With interview season in full swing, I’m constantly being asked, “What am I supposed to ask at the end of an interview?” Although you shouldn’t ask a question just to ask a question, it can be a way to signal your interest in the institution. Be careful not to ask questions covered in the briefings or readily available on the school’s website, as this shows carelessness and incomplete research.
Here are some details I wish I had known when choosing a medical school:
Support for matches
“What does the school do to help students match? Or for students who don’t match, what does the school do for students who have to go through the SOAP process?”
Every administration is likely to be surprised by this question, as no student or institution wants to consider this possibility. However, every student deserves to know the answer. While you may not yet fully understand the match process if you are a student applying to medical school, I encourage you to do your research. Here’s a video from the National Resident Matching Program about the game.
“What research opportunities are available to students and are they affiliated with an academic institution? »
There is currently a research arms race among students on ERAS residency applications. I recommend having at least one or two research-related items in your medical school application, regardless of the specialty you are applying to. In more competitive majors, you see 10 or even 20 research-related experiences on candidates’ resumes.
This question allows you to determine the type of research opportunities offered, to learn more about the links with residencies where you can work on research with residents and to determine if they have the support of an academic institution. for students. You may also want to know if they have a statistician employed, as many students and residents struggle with this aspect of research. Having help with stats is a game changer.
“Does the school have a fund to help students cover travel costs associated with presenting research?”
Although the school may have strong research opportunities, you will want to consider whether it supports students by helping to defray the financial costs of presenting posters or oral presentations at conferences. Attending conferences can easily add up to over $1,000 or more between hotel costs, flights, etc. Many schools offer support to attend conferences if they are presenting.
“Are students able to schedule their fourth year to allow for as many audition rotations (sub-internships) as they wish?”
This is extremely important because some specialties are highly dependent on hearing. If the school doesn’t have a lot of flexibility at the start of the fourth year, you may not be able to audition for as many potential residency programs as you would like.
“What do rotation sites look like, how many are there and how do students select/rank places?
Some schools have only a few hospitals to send students to, while others have more than 50 rotation sites. If you need to be in a specific place, this is a crucial question. Your experience during rotations is 99% on the type of preceptors you have and your opportunities. Many sites treat students almost like residents (often because they don’t have residents), while some sites have fellows, residents, audition students, and regular third and fourth year students – there may be more difficult to gain hands-on experience in this environment. Although more interns doesn’t always mean less hands-on experience, it is something to consider. My site allows me to have my own patients, perform small supervised procedures with guidance, create treatment plans and write notes, while some friends on other sites spend all their time observing . It can make or break your clinical internship experience.
“Is there early clinical experience in the first and second year? Do you have a simulation lab? What experience do you offer students to prepare for internships?
Although simulation is not the same as hands-on patient care experience, it can be beneficial to introduce first- and second-year medical students to clinical scenarios. Repeated exposure to the simulation showed increased readiness in students entering their externship. Some schools offer a hospital experience once a month for the first 2 years or have student-run health clinics where they learn the basics of interacting with patients and perform blood pressure checks, EKGs, help with physical exams, etc.
“What counseling materials do you provide? How do you help students struggling with standardized exams? For a DO school, are funds included in the loan disbursement for COMLEX and USMLE or just COMLEX?”
Money can be tight while in medical school, and fees are very expensive, especially for DO students who plan to take both USMLE and COMLEX. By passing both exams, it can be close to $3,000 between the second and third year. Many DO schools only cover the cost of COMLEX in loan repayments because it is the only licensing exam required to graduate (although many DO students also take USMLE). Additionally, board prep question banks such as UWorld often cost upwards of $400, and other prep resources add to the cost. As many students struggle with standardized exams, you can also ask if the school provides board coaches, board calendar preparation, or tutors.
As the interviewee, you should gather as much information as possible about each institution you plan to spend the next 4 years with. Although I didn’t ask these questions during my medical school interviews, I wish I had. Unfortunately, I did not know their importance at the time. These questions provide essential information on the institutional environment and the support offered to students.
Do you have any other questions you wish you had asked during your medical school interviews? Comment with your suggestions below!
Ashton Amos, MMS, is a DO/MSMEd candidate at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
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