Category Archives: Med School

Med School related post. Broad? Yes, I’m aware of that thanks.

Getting A Letter of Recommendation

Getting a letter of recommendation from a professor, lab advisor, or coach for your medical school applications may seem like a daunting task. Students drag their feet with asking for a letter, some afraid they’ll offend the person or cause them more work by asking. You shouldn’t worry, most writers will be more than happy to write you a letter if they know you well.

Having had to ask for letters of recommendation for almost every graduate school application possible at this point(MS, PhD, and MD) I think I have a few tips to share. ūüėČ Here are a few things to keep in mind when you go to ask for your next application. This shouldn’t be a painful process for either party.

1. Give your letter writer enough time. Most professors and other professionals that will be writing your letters of recommendations are busy people with many demands on their time. They will often take longer to write that letter for you then they say(though this is not always the case). Be sure to give them at least a month to get the letter to you by your deadline. For some professors that you know are habitually late with things, give them more time. You may be surprised at the turn around time. I think I waited about three weeks for the last letter of mine to come in during one application cycle.

2. Follow up with an email after two weeks. If you still haven’t heard anything after two weeks send an email or stop by and see the professor to give them a gentle nudge as a reminder that you’re still waiting on that letter. This was the key for me in reminding my one letter writer. They got me the letter I needed a couple of days later, along with an apology that it had slipped their mind and a thank you for reminding them. Again just remember that your letter writers are most likely busy people and your letter is probably not at the top of their priority list.

3. Make sure you are prepared to ask them in the first place. When you ask for a letter of recommendation be sure that your end of the bargain has been met as well. You should have a packet ready for each of your letter writers. This packet is designed to end the back and forth requests for information. Each packet should include:


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Accepted To Ross!

Ross Logo

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I got an email today from the gentleman at Ross University that I interviewed with about 2 weeks ago. Turns out he was writing to congratulate¬†me on an acceptance to Ross University’s September class for 2011! I am so happy! ūüôā No matter how things go from here on out, I am¬†guaranteed¬†a spot somewhere. Whew! Amazing how much stress one little email can take off your shoulders. Okay back to pharmacology now! As you were! ūüėõ


Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Applications, Med School


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Cost of Waiting

scrooge mcduck: money expert

Scrooge McDuck

As I mentioned to PA¬†SuperTammy in a comment on my post about the interview I recently had with Ross University, I don’t think that I will be applying to DO schools if I get accepted to either Ross or AUC. Why you might ask? It boils down to loss of years with an earning at a physicians salary and how that factors into a ‘true cost’ of attending med school.¬†I broke down the cost of applying for one round this coming year. Here are the numbers:

MCAT = $250
AAMC Practice Exams(5 @ $35/ea) = $175
MCAT Prep Course = $2000
Primary Apps(15 schools) = $655
Secondary Apps(8 schools @ $100/ea) = $800
Interview Expenses = $2000

Total = $5880

It’s an investment to say the least when one decides to apply to medical school here. Knowing the base cost of the application process, I could then factor in other ‘hidden costs’ I would meet by waiting to apply. These are things like: wage losses from taking time to study for the MCAT, losing another year at a physician’s salary, or taking out more loans to continue to pay for my grad school tuition. Here are the figures for these other hidden costs:

Grad School Tuition (per semester) = $7500
Wages lost from MCAT studying (3 month course) = $640
Primary Care Physician’s Salary = $150,000

Taking all that into account will give us the true cost of attending medical school. We can also extrapolate these numbers out to account for if you were to apply two times as well(assuming the MCAT was not re-taken a second time).

Matriculation Date: Sept 2011 Sept 2012 Sept 2013
Grad School $7,000 $22,000 $22,000
MCAT Exam $0 $250 $250
MCAT Course $0 $2,000 $2,000
Applying $250 $1,455 $2,910
Interviewing $50 $2,000 $4,000
Wages lost from MCAT studying $0 $650 $650
Years Salary Lost 0 1 2
Total Earnings Lost $0 $150,000 $300,000
Cost of School $250,000 $250,000 $250,000
True Costs $257,300 $428,355 $581,810

Some of these numbers might be a little higher or lower depending on who you ask. I tried to get the best estimates possible when making these calculations. However, the trend in the data is clear. Waiting to start medical school is like burning a big fat pile of money. I really don’t like burning gobs of money,¬†especially¬†money I don’t really have(in the case of grad school loans). This concept plays a large¬†factor in taking an acceptance from AUC or Ross and forgoing the DO schools. There are, obviously, other reasons than cost alone that are pushing me towards going to med school this September instead of waiting for DO schools, but that will be fodder for¬†another post. I’m late to get to the OR for volunteering. Cheers!


Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Applications, Med School


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First Med School Interview!


Today I had my first medical school interview with Ross University!  I had gotten an email earlier in the week about being selected for an interview, but that I would hear back about the exact date after confirming some available dates. I replied that my schedule was open and flexible and they set me up for this morning.

It was a little over an hours drive to get to Ross’ regional center, and I went¬†in for the interview shortly after arriving. The interview was one-on-one, open file, and lasted a little over an hour. We went through several parts of my application. I discussed some of the lower grades that I had received, explained my favorite course, and talked about my volunteering experiences and my training as a CNA among other things. Oh yeah, and of course, “Why do you want to be a doctor?”. Can’t forget that question! ūüėõ

It was, overall, quite¬†nerve-wracking! I eventually relaxed after the first response or two and enjoyed our discussion. I think it went pretty well! Now I just have to wait for 2-6 weeks to hear back about a final admissions decision. O_o This waiting is going to kill me! I also heard back from AUC yesterday that my application is complete and that they will get back to me in, you guessed it, ¬†2-6 weeks with a final decision. Yay…more waiting!


Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Applications, Med School


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Investigating Alternatives

As I said in an earlier post, I have done some research to try to find out if Caribbean medical schools represent a good choice for me. I have cruised the three schools’ (SGU, AUC, Ross) websites, emailed and called their admissions offices, and started reading current and past student’s blogs. I have managed to pull some data together that is an objective¬†look at how these schools stack up.

School’s Stats:


USMLE Step 1
First Time Pass Rate

91% 94% 93%

Class Size (Fall)

400 200 300

Clinical Sites (US)*

48 25 71
Clinical Sites (UK)* 7 9 0

Avg. GPA

3.4 3.3 3.4


27 26 27

Cost (4 Years)

$234,644 $159,650 $151,087

Teaching Style

case-based discipline-based system-based

*All clinical sites for all three schools were ACGME accredited (or the UK equivalent)

Post Game Analysis:

There you have it. I had heard that SGU was more expensive, but damn I didn’t know it was that much more! I think I will cross SGU off the list for now due to sheer insanity of the cost. There are two other equally good schools for a fraction of the cost.¬†I still have some reservations about Caribbean schools and really need to talk, at length, with students that go to said schools. It’s the subjective things like quality of living, support of faculty/student body, and other things that are still holding me back. The other thing I still have reservations about is the chances of matching into residency. Looking at the match lists from the years past, I think that I would have a strong chance to match into a program in my field of choice (primary care).

The question that keeps coming back to haunt me is will I match into a good program from a Caribbean school? I know this will depend on board scores, letters of recommendation, etc, but I haven’t been able to find a good answer to this one yet. This is, in part, because I don’t really know what criteria to use to check the strength of a school’s match list, be it US or Caribbean.

What makes a good residency program? What do you look for in a residency program?

Please let me know what you all think about this. I would be most appreciative. Cheers!

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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Applications, Med School


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Re-evaluating Caribbean Medical Schools

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I will be adding the top three Caribbean medical schools to my list of schools. These top three Caribbean medical schools are, to the best of my research so far, Ross University, American University of the Caribbean, and St. George’s University.¬†This YouTube clip is a quick interview with¬†Dr. Lynn Eckhert who conducted a study, published in April 2010, on the¬†education¬†received¬†at Caribbean medical schools.

I’ve started doing some more in-depth research on Caribbean med schools to find out how they compare to the DO schools I’m also looking at. I’m trying to look at objective criteria like:

  • USMLE steps 1/2 pass rate on the first shot
  • Years 3/4 Clinical Rotation Sites
  • Placements into¬†specialties¬†that I am¬†considering
  • Class size
  • Cost
  • Teaching style

This’ll be my weekend project, aside from studying Pharmacology. *groans* I’ll be sure to post my findings as they come up. If you have any facts, evidence, or advice that you’d like to add I welcome the comments. Cheers!


Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Applications, Med School


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Decisions Made

Path To Choose

As many of you know, I have swung back and forth on how to best approach the decision to apply to medical school. I have felt so overwhelmed with the various choices that I have at my disposal to¬†attack this. I reached out to my readership and got a lot of feedback in the form of comments and emails. Some of the feedback opened up more options that I hadn’t even¬†considered. Soo…I decided that I needed advise from those that had the years of experience to help guide me. After talking with my med school’s grad advisor, the med school’s admissions advisor, and several other people who play a big role in my decision-making process, about my plan of attack for medical school I think I’ve finally reached a conclusion. Here are my proposed steps, with my rationale should you care, for each point: Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Applications, Med School


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