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Hi all! I am really struggling narrowing down the list of schools I want to apply to. I have already weeded out those that don't offer a masters, those where I do not fit the pre-requisites, and those that are too rural. I am not picky on location, but I would like to be somewhere suburban or urban. I also would like to be somewhere that the clinical rotations are not a very far drive (I am having trouble figuring this out because it is not explicitly listed on most schools' websites). I am mostly struggling to eliminate schools because I am worried about not getting in. I graduate this semester from a great school and will be applying as soon as the application is released. I am most concerned with my limited shadowing hours and limited service to under-represented populations. Here are my stats for applications:


3.63 GPA, Physiology major that has taken many upper-level biology courses, only alarming grades are C+ in Organic Chem 2 LAB and Gen Chem 2 LAB (My last 64 hour GPA is higher), only 18 shadowing hours (going to get 8 more hopefully before application), probably about 200 community service hrs (haven't fully calculated), 3-5 strong letters of rec lined up, 150 Verbal GRE, 157 Quant, 4.5 Writing, and roughly 3,000 clinical hours before matriculation. 


I am extremely worried about getting in, and this is making it difficult to narrow my options. I would like to apply to schools that I think I have a realistic chance of getting into. The following are the schools I am interested in. Does anyone have any advice on narrowing down my search? I have over 60 schools listed that I would consider applying for, but the following are my favorites:


University of Utah, University of Colorado, Arcadia University, Rush University, Mercer University, Butler, LSU, Augsburg University, PCOM, DeSales University, Penn State, UT San Antonio, Elon, MCPHS, Emory, UT Southwestern, Baylor and Eastern Virginia Medical. 


Please please please any help or advice is welcome! I am so stressed!! 

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I'll be attending Augsburg University in a few months, one on your list.  I went to an information session back in Summer 2016 for this program and they mentioned some of the clinical rotation sites, but I was made more aware of the clinical rotations during the interview process back in early October.  Some of these will require a good amount of driving, I would guess even living in the area until the rotation is complete.  I think I remember them saying some might be in one of the Dakotas.  Perhaps I am wrong, it was months ago when I had the interview and it was briefly mentioned during the introduction period.  Keep in mind that Augsburg has a very good reputation in Minnesota and clinicals in the twin cities are more likely because of all the health systems.  Heck, I play soccer with an MD that offered to get me an EM/ED clinical at Regions when I told him I was accepted to Augsburg University.  All the students, staff and faculty that were part of the interview process were super nice and made things enjoyable.  I left with a smile on my face and got a call from them not even one working day later.  

Side note fo Organic Chemistry, I had both Organic Chemistry courses outstanding when I applied and I was accepted before they were completed.  These were retakes and I had a C and a C- in I and II respectively.  My retakes are As and have not been added into CASPA or updated, but they have not asked for any more stuff from me, so it makes me think they do not particularly put a lot of weight on Organic Chemistry.  If worried about the shadowing and hours with underserved it maybe good to start some now so when May rolls around you are pretty good.

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I think you'd agree that applying to 60 schools would be financially prohibitive and too much effort for what its worth.

Your stats are pretty good and you have a good list of "favorites", so why not start there. At the end of the day you want a school that you will be successful at in a place you can stand living in for 1-2 years. I assume you've looked at previous class profiles to ensure you meet what each school is looking for. Thus, I'd start looking at softer things, like cost of living, rotations in places you would like to work/live (this is the best way to find a job and likely how you'll be offered your first job), overall gut feeling about the program, the interview process, etc. Unless you can afford to apply to all your favorites, some will have to be cut. Don't get too wrapped around the axle as to whether or not you're going to get into each school. Really, you want an interview, that's your goal right now. Then you can sell them on why you need to be in that program. 

Sometimes in medicine you have to make a big decision with no clear choices. Heck, end of rotation exams and the PANCE have questions like this. You have to go with your gut, make a choice, and go with it. The good news here is that hopefully you'll have the opportunity to further evaluate these choices as time goes on. 

All the best!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I heard somewhere that applying to about 10-13 schools gives you the highest benefit ratios.

I am a few months out from graduating from PCOM and one advice that I will give you is that for those schools that give you interviews, ask fine details about their grading policy for their clinical year. At PCOM, you have 2 grades during your clinical rotations, your preceptor's subjective grade of you and the grade you get on your end of rotation exam (EOR). They are weighted at 30% and 70%, respectively. Then, for your EOR you need to score at least a 70 to pass. This is regardless of what your preceptor's evaluation grade is. So for example, if you get a 69 on the EOR you have officially failed the rotation, even if you got a 95% on your evaluation (which would have made your final grade a 76% - a passing grade)

To put things into perspective, other students from other schools that I have talked to (south college, south university, mercer, and georgia medical college) has a much more diverse grading system for their clinical year. Things like needing a 60 to pass the EOR, and the EOR being 40% of final grade, and having multiple grading areas (documentation, professionalism, presentations, etc).

Also, its not that we PCOM students dont have to document, be professional, or do presentations. We still do those every rotation, they just don't get factored into your final grade for the rotation.

IMO, the reason for all of this is only done because the school is mainly interested in ensuring that their statistics are near perfect. Near perfect statistic make the school seem more appealing to prospective students, and so the coffers are kept full.

So in conclusion, all schools will tell you about their new and exciting equipment and educational opportunities but make sure you ask how you will be graded because there is no across the board standard and school can (and do) make it a one-sided benefit.

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also to answer your other concern about PCOM and rotation sites. They have many sites, some close to campus, some far away. They do try to give precedence to students with a true necessity (wife, kids, sick relatives, etc. Mr Whiskers and fido dont count) to stay near where they live, which is expected to be near campus, but they can (and do) send you away from home. It may be 2 or 12 hours away by car, but they provide housing if it is more than half an hour away from campus (not your house). You also have the option of setting up your own rotations.

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