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Steven H. Denison, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Pre-Health Advisor

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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Advice from Graduates

. . . advice from

Alex Moxam, '11
Jefferson Medical College

I think my main piece of advice is to follow your interest. Don't just take classes or summer research jobs if it's only to amplify your application.  Obviously you have to take all of the prerequisites, and it's also a good idea to take Biochem, but it's very important to not limit your studies in college.  If you find you have a strong interest in art or humanities, don't be afraid to focus on those topics. This may be your only time in which you can really immerse yourself into the non-sciences. If anything else, it gives you an interesting application.

I would also say, no matter what you're studying, keep busy in undergrad. Find clubs that interest you, place where you would like to volunteer, or projects to work on. Devote your idle time to those activities.  It's good for the application, it allows you to practice multitasking, and it will most likely improve your communication/interpersonal skills.

Take leadership position when possible. Med schools look for this.  It can even be as simple as being captain of a club team. Study, study, study.  I took 6 months to study for the MCAT, and a Kaplan course, which helped me a lot.  I learn in a classroom, a lot better than on my own.  If that's not you than the course probably isn't necessary.

So really, just make sure you're having a good time and follow you're interest.  This may be a good way of finding your role in medicine.

. . . advice from

Laura Theobald '06
University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine

For more advice for undergraduates interested in entering veterinary school, read Laura's essay entitled, Information on Veterinary School for Undergraduates.  Just in case you thought it wasn't, Laura's comments are a reminder that study in any health discipline is a challenge, but it is one that has a rewarding career at the end of it.

Looking back on my undergrad years, I realize that my mental picture of what veterinary school would be like is completely and utterly different than what it actually is. I had this magical idea of being thrilled about going to class each and every day, loving every moment of studying, and being enthusiastic about all of the classes I took. Now that I am here, I realize it's not quite that wonderful: Not all of the classes are what I would qualify as exciting, studying until two in the morning and getting up at seven in the morning on a regular basis is not all it is cracked up to be, and there are days I would rather stay in bed instead of going to class. However, I know that in the end this will all be worth the effort and that I will make my way into a career that is extremely rewarding, that I do love getting up in the morning to do, and that I will look forward to going to work every day!

And here is something that I made up as a joke, but one of my friends ended up using it as part of her presentation to the UF pre-vet club!

How to get through vet school:

  1. Lose sleep to study.
  2. Drink caffeine and eat sugar to stay awake and study.
  3. Take ibuprofen to fend off headaches from too much caffeine.
  4. Try not to destroy liver in process.
  5. Start over.

. . . advice from

Steven Fox '06
Marshall University, Medical School

I have to say that Eckerd did pretty well informing me of all of the requirements needed to apply and be accepted to Medical School. . . .  The faculty, including yourself, were more helpful to me than anything. But, as a freshmen, I think it would have been helpful to know about the application process a little bit more in detail. There are a lot of slots to fill in on the applications and it would be a good template for planning some of the activities in which to become involved throughout a college career.

. . . advice from

Betsy Whittington '06
University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine

Here are some tips:

These are some of the things that medical schools look at:

  • Grades (both science/math and non-science)
  • MCAT
  • Health care exposure/experience
  • Volunteer work
  • Leadership
  • Extracurricular activity
  • Anything that makes you unique

I recommend the book Getting into medical School Today. This is a great guide of what to do through your entire undergrad experience.

Freshmen should mostly be thinking about their grades. Grades are very important, esp. for the first three years of undergrad. I saw many freshmen overload their schedules. Don't do this!!! I was a biology major with a chemistry minor and I was able to take two science classes/labs per semester and complete all requirements on time. By spacing out the difficult classes, I was able to put more time into each class, learn the material better, and therefore maintain good grades. Don't be afraid to talk to your mentor or the pre-med advisor about scheduling. They are very helpful.

Academics are always first priority but as a freshman you can start building your resume a little too. It's hard to get leadership this early, but think about volunteer work or maybe shadowing a doctor here or there. Get involved in something, whether its music, sports, or any club of interest.

Sophomore and Juniors should be able to get into leadership positions. At Eckerd there is a lot available, for example: Resident Advisor, Autumn Term Activator, and Student Ambassador . . .

Eckerd has a lot to offer. There are a lot of research opportunities!!! Talk to a professor about research in a field that you are interested in. You may be able to assist in a project they have going on or you may choose to begin your own. Summer is a great time to do research.

Talk to Career Services and they can help get you an internship with a doctor with a specialty of your choice. This is great health experience, and you may even be able to get a letter of recommendation from a doctor. This is a great addition to your medical school application because not many students are able to achieve this. Eckerd has great resources. Take advantage.

Juniors. Take the MCAT early. Take it in Spring junior year so that you can get an early jump on applications and be at the top of the pile at each medical school. Also, by taking it early, you can always retake the exam in the fall if you see that you need to. I recommend taking the Kaplan prep course or equivalent to prepare. MCAT score is important. The large majority of students that get into medical school took some sort of prep course!!!! Give yourself a light schedule your spring semester (if possible) so you can focus on MCAT studying.

Ask for letters of recommendation early so that your applications can be sent out as early as possible.

The sooner you submit your AMCAS application, the sooner it will be processed and the sooner you will be able to start secondary applications. It helps to be able to work on applications over the summer rather than during the school year. Set deadlines for yourself when completing the secondary applications. Try for quick turn-around times. While a typo-free application/essay may not get you into medical school, a typo may keep you out. Take the time to review and edit and re-edit your applications/essays. Let others edit for you. Professors are there to help too, if you ask enough in advance.

When writing your essay, I recommend buying a book with example essays of students that have gotten into medical school. There are several books to choose from, like Essays That Will Get You into Medical School.

Seniors- Its time to interview. Prepare for each interview.

Research the specific school so that you can show your interest in the school and your desire to go there. Look for specific things that attract you to that school. Look for things that the school is proud of. You are likely to get a question about one of these things.

Research a couple of current issues in medicine going on either locally, or bigger picture. You can do this by looking at an article in a medical journal from the Eckerd Library. It looks good when you are so committed to medicine that you can even describe or discuss a current event.

Research big controversial topics of medicine today. You can get hypothetical questions about what you would do in one of these situations. I went to a website by the AMA that discussed there stance on each of these issues. It is a safe answer to give the legally correct answer or if you can mention the legally bound answer and describe why you would want to oppose that if you could. A big issue of medicine today is health insurance. Know the basic differences between the different types of health insurance and health plans. (Don't go crazy, just know a few facts.)

Know your application in and out. Know what you wrote in your essay. Every interview I had referred to something in my essay. If you did research, know what you did and be able to discuss it.

*****MOST IMPORTANT******To prepare for an interview go to studentdoctor.net There you can find a list of the questions that other applicants were asked. Read through the questions and you can quickly see that many themes or questions repeat. Be able to answer all of those questions. This website was dead-on accurate for every interview I did!!!

Be confident. Think of the interview as a conversation. Ask questions back. Practice with mock interviews.

This process can be expensive. Budget ahead of time. Costs can be cut on travel for interviews by staying with students. Don't skimp on your interview outfit. You need to have a real suit for this occasion, and you will stand out in a negative way if you don't. I had one outfit that I wore to every interview. It's ok.

You can't go wrong with a black suit. Look professional!!! Women usually where a skirt suit, but may be able to get away with a pant suit depending on the school. Wear a color that makes you feel confident.

Things I wish I would have done differently to make medical school easier:

  • Take Biochem I and II
  • Take Human Anatomy even if just an internet course from St Pete community college

Medical School?

Whether you're thinking of allopathic medicine, veterinary medicine, osteopathic medicine or dentistry, our Pre-Health Program can help put you on your path to medical school and beyond. 63% of all qualified Eckerd students gain acceptance to US allopathic (MD) medical schools.