How to Get the PreMed Advice You Need to Succeed!
No one decides to be premed and then somehow just miraculously knows how to do it, or what to do to be successful. Just like deciding to go to college and getting a degree. Deciding to get a degree doesn’t automatically imbue you with the knowledge of that degree. You have to learn. You have to learn what you need to do to get that degree – what courses you have to take, what grades you have to earn, and you have to learn the informational content that defines that degree so you can gain the knowledge and expertise to earn the degree.
No one decides to be premed and then somehow just miraculously knows how to do it, or what to do to be successful.
Well, the same thing applies to being premed. You don’t just decide to be premed and then automatically know what you have to do or how to do it. You need a source of reliable and credible information, and you need reliable and credible support, guidance, and advice.
So where do you get this? Hopefully, from a reliable and credible pre-health advisor or coach!
Pre-health advisors and coaches? Who are these mystical creatures? How do you find them? And how do you know you’ve found one that is credible, reliable, and the support YOU need?
These are all really great questions, and to make you an expert on finding the right one for you, we have to first define what it means to be a successful premed. So let’s do that!
A successful premed student is a student who gets into medical school. So what does it take to be a successful applicant to medical school? What makes a competitive applicant successful? The answer is that many factors must come together during the application process (read more about the holistic review process), but in overview – The Big Picture – a successful, competitive applicant is:
A person who is making an informed and mature decision to continue the pursuit to become a doctor by attending medical school. This informed and mature decision is based on a well-rounded, personal-interest driven, depth and breadth of developing experiences that primarily include:
- Helping others, altruism, and volunteerism (community service, patient care, clinical exposure, etc)
- May also include (work, travel, and research)
- These experiences result in gaining valuable and sought after personal attributes, skills, lessons learned, and values.
This person has demonstrated academic proficiency, preparation, and an ability to handle increasing academic challenge and rigor (through their academic record and MCAT score) in these overall areas:
- People skills and understanding people
- Problems solving skills, reasoning, logic
- Basic sciences
This person expertly navigates and tackles the application, secondaries, and interviews with confidence and competence!
Okay! So that’s what a successful, competitive applicant looks like. Now we need to identify the phases of help you need to make all of that happen!
There are 2 overall phases to being premed: Preparation and Application.
The preparation phase is everything you need to do to prepare for the application stage. It’s all the courses you need to take (pre-req and for your degree). It’s all the experiences you need to engage in and learn from. It’s helping you with all the Basic Academic Success information you need. And it’s helping you understand All Things PreMed Prep – like:
- what it means to be premed
- what prereq courses you need to take
- what type of extracurricular experiences you need
- what metrics (grades and MCAT scores) are competitive
And in all of this, you need guidance support, advice, coaching, insight, help, … someone who will show you how to make the right decisions for you!
The application phase is everything you need to do to actually apply to medical school. It’s filling out the application (with special emphasis on mastering work and activity descriptions), getting stellar letters of rec, writing a compelling and persuasive personal statement, nailing your secondaries, and absolutely WOWing in your interviews!
So now that you know what it takes to be a successful, competitive applicant (premed student), and you understand the 2 phases of being premed, let’s get back to the mystical creatures called pre-health advisors and coaches and how you can determine if you’ve found the right one for you!
First and foremost, understand that it is your advisor or coach’s job to HELP you prepare and become the best, most shiniest, competitive applicant you can be, and then to help you showcase all of that shiny competitiveness with masterful application and interview prep!
Some highlights to look for in the Preparation Phase:
- Someone who gets to know you and understand your motivations and goals
- Someone who helps you make an action plan to achieve your goals
- Someone who shares with you the meaning of being premed and how to be competitive
- Someone who guides you to getting help with your academics when you encounter difficulties
- Someone who listens to you and hears you
- Someone who helps you to understand your options and reliably informs you (either directly or by directing you to helpful resources)
- Someone who asks you the right questions, guiding you to making good choices for you, but never making those choices for you
Some highlights to look for in the Application Phase:
- Someone who understands the holistic review process and uses that insight to help you build a well-rounded, masterfully shiny and competitive application along with all of its parts (especially the work/activity section, the personal statement, and getting letters of rec)
- Someone who will take the time to get to know you, understand your strengths and unstrengths to help you showcase your awesomeness in the most competitive light both in writing and in your interviews
- Someone who can write well, can tell a story, can build a compelling and persuasive, fallacy-free argument, who understands that word choice makes all the difference in the world, who can edit like a fiend, and who can use all this mastery to guide and support you and your writing to an amazing showcase of why you are the competitive applicant they want to interview
- Someone who knows how to prepare you for ALL TYPES of INTERVIEWS (traditional, MMI, behavioral, etc, … be it closed file, open file, or a combination).
- Someone who will help you understand the types of questions, their purpose (what they are looking for), and how to best answer them.
- Successful preparation goes far beyond a mock interview with feedback.
- Successful interview prep involves knowing you, your strengths, unstrengths, motivations, fears, concerns, … all of it, and helping you to understand the types of interviews and the kinds of questions that come with each interview type; helping you understand the purpose of each type of question so you can formulate appropriate responses that are most reflective of you and all that you have to offer; helping you practice responses to practice questions and giving you real time feedback (whether your response was too wordy, too brief, logical, run-on, missed the point, left a negative feeling in the reviewer, inspired your reviewer with positivity, conviction, etc).
- Someone who will teach you how to interview and interview exceptionally well through thorough prep, guiding night-before and day-of prep, and followed by full mock interviews and responsive feedback.
Watch for the following RED FLAGS when meeting with an advisor or coach:
- Someone who doesn’t do all of the above
- Someone who doesn’t take the time to get to know you, your accomplishments, strengths, and unstrengths
- Someone who doesn’t help you see your worth and value beyond even what you have imagined
- Someone who thinks pre-health advising is nothing more than telling you the prereqs, GPA and MCAT “requirements,” and that you will need to volunteer
- Someone who does not help you become your best shining self and most competitive self
- Someone who simply dismisses you as “not a competitive applicant” with only a cursory glance at your grades
- Someone who thinks helping you with personal statement writing means line edit suggestions
- Someone who thinks interview prep only means a mini mock interview followed by feedback
Maybe you are wondering what the difference between a pre-health advisor and a pre-health coach is. Well, the easy explanation is an advisor gives you advice; whereas, a coach helps you get across the finish line!
- A pre-health coach does everything an advisor does and then digs deeper and helps you build yourself into the Shiny Success Story you want to be!
- A coach is there for you!
- A coach listens to you and hears you!
- A coach helps you face your challenges, strengthen your unstrengths, and grow your strengths until you gleam and shine and have the confidence, competence, and compassion you need to succeed!
- A coach digs in and gets to know you, your strengths, your unstrengths, your fears, your concerns, your motivations and goals, … and then a coach gets in there and helps you use all of your AWESOMENESS to your best advantage to succeed!
- A coach is there to hug you on the tough days and cheer you on with belly bumpin’ high fives when you tackle and overcome!
- A coach cares about you and your success!
- A coach helps you maximize everything you are and want to be!
My very best wishes to you always for your happiness and success!