Welcome to Our Blog

What to consider when choosing MD PhD programs

By the Editorial Board As with any decision this sizeable, with MD PhD programs, there is no one right way of going about choosing which institution to attend, but here are some things to think about:  1) Location: Most MD PhD programs take 7-10 years to complete. That’s a significant chunk of your life, nearly 10%. So while you have to balance a lot of things when making your decision, think whether you want to live somewhere during a period of your life where you might enter single but leave married. When you interview, we encourage you to consider spending an extra day walking around town at programs you are seriously considering.  2) Clinical Program: Most MD PhD applicants come to the application process with a very research-oriented mindset. They look up labs, PubMed professors, and so on. That is all certainly important, but don’t neglect evaluating the clinical program as well. The reality is that you will be spending nearly 50% of your time as an MD student. Consider the following: Is the school pass-fail? Is the curriculum a block schedule? How much problem-based learning is involved? Are the medical students satisfied with their experience? It’s important to make sure that you will be happy with your clinical training.  3) Research Years Support: This can vary widely between institutions and can truly affect your experience, so ask about these details. How are you funded during your PhD years? PIs love students who are essentially “free” to them and are supported through a medical scientist training program (MSTP) rather than their own grants. Thus guaranteed PhD support means you will... read more

Working as a Medical Assistant Before PA School – A Student’s Experience

By Jillian K. – Incoming PA Student When I first started researching prerequisites for PA school, I was daunted by the number of clinical hours that were required to make me a competitive candidate amongst an extremely qualified applicant pool. At the time, I was working in an infectious disease laboratory. To my dismay, I discovered that most schools listed the kind of work I did as one which they would not count towards clinical experience. I gave into the fact that I would need to find a position, either volunteer or paid, that would allow me to work directly with patients. I quickly ruled out volunteering as a means of obtaining clinical experience. Although I believe the various volunteer positions I held largely contributed to my PA school acceptance, volunteering in a clinical setting would not have allowed me to acquire the hands-on experience for which I was looking. I decided I would have to quit my laboratory job and get a new position in a clinical setting. As I poured over employment ads, I discovered that every entry-level position, working with patients, required some sort of certification. Refusing to let the obstacles stand in the way of entering PA school, I explored different certificate programs at community colleges nearest me. I was first interested in a CNA program because the certification would have only taken a couple of months to complete. Since I support myself financially, I decided that the pay of a CNA would not be feasible for my budget. I had to continue working full-time, and eventually found a medical assistant program that would allow... read more

Non-Verbal Cues to be Aware of for Your Medical, Dental, Pharmacy or PA School Interview Part 2

By Sanam Darougar Farshidi In the first part of this entry, we discussed how the importance of confidence and appearing low-maintenance as important non-verbal communication tactics in the health professional school interview.  Here we will consider other factors, including how your appearance can affect the impression you leave on the medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, or PA school admissions committee: Dress the Part The costume designer Edith Head once famously said, “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it”.  Although things like clothing and accessories, makeup, and hair styles seem superfluous to many, the fact remains that our appearance speaks volumes to everyone we encounter in our lives. Studies have shown that people who take the time to take care of their personal appearance are perceived to be smarter and more confident than those who don’t.  While this may not seem like a fair guideline for evaluating a candidate’s capabilities, accepting this fact will give you a competitive edge. A clean, freshly pressed suit, and lightly worn shoes are the foundation to looking sharp for your interview.  Try to refrain from wearing loud colors that might be distracting.  And while you want to appear modern, you’ll want to avoid wearing clothing that is too trendy or fashion forward. For women, natural or light makeup can accentuate your best features and make you feel your best, but too much makeup can be distracting and lead interviewers to question how serious you are about a career in healthcare.  Similarly, while light to moderate accessories are perfectly acceptable, over accessorizing is distracting, especially if your jewelry creates... read more

Non-Verbal Cues to be Aware of for Your Medical, Dental, Pharmacy or PA School Interview Part 1

By Sanam Darougar Farshidi While most applicants spend a significant amount of time thinking about what they are going to say in a heath professional school interview, less attention is given to the non-verbal cues that affect your ability to impress the admissions committee.  In the next two entries, we will discuss some of the important non-verbal cues that can help you ace your interview whether you are applying to medical school, PA school, dental school, or pharmacy school.  Lets begin by considering how your non-verbal communication can help you come across as confident: Exuding Confidence It goes without saying that confidence is key.  While an interview to determine your candidacy for medical school or PA school may be a tense experience, there are ways you can exude the confidence needed to impress your interviewers.  After all, how can you be trusted with managing patient safety and making split decisions about people’s lives, if you can’t even handle the stress of the initial interview? Being confident is an essential trait in medical professionals, so emitting confidence is a must in your interview for any health professional school.  Though the tips shared above are all ways you can appear more confident, other non-verbal cues can also transmit your level of confidence or lack thereof: Consider non-verbal verbals – Non-verbal communicative tactics include how you speak, intonation, and voice nuances.  In order to project confidence when you speak, be concise in your sentences and refrain from over sharing. Keep your tone of voice moderate, ensuring your voice is not too high pitched or so soft spoken it’s difficult to understand you.  If you have an accent,... read more

Adopting Good Body Language in the Medical, Dental, Pharmacy, or PA School Interview

By Sanam Darougar Farshidi You’ve made it to the medical school, dental school, pharmacy school or PA school interview, and you’ve spent countless hours preparing for what you want to say and how you want to say it.  You’ve carefully assessed every possible question you might be asked, and crafted answers that are sure to impress the interviewers. But did you know that only a small percentage of meaning in communication is in the words that are spoken, while the majority of meaning is derived from non-verbal factors? This means that people size us up and make decisions about who we are before we even speak. Communication is heavily weighted on non-verbal elements especially body language.  As a result, it’s vital that we are self aware of what our body is doing in our interactions, especially in something as important as a health professional school interview like medical school or PA school. What You Need to Know About Body Language Body movement is the first thing the interviewer will notice about you, and the last thing they remember after you’ve left.  In fact, body language is so important in communication, that each tip following this one is highly influenced by it because elements of body communication are woven into each non-verbal cue. There are far too many body language tips to be aware of in interpersonal interactions, but for the purposes of this list, we’ve honed in on the few key essentials: Posture – When the interviewer walks through the door to welcome you in, the way you sit is already sending them a message about who you are.  Do you slouch, or... read more

Healthcare Reform and Dentistry – What You Should Know for Your Dental School Interview

What You Need to Know About Healthcare Reform for Your Dental School Interview In recent years, dental schools are looking more and more at applicants’ knowledge and understanding of dental health care delivery.  As you prepare for your dental school interview, it is wise to consider these issues in general and how recent healthcare reform will impact dental care and the dental profession. To make sure you have the necessary preparation to ace your interview, try to gain a basic understanding of the issues revolving around healthcare reform’s impact on dentistry.  Avoid getting caught up in details and memorizing every fact about healthcare delivery in dentistry. Dental school admissions committees are not going to quiz you on your knowledge of details.  The goal is to demonstrate an overall understanding of the issues and formulate a position that shows the dental admissions committee your thoughtfulness.  In an attempt to help you prepare, below we have highlighted some of the key issues relating to the impact of healthcare reform on dentistry: Before we consider how healthcare reform will affect dentistry, it is worth looking at government programs designed to provide oral heath services for the population.  Government programs generally tend to cover healthcare services, including dental services, for vulnerable populations such as those who do not make too much money. There are two mechanisms through which the government provides oral healthcare services to low-income communities: Medicaid: Medicaid is a government program that pays for healthcare services for certain groups who are considered low-income and for individuals with certain kinds of disabilities. The program is funded by both the federal government and the state and run by... read more

The Ins and Outs of Getting Letters of Recommendation for Medical School

For a free 20 minute consult, please call 1-888-839-9997 or email us at info@admissionshelpers.com One of the most important elements of a successful medical school application is the letter of recommendation. Recommendation letters provide extensive insight about you and help medical schools gauge your ability to excel in medical school as well as your preparedness for becoming a physician.  Below we address some of the key issues relevant to obtaining and sending your letters of recommendation: Who to get letters of recommendation from: There are many individuals from whom you could request a letter of recommendation.  In general, your letter writer should know you well and be able to comment in a substantial way about your ability and aptitude for medical school and the medical profession. Most medical schools require 3-4 letters of recommendation and generally expect two of these to be from professors with whom you have taken science courses.  We recommend getting letters from the following: Science professors: This should preferably be with science professors in challenging upper division courses that are related to the medical field.  A letter of recommendation from a microbiology or medical genetics professors will help more than a letter from an entomology professor.  Also get your letters from professors with whom you took courses at a four-year institution. Physicians: It is always a good idea to get a letter of recommendation from physicians who you have shadowed or volunteered with. Research faculty: If you have done substantial research with a faculty member, that faculty member can be a good source for letters of recommendations. Others: Other individuals who can comment on your intellect, compassion, curiosity, work ethic, maturity, or responsibility are valuable.  For example, if you have participated in a community service or leadership activity,... read more

Healthcare Reform for the Medical School Interview

Introduction and General Points Medical schools love to assess an applicant’s knowledge and views of the healthcare system during the medical school interview. Both traditional medical school interviews and multiple mini interviews may include questions or scenarios about the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) and its impact on how we deliver healthcare.  In fact, medical schools are not the only ones asking about the ACA. PA schools, pharmacy schools, and sometimes even dental schools, like to discuss the possible implications of the new law on their profession with prospective students. Applicants frequently want to know what’s important to understand about the new healthcare law.  Before we get into discussing the law and covering its main components, its important to point out the following: Do not drive yourself crazy trying to learn all the details of the law: As it turns out the ACA is a very long bill with thousands of pages of regulations and there is no way you are going to know all of it.  Admissions committees don’t expect you to know all the details but rather to have a basic grasp and to have a position. Learn the basics and spend some time thinking about it: Instead of trying to learn all the details, try to grasp the basics of the act and spend some time thinking about the act, formulating an opinion about it, and considering its implications. Before you go into your interview, read current events related to the Affordable Care Act: Interviewers may ask you to state your opinion about a recent event in the news that pertains to the Affordable Care Act.... read more

How to Ace the PAT Section of the DAT

How to Ace the Perceptual Ability Test on the DAT – A Student to Student Guide By Jason Steiner When initially studying for my PAT section, I did everything wrong. Thankfully, I was able to learn from my mistakes before my exam and recovered enough to score a 26 on the PAT. My hope in writing this blog post is that I will save the reader from making the same mistakes I did, as well as some panic and time. I will start with what I did wrong, move on to what I did right, including some section-by-section advice, and conclude with what I would do differently. It is also important to note that I never scored above a 23 on any practice exam. Do not get discouraged by low scores. Use them as motivation to do better. On my very first PAT section I scored a 15. Scoring low initially only means that you have a high ceiling! What I did wrong: Where to begin? The first wrong thing I did was initially use one source to study from. After reading a few dated reviews, I purchased Crack DAT PAT, thinking it would be all I would need. I do not regret making this purchase, but it was misleading for the hole punching and top, front, end (TFE) sections of the PAT. The hole punching section was only misleading because it was much easier than the real DAT. The Crack DAT TFE problems are seriously dated. Almost all of the questions on the Crack DAT TFE sections of each practice test can be solved using the line-counting method.... read more

Completing the Secondary Application for Medical School, Dental School and PA School

Secondary Application Tutorial Part 1     Secondary Application Tutorial Part 2     Secondary Application Tutorial Part 3     Secondary Application Tutorial Part 4   Need help with your secondaries to medical, dental, PA, or pharmacy school?  Check out Admissions Helpers’ Secondary Application Editing Service! Helpful Tips for Completing the Secondary Application There are so many layers to the application processes to medical, dental, PA and pharmacy school that its easy to get confused. There is the primary application processed through centralized application services like the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) or the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) and common to all programs. Then there is the individual school application which is frequently referred to as the secondary or supplemental application. Applicants often get stressed out because the supplemental applications to medical school, dental school or PA school have their own essay prompts and can be tricky to answer. Here we would like to offer a few basic tips to help you navigate the secondary application process: Tip Number 1: Timing — The first point to keep in mind with the secondary application is timing! After you submit your primary application, you will get inundated with secondaries and its easy to sit on them or to get too caught up trying to make sure they are perfect. With secondaries you do not have to be as meticulous as with the personal statement. Its still important to pay attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation and sentence structure but do not go through 10 iterations of each secondary essay you draft. We suggest getting each secondary out... read more