Day 1: Keynote Speaker and Community Building Town Hall

Recording here

  1. Own your FGLI (First-generation, Low-Income) identity.
    • For many FGLI students, the disparities in resources and education access are highlighted in advanced educational institutions, such as colleges and graduate schools. These gaps in may worsen these students’ Imposter Syndrome.
    • More than ever, it is important to give yourself credit for your efforts and learning progress, and remind yourself that you deserve to be at these institutions.
    • Appreciate the intersectionality and diversity within the FGLI community! There are so many backgrounds that fall under FGLI, and that should be celebrated.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
    • There is a lot of assumed knowledge about the structure of medicine and “dos and don’ts” that FGLI students are not taught by parents/friends.
  3. Find the lessons learned from your struggles.
    • There is always something new to learn, and challenges shouldn’t be seen as setbacks, but another opportunity to improve and expand your knowledge.
  4. Find your community
    • Seek out upperclassmen, mentors, alumni who have FGLI backgrounds and are pre-med. They can give insight into the ‘nooks and crannies’ of the med school application process, such as fee assistance programs, disadvantage statements, free MCAT resources, and more.
    • Attend FGLI conferences. There are many organizations out there building communities of FGLI students, whether it be FGLI med students, law students, business, or tech. Having others who share the same goals and similar backgrounds can create accountability and strengthen support systems.

Day 2: Applying to Med School

Recording here.

  1. Find extracurricular opportunities.
    • Many panelists worked as scribes during their undergrad or gap years. You can find other opportunities to help at clinics, hospitals, community health centers, or hospices.
  2. Plan out and research about possible fees and costs.
    • Traveling costs for interviews, application fees (and extra separate costs for each additional med school you’re applying to), secondary school application fees.
  3. Know that there are financial aid options
    • Many med schools have generous need and merit-based fees, and provide full scholarships for interviews.
    • Use your savings. Many panelists work during their gap years and use their savings for the med school application process.
    • Fee Assistance Program from the AAMC.
    • Reach out to the med schools individually (especially their diversity/admission offices), and some can pay for flights and help out a lot with costs.
  4. Resources
    • The MSAR is a very useful tool.
    • Keep doing practice exams! Take at least 8-10 practice exams if you can.
    • Many vouch for Medical School HQ, UWorld, Kaplan, and AAMC Section Bank.
    • Find mentors! Talk to upperclassmen, alumni, ask how to get involved in research and the expertise of these mentors. Don’t wait to find mentors; be proactive. Set up meetings, and add mentors as you go. The alumni database can be very helpful.
      • The types of mentors you find matter! There can be:
      • Clinical mentor: Someone you shadow in hospitals or clinical settings, guide your interest in clinical learning.
      • Research mentor: Someone who help you with your research process into a school you’d like and can be your personal mentor
      • Application mentor: A good writer, reader, or editor. Near-peer mentors are especially strong mentors, as they are fresh off the application process, and have the newest, most relevant advice and insight.
    • Health Professions Advising
  1. Disadvantage statements are extremely important.
    • One panelist gave a very memorable advice: Write your application essays as if they are love letters to the school, and stay true to yourself. For secondary application mission statements, a “Why Us?” type of question, make sure that you are still talking about yourself in those essays and being authentic. These schools know about themselves already; they want to know more about you. Imagine how you would best fit there, contribute to the school environment and flourish there. Think about your response before, and after writing it to see if it is what you have in mind.
    • Be creative!
    • Many schools have secondary applications, which have separate essays and allow you to tell more about yourself and your story.
    • Expect a lot of revisions. On average, panelists need 15 revisions, and many extra sets of eyes to review the statements.
  2. Timeline and tips.
    • Apply as early as you can! There is a noticeable advantage to early application compared to later on in October and November. However, submitting early does not mean you should rush– you should feel confident about your application.
    • Don’t self-select! Apply within a wide range of schools that would make you happy. Don’t doubt or undermine your abilities. Have 5-6 ‘dream schools’.
    • Don’t submit your secondary application on the deadline date.
    • International students don’t seem to get a lot of interviews, but when those opportunities are present, make sure to get a hold of them! Don’t let this deter you, there are a lot of international medical school students.
  3. Alternative programs
    • International students are not eligible for many MD-PhD programs, so make sure to check!
    • Post-bac programs: There are special Masters programs where you can get an additional degree. Many post-bac programs might get special consideration for med schools since retaking certain classes can factor these new grades and boost your cumulative GPA. However, the advantage listed here depends on the med school.
    • There are linkage programs, where admission to the program guarantees admission into a certain type of med school, without the need for MCAT or even the med school application process. These linkage programs are known for being very competitive, have GPA cut-offs, and don’t have need-based fees.
  4. The Gap Year experience.
    • There is no ‘set standard’ for the gap year experience– students are encouraged to explore their passions. Some panelists did a research-based post-bac program at Mount Sinai, while others do their own thing, such as getting a Masters of Engineering degree, or doing non-profit, community work.
  5. Take care of yourself!
    • The application process is long, and it’s important to take care of yourself mentally and physically. You might need to travel a lot for interviews.
    • Ask for help and rest. It’s a marathon, not a race, and it is not a weakness to seek for help. It is always valid to reach out for help.