Tag Archives: med school application tips



Hint: it’s NOT a dramatic, ‘lightbulb’ moment.


  • Your med school application won’t be the last time you write a personal statement. They’re everywhere in medicine, so keep track of experiences you can write about when you need to.
  • Be careful about thinking too much about strategy, sacrificing the ‘personal’ part. It’s pretty easy to spot someone who isn’t writing with feeling.
  • Very few people can honestly write about a lightbulb moment when they suddenly knew what they wanted, so don’t bother.

Dave works in the Writing and Humanities Program with Director Cate Dicharry, MFA. Among her jobs is to assist medical students in writing their personal statements for residency applications, and she’s been deep in the weeds on that topic since partway through last semester. So Dave asked her to be on the show to give her top tips to both pre-meds and med students in crafting a statement that will grab their school’s or program’s attention. Joining us in the co-hosts’ seats are M4 Emma Barr, MD/PhD student Aline Sandouk, M2 Sarah Costello, and M2 AJ Chowdhury.

We also discuss how medical school curricula are evolving to incorporate more of the humanities into medical education. And Dave continues his weird interest in taking sweet foods and making them savory, this time offering up three ice cream flavors he and his wife made.

We Want to Hear From You

How’d we do on this week’s show? Did we miss anything in our conversation? Did we anger you? Did we make you smile? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime  or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  It’s always a pleasure to hear from you!

Continue reading WHAT Are They REALLY LOOKING FOR IN YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT? Top Tips from our Expert

Get In Next Time: Our Top Recommendations For Fixing Your Application!


Med school admissions is a numbers game.  Here’s how to increase your chances for the next time.

examine photo
Photo by donna_0622

If you got only rejection letters this application season, you might be thinking your dreams of attending med school are dead.  Well, pick yourself up off the ground, soldier, it’s not over yet because you can apply again.  But don’t go throwing good money and time away by reapplying without taking a close, honest look at what your application was missing.  Amy A’Hearn, our admissions assistant director, visited to discuss what you should think about when re-evaluating your competitiveness, with the help of Aline Sandouk and Irisa Mahapan.  Don’t give up…find out what Amy’s top recommendations are, and get your dream back on track!

Plus we ask the most important question of all–why do men roll up their pants legs?

Buy Our Merch and Give At The Same Time

You care about others, or you wouldn’t be into this medicine thing. Our #merchforgood program lets you to give to our charity of the semester and get something for yourself at the same time!

This Week in Medical News

Match week was  great for us here at UI as our students did better than the national average for finding a job after med school.  But all was not perfect this year, as during the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP), the servers crashed denying unmatched residency programs and applicants critical time to do the same.  In the end, it all worked out…but it was a stressful time for all–but from our viewpoint, especially for SOAPing students!  And it isn’t the first time, either.

We Want to Hear From You

Share your stories–anonymously, if you like–of your rejections and how you fixed it! Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.

Continue reading Get In Next Time: Our Top Recommendations For Fixing Your Application!

Interview Prep, Opening Up, and Death.


And no, that’s not the three stages of your med school application.

questions photo

’tis the season to be applying to medical school. Which is why we got so many listener questions to address on this episode (thank you!)  Listener Magnus wanted suggestions for how to prepare for MMI and regular admissions interviews, so we invited our resident experts, Amy A’Hearn (from CCOM med student admissions) and Tom O’Shea (from CCOM physician assistant admissions, for his experience with MMI interviews) to help out.  They, along with Aline Sandouk, Jayden Bowen, Marc Moubarek and new co-host Shakoora Sabree, also answered questions from listeners Cameron and Sarah about whether opening up about personal/political views and sexual orientation is okay on applications and in interviews.  And listener Jake wanted to know how med students learn to cope with death.

In reference to Sarah’s question on being open about sexual orientation in your application, we weren’t able to find out how many med students identified as LGBTQ+ in the US, but we did note that many prospective students are reluctant to disclose their identification for fear of discrimination.

We Want to Hear From You

Do you have something to add to the discussion, or a question we can answer? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com!

Continue reading Interview Prep, Opening Up, and Death.

Checking the Boxes: Should You Give Up Your Job To Do Research?


Sometimes the requirements aren’t required.

sad scientist photo
“I love my work.” Photo by Smithsonian Institution

Annie wrote in to theshortcoats@gmail.com to ask Kaci McCleary, Erik Kneller, Gabriel Conley, and Marissa Evers if she should give up her 10-year job as a radiology tech so she’d have time to do research before applying to medical school.  As is often the case with these kinds of questions, the answer is no!  But maybe yes.  In some cases.

Later in the show, we say to hell with this brave new world of collaboration-not-competition, and battle to the death!   Will neurotoxin triumph over infinite sausage?

This Week in Medical News

We discuss the recent Medscape Physician Lifestyle and Happiness Report and find out who will be happier: neurologist Kaci, or urologist Gabe.  Also, we find out what they will drive, and how many friends they won’t have.  A Pennsylvania Democrat introduces The Stable Genius Act (tempting…). And we find out how the weather and the holidays impacts the blood supply and what the Red Cross wants you to do about it (hint: it involves giving blood now).

We Want to Hear From You

It’s coming up on application season!  What questions do you have? Is our advice to Annie useful or rueful? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.   Continue reading Checking the Boxes: Should You Give Up Your Job To Do Research?

“I’ve Got Some Bad News”


Delivering bad news is an art.

uh oh photo
Photo by Powerhouse Museum Collection

When  many people think about becoming a physician, they focus on the positive side of the practice of medicine. Things like diagnosing and successfully treating patients, forming therapeutic relationships, and even income and prestige get most attention.  But there is one thing that receives less attention: sometimes, doctors deliver very bad news to their patients.  Learning how to do that gracefully in a way that supports patients rather than devastating them is an important skill.  And in a team-based environment, it can be tricky. So, M3 Mark Moubarek shows M1s Joyce Wahba, Gabe Conley, and new co-host Claire Casteneda the ropes.  Of course, Dave devises an educational exercise to “help.”

This Week in Medical News

In other bad news, it’s not getting any easier to get into medical school…in fact, it’s getting harder.  In the last decade, applications have doubled for top 10 schools focusing on primary care, and others (like Iowa) have increased 1.5 times.  Time to be interesting, applicants!

We Want to Hear From You

Are you doing something more interesting than checking off the boxes on your medical school application? We definitely want to know about it.  Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  If you’re doing something really interesting, maybe we’ll interview you on the show!

Continue reading “I’ve Got Some Bad News”

Freestyling in Boulware!


This week, Lisa Wehr and I talk about the dangers of lady hurricanes (do NOT ignore a lady or you will suffer).  A Yale prof get’s addicted to an exercise app.  Bringing cheaper medical equipment to developing countries.  Iowa’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building is nearing completion, which is nice for science but even nicer for people who don’t want to look at mounds of dirt any more. X-factors in med school applications–what is (was) yours?  Apple moves on creating a place to store all the data your apps are currently housing separately.

Listen to Episode 034: Freestyling in Boulware!.

 Listen to more great shows for medical students on The Vocalis Podcast Network.

The opinions expressed in this feed and podcast are not those of the University of Iowa or the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.