What is the AMCAS?
AMCAS stands for the American Medical College Application Service. It is a non-profit, centralized application processing service for applicants to the firs-year entering classes at participating US medical schools. It is created by the AAMC, The Association for American Medical Colleges (www.aamc.org). AMCAS is the primary application for most of the allopathic medical schools in the US. The schools that do not use the AMCAS are:
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine
University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas Southwester Medical School
It’s recommended you apply to at leaest 10 schools, the more the better…but the more expensive it becomes and the more secondary applications you’ll have to fill out in the future. If you apply to 15 schools it will be 580 bucks.
Fee assistance program:
If you have extreme financial hardship, you can apply for FAP and apply to 11 med schools for free, 30 bucks for each school after
Copies of Federal Income Tax forms, welfare payment statements, Social Security payment statements, and documentation for all other sources of income may be required based on an initial review of your application. University or college financial aid award statements, which indicate the amount of the total aid that was based on tuition, fees, and books, and the amount made available for room, board, and other expenses may also be required.
All income data must be for the previous year (calendar year 2005 for FAP applications submitted in 2006).
The cost of secondary applications from each individual school range from $50-100 per school, depending on the school. For 15 schools that’s between $750-1500.
You’ll have to fly to your city, rent a hotel room for at least one night, pay for meals and transportation, etc. Bring a little extra money in case of emergencies. Estimate cost of each interview to be $500 per school. Say you get 7 interviews (wooohoo!): that’s $3500!
Some schools let you stay with med students…take advantage of those!
Take advantage of cheap airline websites:
You’ll have to buy a good quality suit and shoes for the interviews (one suit should be fine) which can be $100-300 (cheaper if you’re a bargain hunter).
How your significant life experiences have contributed to your personal development and potential as a physician
That they would be doing the medical profession a huge favor by accepting you into their medical school!
Questions to think about:
Why do you want to be a doctor?
Yes, you want to “help people” but why not any other profession where you can help people? Why not a nurse or a teacher?
How have all your extracurricular activites and any other significant life experiences helped make you a better person, and how do you think it will make you a better doctor?
What do you ultimately want to accomplish as a physician?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A good website for sample essays
A good website for general essay writing tips
START EARLY! A good personal statement has numerous drafts. You won’t write the perfect personal statement in one sitting…you’ll need to keep going back and editing until it’s perfect!
Keep a journal of all your ideas and experiences. When you encounter something or have an experience that reinforces your desire to become a physician, write it down! Any significant experiences in your personal or academic life can apply…so make a habit of writing in your journal daily.
Accept the fact that you will not have a perfect essay the first time around. Don’t stare at the computer screen thinking of the perfect, grammatically correct sentence. Just start writing whatever comes to your head about your topic (this is called free-association or free writing) and eventually good ideas and topics will emerge.
Don’t try to edit as you write. First get all your ideas down on paper and then go back and edit
Print out each draft to edit on paper…this is usually more effective than editing on your computer. You tend to catch more errors when you print out your essay.
Be careful when you copy and paste your essay to the AMCAS since Word might have different formatting. Always print out the AMCAS before you submit to make sure the formatting is flawless.
A preliminary outline of how you want to organize your ideas is essential! It will create an essay that flows!
Editing: Utilitize your science and English professors as well as UM’s writing center. Give your essay to your friends and family to proofread. The more eyes that look at your essay, the better since you might not catch all the mistakes you make. Do this frequently as you compose new drafts.
BUT: don’t forget to stay true to yourself and your ideas, and learn how to deal with constructive criticism.
Read your drafts out loud! You will be surprised how many errors will surface by doing this.
The character limit is 5300 characters including spaces: this is about 1 page single spaced. So be concise in your sentences and don’t be wordy!
Paint a picture for the committee, make them see and envision why you would be an awesome physician!
Make sure your voice is heard in your essay. Make it YOURS!
Be truthful about your experiences: there is a good chance you will be asked about your experiences during interviews!
Format: these are the fields you will have to fill out
Start date/end date
Average Hours per week
Experience types: (you will have to categorize each of your experiences according to the choices they give you from a pull down menu)
1325 character limit for each description including spaces. This is about 10 sentences, a short paragraph.
Use the experience description space to talk about what the activity was, what you contributed to it, and what skills you used for that activity
Keeping an updated resume of all your activities will help. It’s also important to keep a journal of all your activities to write down what you did and your reflections on each experience. Note the hours you spent each week and for what dates you participated. Make sure you record who the contact person is for each experience.
Print out the application after you’re done and CAREFULLY check to see if you’ve made any typos. Read your descriptions out loud to see if they flow
Try to diversify your involvements so you appear to be a well rounded person. Don’t be afraid to list an artistic endeavor that you’re proud of, it’ll make your application shine! If you haven’t been involved in many activities, start becoming involved in things you enjoy! Join an intramural basketball team or SCUBA club if you’re interested in those things…don’t worry about what medical schools want to see on your application…do the things you enjoy, and your application will reflect who you really are as a person.
Anything you do, as long as you’re passionate about it, will help you become a better doctor, probably more than you think!
Start on your resume now (I hope you kept your resume guide from last meeting!). Keep track of all your envolvments every time you begin one. Make it a habit to update your resume at least once a semester. You’ll be surprised how much you forget once you are sitting in front of a blank computer screen, trying to remember everything you’ve done in college.
Narrowing down schools
Get the MSAR for the year you’ll be applying to med school. MSAR stands for Medical School Admissions Requirements and it contains all the info about medical schools that you’ll need!
The MSAR includes:
Helpful info about medical schools, MCAT, and the AMCAS
Statistics and info of med school applicants based on age, gender, MCAT scores, etc.
Info about combined Bachelors/MD programs for high school and college level students