Getting In: How Not to Apply to Medical School

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Paul Jung

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    Dedication

    To Dru Bagwell and Nancy Love for all their valuable advice and guidance.

    Foreword

    There are more applicants to medical school than ever before—about 57,000 in a recent year—and competition is rough. Although most students have a fundamental understanding of the admissions process, most lack the savvy that will give them an advantage. True, good grades and high MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores are important, but when there are so many applicants with sterling academic records, they may not be good enough.

    Most premed students spend an inordinate amount of time trying to increase these numerical markers and not enough time taking advantage of opportunities that will set themselves apart from the crowd. This book, providing you with the insight you will need to do this, will enhance your admissions opportunities.

    Premed students advised by the author, Paul Jung, M.D., have had a remarkably high medical school acceptance rate. An internal medicine resident at Case Western Reserve University's MetroHealth Medical Center, Dr. Jung is Director of the Health Policy Leadership Institute. In addition to health policy work with Citizen Action, he served as a member of the Clinton Administration Health Care Reform Task Force, worked in San Francisco and Los Angeles on the California Proposition 186 campaign, and was Legislative Affairs Director for the American Medical Student Association. The 1998 recipient of the Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D. Award for Outstanding Resident Physician Leadership, Dr. Jung has served on the boards of Physicians for a National Health Program, the American Medical Student Association, and the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association.

    If you want to avoid common mistakes that may diminish your chance for admission, read this book carefully and implement Dr. Jung's recommendations.

    —Robert Holman Coombs Professor of Behavioral Sciences, UCLA School of Medicine, Series Editor

    Acknowledgments

    This book could not have been completed without the wise guidance of my early mentors who provided much of the advice I've put on these pages. Special thanks to Dru Bagwell and Nancy Love, as well as my wife, Helen, who has always encouraged me to think differently.

    Introduction

    When I began college, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. So I did what all my premed friends did: majored in biology, signed up for extra science courses, and became active in the school's premedical society. But after awhile, I started to wonder if I was doing the right thing.

    Mostly, I felt as if I was missing out on the college experience and, more important, on a good college education. Luckily, I had one of the best premedical advisers around. She took me aside and told me to go ahead and major in philosophy, stop working in a lab, give up my volunteer time at the local hospital, and write the great American novel instead.

    This book isn't exactly the great American novel, but it's an outgrowth of what I learned from that crucial conversation. What she was trying to tell me was that I should pursue my own unique individuality, seriously develop some nonmedical interests, and do what comes naturally. Not only would I be much happier, I might have a better chance of getting into medical school.

    She was right. You probably don't care that I had a great time in college, but not only did I get into several medical schools, I was admitted early in the application cycle without a problem and simply had to spend most of my time trying to figure out which school to attend.

    The irony is, many of my premed friends did not get into medical school. So I developed these strategies for other students, spent some time as a student premedical adviser myself, and finally created my own medical school admissions consulting service.

    These strategies work. They're time-tested and backed up with solid data. Read on.

    Why Read This Book?

    There are more applicants to medical school than ever before—well over 50,000 applicants in 1998 alone. And these applicants are fighting for a mere 16,000 seats. Competition is rough. Most students have a fundamental understanding of the admission process, but they seriously lack the real savvy that will give them the extra edge in medical school admissions.

    There are numerous books on the market that try to tell you how to get into medical school. However, many of them are simply catalogs listing each medical school, along with the positive and negative aspects of each; their titles should instead read, “Ways to Compare Medical Schools.” Most admissions advice is dry and plain and tends to simply state the facts about applying without providing any savvy on applying well.

    Good grades and high MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores are great, but they're never good enough, especially with so many applicants these days. Most students spend an inordinate amount of time simply trying to up those numeric values and not enough time taking advantage of the numerous opportunities within the application process to set themselves apart from the crowd.

    Other books also tend to concentrate on the regular process of applying to medical school, but they ignore the special circumstances of individual applicants. They also ignore, and thus encourage, applicants to make common mistakes. By taking an alternative spin, this book will allow readers to not simply apply to medical school but to avoid common mistakes and thus apply properly to medical school.

    This book will provide applicants with the savvy to use those opportunities and not to miss out. By using the techniques in this book (i.e., by avoiding common mistakes), applicants will have a better chance of getting admitted to medical school in general and also into their medical school of choice.

    Many chapters have a vignette called “Egregious Error” that discusses how common, severe mistakes are made by many medical school applicants. These mistakes were made by real students who later came to me for (proper) advice.

    Who should Read This Book?

    The primary reader of this book will be the premed student, typically a college sophomore and junior. But this book also has pertinent sections designed for the diligent student who begins thinking about applying early on—say, a freshman or sophomore, even a high school student. Also, this book has significant advice for postbaccalaureate students, those who've spent time after college in the real world, even those who are looking for a more fulfilling second career. This segment of the applicant pool is increasing and demands unique advice. And finally, many college premedical advisers should use this book to illustrate to their students the common mistakes made by many applicants.

    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: To the best of our knowledge, mailing addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and Website addresses are correct, but this information—especially Website addresses, e-mail addresses, and telephone area codes—may change over time.

  • About the Author

    Paul Jung, M.D., is an internal medicine resident at Case Western Reserve University's MetroHealth Medical Center and Director of the Health Policy Leadership Institute. In addition to health policy work with Citizen Action, he worked on the Clinton Administration Health Care Reform Task Force and in San Francisco and Los Angeles on the California Proposition 186 campaign, before serving as the Legislative Affairs Director for the American Medical Student Association. Jung has been a board member of Physicians for a National Health Program, the American Medical Student Association, and the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association. He is Chair of the National Consortium of Resident Organizations, received the 1998 Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D. Award for Outstanding Resident Physician Leadership, and sits on the American College of Physicians' Council of Associates. He is scheduled to start as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in July 2000. Jung has been advising premedical students for several years.


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