted? Are there other requirements besides the general science ones?

19 Activities Begin pursuits with passion Students should choose a major they LOVE, doesn’t have to be science! Select extra-curriculars based on interest, not medical school relevance Think about having a ‘hook’ in the application that will help them stand out Seek personal growth and community impact. Get outside comfort zone.

20 Get involved, find community Students who are engaged on campus have higher graduation rates than those who are not. Follow a plan to ease into activities: –Freshman year: attend, decide what to join –Sophomore year: join, participate in leadership, demonstrate commitment –Junior year: seek leadership positions, innovate –Senior year: be in charge, give back, leave a legacy (leave things better than before)

21 Get involved….but Caution them against over commitment at the expense of grades. They often see their actions are collective, but the graduate school applications are always individual. They need to learn to balance, so they don’t burn out. If they feel overwhelmed, they should stop and ask for help.

22 Resources for you Medical School Admission Requirements publication or online subscription

23 Cautions/Notes Off shore MD programs (non-LCME accredited schools) International medical schools (non-US, non-LCME) Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) Schools Proprietary advising services & consultants MCAT changes in 2015 Pre-Health DREAMers. DACA eligible students can apply…

24 Please contact me! Sunny Gibson (

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