Education

Medical School Application

North American medical education has a unique admission process and requirement which takes years of preparation. It is highly competitive to become a physician in the US and Canada. Every year, thousands of applicants are rejected from medical schools. Most of them have been preparing for their application since high school, which is most likely 4-5 years prior. There are books, rumors, and “career advisors” out there trying to teach students what they should do to get in medical school. As someone who went through the process and served on the selection committee, I often found that the application package with “trying to hard to fit the profile” writing all over it hardly receive any consideration.

I like to think about medical school application similar to rhythmic gymnastics or figure skating. There are “technical scores” translate into your Grade Point Average (GPA). These are the backbones of your overall score, without which, your chances of getting in will be significantly lower. However, the technical score is not everything, there are also “choreography” and “execution“.  The choreography in medical school application means how you can link your past experiences in a harmonious way. You need to think hard and deep about how your time spent outside of classrooms is somehow related to character building that helps you became a good physician. Both GPAs and extra curriculum experiences need to be built over years. “Execution” is where you put your application package together, write your CV and your essays, and “show off” at your interviews.

Most medical school applicants only seek help for the execution part. If you want a medical analogy, it is like going to see the doctors when you are already sick. There are still treatments. However, just like medicine is moving towards preventative care, I believe medical school applicants should also seek help early on at their planning stage. Starting from high school, knowing which University (College) to go to. How to pursue your interest outside of the classroom. How to choose electives. Last but not least, know what your exit strategy. At the end of the day, not everyone gets in the first time they try.

Graduate Degree in Science

Are you interested in solving problems that no one knew the answer? Do you enjoy designing a framework, organize a plan and execute it in a meticulous way? These are questions that idealize research and graduate studies. Truth is, graduate studies are extremely rewarding intellectually, but very uncertain in terms of career planning if you do not have a target from the get go. Especially if you are aiming for a Ph.D., please understand that in science, Ph.D. is a leadership role. Whether you plan to stay in the academic or going into industry, the “real job” for a Ph.D. is to come up with projects and manage people (students or technicians). However, most of the Ph.D. programs do not focus on the training of leadership skills, but rather, on technical skills.  Therefore, self-directed learning in project development and personnel management should be the real focus of your Ph.D. training. If your plan is to stay with bench works, you shall consider stopping at the masters level, and there will be a lot more career opportunities. During my graduate training, I had many experience dealing with school career services. My experiene with them is that they are very good at providing general inforation, but when it comes to specifics, they try not to get involved. The career advisors were not from science background and their experience with the job market came from information provided by others. Book an appointment with me at any stage of your graduate study and I will help you tailor a plan towards a career path.

 

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