As we approach the midway point in the semester, many of our students are starting to think about applications to graduate programs. Although the application process can seem daunting, Chapman’s alumni network and career support can help students find the resources they need to successfully pursue education after Chapman. Today we are highlighting four alum who are pursuing medical school!
Jimmy Clark (’15), Emily Frisch (’16), Rachel Nguyen (’18), and Lindsay Zumwalt (’20) shared their experiences and advice for students thinking about and currently applying to medical programs.
Deciding Where to Apply
Clark (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) explained that choosing where to attend medical school can take a lot of time and research. He used the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) tool to help him narrow down his choices and only apply to schools that would truly be a good fit for him.
“The MSAR lets you build a list of schools that make sense for you to apply to. For example, if you’re an out-of-state student and you’re interested in a school that takes about 50% out-of-state students each year, and your GPA, MCAT, and other metrics line up with the average values of that school, you should have a good chance at getting in.”
He also encourages students to really look at whether they would be happy in a certain location. “Don’t apply to places in locations you know you would hate to live. Medical school is stressful, and you don’t want to be in a place that’s only going to add to your stress. If you only get into one school (like most applicants), but you know you would hate the location, strongly consider reapplying the next year.”
Frisch (UC Irvine), who works as a student liaison for the Office of Admissions at UCI’s School of Medicine, advised students who are thinking about applying to medical school to “think about what brings them the most joy and to pursue their passions.” She explains, “Medicine is a team sport, and medical school is an in-depth training, so use your pre-med time to garner your other strengths and interests. It eventually all adds up to being a great teammate and colleague with other physicians.”
She also encourages students to build a holistic application. “Have a theme for your application. This should be pretty easy if you seek out opportunities that fulfill your passions. Do what makes you happy, not what you think you should do because that’s transparent. People are compelled to know what you find interesting. Fortunately, Chapman gave me the opportunities to pursue my interest and discover new ones.” Research, clubs, and volunteering are all excellent ways for students to both strengthen their resumes and learn more about what they are passionate about!
Stay Positive Throughout the Process
Zumwalt is a recent grad of Chapman who is currently going through the medical school application process herself. She was honest about how emotionally draining it can be but encouraged students to try to look at the process in a positive light. “Through this process, I have been able to formally reflect on my experiences, my personal and professional goals, and where I ethically stand on controversial topics in medicine. Once it comes to interviews, the same mindset is crucial. It’s essential to be yourself and have fun with the opportunity to share more about yourself with admission committees.”
Nguyen (Northeast Ohio Medical University) echoes this advice. Especially in pandemic times, she recommended that students prepare for what they can control and make peace with what they can’t. “If interviews are virtual, which means you can’t tour the school on interview day, then a great idea is prior to the interview, find a student that goes to that school and e-mail them to kindly ask for a quick Facetime tour and to chat about the school’s curriculum, offerings, etc. That way, you can bring it up during your interview to express your sincere interest in the school, and you will also stand out among the other candidates interviewing because it’s likely that they will not have taken those extra efforts.”
Lean on Your Community at Chapman
All four alum praised Chapman’s preparation of them for graduate programs. Clark says, “If you’re considering applying to medical school, I would explore all the available resources – talk to classmates, professors, etc. about what you can do and what organizations you can join to learn more about medicine and the application process.”
Zumwalt seconded the importance of close faculty relationships. “Whether it be reading over personal statements and secondary essays or setting up mock interviews, all of the Chapman faculty has been incredibly helpful.”
Frisch further explained that students should take advantage of the extracurricular activities, like Chapman’s research opportunities. “Think about what would make you a strong and compassionate physician after medical school. Kindness, hard work, determination, and enthusiasm are at the core so do what helps flourish those skills. Chapman is fantastic at cultivating those strengths, so soak it up!”
The Grand Challenges Initiative will be hosting two upcoming Pre-Medical School Workshops:
Are You Ready to Apply? A Readiness Workshop on Applying to Medical School
Friday, October 30 • 3:00 – 4:00 PM PT
This workshop is geared for 3rd and 4th-year students who are planning to apply to medical school.
Creating a Pathway to the Health Professions
Wednesday, November 18 • 4:00 – 5:30 PM PT
This workshop is designed to help 1st and 2nd-year students design a trajectory that will lead to success in the health professions.
Both workshops feature guest speaker, Dr. Christine Crispen. Dr. Crispen has worked in medical education for over 10 years. She has worked in both admissions and curriculum and has a solid understanding of the admissions process as well as an overview of what the education looks like. In her admissions roles, she has been the director of admissions and is currently on the admissions committee where she reviews applications for interview selection, interviews candidates, and votes for admission. Christine has also worked extensively with post-baccalaureate students who need more academic support before they are ready to apply to medical school and has successfully helped many students gain acceptance after a well-structured plan. She thinks students who engage in early planning and advising are most successful if they follow the advising and planning. Christine has her doctorate in education, where her research focused on underrepresented medical students and the barriers faced gaining admission and throughout medical school.
Cover Photo: Jimmy Clark ’15 at White Coat Ceremony at UNLV.