82 episodes

The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast provides essential information for applicants to medical school and those already in medical school. Featuring physicians with admissions committee experience, our shows will share important tips, strategies, and experiences to help you succeed in the process of becoming a doctor. In addition, our guest speakers will provide their own insight into different medical specialties and the process of applying to specific residencies. The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast is a one-stop-shop for anyone considering, or on the path to practicing medicine!

ProspectiveDoctor | Helping you achieve your medical school dreams | AMCAS | MCAT Renee Marinelli MD of MedSchoolCoach

    • Medicine

The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast provides essential information for applicants to medical school and those already in medical school. Featuring physicians with admissions committee experience, our shows will share important tips, strategies, and experiences to help you succeed in the process of becoming a doctor. In addition, our guest speakers will provide their own insight into different medical specialties and the process of applying to specific residencies. The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast is a one-stop-shop for anyone considering, or on the path to practicing medicine!

    Drs. Marinelli and Diaz Discuss General Surgery

    Drs. Marinelli and Diaz Discuss General Surgery

    Dr. Adrian Diaz is one of our newer advisors at MedSchoolCoach and a general surgery resident at Ohio State University. He joins us today to chat about general surgery, including how he got into it and advice for anyone considering getting into this field.
    [1:29] How Dr. Diaz’s path to general surgery got started.
    Dr. Diaz traveled abroad with the Navy on a humanitarian mission trip in South America as a Spanish translator. He was often asked to translate in the perioperative area, and this made everything click; it changed his entire perspective of why he was going to medical school. Dr. Diaz then knew he would be a surgeon.
    [5:13] Fulfilling the interests of surgery and global health.
    One of the most important pieces of advice that Dr. Diaz got early on in medical school was that you need to have a team of mentors that can fulfill all your needs. For him, that meant having diverse surgeons as mentors who could provide him with different perspectives, as well as mentors who were doing important things globally.
    [7:21] What to do if you’re interested in surgery.
    It’s really important to get to know yourself. What kind of life do you want to have? Medicine is an all-encompassing career that will take up a large part of your time. One of the things that drive students away from general surgery is that most clerkships are very academic.
    [13:32] What the residency is like.
    Surgery residency can be very difficult, but that’s not unique to this field. General surgery residency is usually at least five years which is a common amount of time for many areas.
    The first year or two is usually not very surgical; you’re learning to manage patients and other things that every intern is doing. As you move through residency, you will participate more and more actively in surgeries. There’s a new requirement that you must log 250 cases by the end of your second year. By your fifth year, you’ll be in more of a teaching role.
    [17:03] How Dr. Diaz found his surgical niche.
    As a third-year medical student on his surgery clerkship, Dr. Diaz spent a month in the surgical oncology service. The patients greatly resonated with him. To him, being able to see a patient after operation who is no longer suffering from their ailment is what surgery is all about. Therefore, he is quite certain that he wants to stay involved with surgical oncology.

    • 22 min
    Are You Thinking About the CASPer Exam?

    Are You Thinking About the CASPer Exam?

    Each year, applicants are surprised to learn about they many medical schools require that they take the CASPer exam. Get ahead of the curve and learn about the exam, and what you need to do to prepare for it!
    [0:51] What is the CASPer exam?
    It stands for Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal characteristics. It has twelve sections where you are given a short video or statement that you are required to answer.
    Click here for a list of schools which utilize CASPer.
    [4:43] When should I take this test?
    When you receive an email from a school, look closely to see if there is a deadline. Most will not provide this information, but you can consider this as part of the secondary application process. You need to complete it for your application to move forward.
    [5:21] How can you prepare?
    The key here is practice, practice, practice. Read lots of scenarios and use all available CASPer test material to test yourself.
    [6:26] Sample scenario.
    1. “Describe a time when you had to deal with conflict and how you coped with it.”
    You should pick a significant conflict that you handled positively. 2. “How might you handle a similar situation differently?”
    You can look back and think about if there was an even better way to solve this conflict. 3.“What would be your strategy if you were faced with a conflict that was extremely difficult to resolve?”
    They are looking for your problem-solving skills and compassion. [10:52] One more sample scenario.
    This is a video that shows you’re a cashier. A woman comes in to return a stuffed animal that she bought, but she doesn’t have a receipt. You offer store credit, but the woman refuses and says she absolutely needs the cash. You look to another employee who is wondering what to do.
    1. “What do you tell the other employee; to give store credit or to give a refund?”
    The best answer is to abide by store policy. 2. “Suppose you advise the newer employee not to give the refund, but she does anyway. Do you report this to your supervisor? Why or why not?”
    This is a really common type of question. The best answer is to do something about it. 3. “If you were asked to establish a policy for a new store around refunds, what aspects would you take into consideration?”
    This is testing your decision-making abilities. You can say that you’d look at past data to come up with solutions.

    • 16 min
    Getting to Know the MCAT

    Getting to Know the MCAT

    The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is one of the most important exams you will ever take. It is a critical part of your application to medical school and a significant determinant of your future success.  Join Dr. Marinelli and MCAT expert Ken Tao as they introduce you to the MCAT and what you should be thinking about in preparing to master this exam!
    [0:49] An overview of the MCAT.
    Pre-medical students that want to attend the majority of medical schools in the United States and Canada will have to take this exam.
    The exam has four sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS); Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. The three science sections are 95 minutes each, and the CARS section is 90 minutes.
    Up until 2015, the scoring scale was between 1 and 15. The new system is still a 15-point scale, but it is now between 118 and 132. Right in the middle at 125 is the average score for each section.
    [4:43] How long to study for the MCAT.
    It often depends of the student’s specific situation, such as when they will take the MCAT. For the typical student, about 300 hours of studying is required. This can be compressed into summer or spread throughout the entire semester.
    [8:11] The score to aim for.
    Scoring the average, 500, would make it quite difficult to get into medical school. It’s not impossible, but it’s not considered a competitive score. The competitive MCAT score continues to rise each year, and in 2017-2018 the average score for matriculants was just over 510.
    [10:38] The best route for studying.
    The common ways are self-study, taking a test prep course, or looking for a private tutor. Regardless of which path you take, there are three things that Ken recommends all students do if they want to succeed. They are content review, practice questions/passages/tests, and creating an actual plan to improve their scores. Don’t just use practice questions to judge what you know; find out why you got certain ones wrong.
    [16:45] Last thoughts.
    Thank about the timing of your schedule early and really make sure you have dedicated time you can spend on MCAT studying.

    • 19 min
    Guide to Extra-Curricular Activities as a Pre-Med

    Guide to Extra-Curricular Activities as a Pre-Med

    How many hours of extracurricular activities do you need to be a competitive applicant to medical school? After working with hundreds of students, Dr. Renee Marinelli knows that there isn’t one specific amount that works for everyone. As explained in this episode, it’s all about quality over quantity.
    [1:43] What we know.
    Most pre-medical students will have several different categories of extracurricular activates, and it’s understood that admissions committees expect you to have a few of these to be competitive. You should have research, physician shadowing, a clinical activity, community service, and a leadership activity.
    [2:33] MSAR data.
    Looking at The John Hopkins University School of Medicine, 97% of their matriculants had research, 90% had medical work, 84% had physician shadowing, and 83% had community service. As you can see, most successful applicants have these experiences.
    [4:39] Community service.
    At a minimum, the University of Utah expected thirty-six hours of community service to be completed, and an average of one hundred hours within the last four years. Dr. Marinelli thinks that this number is quite low, so she recommends getting involved in an activity early on that you can continue for several years.
    [7:16] Leadership.
    The University of Utah says that applicants should have one leadership experience at minimum within the last four years, and an average of three. Dr. Marinelli finds three to be a difficult number to hit, but again, it’s all about quality.
    [9:05] Research.
    At a minimum, the University of Utah says you should have some research experience where you were part of a class and tested a hypothesis. On average, their applicants will have a hypothesis-based research project that is supervised by a PhD or someone with research credentials. This is pretty typical of what Dr. Marinelli sees.
    [11:52] Physician shadowing.
    The minimum from the University of Utah is eight hours, and the average is twenty-four hours. Dr. Marinelli usually sees somewhere between fifty to one hundred hours, which she believes is sufficient.
    [13:05] Clinical experience.
    The University of Utah says that the minimum is thirty-two hours and the average is forty-eight. This is a little low; Dr. Marinelli thinks most applicants will have over two hundred hours.

    • 16 min
    How to Tackle the Medical School Personal Statement

    How to Tackle the Medical School Personal Statement

    The medical school personal statement can be daunting, but it is a huge part of your application! Dr. Marinelli breaks the essay down so that you can learn how to craft a compelling and unique personal statement!
    [2:30] When to start writing your personal statement.
    You don’t want to write it too early, such as when you’re a freshman in college. Wait until you’ve done a lot of extra curricular activities and leadership experiences in order to provide some commentary on them. If you’re applying in June, December is a good time to start writing. The latest time you should start is in April.
    [4:09] The introduction.
    Most people have written plenty of five-paragraph essays in high school, and Dr. Marinelli suggests the same format: an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. The introduction paragraph needs to be used to catch the committee’s attention and make them want to continue reading. To do this, Dr. Marinelli advises writing an anecdote in the introduction before getting into a thesis statement. You should avoid clichés, such as “I always loved science and working with people.” Even if they’re true, admissions committees won’t get excited about these.
    [9:19] The body.
    Dr. Marinelli recommends talking about who you are as a person. What is it about you that makes you unique? Tell your own story to the admissions committee. Don’t just repeat what you’ve already said in the activities area of your application. Continue with the theme you established in the introduction and relate it back to you as a person.
    [12:35] The conclusion.
    Bring the statement back to why you want to become a physician. Everybody’s will be different, but you should at least touch on this desire. You should also summarize and then have a conclusion statement about how you’re sure pursuing medicine is the right path for you. Also, it’s okay for the conclusion paragraph to be only a few sentences.

    • 17 min
    Must Knows for Medical School Interviews

    Must Knows for Medical School Interviews

    The interview is a crucial part of the medical school application process and preparation is essential! Join Dr. Marinelli as she covers the basics for the medical school interview and what you need to know!
    [0:59] Getting the invite.
    It’s important to respond to the interview invite immediately. It’s also important to agree to interview on one of the dates that have been offered to you. Dr. Marinelli doesn’t recommend asking for an alternative date unless there are very extenuating circumstances.
    [2:26] Figuring out what the interview day is like at that school.
    There are two types of interviews: traditional and multiple mini interview (MMI). About 50% of med schools use MMI, and the other 50% use traditional or a combination of both.
    A traditional interview typically consists of an interview with a faculty member and then an interview with a current student.
    An MMI interview typically consists of six-to-ten stations where you are given a short prompt that begins a scenario. They usually revolve around some sort of ethical situation or dilemma.
    [7:44] Following the interview.
    Within a few days of going home, Dr. Marinelli recommends sending thank you letters to the interviewers if you had a traditional interview. For MMI, you can send a general thank you letter to the admissions committee. In both cases, you should express your desire to attend their medical school.
    Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but they are also an exciting part of the med school journey. Remember that when you get offered an interview, the medical school already likes you on paper.

    • 10 min

Customer Reviews

rahrahb ,

There are better, honest resources available

The host says “that’s a great question” way too much. Often times questions aren’t answered directly, they’re followed. G lengthy responses probably in hopes you’ll forget the actual question asked. For example, in the latest episode, Feb 4th, the host was actually the interviewee. She was essentially asked if admissions consultants were for people who could afford it and have a great profile. She gave an answer as to why it’s valuable to spend money on a consultant program and didn’t address the second part to the question at all.

moe gato ,

Quite non traditional indeed

What about doing the child of a on OBGYN and dermatologist doing prerequisites as a non science major and then spending gap years doing medical readership while taking science courses makes someone a non traditional applicant?

Poopchamp ,

So helpful!

Best way to find answers to common questions pre meds have about the application process. Lots of guest appearances by physicians who have served on med school adcoms to give expert advice - doesn't get any better than that!

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