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The road toward medical school is long and winding, with pre-medical coursework, volunteer opportunities, the dreaded MCAT, and a host of other activities and experiences that ultimately make your application unique. With so many moving parts, it is important to use your time with your school’s pre-health or pre-medical advisor wisely in order to maximize your chances of successful matriculation into medical school. Here are four tips to help you maximize your pre-medical advising:
1. Meet early and often
Students occasionally make the mistake of not contacting their pre-medical advisor until their junior or senior year of college, when they may already be working on their applications. Meeting with your pre-medical advisor early in your collegiate career can help you troubleshoot or entirely avoid mistakes that may affect your chances of medical school admission. Establishing a strong rapport with your pre-medical advisor may also benefit you if your school’s pre-health office writes letters of support for their prospective medical students. The better your pre-medical advisor knows you, the stronger the recommendation he or she may be able to give you—and the more he or she will be able to advocate for you along the road toward medical school.
2. Create a list of concerns or questions prior to meeting with your pre-medical advisor
At certain colleges and universities, it can be difficult to schedule meetings with pre-medical advisors. Maximize your time during these precious advising meetings by arriving prepared. Before your meeting, consider your topics of concern, and then jot down a list of questions or subjects that you would like to address. Reflect on your academic performance, and ask yourself whether there are any areas where your pre-medical advisor can help you improve. If you are struggling outside the classroom, either personally or with extracurriculars, be sure to let your advisor know so that you can both brainstorm about how to cope with that difficulty within the context of your medical school application.
3. Work with your pre-medical advisor to brainstorm options for your immediate future
Your pre-medical advisor may have a wealth of information about gap year experiences, internship opportunities, and scholarship applications that can assist you in planning your immediate next steps as you also prepare for medical school. Use your time with your pre-medical advisor to plan your short-term movements—what courses you will take next semester, what research opportunities you might wish to consider for the fall, and how you will spend your upcoming summer.
4. Develop a roadmap
Preparing for and applying to medical school is a longitudinal process that involves both small steps (like which classes to take next semester) and distant decisions (like narrowing down your clinical interests prior to matriculation). So, devise a roadmap with your pre-medical advisor that puts you on track for medical school. Make sure to address small milestones and to allow opportunities for clinical and research experiences. Outlining your medical school plan with the support of your pre-medical advisor can help ensure a smoother ride through your prerequisites, application process, and ultimate matriculation.