www.advanceweb.com | 2018 | FOCUS ON EDUCATION 33 needs for physician staff in the state in which the school is located.1 While it almost doesn’t need to be said that extracurricular activities don’t serve any other purpose aside from being favorable in addition to academic accomplishments, examples that can be potentially impres- sive include sports, theatrical and singing groups, and other common hobbies and groups, especially if one holds a leadership role within them.1 Related work experience and/or participating in a shadowing program are also effective ways of proving everything from commit- ment and interest to time management and initiative. POTENTIALLY GAINING AN ADMISSIONS EDGE Among the highest-rated schools by U.S. News & World Report, only one school (Johns Hopkins University) accepted more than 5 percent of applicants (5.3) while Stanford University only admits 2.3 percent of those who apply.2 According to various experts in academia, there are a variety of determinants that can increase the odds of an applicant’s chance at admission, beginning with effective written recommenda- tions. According to Olatokunbo Famakinwa, MD, MPH, chief hospitalist at Sound Physicians, Washington, DC, “most recommen- dation letters are mediocre at best.”3 “A letter that simply states that you attended class regularly and received an A+ will not do much to help you stand out. Recommendation letters should really high- light your intellectual curiosity, commitment to service, and abil- ity to work with others. This is what makes applicants memorable.”3 Med school applicants should ask people who truly know them and can speak to their abilities, characteristics, competencies, and potential.4   The personal statement portion of the application can also be a valu- able on-paper edge-gainer and should reflect one’s goals and unique qualities, according to the AAFP. Each essay should discuss one’s aca- demic successes and personal experiences that have contributed to character development and the decision to pursue a healthcare career.1 Potential themes that AAFP officials offer as approaches to personal statements include “an experience that influenced my career choice,” “qualifications and accomplishments that make me stand out” and “per- sonal values that reflect my commitment to a service-oriented career.” Additional advice from Famakinwa includes avoiding statements that can make an applicant appear naive or unaware of the chal- lenges of practicing medicine. Instead, premeds should attempt to demonstrate that they have the “grit and maturity necessary.”3 Other worthwhile application boosters can include conducting research projects and learning another language.5 WHERE TO APPLY Sometimes, strategically choosing where to send applications can bet- ter one’s chance of acceptance as well. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), today’s average student applies to 16 schools, but premeds should only apply to those schools they are truly seriously considering. AAMC officials offer an online resource that pro- vides a comprehensive listing of MD-granting medical schools in the UnitedStatesandCanadathatprofilesspecificadmissionsrequirements and acceptance data intended to help students search schools, compare them and rank their favorites.6 Leading questions to ask when sin- gling out where to send applications, according to the AAMC, include: “Does the school’s mission align with mine?” “Does the school accept out-of-state applicants?” “Is the school’s education style a good fit for me?” “Would I want to live there?” “Am I being realistic?” n Joe Darrah is a freelance author based in the Philadelphia region who has been covering the healthcare field since 2004. References 1. Getting into Medical School. AAFP. 2018. Accessed online: www.aafp.org/ medical-school-residency/premed/getting-into-med-school.html#other 2. Hess A. Here’s what it takes to get into 11 of the best medical schools in the US. CNBC. 2018. Accessed online: www.cnbc.com/2018/03/22/what-it-takes- to-get-into-11-of-the-best-medical-schools-in-the-us.html 3. Kowarski I. How to get into top medical schools. U.S. News & World Report. 2018. Accessed online: www.usnews.com/education/ best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/articles/2018-04-16/ how-to-get-into-top-medical-schools?int=-rec 4. Application process. Michigan Tech. 2018. Accessed online: www.mtu.edu/ pre-health/process 5. Pre-health professions tips. Michigan Tech. 2018. Accessed online: www.mtu. edu/pre-health/preparation/pre-medical/tips/ 6. Deciding where to apply. AAMC. Accessed online: https://students-residents. aamc.org/choosing-medical-career/article/deciding-where-apply FOCUS ON EDUCATION  |  APPLICATION Respiratory Cardiovascular, Allergy & IN COLLABORA NOVEMBER 8-10, 2018 Optional EKG, Spirometry, and Kidney Workshops November 7 REGISTER NOW! CARPS-cme.org 24 CE/CME Credits Available Wyndham San Diego Bayside | San Diego, CA