Medical school observations

So, 8 weeks of medical school have passed.  It has been exciting, seeing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and part of a kidney transplant, but also rather mundane at times, going over basic biochemistry.  Classes are now moving from a review of basic sciences into body systems, so it should become more clinically relevant.  I’ll have some reflections in the future on medical school, but this post is about some observations I’ve made so far.

Anyway, I had wanted to write something about applying, but have missed that window, so there doesn’t seem to be much of a point in going into the application process.  Now there are ~5 months until interviews which is lots of time to worry and stress out about your verifiers, if your reference letters were strong enough, how your ECs compare and everything else.  Through my interviews and getting to know my class I have made some observations, some may be useful, some I simply find interesting.

  1. Students appear active/healthy and dress well:  Starting with something that might be useful.  The large majority of my classmates appear to be healthy/in good shape.  This is not all that surprising, average age on application was 22, nonetheless, it is a pretty strong trend.  There are very few people that are overweight and those that are, not largely.  Most also know how to dress in styles that go with their builds and have haircuts that go with their styles.  Males are also above average in height in general and most are clean shaven.  How could this be useful?  There are ~5 months until interviews, lots of time to practice for MMIs, read Doing Right and go over personal anecdotes.  Another thing to consider is the first impression you will make, that generally tall, well groomed, well dressed, healthy/athletic type people are in the class seems a bit too unlikely from a random sampling of applicants.  Could be EC related and just a function of filtering that way, but I think it may be simply the impression at the interview.  So, there are a number of months left until interviews and enough time to find a style that works for you, make lifestyle changes needed to appear healthy and carry yourself with confidence for the interview.
  2. People seem to have some odd/striking feature:  An interesting name, some interesting feature, something that makes them memorable.  Interesting sports involvement, studying abroad, being a parent, musical talent, etc.  Not much useful there, unless you want to give yourself a gnarly scar or something to show off in the coming months.
  3. Absent groups:  This is one that struck me during interviews.  I ran into easily >400 applicants at my interview sessions and it was off putting, I did not see many groups represented.  The majority of those getting an interview were either Caucasian or Asian, the other noticeable group were Indian/Middle Eastern.  I did not see a single black person, nor anyone appearing to be of many other groups (Aboriginal, Latin, etc.).  It felt strange, based on the cutoffs and such that the schools share about their admission processes, race is not included, but the lack of representation was apparent.
  4. Diversity of backgrounds: There are of course a lot of science students, but there are a number of engineers, some public health, psyc and from other areas.  Even those within the sciences are from different areas.  Perhaps because it is pass/fail now everyone is happy to share their strengths and teach each other which is really quite nice.  I would say the initial material at least is more familiar for biological science students and having that background helps for writing the MCAT, but really it’s not required.
  5. There is way too much to be involved in:  If you wanted to you could be attending a different club, intramural or event pretty much every weekday.  There are opportunities to do international exchanges and projects, community outreach, and more.  In case something is missing you can start your own club.  It’s crazy how many emails you get and the number of things you can be involved in.

3 thoughts on “Medical school observations

  1. Pingback: Aboot Medicine
  2. “but the lack of representation of certain groups was rather strange.”
    It is not “rather strange” that there was a lack of representation of groups that largely make up the lower end of the SES. Getting so far into actually being invited for an interview to medical school – there are incredible amount of costs ($$$$) to leading a life that allows one to be a medical school applicant. I suggest you read up some statistics about average family incomes of regular people and family incomes of people in medical school. That income provides huge advantages throughout the 20 odd years of life, before people enter medical school. The fact that you can show empathy because you did charity work in Bolivia, or that you can show dedication because you played a sport costing thousands of dollars to your parents over a period of years, are all very easy when you have monetary support to back up your interest and desire to explore the world. That same money was needed by other families for basic essentials – food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and sending family remittances overseas.

    Of course most people in medical school are healthy and tall and fit. They’ve had good access to fitness centres, sports club memberships/registrations, participated in varsity, or other competetive level sports, yoga, pilates, eat good healthy food, receive good access to primary care physician who has seen the family for years and years. They have been living in neighbourhoods where it’s common and safe to go out jogging in the evening/early morning, where it’s common to go on yearly skiing holidays or beach vacaitons, etc.

    I hope your clinical experiences help you realize the real difficulties that people face in life outside of having a great story to explain their desire to become a doctor which seems to be the only way in to medical school.

  3. Thanks for adding to the conversation and helping to flesh out some of the discrepancies I observed and didn’t explore to a significant depth in my post.

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