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Home  > Article

Sweating out the Med School Applications

By Lisa Gaw

"Never mind, Dad, I'm gonna call Kevin and have him log in for me". Seconds later..."Okay, now scroll down, do you see it? Really?! Are you sure?! Read it to me one more time...Oh, man! Thanks, Kev!"

After calling my Dad back, I happily shared the news with my friends.  My weekend had been spent on a retreat in Northern California with friends from church and no inter-net access. The day of our return happened to coincide with the Texas Match results and the first thing I did when my cell phone had service was call home to have someone find out where I matched. It was official: UT Southwestern here I come!!!

Rewind a bit

Rewind a bit.  After deciding to apply for medical school, I enrolled in a MCAT prep course and after a grueling summer with one proctored practice test each week, I took the real exam in August of my junior year.  Following that, I went online to find a timeline for the application process and browsed school websites to get an idea of where I wanted to apply and to ensure I would be completing all required courses prior to graduation. When my score report came several months later, I had my roommate do the math- I was too nervous to add up the section scores to see what my overall score was.  Turns out I met my goal score exactly and won't be re-taking the exam in April.  I could now focus on the rest my classes and find potential letter writers.

June arrived and I still remember staring at the blank Word document and squeezing my brain to a pulp trying to get my creative juices to give me a drop. When I first arrived at Calthree years before, my "intended" major was biology and I had no idea what I would do with that degree after graduation. There was no pivotal moment in my past or a significant mentor that led me to pursue medicine as a career.  The decision took form gradually; the activities I took part in and the courses I took helped give it shape.  After several trusted people edited my personal statement, I was ready to hit "Submit".  Having collected my letters of recommendation in May and started the online application in June, I met my personal deadline of July 4th.  Within the Texas application system, I applied to all seven schools offering MDs because I was a native and hoped to return to the Lone Star state. The schools I submitted my application to in the national system were based mostly on location, partly on cost, with a fleeting thought about prestige.

Preparing for Interviews

The summer passed with a trip to the Big Apple and Vegas. Beginning in September, both the electronic mail and snail mail came with offers for interviews or for submitting a secondary application.  I accepted all interviews and my fall filled up with flights to various schools.  To cut costs, I stayed only as long as needed and tried to clump several interviews into one weekend.  My three roommates helped me formulate responses to very generic interview questions one night, but I did not spend much time preparing for any interviews.  I was more comfortable walking in and letting my reactions be unrehearsed.  But I wouldn't recommend that to everyone. After the first two interviews, you realize that all the schools follow a similar schedule and you even recognize some of the other applicants from prior interviews.  A guy I met at UT Southwestern had the same interviewers as I did but in reverse order.  In the hallway I remember sharing what the meeting was like before we each walked into the next interview.  We ended up classmates and good friends.

Four years have passed for  my classmates and me.  After talking with some of my first year medical student friends, I'm informed of all the changes that have occurred since I went through the application process. However, the core elements remain so that the generations of physicians to come and the generations before will all share similar experiences.  I hope that future medical students will reach the end of their education without regrets as I have.


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