Don’t Let Your Christmas Break Go To Waste

One of the things I loved while I was student at Oakwood was the 3 – 4 week Christmas vacation.  I remember, I always seemed to start the spring semester at least a week later than my friends who attended other colleges and universities.

While three to four weeks of vacation is lovely, and may be well deserved after a long, hard semester; there’s still work to be done.  Your goal of becoming a successful medical professional takes sacrifice and delay of gratification , that started the day you decided this was the path God had chosen for you.  So, in between the holiday cheer, time with family and friends, and just relaxing, take some time to do something for your future, because before you know it, those 4 weeks will be over and the reality of being a pre-professional student and all that comes along with it will set in.

MCAT PREP AND PLANNING

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but the MCAT  is looming, and if you haven’t started studying for the April / May test yet, then you’re a tad behind.  Experts recommend 3 solid months of study for the MCAT, and since no premed student truly has three solid months to devote to the first of many tests they will take in their professional career, they recommend 5 – 6 months. Don’t panic.  If you get a good game plan in place NOW, it’s doable.

1. Do some research and decide what materials you’re going to use.  Kaplan vs Princeton Review, books vs private tutoring?

2. Devise a SPECIFIC study plan from now until test date . Be specific, how many hours a day, what topics.  Build in some catch up time.  If you have specific goals for each day, it will be more doable and less overwhelming.

3. Most important tip:  TRY AND MAKE YOUR SCHEDULE AS LIGHT AS POSSIBLE, IF YOU PLAN TO TAKE THE APRIL MCAT!

4.  Free up your weekends, consider not working or doing any activity that will take up too much of  your time.  It’s only for a few months, for one of the most important tests of your life.

5.  Whatever you do, make sure that you do TONS of practice questions and at least 4 practice tests are factored into your schedule.

We can’t forget about those students taking the DAT , PCAT, and GRE.  The benefit of the DAT and GRE are that they are offered more often than the MCAT.  I would hope anyone planning to take the January PCAT has gotten their study plan underway, so…

SUMMER OPPORTUNITIES

NOW (actually a month or two ago) is the time to decide your summer plans.  Before you know it, spring semester will be over and the summer will be upon you.  Summer vacation is the perfect time for research, volunteer opportunities, and a chance to increase medical exposure; which makes up a significant part of the application to professional school.

Listed below are several sites with links to summer opportunities and just simple google search for “summer premedical opportunities” will provide you with more links than you could have time to check out. One of my  favorite summer programs is the SMDEP program.

1. http://people.rit.edu/gtfsbi/Symp/premed.htm

2. http://www.swarthmore.edu/x8853.xml#Underrepresented Minority

3. http://www.med.cornell.edu/education/programs/tra_sum_res.html

4. http://utsa.edu/healthprofessions/Summer%20Opportunities.htm

5. http://uss.tufts.edu/hpa/experientialprep/premedical.asp

INTERVIEW PREP

Congratulations!  You got your secondary applications in, and now you’re sitting pretty on a few med school / dental school / pharmacy school interview invitations.  After you take some time to celebrate being one step closer to your dream with your family, take some time to prepare for your interviews.

1.  Familiarize yourself with the interview format of the school / programs you are interviewing. More and more schools are changing their interview format in an effort to get a more “well rounded” applicants.  At the University of Cincinnati, they’ve implemented MMI, which are basically 5 – 6 8 minute sessions where the applicant does a series of activities and scenarios that test an applicant’s problem solving, decision making skills when faced with ethical dilemmas, and teamwork.  You can read more about the MMI format of interviewing below.

http://studentdoctor.net/2011/01/the-multiple-mini-interview-for-medical-school-admissions/

2.  Practice, practice, practice.  The internet is full of practice interview questions.  Spend some time going over a series of questions and preparing an articulate and succinct answer to some of the basic 0nes. Those family members who are so excited that you’re one step closer to your dream, they’ll be more than happy to ask you your interview questions and perfect your answers. Then, if time allows, go a step further and have a professor, advisor or medical professional conduct a quick mock interview with you.   Anything to get some of the nerves out.

3.  One last thing: As you’re familiarizing yourself with the list of questions they will ask you, be SURE to familiarize yourself with a list of potential questions to ask them. They will ask you if you have any questions, and you want to have a few.  It shows interest and that you’re engaged during your interview and not just THERE.  Sometimes it can be hard to come up with questions because you feel like you’ve already scoured their website and learned all you need to learn, well check online and see what are some potential questions you could ask.  Here’s a list below:

1. 35 Questions I Wish I Had Asked

https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/requirements/109762/35_questions.html

2. Common Medical School Interview Questions

http://www.missouristate.edu/bms/30588.htm

3.  Common Dental School Questions  – not that different from medical school interview questions, but here are list for you future dentists.

http://predds.net/interview-questions/

4.  CommonPharmacySchoolInterview Questions – http://science.iupui.edu/sites/default/files/Pharmacy%20School%20Interview%20Questions.pdf

Take some time to enjoy your vacation, but be sure to check out the links above that are relevant to where you are.

Good luck and happy holidays

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