Our latest blog post breaks down the components of the pre-med journey and where you can find information about them on our website. Please click here to see a list of all our blogs!

CLINICAL EXPERIENCE

Many med schools require students to have direct experience in medicine, also known as clinical hours. Examples of jobs you could obtain to fulfill this requirement are EMT (emergency medical technician), CNA (certified nurse assistant), MA (medical assistant), Scribe, and Phlebotomy. Certifications for these jobs are often needed, so training can be started freshman year summer, and onwards. By sophomore or junior year, you could start working at the job.

MORE INFO

VOLUNTEERING

Volunteer experiences can be started as soon as freshman year. Many volunteer opportunities are virtual because of the pandemic, making it easier to participate. As a pre-med, you can never have too many volunteer hours, but most aim to have ~100 hours before applying. According to AMCAS in 2018, the average applicant had 400+ volunteer hours.
 Aim for meaningful volunteer experiences with underserved populations. Quality outweighs quantity. Some places you could volunteer are the hospital, nursing homes, homeless shelters etc. Also, try to gain both clinical and nonclinical volunteer experiences.

MORE INFO

SHADOWING

Med schools typically look for applicants who have spent 50-100 hours shadowing physicians. These can be done at any point during undergrad, but it’s best to start early (freshman/sophomore year) so you can gauge your interest in the specific fields of medicine.
It also might be easier to dedicate a set time during one of your breaks (eg. winter, spring, summer) rather than fitting shadowing in during one of your busy college semesters. While shadowing is great, it is a more passive task, so medical schools recommend you spend more time doing active patient-interacting activities.

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MAJOR

Depending on your school/college, there are a variety of major options available! We encourage students to choose what they’re interested and passionate about, because medical schools ultimately don’t have a preference of what you major in.

If you are looking for a more Biology related major, you have time to decide your major and ultimately declare it, but we recommend you look at the LSA major options and create a tentative list of what you might be interested in!

If you are in LSA, but are considering a degree outside of LSA and transferring to a different school (eg. Kinesiology, Public Health, Engineering, etc), it’s important to review deadlines for these schools and adjust your course schedule accordingly to account for your major and pre-med courses.

Alternatively, if you are interested in double majors, it’s also helpful to create a list and a temporary schedule ahead of time (at the end of freshman year/early sophomore year) of your course schedule.

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SUMMER BREAK

We recognize that everyone has different situations/interests, so ultimately choose something that interests you to do during your summer break. Whether this means taking classes, performing research, working a full-time job, or anything else, everyone is unique and you should tailor this time to exploring more of your interests.

Some students decide to take classes during their break, and we recommend that you only take one pre-med class during a half semester (Spring or Summer). Spring and Summer courses are far more accelerated than a normal semester, so these classes require more time and class meetings than during a Fall or Winter semester.

Many students also decide to devote their summers to performing research if they didn’t have a chance to previously partake in research, or want to explore this interest further. There are many research programs both at UMich and nationwide, and a list can be found here.
Summer break can also be a great time to gain more clinical or volunteer experience. As mentioned previously, many clinical experiences can consist of being an EMT, Medical Assistant, Scribe, and more.

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RESEARCH

Many students are drawn to participate in a research project in some form during their undergraduate career, whether it be bench work, clinical research, laboratory tests, etc. It is an invaluable way  to learn more about a field of study that you’re interested in while directly participating in active data collection. While you do not need research experience for medical school, the average matriculant has 1000 + hours of research experience.

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PREMED CLASS REQUIREMENTS

Every Medical School has slightly different requirements, so it is highly recommended you look at the required coursework for the medical schools you want to apply to a year or longer in advance. Some med schools give credit for AP Classes, or classes you were able to test out of. In general, most schools require :

One year of biology with lab.

One year of general chemistry with lab.

One year of organic chemistry with lab.

One year of physics with lab.

At least one semester of biochemistry.

A math requirement (some schools require calculus, some require statistics, some require both)

One year of English.

 

 

Some Additional Reminders

  • Don’t force yourself to continue down a path that you’re no longer interested in. It is never too late to switch out. Medicine is a long-term commitment and it is best to be completely sure of your decision beforehand!
  • Class reputation doesn’t mean you will like it or not– you are the only person to judge that. Also, try not to compare yourself to other pre-meds. Every path is different!
  • Additionally, this is just a guide to help give you an overview of the pre-med track. As mentioned before, everyone’s path looks different! If every pre-med student followed this path, medical school admissions committees would be pretty bored. Find your passion, pursue it outside the classroom, make time for fun, and don’t be afraid to modify the table to include gap years/time off, etc.

 

In our latest blog , we bring you an update on how several common premed requirements: biochemistry physics, organic chemistry and physical chemistry have been changed due to COVID 19. We recommend using this alongside the Choosing the Right Class (Class comparison chart), to help you chose your classes.

PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY

CHEM 230

(3 credits)

  • There are still 5 exams (4 midterms and 1 cumulative final); none dropped
  • Exams are taken on Canvas at home, 90 minutes, open-note
  • Class is still a flipped classroom (lectures at home, zoom for team problem solving)
  • There are homework and mini-quizzes with every module
  • PREPP (past exam problems) worksheets are the main study material, like the orgo coursepacks – solutions are provided. Homework modules are not necessarily a good representation of the exam.
  • Zoom class occurs 3 days/week for team problems (recorded)
  • Attending class is still technically optional
  • If you opt-out, your grade will only be based on exams rather than exams, homework, and class attendance 
  • This is the only “live” instruction, so we would recommend attending
  • You still switch team members three times/semester for in class assignments. 
  • Discussions are optional and not recorded. Typically you will go over module worksheet and questions that other students have
  • The class has a modified grading scale (>90% = A; >85% = A-) and there is also an improvement curve on exams ((highest grade-lowest grade)/2)
  • CHANGED DUE TO COVID: no weekly office hours (neither Gottfried or GSIs hold office hours outside of class time or discussions)
    • Dr. Gottfried is available for questions ~20 minutes before and after class. 
  • Personal note: Although there are not many structural changes due to covid, adjusting to a flipped classroom style with limited time for questions before and after class has made online learning difficult. I would recommend attending review sessions, asking questions before/after class, and going to optional discussions.
  • Joining SLC Study Groups can also be helpful to get more study materials and talk about the class info with other students! SLC study groups are happening virtually in the Winter 2021 semester.

 

 CHEM 130

(4 credits)

  • All lectures posted as recordings and you can watch
  • discussions are optional
  • 4 exams all online– can use internet, notes, and other resources but all canvas resources are erased at noon of the exam day and appear the next day
  • Weekly homework assignments
  • Optional quizzes for practice
  • 2 grading criteria: one includes homework or the other just averaging exams. The one that leads to the higher grade will be used.

  BIOMEDE 221 (Gen Chem 2 for BME majors)

(4 credits)

  • Pre-lectures 
  • Normal courses hours are used for discussions where you can ask questions and do practice questions.
    • Must attend discussion once a week and participate (i.e. answer a question in the chat) to receive participation points
  • 3 remote exams that are open-note, open-book
    • No cumulative final exam
  • Homework assignments due once a week
  • 2-3 Labs (format varies, could be a presentation, completing a lab simulation, etc.)
  • Extra credit questions available (on exams or separate assignments)

 

GENETICS

BIOLOGY 305

(4 credits)

  • 4 midterms, all multiple choice
  • No final
  • Grading: Exams (80%)
  •   Untimed pre-lecture online quizzes 
  • all lectures recorded
  • Mandatory discussion sections
  • 2 different professors
  • Extra credit for answering piazza questions
  • The first half of the class is calculation heavy and the second half is focused on molecular genetics
  • Median Grade: B

MCDB 310

(4 credits)

  • Lectures are posted weekly (about 3 hours worth of lectures/week)
  • 1-2 Lecture “quizzes” are due each week (that you get unlimited tries on) 
  • 3 midterms, 1 final (one midterm can be dropped, final cannot be dropped)
  • Questions on exams are more conceptual, not just simple recall questions
  • Exams have no free response, instead have multiple choice, fill in the blank, and “select all” type questions 
  • Open-note, open-book exams
  • Have to attend discussion sessions every week, where you have to complete a discussion short answer/response (should do even if using one of absences). It is used in place of typical free responses on exams.
  • Newly created projects related to each exam (total of four). Very application based and is related to current events. You can do projects by yourself or form a group of (maximum) four. The people in your group must have the same GSI. 
  • Exams are worth much less as there are projects, lecture quizzes, discussion quizzes, and cell map as well

ORGANIC CHEMISTRY

CHEMISTRY 210/215/211/216

(210: 4 credits    &     215: 3 credits)

CHEMISTRY 210

  • Lectures posted weekly for asynchronous learning, but the exams administered synchronously online
  • The faculty-led scheduled synchronous course meetings will be used for optional problem solving and responding to student questions, and will also be recorded and available for streaming.
  • GSI-led discussion sections will give students a chance to ask questions and collaborate on problem-solving. These sessions will be held synchronously over Zoom and recorded for later viewing.

CHEMISTRY 215: 

  • Lectures will be recorded and made available asynchronously for both sections
  • Weekly GSI led discussions will be held synchronously online and recorded
  • 4 major exams will be held at their regularly scheduled times on Canvas
  • Surveys will be held for accommodations/ to address time zone differences
  • Weekly quizzes via Canvas will be offered during regular class time on Fridayys

CHEMISTRY 211: 

 

There are weekly, recorded lectures (typically last 1-2 hours) and synchronous office hours with the professor or GSI

Every week, students turn in one assignment. The assignments take 3-4 hours to complete.

You can choose to be remote or in person/hybrid, in which you will attend the laboratory sessions every three weeks. Remote students will still require some synchronous activities to be held with the GSI.

CHEMISTRY 216:

Lecture will be held online

Most sections will be held in-person, however an online option is available

      • This online section will be synchronous

PHYSICS

Physics 135/235

(both are 4 credits)

  • Most common physics sequence taken by pre-med students. Life sciences based, learn applications of physics to the human body (blood flow, lifting objects, etc.). Some content in 136/236 (labs) overlaps with 141/241 (labs). 
  • Algebra based. 
    • Physics 135There are no midterms in the course, but there is one final exam.
    • There are 12 weekly quizzes that account for 60% of your grade. Students are allowed to drop their lowest score.
    • Lectures are completely asynchronous and there are 2 per week (1-2 hours each)
    • There is weekly homework (1-2 hours)
    • Quiz review sessions with ULAs and GSI
    • Physics 235: 
    • New format of studio sessions. The studio sessions are just incorporating some previous part of the physics 235 material and blend them into application based setting
    • Studio preparation will be similar to lecture preparation with a reading quiz (done before class) and a short presentation from the professor at the start. Then the rest of the class is doing a quiz with other people in break out rooms which is due at the end of the studio. 
    • You will attempt each studio question twice. Both individually and as a group. You will not get jeopardized for individual answers but will be for group answers.
    • One live studio session per week (in replace of one of the lecture) , and three recorded lecturer in canvas quiz format (quiz questions as clicker questions) 
    • The exam will have studio-styled questions while they present some new scenarios to you and you have to apply what you learned to solve problems related to that.
    • Both courses have non-cumulative midterms and a final that is ½ cumulative, ½ material learned after Exam #3. Both courses allow 1 index card of notes for Exam 1, 2 notecards for Exam 2, and so on.
    • Physics 136: 
    • Students use Loggerpro to make graphs and analyze the given data.
    • Given pre-lab manual/protocol to read before the lab and for the mini-quiz.
    • Mini-quiz every week before starting the experiment.
    • Labs last for 2 hours, with a lab report due at the end and an individual reflection due at midnight.
    • Lab groups change every week.
    • Personal note: Make sure you read the lab manual and watch the videos before class. It is very useful for the mini-quiz and for doing well on the lab reports.
    • Physics 236:
    • Data is given so you don’t actually perform any experiments – you use the data to plot graphs and answer questions 
    • 5 question quiz before each lab *lowest score will be dropped
    • You work with different group members via zoom breakout room for each lab
    •  You need to write an individual reflection for each lab, which is due by the end of the day for your lab (worth 7 points); the lab itself is worth 33 points, with a total of 40 points per lab
      • Lab report is due at the end of class (the lab is two hours long) 
      • Your group changes every week and is assigned randomly
  • Median grade: A- for all 4 courses

    physics 240

    ( 4 credits)

    • 6 quizzes, bi-weekly
      • Lowest score dropped
      • Open-book, open internet
      • Cannot go back on Canvas Quiz to change answer, so cannot change answer once you go back
    • Regular final exam
    • Pre-lecture assignments (about 2 per week) and usually ~20 minutes long
    • Homework assignments (two units per week typically)

     

 

 

 

Freshman year is an anxious time for most students. While adjusting to the newfound freedom and lifestyle, we are met with many social and academic challenges. On top of that, as a pre-medical student, you are thrown into a track where your success outside of the classroom is just as important as your success within. We have created this guide to help you navigate all aspects of the pre-medical track in hopes that you don’t make the mistakes we did. In this blog post, we will touch on classes, research, volunteering, and clinical exposure.

Classes 

Picking classes and creating a manageable schedule does not have to be difficult or stressful. The best way to make it easy is to go semester by semester. The first thing you want to consider is getting started on your introductory chemistry and biology courses. These intro science classes require time and effort. Their structure and grading may be new to you and require some adjusting to. Always seek help when you need it and do not let yourself fall behind. Join an SLC study group, go to office hours, or meet up (in-person or virtually) with classmates or GSIs for help. There are so many resources for you to use, so take advantage of them!

 

In general, a good rule of thumb is to limit your STEM classes to 2 maximum per semester, especially in your freshman year. This will give you the chance to adjust to college life, get familiar with the structure of exams, grading, office hours, etc. and modify and strengthen your study habits in science classes, which is key to doing well in the many science classes you will be taking as a pre-med. 

 

Here is a link to Newnan’s pdf checklist of pre-med courses to take. It may also be helpful to fill this out with a Newnan advisor or with one of us!

 

Besides science classes, there are many classes you can choose from to fill your schedule. They can be narrowed down into a few categories.

– Language Requirement (LSA only): Freshman year is a good time to take language classes because they are very manageable in terms of workload and are smaller, which makes it easy to meet new people.

– First-Year Writing Requirement (LSA only): The most common classes to take are ENGLISH 124 or 125, but there are many interesting first-year seminars that also fulfill the writing requirement.

LSA Distribution Requirements: The best way to do this is to look at the LSA course guide and filter out humanities, social science classes, or race and ethnicity classes. Some common examples are SOC 100 or 102, ANTHRCUL 101, PSYCH 111, and PHIL 183.

 

If you would like to see a template schedule and read some advice, click here.

If you would like to see past students’ schedules, click here.

 

Finally, take a look at majors you may be interested in. Make a list and look through their prerequisites. The best way to see if you like a major is to try out some of their classes. Remember, your major should be a subject you are genuinely interested in, NOT something you think looks good on applications. More and more, medical schools have emphasized how choosing a science major is not required. Most importantly, they will be able to tell if you are truly passionate about your major or if you chose it simply for application purposes.

 

If you have no clue what your interests are, do not worry. Here are some suggestions to start thinking about as you are considering potential majors:

– Look at a specific subject of interest on the LSA course guide and find a course that sounds interesting to you. Those classes may lead you to new passions/interests you never would have known otherwise.

– Pick one or two classes on topics you have not taken but want to learn more about. Explore something new and you may just find your passion.

– Ask upperclassmen about their experiences with majors you are interested in (or read through this post).

 

Once you have found your major, scheduling your classes will come easy. However, it never hurts to get an extra set of eyes on your schedule; meet with a pre-health Newnan advisor, ask an advisor in your major’s department, or ask one of us! We are here to help.

 

General Medical School Course Requirements (non-exhaustive)

One Year of Inorganic Chemistry and Lab

One Year of Organic Chemistry and Lab

One Year of Biology and Lab

One Year of Physics and Lab

One additional semester of Biology

One semester of Biochemistry

One semester of Mathematics/Statistics

One semester of English/Writing

Research 

Taking part in research is a great way to learn more about the research process/methodology, improve your critical thinking, and learn more about evidence-based medicine. There are many ways to take part in research at Michigan, the biggest one being the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). UROP is a year-long research program that accepts first-year, second-year, and transfer students, with a deadline in the Spring of the previous academic year. The application process requires you to put down which subjects you’re interested in conducting research in, such as Health Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Engineering, Physical Sciences and more. Once accepted into the program, you are placed in a seminar group that usually meets biweekly throughout the academic year. These seminars not only introduce you to fellow students who go through the research process with you, but they also facilitate your professional development as a new researcher. There are a large variety of projects available, from behavioral/social science to clinical to more wet-lab based research that you can choose from. UROP has a process allowing you to apply to projects that you’re interested in, with the help of your seminar peer facilitator (an upperclassmen student who was previously involved in UROP) and every student accepted to UROP gets placed in a research lab. There is a symposium at the end of the academic year (April) in which you present your research! The Michigan Research and Discovery Scholars (MRADS) is similar to UROP, but is a residential community in which you reside with your fellow MRADS students in the same housing. The MRADS application process is around the same time as UROP, and both programs allow you to ultimately pursue the same research. However, students are only allowed to participate in one of these programs.

 

Aside from UROP/MRADS, students can also find research assistant postings through the Student Employment website. Additionally, many students find research opportunities by emailing faculty. I would recommend making a list of topics you’re interested in pursuing, and emailing faculty/professors that conduct research in these subjects. Another option is if you enjoy one of your academic classes, you could reach out to the professor and ask if they have any research opportunities. PMH also has previous blog posts regarding research, linked below, that are beneficial!

https://premedhubumich.com/applying-for-a-research-position/

https://premedhubumich.com/research-areas-topics/

 

Volunteering (Medical and Non-medical) 

Volunteering is a great way for a pre-medical undergraduate student to learn more about the career in medicine by interacting with patients or develop the essential characteristic of kindness and altruism in order to become a future doctor. Whether the volunteering experience is related to medicine, it is a wonderful opportunity to help out a community and also show medical schools that you care about the well being of others. There are multiple ways to get involved in volunteering at Michigan. Even though the recent COVID-19 situation forbids in-person volunteering at Michigan medicine. There are still various ways to volunteer with the hospital system at Michigan.Volunteering opportunities include packaging masks and sanitizers. It will be a good idea to email the volunteering department to learn more about the ways to get involved. Besides Michigan medicine, there are also other volunteering opportunities available. You can check them out at the career center website:https://careercenter.umich.edu/article/volunteering-employment-and-gap-year-resources  In addition, joining an organization concentrated on volunteering or rushing a pre-medical fraternity can also open doors to more volunteering resources. You can check out all clubs at Michigan by browsing through Maize Page:  https://maizepages.umich.edu/  It is important to remember that it is a special time right now, and don’t get discouraged if you are not able to find a volunteer position right away. There will be more opportunities available later on as the pandemic gets better and also remember that you have four years here to explore. 

Clinical Exposure 

Gaining clinical experience is beneficial for your medical school application. It demonstrates your commitment to entering a health profession. Various activities encompass clinical experience; what counts is pretty broad. Generally, they include clinical volunteering, clinical positions, and shadowing. I will break each of these categories down further. 

 

However, it may be difficult to gain clinical experience at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Clinical Volunteering

Clinical volunteering is exactly what it sounds like: volunteer work done in a healthcare setting. This can include volunteering at a hospital or a hospice, or any forms of patient interaction (patient interaction can always be counted as a clinical experience, but clinical experience can’t always be counted as patient interaction re:more on this). As long as you are volunteering in a healthcare setting, it falls under clinical volunteering, thus it is clinical experience.

 

The UMich Career Center has a comprehensive list of clinical opportunities here. This list includes nearby clinics, hospitals, summer camps/programs (i.e. Camp Kesem), and more that you can work with!

 

Study abroads (more here)  or Alternative Spring Breaks (volunteer trips) can also be a way to gain clinical experience if you are working among and interacting with health professionals or patients. 

 

Note: Many students volunteer through UMich Medicine here. They’re not admitting new volunteers currently due to COVID-19, but if you’re interested, I would keep the future information dates on your calendar because spots fill up very quickly. Additionally, you could look at volunteering at the VA hospital or St. Joe’s Hospital (which are less competitive because they require a bus to access).

 

Clinical Positions

You can also gain clinical experience through a job. For instance:

  • Medical Scribing: “Scribing is a paid opportunity to shadow doctors in the emergency department. There are a few companies that work in the Ann Arbor area, but be warned that the hours do tend to be long as you are working at a doctor’s pace. If you are looking for a scribing opportunity, check out companies like PhysAssist or ScribeAmerica, and watch for job openings through Handshake” (source). You can read more about scribing in this blogpost
  • Clinical Research Position: this involves research that involves a hospital or some clinical setting. You can find such positions using the student employment website (note: I would suggest looking under the recent posting section to simplify your search because other sections also contain jobs that were posted a while back and weren’t taken down). More on the clinical research can be found here (near the bottom of the page).
  • Other jobs: phlebotomist, nurse assistant, medical assistant, EMT, doula, medical interpreter/translator, or home health-taker (there are many more possibilities, but these are some). Some of these positions require certifications. These certifications can typically be completed over the summer at a community college. Upon completing required coursework, you will be able to take a test to achieve certification. More on this here. Some notes:
    • Many pre-med clubs (such as AMSA) offer opportunities to take a phlebotomy course.
    • Washtenaw Community College offers some coursework if you are staying in AA for a summer and need something to do.

 

Shadowing

Shadowing, while not necessarily required, can make you look more competitive for medical schools AND (more importantly) introduce you to healthcare setting dynamics and various fields in medicine. Many students struggle to find shadowing opportunities due to limited connections, but don’t be afraid to send an email to a professor you’d like to shadow. You can browse through doctors here. I personally cold-emailed and found a doctor to shadow! In my email: I introduced myself, briefly talked about my medical-related ambitions (doctors are busy, so it’s best to keep it to a paragraph or two), and attached my resume. 

 

Another opportunity I was made aware of was “Webshadower.” I heard about it through a newsletter sent out by a University Pre-Med-related Handshake newsletter. This is new, so I haven’t personally tried it. More on joining a career track through Handshake here.

Advice/Tips 

  • Don’t compare yourself to other pre-med students on campus on grades or number of activities that you guys are involved in. Everyone has their own perks and remember medical school admission is a holistic review. Just do whatever you are passionate about and try your best. 
  • Choose a major and extracurriculars that you’re truly passionate about — it can be tough to not give into the mindset of “medical schools would be impressed by this”. At the end of the day, you are unique and your passions will show through clearly in your application, which is what matters the most rather than perhaps trying to fit into the “typical pre-med” mold. It’s encouraged to choose your undergraduate career on these interests, even if they aren’t science based! (Lakshmi)
    • In addition, choosing a major that you are passionate about will be evident in your medical school interviews. If you’re able to follow your passions in undergrad (while still taking the necessary prerequisite courses) you will be a more standout candidate than someone who tried to fit the “typical pre-med” mold. 
  • Keep an open mind regarding how your undergraduate experience may progress. I know many people have come into college with a certain expectation of their major/future career, only to find a passion or interest in a different subject. Whether this means switching majors or choosing to pursue the pre-med track later in college or in life — this is normal! 
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help! Whether it is learning the material in your classes to looking over your resume for a research position, asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and determination to improve. Keep in mind that it’s okay to experience challenges or fall down a few times, but what’s most important is getting back up. Being pre-med is not easy nor meant to be! Be kind to yourself, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward. 
  • Seek advice from advisors, upperclassmen, medical students, etc. BUT take their advice with a grain of salt. There is NO recipe for getting into medical school. Remember that everyone’s path is different and filled with unique ups and downs. Stay true to yourself. 
  • I know taking a bunch of tough courses all at once may seem like a great idea initially, but the stress is not worth it. Prolonged stress can lead to burnout, which is all too common among premeds today. Take some time to invest in hobbies beyond the scope of medicine, get sleep, practice healthy care habits, or binge a Netflix show every once in a while! However, if you are confident, or want to take a heavy course load, then don’t let this piece of advice scare you or steer you away! 
  • General note during this time of the pandemic: take it easy on yourself. If you’re stressed about losing a potential shadowing or clinical opportunity that you had lined up, know that everyone else is too. COVID is impacting so many people in so many different ways, and now is a great time to do some reflecting on why you want to be a doctor in lieu of getting some in person experiences.

 

Name: Lindsay Ma

Major(s) and minor(s): Biophysics

Favorite class you took at Michigan: EEB 472: This was a class that pushed my writing, reading, and presenting skills. Sure, the content of the course was not medicine or human health, but this was the class that taught me skills I think will make me a more flexible and adaptable doctor one day. For the first time, I learned how to properly do a literature review solo. I also proved to myself that I could immerse myself in papers from a field I was unfamiliar with and still pick it apart enough to present the paper to the class in a meaningful way. In medicine, I anticipate running into literature I am unfamiliar with, from fields that I may have little experience in, but this class gave me the tools for how to approach these unfamiliar topics and deeply interact with their content.

When/How did you study for the MCAT: Took TPR course, studied June through August

When did you take the MCAT: August of the summer before senior year (2019)

What was your pre-med experience: I had a good experience at Michigan. The beginning was rough for me, as I did not have a sense of purpose for why I was pursuing medicine in my first two years at college. However, trying out research and volunteering and by meeting other pre-med students, I began to develop a sense of why I was subjecting myself to hard classes and a rigorous schedule outside of school. Also, I think I felt very competitive and experienced a fair amount of imposter syndrome as a lower classman. Luckily, this sense of inferiority dissipated when I began spending more time with non-premeds. Because my roommates were all diverse in their endeavors, architecture and engineering majors, I think we were uniquely suited to support each other 100%, and I did not need to worry about feeling competitive around them. Basically, I had a safe space at home where I could pursue what *I* wanted as a pre-med, and began comparing myself less to other pre-meds. 

Recommendations/advice for current students: The four years go by quickly, so try out a variety of things early on to see what works for you. I am a strong believer in sticking with something once you’ve started for sake of building relationships, autonomy, and a steady foundation. Of course, if you absolutely hate something you started, politely leave; however, I think small hiccups are otherwise important to work through and can make you a more resilient person down the line. 

When it comes to school, please do not overload your freshman year. Many people are coming from their highschools at the top of their class, but UMICH intro classes are not easy to transition to for many people. You will have plenty of time to take 3+ science classes simultaneously as a sophomore, junior, and senior. Use freshman year to develop the skills needed to manage science classes well, and you will be better equipped to succeed in later semesters.

Personally, I did not find SLC study groups helpful, but I HIGHLY recommend going directly to professors for help. It can be hard to find time to meet with professors in large intro classes, but especially take advantage of office hours when you get to 300 and 400 level classes. Professors are almost always willing to meet with you outside of their scheduled office hours if you cannot make the normal ones, so just ask! What you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Lastly, try to do things that are not related to pre-med as well. Not all the clubs you join have to earn you shadowing opportunities, research opportunities, etc. Try volunteering for a cause you just care about, regardless of if it is “clinical.” Try to make friends who are pursuing different careers so that you can learn new perspectives from them and potentially reduce a feeling of competitiveness.

Classes:

 

1st year

2nd year

3rd year

4th year

Fall

BIOLOGY 171

ASIAN 252

ENGLISH 124

UROP 280

MOVSCI 241

BIOLOGY 173

PHYSICS 135

PHYSICS 136

CHEM 211

ASIANLAN 135

MATH 216

 

BIOPHYS 370

AMCULT 214

MCDB 310

EEB 472

CHEM 474

BIOLOGY 305

BIOPHYS 495

BIOPHYS 440

BIOSTAT 521

PUBHLTH 311

Winter

BIOLOGY 172

CHEM 210

MATH 215

UROP 280

BIOPHYS 290

CHEM 216

ASIANLAN 136

CHEM 215 (spring)

BIOPHYS 399 (spring)

SOC 302

BIOPHYS 420

PUBHLTH 200

SLAVIC 290

BIOPHYS 417

BIOPHYS 450

ALA 264

RCIDIV 350

PUBHLTH 311

 

Name: Haniyeh Zamani

Major(s) and minor(s): Biology Major 

Favorite class you took at Michigan: My favorite class was BIO 207: Microbiology. I really enjoyed the class because I learned about microbial and viral genetics, medical microbiology, and basic epidemiology. Also, the course had a lab component and I learned new techniques that are applicable in many biological labs. 

When/How did you study for the MCAT: Took TPR course, studied Early December till May

When did you take the MCAT:  Planning to take it in May 2020

What was your pre-med experience: My experience as a premed student at Michigan was great. Michigan provided me with the different opportunities to pursue and expand my horizons. During my time here, I had the chance to take classes in any subjects that I was curious about. The pre-med advisors and many of the professors were friendly and supportive, and they went above and beyond to make sure that students were getting the best out of their education. SuccessConnects and SLC were very helpful resources for me to find my path to success.    

Recommendations/advice for current students: Being a pre-med student is a unique experience, and there are times that things can get difficult, but remember that you are not alone and there are people here to help and support you throughout this journey. Take advantage of the numerous resources that are available to you such as office hours, SLS study groups, and advising sessions. Also, it is okay to take a break every once in a while and reflect on your path to start with a new perspective for the rest of your journey. 

Classes:

 

1st year

Washtenaw Community College (Michigan)

2nd year

 

Washtenaw Community College (Michigan)

————-

Michigan 

 

3rd year

Michigan 

4th year

Michigan

Fall

DAN 180 (no equiv.)

ENG 091 (no equiv.)

MTH 191 (MATH 115)

ENG 111 (ENGLISH 125)

BIO 101 (no equiv.)

CEM 122 (CHEM 230 + 130)

DRA 180 (no equiv.)

ECO 211 (ECON 102)

BIO 172

BIO 173

CHEM 210

CHEM 211

UC 280

BIO 225

BIO 226

BIO 281

CLCIV 253

EEB 400

 

Winter

CEM 111 (CHEM 125 +126)

ENG 226 (ENGISH 201)

PSY 100 (PSYCH 111)

PHY 111 (PHYSICS 125 + 127)

CSP 171 (ENGR 101)

BIO 171

PUBHLTH 200

UC 280 

CHEM 215

CHEM 216

EEB 300

BIOLCHEM 415

PUBHLTH 370

PUBHLTH 381

 

BIO 207

EEB 390

EEB 400

Spring

MTH 192 (MATH 116) MTH 293 (MATH 215)

PHY 222 (PHYSICS 240 +241)

BIO 305  

 

 

The Transfer Experience

 

Each year more than 1000 students transfer to the University of Michigan (UM) and among those are quite a few pre-med students. We decided to ask two of our peer advisors, who transferred to  UM, to share their experiences with us. 

 

How did you adjust to the pace of classes at the University of Michigan compared to your previous institution? 

Haniyeh: Since I was junior standing credits-wise (~ 60) when I transferred to the UM, I knew that I had to take more upper level classes, which meant I needed to dedicate more time per credit. I decided to take fewer credits the first semester to be able to better cope with the new environment and have enough time to explore different opportunities and student organizations that were available to students. When I had questions about specific concepts in a class, I attended office hours to figure it out with the help of the professor well before the exam. Also, I joined the SLC study groups, which helped a lot to connect with my classmates and adjust my study habits to the pace of classes at the UM. Regarding other academic questions, such as which classes to take, I made appointments with both general Newnan advisors and pre-med advisors.

Anni: I had a similar experience to Haniyeh. I was also a junior coming into UM, and as severe as it sounds, I didn’t come to UM for the social aspect of it, I I came to get a degree. My previous school was a private liberal arts college, so the way the academics are structured are very different from UM. I feel that the rigor is the same between the two schools, so the challenge was to figure how to change my study habits based on what UM assignments and courses look like. I definitely had to get better about studying by myself since the classes are so big and you don’t really get to know your classmates or professors. I joined SLC study groups, a research lab, and went to office hours frequently in an effort to be aggressive and integrate myself into the UM community. I finished a lot of my pre-med classes at Wellesley, which made the transition a lot easier than it could have been. Newnan and the UPiN (undergraduate program in neuroscience) office were also very helpful in clarifying the graduation requirements!

 

How did your extracurricular activities change after transferring? 

Haniyeh: As I mentioned, I had a light schedule the first semester at the UM and gave myself some time to explore my interests. Festifall was a great place to start to get to know other student organizations. After that, I attended mass meetings of different clubs and joined a couple of them to learn more about their plans throughout the semester and my commitment as one of their members. In the second semester, I made a decision and chose those student organizations that were most aligned with my interests. In terms of volunteering at local health related institutes and shadowing hours, since I was living in Ann Arbor even before transferring to UM, I kept my previous positions.

Anni: Research was the main reason I transferred to UM, so I really made my lab my main extracurricular activity. At my old school, I was very involved in residential life and pre-health/academic clubs, but made the decision when I transferred that I wanted to completely switch it up. This decision was driven by feeling a little burnt out at the end of my sophomore year, so I steered away from clubs I felt I could be stressed by other pre-meds. I found one of my orgs, Consider magazine, at Festifall, which has been great for making my schedule less STEM heavy and indulges my love for writing. I found the farm at St. Joe’s and Glacier Hills Retirement through the Newnan extracurriculars page. Just like with academics, I jumped right in when it came to extracurriculars because I knew I had so little time here. 

 

How did you find a research opportunity in your field of interest?

Haniyeh: I applied for the Changing Gears program, which is a UROP program for transfer students. I got admitted to their program and that was the starting point for me. I developed some new skills (both technical and professional), which helped me to realize the area of my interest and strategically apply for other positions in future. 

Anni: I knew Michigan had a great Parkinson’s program, so before I was even accepted to Michigan, I looked up “University of Michigan Parkinson’s Labs,” went through the list of researchers on The Udall Center’s website, and cold-emailed all of them with my resume and explained I was a prospective junior transfer student. I ended up going to the first lab that e-mailed back, the Sarter lab, and talked with them through email for the next 8 months so that everything was ready to go when I got here. I also met with Dr. Sarter when I came for orientation in July so he could put a name to a face. 

 

How was your social transition experience in university adjustment? 

Haniyeh: It was challenging at first for me especially because I was transferring from a relatively small community college to a big university. I remember even finding the classes on campus was challenging! I started little by little and took small steps in finding my way. Joining SuccessConnects introduced me to other transfer students and paired me with a peer-mentor and a success coach who were very supportive, and that was really helpful to find my community. Also, since I was an international student, I attended the international center events to meet people from all around the world and share my experiences with them. Participating in study groups and student organizations’ events were other ways of socializing and finding like-minded people for me. One thing that I believe is important to mention is: “It might take time to build friendship and connection with others, do not get discouraged! You will find your community here!” 

Anni: Like I said before, my old school was very small, and though I didn’t like the school itself, I felt I had a great little community there between my friend group and professors. I must say that I’m a very independent person and an introvert, so I didn’t sweat the social aspect of transferring nearly as much as doing well in classes. I got really lucky that my Orgo II lab got along really well, which gave me the feeling that I was getting a handle on social life at Michigan. The Transfer Connections program was great for helping me find other transfer students (there’s a ton of us out here!) through socials, seminars, and mentorship. I ended up making most of my friends at the first social! Lastly, I really hit it off with my grad student and the other grad students in the biopsychology program, which opened up tons of other social and professional opportunities that I wouldn’t have known about had I not been so committed to research. My last word of advice for other transfer students would be to stay in touch with your friends and professors from your previous school! Not only do I love them and miss them, but it’s always good to have connections all over!

 

 

I hope all of you are well! Our latest blog is aimed to help you through a key part of the medical school application process: your personal statement. We have tips for each step of the writing process from brainstorming to writing to editing. The blue text is personal anecdotes from our E-Board.

BRAINSTORMING

  • Start the process by just writing: write anything you feel is relevant to your journey to being interested in medicine, the experiences you sought throughout college to cement your interests and your goals as a physician. 
  • This could take anywhere from months to a couple of hours. Every day when I thought about something that could be included in my statement I went to my google doc and wrote another bullet point.
  • This list included personal experiences I had had with medicine myself, memorable moments I had during my volunteering, qualities I had that I thought would make me a good doctor, and what my experiences in college have taught me about medicine and myself.
  • I had 10-15 pages written of completely unedited material and had to cut it down and draw from there for different paragraphs of my actual personal statement. 
  • Don’t ever delete any of these drafts, though, because they will come in handy later for writing secondaries (adversity, diversity, goals) and scholarship essays. You might also be able to use it as inspiration for things you’ll be talking about in the interviews (why us, why medicine, tell me about yourself).
  • A hard thing to do is to then narrow down this list of random thoughts and ideas. To do this, I tried to focus on things that involved a certain theme or story I wanted to tell in my statement. The best advice I was given while writing my personal statement was to make it a story that intertwines your experiences in one narrative.

WRITING

  • Stay away from cliches: sick relative, ignited your passion, “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” “I love helping people,” “I was always a precocious child,” etc
  • Make sure you always tie back to WHY MEDICINE, not why altruism, why science, etc…
  • Make sure that your statement is a good mix of introspection, retrospection, and forward projection. You can even organize the whole paper using past, present, and future as three paragraphs or sections in which to tell separate stories that ultimately tie together
  • Show, don’t tell! Paint a picture for your reader by using the 5 senses while you storytell: write about what you heard/saw/smelled during the memory
  • ALWAYS reflect on what you learned each step of the way (this is also advice you could use in your activities section). Admissions don’t just want to see what you did, but how you’ll use that in the future.
  • Instead of just regurgitating your experiences, be sure to reflect and show how your experiences have shaped you into wanting to go to medical school.
  • Beyond your own experiences, also consider talking about how people have changed you and given you perspective.
  • Step away once you’re done writing, and come back a few days later to really see how you feel about what you’ve written.
  • Be okay with re-writing your essay and doing a total overhaul a few times. Sometimes a few complete re-writes will be necessary for you to reach a clear story on paper.
  • The most important piece of your PS will be the hook — make these POP! You want the reader to immediately label you as unique and interesting before they even start reading the meat of your essay

EDITING

  • Don’t use contractions -> DO NOT use contractions
  • Perfect grammar and spelling is a must!! Edit using grammarly or a grammar nazi friend between each edit and before you send it off
  • I also had a younger sibling read mine to make sure I wasn’t using any jargon or complicated sentence structure, because you want your reader to focus on only the content and not get bogged down by confusing details — my little sister was able to tell me when I had to shorten my clauses or find synonyms for certain words
  • Frame your sentences actively instead of passively, and positively instead of negatively
    • Ex) “I published my research” instead of “the research was published”
  • When you feel comfortable enough with your essay, send it to professors, advisors, or recommendation letter writers for final edits.

Redditor u/  gyubari recommends 4-5 people to edit your PS. Try to find people that fit into the following categories…

  • A loved one. Somebody who is close to you that you have a great relationship with. Ideally this person understands you well and can see if your PS is a good reflection of you. Will also possibly boost your ego. This person can be your best friend, mom/dad, SO, etc.
  • A harsh critic. Career advisor/pre-med advisor/some kind of college writing center/college faculty. Pre-med advisors seem to not always know what they’re talking about, but they can dole out some harsh criticism. Mine told me not to bother writing my PS because I wouldn’t get in this cycle. You may need and benefit from some of this criticism and getting critiques from somebody in academia can be helpful. Don’t let it crush your spirit, just internalize the feedback that makes the most sense to you.
  • A stranger. Somebody you don’t know that well. This can be the random guy on the bus or an acquaintance like the girl that sits behind you in history class. How well does your PS paint a word picture of who you are and your goal of med school?
  • A grammar nazi. Somebody who can edit your grammar. This person MUST be different from the aforementioned 3 other categories of people. This can be your old high school English teacher, your study buddy who happens to write screenplays for fun, or maybe even a hired service.
  • For the fifth person, I would repeat one of the 4 previous types of editors. If grammar is your weak spot, pick another person to edit for grammar. If you need a self esteem boost, have one of your buddies read it.
  • Don’t incorporate edits that you inherently disagree with, because you still want to make it your own!
  • Submit your best work — this is the first thing medical admissions will use to judge your character as opposed to your qualifications.
  • Give yourself a deadline and stick to it! It’s easy to keep editing forever, but at some point, realize that you won’t improve the quality of your piece by continuous editing.
  • You should aim to have it ready by mid-June for primary submission; you will be in the earliest submission/verification group within the first two weeks of AMCAS opening (so don’t worry about submitting the absolute first day, when website is likely to crash. Everyone submitting the first couple weeks will receive secondaries at the same time.

Name: Anni Ball

Major(s) and minor(s): Neuroscience major and African Studies minor

Favorite class you took at Michigan: 

My favorite STEM classes would probably be NEUROL 455 (neuroscience of Parkinson’s Disease) or 436 (immunology). In both of these classes, I finally felt like I was learning something that was truly applicable to the real world (I know this is all classes, but it was also paired with the feeling that my degree will be worth at least some of the ridiculous amount of tuition money). Dr. Balazovich is a pretty polarizing figure here at Michigan, but I really enjoyed taking classes with him (I also had him for biochem). Immunology especially is kind of his baby, so he puts a lot of effort into this class. In immunology, we had a case study book and projects similar to those in biochem. The second half of the class was about half regular lectures and half case study presentation, which was a nice change from a normal lecture-only class. Dr. B encouraged significant class participation during case study presentation (the students never present, don’t worry) through prompting questions. An added, and unexpected, bonus of this class was that the immunohistochemistry procedures I perform in my research lab make much more sense to me (I will readily admit I did them half-blindly before I took this class). 

In terms of non-STEM, I really enjoyed all of my AAS (African and AfroAmerican Studies) classes because AAS professors are amazing, my favorite was AAS 458: Health and African Development. This class is cross-listed as a graduate-level epidemiology course at the SPH, which led to very few undergraduates in the class (my class had a record number of 4) and an extremely small class size (9 total). I had already taken a class with Dr. Stein, and his teaching gets even crazier (in a good way) in this particular class. AAS 458 is another one of those classes that connects to the real world because Stein updates his lectures with new disease epidemics. There was also a higher level of analysis (in statistics, causes, and socioeconomic implications) expected from students due to the graduate-level designation, which was more of a blessing than a curse (grades are based on participation, the final, and a 3.5 hour presentation) in the end because it added another dimension to my minor and depth to my discussion capacities in future classes (AAS 453 + 495).

When/How did you study for the MCAT: Haven’t taken it yet!

When did you take the MCAT: I plan on taking it at the end of this summer, after I graduate.

What was your pre-med experience: 

Over my four years of college I have questioned my decision to be pre-med many, many times. To be quite honest, I was not having a great time in my sophomore spring and junior fall, partly due to transferring, but mostly due to burnout. I’ve often called myself “a bad pre-med” in conversation because I’ve followed the guidelines for extracurricular activities pretty loosely (again, due to burnout at Wellesley and the adjustment process at Michigan). I have close to no patient interaction hours from my time at Wellesley because Boston hospitals are far away and extremely strict on patient contact, so I can really only speak to the patient interactions I had during a medical+public health brigade I did through Wellesley in Nicaragua or my semester in the dementia unit of Glacier Hills Retirement Community. I will be the first to admit that I’ve shied away from a lot of the extracurricular pre-med requirements because of the fairly stressful, but inevitable, interactions with other pre-meds. Throughout my college career, I’ve basically mitigated this problem by engaging in other extracurriculars outside of health careers to round out my resume (I’m the blog director for a magazine here at Michigan and was active in residential life at Wellesley) or ones that are somewhat related to (pre-)health causes (volunteering at the farms at UM and St. Joe’s, advising for Pre-Med Hub). 

I originally planned on going straight into medical school, but made what I saw as a “compromise” to push med school two years after I decided transferring was more important to me. This helped lighten my load for pre-med stuff—I decided to do patient interaction in my gap years, when I have much more time to commit to it. The amount of gap years I’m going to take is also influenced by my interest in a MD-PhD. I’m pretty involved in my research lab here at Michigan, and will also use my two gap years to better inform my decision as to which grad program I want to pursue. 

Recommendations/advice for current students: (maybe a little bit about transferring and adjusting)

If you’re a transfer student, do not, as I did, underestimate the emotional burden transferring had on your life. I’m sure this varies depending on your experience with Michigan and your previous institution, but I had a hard time adjusting because I’d visited UM once before I got my acceptance, and I came from a tiny, all-women, liberal arts college. If you’re coming from a similar situation as I mine, I would recommend seeking little communities to be a part of wherever you can. I attended a few transfer student events, where I met some of my friends, became close with some of my orgo II labmates, and really made an effort to go above and beyond in my research lab (the people on my research floor are my best friends here). I also think this will change depending on where you are in your academic career when you transfer. Since I came to Michigan as a junior, I knew I had to come in with the mindset that I transferred mainly for the academics (serious focus on my major and career paths), not necessarily to enjoy a completely different college experience. 

In terms of general pre-med advice: chill out. The most toxic thing about pre-med culture, at UM but really in general, is that everything seems like a competition. Yes, you’re technically beating out other applicants for medical school, but there is no need to participate in or play into the stress culture. Do what you think is your best, and don’t worry about anyone else. I would definitely go to advising, either with PMH or Newnan, since it’s a more objective viewpoint of the pre-med track than talking to other students before you go into a biochem exam. Even more importantly, don’t do anything that you’re not passionate about, or derive significant lessons from, for the sake of your resume. If this passion is not apparent when you speak about it, either in interviews or in casual conversation, then it’s similar to not having that experience at all. Plus, you’re at a higher risk of burnout and impostor syndrome if you don’t have some type of grounding reason or tenet. 

Classes:

 

1st year Wellesley

(Michigan)

2nd year Wellesley

(Michigan)

3rd year Michigan

4th year Michigan

Fall

-Biology 110 + Lab (171,173)

-Math 115

-Neuro 100 +Lab (Psych 230+Bio 222)

-French 201 (231)

-Neuro 200 + Lab (Psych 230+Bio 222)

-Ancient Greek Phil (Phil 388)

-Chem 105 + Lab (130, 126)

-Evolutionary Psych (no equiv.)

 

-CHEM 215, 216

-BIO 305

-AAS 260

-ANTHARC 285

-AAS 495

-AAS 453

-MCDB 436

-NEUROL 455

-SOC 302

Winter

-Biology 111 + Lab

(172)

-Physics 104 + Lab (135,136)

-French 202 (232)

-Writing 161 (FYWR)

-Physics 106 + Lab (235, 236)

-Medical Ethics (no equiv.) 

-Psych 205 + Lab (Stats 250)

-Independent Study (Psych 326, 2 credits)

-Chem 211 + Lab (210, 211)

-MCDB 310

-PSYCH 326 (3 credits)

-AAS 458

-AAS 290

-BIO 225

-CHEM 230

-AAS 271

-PSYCH 336

-MCDB 422

-BIO 226

 

 

How do I ensure my letters of recommendation are strong?

Try to identify your professors and mentors early if you can so you can be extra intentional about forming a relationship with them. 

Relationships take intention and time, so if you are getting a letter from a professor from freshman or sophomore year, try to reach out each semester to catch up in some way. Catching up can be over email or phone call, but in person gives the best quality if your letter writer can be available to meet with you.

One example of how I’ve reached out to professors from early on in my college career have been sending them articles from current courses that remind me of them/their coursework. This led to invitations to meet up to talk about the articles, which led to one professor even offering to write me a letter before I even had to ask! Keeping in touch and maintaining a relationship is essential if you want to get the best rec letter out of it.

 Do not worry about having ALL extremely strong rec letters! If you simply need one more, it is completely acceptable to ask a professor in whose course you did well. Professors understand that you need letters of rec and often are willing to do so. Obviously, it is best to build a relationship with a professor to get a more personalized letter of rec. The best way I would recommend doing this is office hours. If the class is extremely large, it is hard for a professor to get to know you through lecture alone so it is best to go to their office where you will be much closer to a 1:1 ratio. In smaller courses, in addition to attending office hours, It is good to ask questions before, after, and during lecture to continue to remind the professor that you are engaged with the material.

Can I get a committee letter?

Unfortunately, there is no pre-med committee letter service at our university, so you will need to find individual letter writers. Most students find it most beneficial to obtain this combination of letters:

  • Two science course professors
  • One non-science professor
  • One personal letter: a boss, research PI, volunteer supervisor, or physician you shadowed
    • IF APPLYING THROUGH AACOMAS, a letter from any DO physician you have observed in a clinical setting (shadowed or worked with)
    • IF YOU ARE IN YOUR GAP YEAR, get a letter from the gap year employment supervisor
  • IF APPLYING MD/PHD, a research letter — from an MD or a PhD rather than from a lab manager or student supervisor

Can I ask my professor for a letter of recommendation partway through a course?

It is okay to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation while you are still in their class, but it is probably better to wait until the end of the class to ask, and it is probably too forward to ask a professor before the class or internship begins.

Should I ask for my letter in person?

Try to ask for letters of recommendation in person if you can. It can really help to see the facial expressions of the person you are asking, as emotions are basically impossible to know via email. If you have not seen the professor in a while, you can email to ask if they can have a few minutes for you to stop by. Be very sensitive to their time, and go to ask when they say they are available.

When should I ask?

If you don’t anticipate taking more classes with a certain professor, it’s advisable to ask the professor a few weeks after you’ve received your grade in their class. If your relationship with your letter writer is a little bit more drawn-out time-wise, you should be asking a few months before submitting your application. If you want your letter in by June, March/April should be the latest you contact someone about writing you a rec letter — because May will often be the busiest season for all graduate applications and letters. Remember that you can always submit your primary application without having the letter submitted by your professor, and you only really need your letters by the time you submit secondaries (around the first week of July, but could be later because of COVID delays this 2020 cycle).

What if I can’t ask in person due to distance or other reasons?

If you must ask via email, be very polite and formal, and try to keep the email short and to the point.

When you are writing this email, you can include things you would like them to talk about, remind them of good characteristics you had in their class/in general so that they are able to talk about you in more detail.

Use the AAMC guidelines for writing a letter of recommendation when preparing your email and briefly summarize the important points of the guidelines in your email to the professor.

It can be helpful to follow this rough structure:

 1) Acknowledge they have many other important things to attend to and that you are grateful for their time. 

2) Express what you enjoyed about their class and why 

3) Explain that you are applying to medical school and that you are wondering if they could write you a strong letter in support of your application.

 4) Mention what competencies you believe they would be able to speak on.

 5) Thank them for their time and consideration. Also, ask if they would want to see your resume so that they understand the scope of activities you are involved in. They might also ask for a draft of your personal statement. So, be ready to have one in case they requested it.

                                         ADDITIONAL RESOURCE:  INTERFOLIO

                             for storage and delivery of the letter of recommendation

 

  • It is a great way to store multiple letters of recommendation. The website will directly send a link to professors and will make sure that it is confidential (i.e. you will not be able to see what is written about you). It also has a quality control check before your letters are sent (ex. checking for a signature and official letterhead).
  • While the letters remain confidential, you can decide where the letters will be sent and when the delivery date would be. 
  • Your letter writers only have to submit your letter once to Interfolio, and then you will be able to transfer them to AMCAS easily to be sent out to the designated schools.