I am a miracle made up of particles and in this existence I'll stay persistent and I'll make a difference and I will have lived it - Medicine for the People

AMCAS For Applicants: Welcome To Your Life For The Next 7 Months

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I know I know, I haven't written a post in 47 million years. It's been so incredibly blissful to be done with the MCAT and my Physics class that I have completely neglected my poor blog in favor of catching up on Game of Thrones and taking excessively long naps. To be fair (to myself) I didn't really have a whole lot to say after hell week and needed the down time to rest my poor brain.
Unfortunately vacation can't last forever and I've been slowly gathering all needed materials to get ready to submit my AMCAS app next month (aka three weeks from now). If you don't know, AMCAS stands for American Medical College Application Service and anyone who wants to apply to medical school in the US has to go through them. The main application requires a thorough explanation of pretty much anything a med school admissions committee would ever want to know about an applicant.
So far I've been working on the letters of recommendation and the transcripts portion of the application because those are the two most time sensitive since they rely on someone else to send in official documents for me.
As I struggle to navigate my way through this hefty application I'm beginning to realize that this whole process is actually pretty difficult. I used the common app to apply for undergrad and thought that AMCAS would be similar but it isn't. There are very specific ways you need to enter information (like all of the classes on your transcript) and there are sometimes several confusing choices regarding sending in documents like recommendation letters (do I use the letter packet option or the individual letter?). If you enter something wrong, it can be difficult and time-consuming to fix and the explanation videos (which are a cool feature) aren't always that enlightening. It doesn't help that all the FAQ material is clearly written by a catastrophist who incessantly warns that a mistake in your application could lead to being barred from applying (which is terrifying and led to an unfortunate dream about getting pulled over and having a traffic violation which precluded me from going to medical school. Extremely upsetting).
Luckily, there are many helpful resources you can use to work your way through and make sure you're doing it right. Number one (at least for me) has been friends that have already applied/are currently in medical school. They've been through this whole rigmarole before and I've found are more than happy to help navigate. The second source I've come to really appreciate is my program director at Harvard Extension. I've sent countless emails asking what I'm sure are annoying/redundant/inane questions and he's been very prompt and helpful in his responses. This is probably a good time to give the Health Careers Program props for being so supportive of their students, the aid is greatly appreciated! Finally, the AMCAS website does offer a comprehensive help section and they have an entire instruction manual (which yes, I did read through!) with details on how to fill out the application.
Today I am sending off my transcript and rec letter requests and next week I'll be working through the extracurriculars/work experience/what have you done with your life since high school section (max 15 essays which is A LOT!). I am actually a bit more excited about this part because I do really love writing and this will be my opportunity to highlight a lot of the meaningful experiences that I've had either leading up to or as a result of my decision to apply to medical school. I know a lot of activities I will be including won't necessarily be ones you would expect to find on a medical school application - I've never been a part of a pre-med society, I didn't major in biology - but I think that maybe that will help me stand out. There's nothing wrong with any of the aforementioned things and that will probably be what gets many students into medical school but I'm excited to be applying as a non traditional student and hope that whoever reads my application will be able to appreciate my atypical background.
I also hope that one day I'll be be in a position to do the same. I would love to sit on an admissions committee and look for the students that I can identify with - ones that don't necessarily have a perfect GPA, who didn't know immediately that they wanted to be a doctor, who maybe seem a little too old or not impressive enough at first glance but who have a lot of other qualities that show their dedication and passion, who maybe just need to be given a chance because sometimes (not always) those are the ones who want it the most and are willing to try the hardest. Struggle is the fire that refines and, from what I've seen in my friends, parents, and everyone else I admire, struggling to get to where you want to be is what makes you appreciate it more; it's what makes you great.


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