Getting into Medical School:
Which patient care experiences make me a more competitive applicant?

which patient care and clinical experiences will help me get into medical school Mary Kate Kopec The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health premed Pre-dental advising coaching

Getting into Medical School: Which patient care experiences make me a more competitive applicant?

When I ask students why they want to be a doctor (or a dentist, or any other kind of healthcare provider), without hesitation, they respond, “Because I like to help people.”

This is fantastic!  Helping people is great!  … But there’s a significant deficiency in this response, and it’s a deficiency that if left unanswered, it will keep you out of medical school (or dental school, or whichever healthcare profession you are interested in).

There’s a lot of ways to help people.  For instance, I help people get into medical, dental, and other healthcare schools.  I teach math.  I teach writing.  I tutor.  I mentor.  I help people find and build their happiness and success, both personally and professionally.  But I don’t prescribe drugs.  I don’t have scalpels and gauze in my toolkit.  I don’t problem solve illness or injury.  Because I’m not a doctor, nor do I want to be.  … But you do.  So, the more exact question is why do you want to care for people using the methods and practices of the healthcare professional of your choice?  Why do you want to help people by listening to their health concerns and problems, then diagnose those problems (sometimes involving diagnostic medicine), and then offer solutions via drugs, surgeries, and other medical methods? … And moreover, how do you know?  What have you done to experience this kind of helping people, and how has it led you to the choice of becoming a doctor (or dentist, etc)?

It’s at this point that I get the blank stares.  The “Uh, I guess I hadn’t thought about it like that.”’s

And, well.  That’s a problem, especially as a lot of students put off talking to a pre-health advisor or coach until it’s time to apply … usually because it’s time for them to write their personal statement, and they don’t know what to write about that will make them stand apart – stand out – stand up and shine.

They don’t know that what they don’t know can hurt them and their chances of getting in.

So, let’s NOT let this happen to you.  The first thing you need to know about your experiences (patient care, clinical, or otherwise) is that they all NEED to be a part of your journey.  Not a pre-planned-from-day-one-without-adaption-to-life-experience-and-change list of things to do.  You come to medical schools with a list of I-just-did-stuff-to-make-me-competitive, and you’ll find out fast just how uncompetitive you’ve made yourself.

So what then? Let’s start with the wrong question, and the reason why it’s the wrong question.

The Wrong question is: What do other people do?

This question won’t help you, because you aren’t other people with their likes, dislikes, interests, goals, motivations, etc.

What is the Right question?  … The Right questions is:  What should I do?

And this question should be followed by: What are my options?

To answer this let’s talk about patient care.  What is it?  How do you demonstrate it?  How do you give it?  Who do you give it to?

The simple answer is caring for patients with the practices, methods, and procedures consistent with healthcare, whether it be mainstream medicine or CAM (complementary and alternative medicine – practices such as chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc).

There are so many options for you to learn about who you like to help and how you like to help, and under what circumstances you like to help – you just have to choose some to try and see what fits and what doesn’t.

For instance, do you like to help everyone?  Like in a family practice setting?  Or maybe you like working with children or the elderly.  Or maybe you have a special calling to help cancer patients.  Or even hospice and palliative care.  … This list goes on for quite a while.  And generally speaking, when you first start off on your pre-health, pre-med, or pre-dental journey, the idea of helping people is carrying weight in your thoughts, but you don’t KNOW who or how … not really … not until you give it a try and actually see what resonates with you – what calls to you.  And even then, it’s not unusual for pre-med peeps to decide their actual specialty until they get into 3rd and 4th years (when they start doing actual rotations).  Nonetheless, it is still on you to try out the patient care world and investigate clinical settings … and learn about the career field you are seeking to engage.

When you write your personal statement and when you interview, you will need to talk about your journey and your choices.  What led you to them.  How they guided you to medicine.  What moves you.  What inspires you.  What limitations you’ve seen, and how you might handle them in your future practice.  Etc.

Your journey must be yours and yours alone.  It needs to flourish as you grow, learn, investigate, develop, and figure out who you are and why this is important to you.

So where do you begin?  Again, this depends on you.  But if you have no clinical exposure under your belt, a good place to start is shadowing and gaining clinical exposure.  You should shadow peeps doing what you think you might want to do.  Family practice.  Specialty.  CAM.  Etc.

When shadowing, you NEED to be observant and reflective.  Ask lots of questions of the practitioner you are shadowing.  Things like:

What do you love about your job?  Why?

What’s the hardest part of your job?  Why?

If you could go back in time and do this all over again, would you?  Why or why not?

What do you feel I need to know to help me understand this practice as a future career choice?  Why?

When taking care of your patients, what are you thinking?  How do you go about helping them?  What’s important to you when you are helping them?  Why?

Are they in a private practice?  Or are they in a hospital?  How does their practice environment influence the care they are able to provide?

… Getting the picture?

When you shadow, you see.  You listen.  You observe.  You then think about all that you are seeing and hearing and ask yourself if this is you?

when shadowing aske these questionsThe Best You PAL Academy Pre-health premed Pre-dental advising coaching

Another important thing about clinical exposure and patient care is making sure you get to see blood.  Make sure you can handle it.  Make sure you can handle “the cut” in surgery.  Make sure you can handle broken body parts.  Sometimes students think they can, but when it happens in real life, they find they can’t.  Or they don’t like it.  These things can influence your journey and path.  You might decide to find another path, or you might find you are ever more convinced that you are pursuing the correct journey for you and for your future patients.

Only your experience can guide you.

So you’ve been shadowing, and you are freaking loving everything you see, or at least important certain parts, and you want more.  You’re ready to try on actual patient care.  How do you do that?

Where do you get this experience?

Again.  Options.  Sometimes, students get offered positions from their shadowing experiences.  Their performance impresses the doctor, and next thing you know, the doctor offers them a more involved role.  And this role can provide on-the-job training, with growth and patient-care skills to develop.  For instance, you could become an assistant to the doctor.  And this can be a tremendous opportunity!

This is another reason why I’m always telling my students to always give their best.  You just never know what kind of opportunity is waiting to knock on your door when you prove yourself dedicated, competent, and caring.

In addition to these kinds of awesome opportunities, you could volunteer in places like:

Ronald McDonald House

VA hospital

Nursing homes

Hospice

Red Cross

Hospital or clinic volunteer

Medical mission trips

Maybe you want more skills and certifications, so maybe you seek out becoming a certified phlebotomist, EMT, medical assistant, or scribe.

patient care opportunity ideas Mary Kate Kopec The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health premed Pre-dental advising coaching

Choices!!!  You have to begin your path with your foundational interest and see where it takes you, what it teaches you, how it influences you and guides you to make new choices about what your next steps are.

And all the while, you want to be developing your personal attributes and skills, lessons learned, and values established and gained.

Clinical exposure and patient care are MUSTs on your experience agenda.  Which ones you do depend on you, your likes, your dislikes, your values, your goals, your interests … etc.  And once you get started you might find that something you liked or thought you disliked might just surprise you and turn out to be the opposite.  You won’t know until you try.

As a whole, the point is to answer the question of why you want to be a doctor (someone who helps people with healthcare) and how you know.  You’ll need to be able to discuss your journey; the personal attributes and skills you’ve gained; the lessons you’ve learned; the values you’ve gained; and you’ll need to talk about why this is all important to you and how you know (which means talking about your actual experiences and your specific journey).

When you can do this – when you can show medical schools how your journey has led you to the practice you desire, then you will have chosen the patient care and clinical experiences that make you a competitive candidate!

Big Hugs and wishing you happiness and success in your patient care and clinical experiences!

Mary Kate :0)

Getting into Medical School:
Does doing research help?

does doing research make you more competitive The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health premed Pre-dental advising coaching

So, you see yourself as a doctor or a dentist and you want to know whether doing research will help you.  Help?  It can, but it depends.  Is research required to become a doctor (or a dentist)?  No.  Do lots of students get into medical or dental school without doing research?  Absolutely.  So how do you know what you should do to become a competitive applicant who gets in?  Great question!

Let’s talk about doing research, or not, to help you get in.

We need to start with the most important question regarding doing research, and that question is: Do you like doing research?

Honestly, we get straight to the core of the matter with this one question.  Because if you don’t like doing research, then there are plenty of other ways for you to dedicate and devote your time, efforts, and energies in helping you grow and develop into an amazing and competitive candidate.  Usually, if a student isn’t driven by research, they tend to be more patient driven, and they seek out Incredible Experiences that allow them to directly engage people and the clinical setting with goals of learning about the human spirit, the human condition, behavior, needs, fears, challenges … and this list just goes on and on.  There are so many ways for you to develop your patient care personal attributes, skills, lessons learned, and values.  And instead of forcing yourself to do research when it doesn’t call to your heart – which is a waste of time for you – it’s best for you to find the activities and experiences that mean something to you, inspire you, … call to you, for real.  Those are the experiences that will grow you into your Best Shining Self, and they will help you become the competitive applicant you need to be to get in.

Now, if on the other hand, you try research and you love it … then get in there and get researching!  Having been a researcher, I can tell you, it’s its own way of life.  Research comes with its own personal attributes, skills, lessons learned, and values.  Some of my favorites are things like: learning how research informs clinical practice and in turn how clinical practice informs research (It’s a cycle of hopeful lifesaving discovery, my peeps!  It can be awesome and exciting!); learning problems solving skills; truly understanding the scientific method; learning where a lot of our knowledge about health and healing come from; gaining a specific attention to detail; learning how to think critically and evaluate outcomes … and this list goes on and on.

If you love doing research, then do research.  I suspect you will find yourself being drawn to medical or dental schools that have research components (not all do), and in turn, if you do well in your research endeavors, they will be drawn to you.  Does this mean that you should pursue an MD/PhD or DDS/PhD?  Again, that will come down to you and your personal goals and how you see yourself living your life and your career – how you want to contribute and spend your time.  If you want it, go for it.  If you don’t, then don’t.  …But MK, I want to ensure I get a good paying job. … I hear ya.  If you love what you do, then you will find your niche, and once you find it – should it be healthcare – then rest with confidence, the peeps are always going to need healthcare.  You will have a job.  And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether your healthcare practice comes with research as a foundation or not, or whether you are clinical researcher with a patient load in your area of expertise.  What matters is that you love what you do so that your patients will get the best healthcare they can and need from you to help them heal, regain wellness, and/or maintain wellness.

And before I wrap this up … I just want to make sure to state this important fact: Whether you choose to do research or to not do research as part of your prep, be sure to get clinical/patient care exposure and experience.  Because where research is optional, clinical and patient care experience is not.  You’ve got to try on taking care of peeps to learn lots of good things about caring for people … and to show your future schools you’ve tried it and know you like it.  If you don’t, you won’t be competitive!

does doing research make you more competitive The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health premed Pre-dental advising coaching

So.  Do you like doing research?  If you don’t know, it’s worth trying on to find out.  Get the answer – it’s important!  Once you know, you’ll be able to guide your path with whether to do research or not to help you become a competitive applicant.  The point is, whatever you choose, you choose what you love and what inspires you … and you will become the competitive applicant you need to be to get in!!!

Big Hugs and as always, wishing you happiness and success!!!

Mary Kate

Getting into Medical School: 3 Essential Steps

3 essential steps for getting into medical or dental school The Best You PAL Academy pre-health premed pre-dental coaching advising Mary Kate Kopec

Are you dreaming of becoming a doctor, or a dentist?  If so, … good dream.  We need awesome, caring, wonderful healthcare givers, and if that is you, then we need you!  So how do you make this dream come true?

Well, if I’m not wasting time sugar coating it … hard work.  Plain and simple.  Except, not actually simple.  For example, thinking of hard work, you might automatically think of your coursework, and if so, you’d be correct in thinking this, but it’s also much more.  So. Much. More.

Did you know that over half that apply DON’T get in?  That can be a very intimidating stat, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make it happen, or even that you won’t.  It just means that you need to know how to set yourself apart from everyone else … It means you need to shine brighter!

That doesn’t mean you have to get straight A’s or get perfect scores on your MCAT or DAT – although, sure, that would help.  What it means, though, is you need to know what it takes to build yourself into a competitive applicant.  And today, we are going to focus on Phase 1 of the two phase process of being a competitive applicant, where Phase 1 is everything you do leading up to the application, and Phase 2 (which we’ll save for another chat) is everything you do while you are applying.

2 phases to becoming a competitive applicant The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health premed Pre-dental advising coaching

Now mind you, I could write books (here’s another book or check out my author page for more) about about everything there is to do and know for Phase 1, but for this chat, I want to focus on 3 things that are essential to your happiness and success!

You need to start by taking excellent care of yourself. … Don’t roll your eyes at me … LOL, or worse, hit the snore button.  Seriously, if I had a nickel for every time this topic gets me a yawn or disinterested look, I’d be so rich – but honestly, this is a big deal.  And it oftentimes goes undervalued or overlooked.  Hey, I get that you’re busy and young, and I mean, you like, slept for 5 hours and ate a whole power bar with that cup of coffee, so you’re fed and rested, what’s the big deal?  Right?  Well, the short of it is, you need to do well in school and in all of your developing and growing activities, and if you aren’t doing well, then you won’t do well.

So you need to love yourself and care about yourself, and you need to give yourself the healthy basics.  You need to get enough sleep to actually rest and restore your body (science shows that number to be on average 7-8 hours for peeps … you know … science and health, the basics of the career field you are interested in).  I get that you’re a busy student with SO MUCH to do, and you can’t always get this kind of golden, glorious sleep, but try – seriously TRY to get this amount more than not, and when you can’t, schedule in a “make up” day and make it happen.  If you’re not rested, your brain productivity and reasoning skills are going to drop, and that’s not doing you or your GPA any good.

Eat a healthy diet … yep … I speak of those fruits and veggies … food with fiber and nutrition to fuel your brain and your body (and if you eat them, eggz iz good for da brainz! … it’s the choline in them; it’s a rare and uber helpful nutrient!).  Find fun; find laughter – and LMAO every chance you get.  It’s stress relief of the golden kind.  You’ll kick up your endorphins and other happy brain chemicals, and your body will thank you!  Hydrate, my awesome peep!  Carry your water bottle around with you daily.  Keep it filled up!  Did you know that when you get dehydrated you and get tired and lose your ability to fully concentrate, among many other non-conducive-to-being-awesome-in-your-education-and-prep kind of things.  Such an easy fix to keep you alert and ready to learn and perform.  So hydrate!!!  And last but not least for taking care of yourself, exercise!  Whether you walk or bike around campus, do yoga, hit the gym … whatever works for you … make time for it!  Make it happen.  It will improve your mood, coping skills, and overall mental, emotional, and physical health!

3 essential steps for getting into medical or dental school The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health Premed Pre-dental coaching advising

You want to follow taking care of yourself with developing awesome, effective study habits!  If you have just recently landed at college, and are just out of high school, it is very likely that you are realizing how much work your classes can be, and how much faster the professors cover material than your HS teachers did.  It’s college, and classes usually move at a minimum of 2X faster than HS.  That means you’ve got to up your game, and up it fast!  Get brave, learn to raise your hand in class and ask questions.  If you have a question, stats show that at least one other student in the room likely has the same question.  Be awesome and get that answer.  Every bit you don’t understand is a bit that can kill your performance on the test, or on that paper, or however your prof is assessing your learning.  And that results in lower grades … and you want HIGHER grades!!!

Every human learns and processes information at different rates and with different context dependencies (think about how you and a friend might read the same book and find out that you had different favorite parts, and you read it faster or slower than your friend).  When it comes to mastering your coursework, you have to think of yourself and the amount of time it’s going to take YOU to learn it.  Don’t worry about how fast or slow anyone else is going.  Doesn’t matter.  You’re not working for their life or their career goals.  You’re working for you life and your goals.  So.  How much ever time you need to learn the material, that’s the amount of time you need to give yourself.  Otherwise, you’re just being self-defeating, and that’s not going to help you.

When you’ve tried and tried, and you’ve read the material, and reviewed your notes, and done all the problem sets or handouts, but you still have questions … pack up (grab your book, your notes, everything that you’ve done) and head to your prof’s office hours.  No one knows the material (or how they are going to test you on it) better than your professor, so go to them and have them fill in the blanks and heighten your understanding, so that your new found comprehension can get you those A’s!!!  And if you need more, find a study buddy, get a tutor, … whatever … just get help!!!  (Also, note, you will need awesome letters of recommendation when you apply … the only way to get those … meaning awesome ones … is to get to know your profs and let them get to know you … let them care about you, invest in you, want to help you achieve your dreams … so beyond immediate help of learning the material, prof’s office hours can help you build those necessary relationships and mentorships that make a ginormous difference during application time!)

So, now that you are taking care of yourself and learning at your highest, most productive awesome-sauce-ness, it’s time for you to get out of the classroom and engage Incredible experiences!!!  To be competitive, you must develop lots and lots of personal attributes and skills (like time management, compassion, empathy, responsibility, patient care, etc), along with lessons learned and values gained and developed.  And you have to experience STUFF (life, people, hardship, having to make choices, opportunities, etc) to get these awesome-sauce characteristics and traits!  So for our quick chat today, I will just add these final thoughts for gaining incredible experiences.  1.  Get clinical experience as quickly as you can.  Why?  Because it doesn’t make sense for you to dive headlong into 3 years of pre-req courses and taking the MCAT or DAT for a career field that you may not even like.  (I’ve met with juniors who haven’t gotten in their clinical experience thinking they will do it after they apply.  News flash: That WON’T help you!!!  Firstly, you need to have the clinical experience BEFORE you apply, so you have something to talk about on your app and in your personal statement.  And secondly, I’ve seen some of these same juniors finally get out there and try it, and then realize it’s not for them … and they find themselves lost with wondering what-the-hell-do-they-do-now???  Don’t let this happen to you!)

2. Don’t research if you hate it.  If it’s not your thing, it’s okay.  You don’t need research to become a doctor or a dentist.  But if you do like it … what a great way to build a mentor-mentee relationship and get a much needed awesome letter of rec!  Plus, by doing original research, you will build problem solving skills, develop a deeper understanding of science and how new knowledge is generated along with the scientific method, … among many other things.  So if research is your bag … fill it deeply with your awesomeness!!!

3. Volunteer only in the things that interest you … even if after you try it you realize it doesn’t really interest you.  SO MUCH is learned by trying new things and finding out what you like and don’t like and what your strengths and un-strengths are!  But don’t volunteer in something just because a friend told you it will make you competitive.  By doing so, you are already proving you’re not competitive.  You are showing that you can’t think for yourself or learn for yourself or find out who you are and what you want for yourself … do you see what I’m saying?  There is no perfect list of volunteer activities that makes you the perfect candidate except for the list of activities that you choose for yourself and for the reasons why you choose them, and then all of the personal attributes, skills, lessons learned, and values you gain from them.  Your journey is personal … yours alone!  Enjoy it!  Love it!!! Make the most of it!!!

4. Travel!!!  Ohmigosh!  Meet new people.  See new places.  Learn about how other people live and learn.  What their challenges and joys are.  Their culture.  All of it!!!  You can gain cultural sensitivity and tolerance along with compassion and empathy for others … and you grow your understanding of how the world is and works.  And so much more!!!  Yes! YES!! YESSSS!!!!

And, finally … 5. work if you have the time.  Build your resume.  Gain desired personal attributes, skills, lessons learned, and values.  Build your support network.

All of these help you develop yourself into your Best Shining Self … and when you do that, you learn how to Stand Up, Stand Out, and Shine!  And that is how you set yourself apart from the other candidates!  That is how you help ensure you get in!!!  That’s how you make your dream of becoming a doctor or a dentist your reality!!!

Know that you can do this!!!  You can make good choices and give yourself the time you need to succeed!  You can be the dream!!!

Big Hugs and as always, wishing you happiness and success!!!
Mary Kate

Building a Competitive Application Package
Getting the Best Letters of Recommendation You Can

Letters of Recommendation The Best You PAL Academy Premed Pre-dental Pre-health advising and coaching

 

Your chances of building a competitive application for medical or dental school increase tremendously when you consider the Holistic Review process and then use it to your advantage when pulling together all of your elements: metrics (GPAs, academic rigor and trend, and MCATs or DATs), personal statement, your experiences and work activities (and how you use the descriptions of them to make you flourish on paper), and your letters of recommendation or evaluation, and should you get them, your interviews.

Here, we are going to talk about your letters of recommendation.  You might think you have no control over them at all, and if that is the case, you would be happily wrong.  In fact, there is a lot you can do to secure wonderful letters of recommendation … letters that will make you shine … letters that will turn your un-strengths into strengths … letters that will fill in any gaps and make the picture you are painting for your admissions committees burst with excellent supporting colors and details … letters that can make the difference between you getting in or getting sidelined!

So to get the letters you need, you first need to understand the formula for a perfect letter of recommendation.  It needs to be PERSONAL, GLOWING, and BACKED BY CRED!

Being personal means that your recommender/reviewer knows you.  They know your strengths and un-strengths.  They know your interests and what motivates you.  They are invested in you and your success.  When you accomplish this, your reviewer will care, and s/he will able to demonstrate a meaningful, insightful personal connection with you.  In doing so, the value of their letter is far greater than that of merely acquiring a letter from a prof for a one semester class that you got a good grade in, but didn’t build a relationship with.  The difference (aka the level of successful support) will show.  And you want all of the amazing, successful support you can get!

The only way to get a truly glowing recommendation is to glow.  To show your mentor/reviewer the best you have to offer.  When you commit to your relationship with this person, and you show them all the awesome that you are and have to offer to your future patients and school programs, they will be able to easily share that in their letter.  So the more your reviewer can share details of your awesomeness and discuss and/or defend your un-strengths (by turning them into personal positives), the better your letter will be!  I have an additional tip for you here … to maximize the value even more … share your personal statement with them (or if you don’t have it yet, a written synopsis of you, your accomplishments, values, lessons learned, and goals) … talk to them about what you would hope they would be willing to highlight for you … or even discuss/defend for you.  Of course, it’s their letter and their final say, but you can always let them know what is important to you and why, and what you hope they could support on your behalf.  Also having a copy of your current transcripts and resume can help a lot, too!

Backed by cred … it’s so easy to get sucked into your education and running around trying to get all of your volunteerisms in, and in doing so, miss the importance of what you are doing and why you are doing it.  As you are growing and developing along your journey towards becoming a doctor or a dentist, it is important for you to invest thought into your future as you go and know that you’re going to need stellar letters of recommendation.  GREAT ONES!  That means building relationships with peeps who are well respected in their fields.  And even though it sucks, those cred letters make a difference.  PhD, MD, DO, DDS, etc … these handsome letters will go a lot further than an MA, MS, or … TA for my course (who you oftentimes have way more access to than the human with the fancy letters).  It can be hard, especially in larger institutions with larger class sizes, but nonetheless, the responsibility falls on you to build relationships with peoples of respected authority.  So seek out your mentors.  Get involved with them.  Let them get to know you.  Volunteer in their lab.  Go to their office hours ALL THE TIME!  Be involved in class.  Ask questions.  Share your triumphs and challenges with them.  Ask for advice/counsel/guidance.  Listen to their story.  … Something.  And enough of that something for them to be able to get to know you.  And keep in mind, you need at least 3 letters.  That’s 3 valuable mentor/mentee relationships.  And every relationship of positive substance takes time.  So invest in them, so they will invest in you!

The bottom line take home message:  Build positive relationships with mentors who are respected in their fields.  Let them get to know you for real.  Show them how awesome you are. 

Know that you have far more control than you might think … and know that you can build a spectacular, shining, successful application for medical and/or dental school!  Invest in you, so they will!!!  :0)

As always, my very best wishes to you for your happiness and success!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate

 

How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement for Medical School, Part 2
Common Writing Mistakes

The Best You PAL Academy premed pre-dental pre-health advising coaching How to Write the Best Medical School Personal Statement, EVER! Common Writing Mistakes

It’s that time!!!  Being a competitive applicant when applying to medical or dental school takes having a bright and shiny application package … and beyond your metrics (grades and MCAT/DAT scores), it’s your personal statement that does the talking for you.  So.  What does your personal statement say about you?  Is it as awesome as you are?  Does it showcase you in your best and brightest, shiniest light?  Is it the personal statement that is compelling and persuasive, free from the common writing mistakes that students make all the time – like “preaching to choir” or “throwing shade,” and is it filled with all the substantiating support you need to validate your reasons for wanting to become a doctor, or a dentist?  And for that matter, have you adequately answered the question of why you want to be a doctor beyond the overly simplistic, “Because I want to help people”?

Your personal statement is IMPORTANT for solidifying your chances of getting in.  I’m guessing you’d hate to fill out your AMCAS, AADSAS, or AACOMAS application, thinking “It’s just an application … fill in the blanks … easy peasy,” and submit “your story” not being sure if it’s filled in with all the delicious, wonderful competitive facts about you that your admissions committees need and want to know about you to determine if you are ready … if you are a good fit for their program … if you are a good fit for becoming a healthcare professional with patients whose lives depend on you — I’m guessing you’d hate to do all of this to find out after you submit that NO, you didn’t give them the best you have to show them.  In fact, that would really suck.

I’ve been reading students’ personal statements for over a decade, and I have never had a student bring me a truly competitive, shiny statement on their first try.  Almost always, they’ve failed with even the most basic purpose of the personal statement: to fully answer the question Why do you want to be a doctor?  with persuasive substantiation.  And they go on to further undermine their competitive status by unintentionally filling their statement with common writing mistakes – and I’m not talking about failing to punctuate correctly or misspelling a word (although, those aren’t good either); I’m talking about content-specific logically fallacious writing, things like “putting doctors on pedestals” and “writing with rose colored glasses on” (both of which convey an immature knowledge of what the practice of medicine is all about, and both will undermine your competitive status).  So it’s important for you to have an informed understanding of what the expectations are for you, your personal statement, your application, your secondaries, and your interviews.  Make sure you get the facts, and please, don’t simply rely on Well, so-and-so did such-and-such and s/he got in, so that must be the right way.  There are so many problems wrong with that reasoning … too many to get into in this blog post, but in the following video, I give you explicit explanation as to what your goal is and why.

So, please take a few moments to watch this video and get the information you need to make sure you write a personal statement that is truly reflective of the best you have to offer – that is persuasive and compelling – and that will make sure you Stand Up, Stand Out and Shine!!!

When you get done with this video, if you would like to dig deeper into understanding how to make sure your personal statement is compelling and persuasive, filled with substantiated, meaningful content, and shows you off for all the AWESOME that you are, then make sure you are writing free from the Common Writing Mistakes students make so often by checking out my new webinar workshop:  How to Write the Best Medical School Personal Statement, EVER! Volume 2: Common Writing Mistakes.  Click here for more information.

Two more webinar workshops are in this series with more information on Content Development (what you should be writing about to show yourself in your brightest, most competitive light) and Writing Your Best Shining Draft … meaning, making sure you polish your personal statement until it gleams!

Webinar Workshop How to Write the Best Medical School Personal Statement, EVER! The Best You PAL Academy premed pre-dental pre-health advising coaching

Your personal statement is so very important!  Think about how much time you’ve spent getting to this point.  Don’t stop giving your best!  Get in there and make your future happen!!!  You get this super, amazing opportunity to “talk” directly to your admissions committees … your personal statement is you answering their question, “So, why do you want to be a doctor, and how do you know?” … and they are most definitely paying very close attention to what you have to offer.  So make sure you take this opportunity to really compel them, persuade them, … convince them that you are Ready! That you are the right candidate for their program! And that you are the right person to become a healthcare provider to your future patients!!!

You can do this!

My best wishes to you for your happiness and success!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate :0)

 

How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement for Medical School, Part 1
Content Discovery

How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement for Medical School Content Discovery; The Best You PAL Academy; premed pre-dental advising coaching

It’s that time!!!  Being a competitive applicant when applying to medical or dental school takes having a bright and shiny application package … and beyond your metrics (grades and MCAT/DAT scores), it’s your personal statement that does the talking for you.  So.  What does your personal statement say about you?  Is it as awesome as you are?  Does it showcase you in your best and brightest, shiniest light?  Is it the personal statement that is compelling and persuasive, free from the common writing mistakes that students make all the time – like “preaching to choir” or “throwing shade,” and is it filled with all the substantiating support you need to validate your reasons for wanting to become a doctor, or a dentist?  And for that matter, have you adequately answered the question of why you want to be a doctor beyond the overly simplistic, “Because I want to help people”?

Your personal statement is IMPORTANT for solidifying your chances of getting in.  I’m guessing you’d hate to fill out your AMCAS, AADSAS, or AACOMAS application, thinking “It’s just an application … fill in the blanks … easy peasy,” and submit “your story” not being sure if it’s filled in with all the delicious, wonderful competitive facts about you that your admissions committees need and want to know about you to determine if you are ready … if you are a good fit for their program … if you are a good fit for becoming a healthcare professional with patients whose lives depend on you — I’m guessing you’d hate to do all of this to find out after you submit that NO, you didn’t give them the best you have to show them.  In fact, that would really suck.

I’ve been reading students’ personal statements for over a decade, and I have never had a student bring me a truly competitive, shiny statement on their first try.  Almost always, they’ve failed with even the most basic purpose of the personal statement: to fully answer the question Why do you want to be a doctor?  with persuasive substantiation.  And they go on to further undermine their competitive status by unintentionally filling their statement with common writing mistakes – and I’m not talking about failing to punctuate correctly or misspelling a word (although, those aren’t good either); I’m talking about content-specific logically fallacious writing, things like “putting doctors on pedestals” and “writing with rose colored glasses on” (both of which convey an immature knowledge of what the practice of medicine is all about, and both will undermine your competitive status).  So it’s important for you to have an informed understanding of what the expectations are for you, your personal statement, your application, your secondaries, and your interviews.  Make sure you get the facts, and please, don’t simply rely on Well, so-and-so did such-and-such and s/he got in, so that must be the right way.  There are so many problems wrong with that reasoning … too many to get into in this blog post, but in the following video, I give you explicit explanation as to what your goal is and why.

So, please take a few moments to watch this video and get the information you need to make sure you write a personal statement that is truly reflective of the best you have to offer – that is persuasive and compelling – and that will make sure you Stand Up, Stand Out and Shine!!!

When you get done with this video, if you would like to dig deeper into understanding how to discover the content you really should be writing about, then check out my new webinar workshop:  How to Write the Best Medical School Personal Statement, EVER! Volume 1: Content Discovery.  Click here for more information.

Two more webinar workshops will follow with more information on Common Writing Mistakes (what are they, and how you write withOUT them) and Writing Your Best Shining Draft … meaning, making sure you polish your personal statement until it gleams!

How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement for Medical School Content Discovery; The Best You PAL Academy; premed pre-dental advising coaching

Your personal statement is so very important!  Think about how much time you’ve spent getting to this point.  Don’t stop giving your best!  Get in there and make your future happen!!!  You get this super, amazing opportunity to “talk” directly to your admissions committees … your personal statement is you answering their question, “So, why do you want to be a doctor, and how do you know?” … and they are most definitely paying very close attention to what you have to offer.  So make sure you take this opportunity to really compel them, persuade them, … convince them that you are Ready! That you are the right candidate for their program! And that you are the right person to become a healthcare provider to your future patients!!!

You can do this!

My best wishes to you for your happiness and success!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate :0)

 

Final exams are done. You did it!!! What’s next?

The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health Academic Life Advising Coaching YOU DID IT!

Congratulations!!!  You did it!!!  You made it through your semester.  Finals and project are done, and you get your first chance to breathe.  You’ve earned your belly bumpin’ high fives and hugs for digging in and getting it done!  So take a moment to hug yourself and smile at your accomplishment – be proud of your hard work and awesome learning, and after a short break, ask yourself, “What can I do now to help me achieve my dream?”

If you are pre-med, pre-dental, or pre-health in any form, there’s always something you can be doing to strengthen your competitive status.  And right now, as Spummer (Spring-Summer) approaches, ask yourself what your next steps are.  If you are a fresh-human or sophomore (or junior or senior not applying this application cycle), then how do you want to spend your time?  Will you be volunteering?  Working?  Traveling?  Researching?  Taking more coursework?  Studying abroad?  Whatever it is, how are you growing and developing into the candidate that will be the one that WOWS and compels?  If you are a junior or senior getting ready to apply, then you should be thinking about your personal statement.  It’s time to get on that … and it’s not as easy as it sounds.  You can check out my webpage about personal statements to learn more.

So take a well earned rest, and as your body and mind rejuve and you find yourself ready to take on your next step, think about what you need to do next so you can become the applicant who stands up, stands out, and shines!!!  :0)

Good job!!!

Big hugs!

Mary Kate :0)

Almost there!
So, just bring it!!!

Bring it! The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health premed pre-dental advising and coaching

 

I know you’re busy with finals and end-of-semester projects … and breathing has likely become voluntary … so, remember to breathe!  And, then.  Just know that you’ve got this!  You can do this!  You know what you need to do to kick ass, and you’re going to do it!!!  So let this POSitude SQUEE you on, and get in there and be your AWESOME SAUCE self!!!  Show your future medical and dental schools you are the right candidate for them and for your future patients!!!  Bring it!!!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate  :0)

Failure … it’s an option on the road to happiness and success!

Failure is an option. The Best You PAL Academy. Pre-health Academic Life Advising and Coaching

“Fall on your face.  Fail.  Fail spectacularly.  Because when you fail, you learn.  When you fail, you live.”  Harriet Lauler, The Last Word

You can’t be perfect.  Nobody can.

In life you can’t know everything.  You can’t predict everything.

Failure is out there.  It happens at some point to everyone.

But you can learn.  You can grow.  You can adapt.  You can reflect and build yourself into the person who best fits you – which is one of those things you aren’t born knowing.  No one is.

You have to discover your likes.  Dislikes.  Strengths.  Weaknesses.  What drives you.  What you value.  What motivates you.  … What your defining characteristics are.

You didn’t come with a manual.  None of us did.  So it is with every try – with every attempt – that we risk failure – failure that we’ve been programmed or taught to fear.  But it is through failure – if we choose to learn from it, grow from it, pay attention to it, etc. – that we become our best selves.  It is how we learn about who we are.  It is integral to the process of self-discovery.  And when we dive in and invest in ourselves – when we give ourselves our best efforts – we find what makes us happy, what makes us successful, what makes our worlds go around.  For as odd and counterintuitive as it may sound, to become your best, happy, successful self, you must try, and to do that, you have to accept failure as the possibility that shows the right way.

So don’t be afraid to fail.  For if you are – you are less likely to try, and if you don’t try – you will never truly know how uniquely special and wonderful you are!

Big Hugs!  I hope this POSitude is a healthy living “You Can Do It!” that fully resonates with you!

Mary Kate

 

PS:  Take it from me, a perfectionist of the highest order and someone who used to take failure as though it were a walk through the gates of hell:

1. Perfectionism is exhausting work.

2. People tend to take advantage of all of your hard work, leaving you to rightly feel underappreciated, used, and even abused.

3. Perfectionism is based on the unobtainable absolute of always being right, or the best, or … perfect, obviously.  Food for thought: who defines what is perfect, and how do they know; are they perfect?

4. And most importantly, for the longest time, I gave perfectionism my all, until I became pretty damn near perfect – I was charting at the top of my academics, with my research, with my work, I had merit scholarships, academic awards, professors pushing me onward and upward, and I went.  Harder, faster, until I crashed.  I failed.

I’d been too busy being perfect to ever ask myself if I was happy.  I was successful by academic and work standards.  I felt tremendous and worthy accomplishment.  But was I happy?  What did I have in my life beyond my work, academics, and research?  Real friends?  Someone I loved to come home to?  A life beyond work?  Was the only thing I wanted in my life to be work, school, and research? 

Turns out, no.  I wanted more.  A lot more!  I changed my path.  I started doing all the things that sounded interesting, fun, and/or exciting to me, beyond the career I’d been building.  Some things I liked, loved, and/or was good at.  Others, not so much.  But I tried.  Sometimes I failed.  And every time that happened, I examined, reflected upon, … and learned from it.  I found what really motivates me.  What I really value.  What I love.  All of the good stuff, including liking and loving myself and finding my honeybun and real friends.  And along with that, I found out lots of things that I don’t like or that I don’t want to do again.  The things that “aren’t me.”  And that’s ok, because in this process of self-discovery and living, I found success and happiness!

For me, I’ve learned that perfection is happily and successfully honed imperfection!

 

PPS:  So, I failed at perfectionism, as everyone eventually does.  But I do want to add that all my hard work, for all those years, it built in me a self-confidence I’d never had.  I learned what I was capable of.  I learned how to excel, stupendously.  And I’d be lying if I said I don’t still strive for excellence, because I do in everything in my life.  But now, I’m not afraid to explore and try new things, knowing that failure is an option.  I’m not afraid of failure.  I know it will be okay.  Failure will teach me what I need to know about myself and my life, and I know I’ll get where I need and want to be in who I am and the life that – way more often than not – makes me happy!

 

You’ve Got This!!!

You've Got This Premed Pre-dental Pre-health The Best You PAL Academy advising and coaching

No matter what someone else has accomplished, they haven’t had to do it in your shoes. It’s an unfair (and frankly, irrelevant) comparison, so don’t beat yourself up by allowing yourself to feel that you are less or unworthy. That’s unkind to you, and if anybody should be being nice to you, it’s you.

Love yourself. Be kind.

If you want something better in your life, or out of yourself, then make it a goal, and then give yourself the support and steps you need to accomplish it!

Life is hard enough. Bring yourself up and know that, even if it takes time, You’ve Got This!!!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate

Mary Kate Kopec · Copyright © 2018. All rights Reserved.

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