How To Discuss Coronavirus In Medical School Admission Trials | Medical school admissions doctor
With changes occurring in virtually every industry in the United States in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, medical schools and applicants are also preparing for the impact of this disease outbreak on the admissions process. Many students are anxious and concerned about the impact of school closings on their ability to make a quick and solid application to medical school.
If you are one of the candidates whose plans have been altered by recent events, you are not alone. Medical schools recognize that applicants have had to adjust their plans, including taking online classes or postponing their MCAT test date.
If you’ve experienced changes in your education due to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, your primary and secondary applications can allow you to share these changes with medical schools.
In reality, AACOMAS, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service, specifically asks applicants to explain how the pandemic has affected their plans. Some secondary applications also ask applicants to describe any event that has affected their education. You may even consider using your personal statement to reflect on current circumstances.
When writing about COVID-19 in your medical school application, it’s important to stay organized. Consider covering one or more of the following areas that are relevant to you:
- Clinical and research experiences.
- Perspectives on Medicine.
If you were enrolled in college classes this spring, chances are your classes have moved online. Some schools have also changed grading systems, allowing students to opt for a pass-fail grade.
If these changes apply to you, think about how they affected your academics and share the impact with the medical school admissions committee. If you decide to continue taking classes for an alphabetical grade despite the option of choosing pass or fail, you can notify the schools. It shows that you were motivated to work hard and excel despite the challenges you have faced.
You can also write about how the course changes affected your medical school applications. For example, some students report that it was more difficult to ask teachers letter of recommendation. With no office hours, lectures, seminars, and in-person labs, they find it more difficult for professors to get to know them in depth and write strong letters. If this is your case, it may be worth explaining in your application.
If you are part of the pool of candidates for medical schools whose MCAT has been postponed due to test site closures, you can use the app to notify the admissions committee of this change. If you were planning to take the MCAT in April but have to wait until July, let medical schools know that your original plan was to take the test early.
Clinical and research experiences
Many students have had to cut short their clinical volunteer work. Others had to stop their research in the laboratory or in a hospital environment. It is good to explain such changes in your application. In doing so, provide details.
For example, if you had volunteered at a hospital five hours a week in the past nine months and needed to continue this work in April and May, calculate how many hours you would have accumulated in those two. months and tell the admissions committee how many fewer hours you will have due to the changes.
Likewise, if you were involved in a research project that was on the verge of producing results or if you intended to present your research at a seminar or conference, it is worth making known to the committee how these plans were affected.
Perspectives on Medicine
In addition to the above, it may be helpful to reflect on how this pandemic has affected your outlook on life, your career, and the medical profession. By reflecting on these questions and sharing your thoughts in your application to medical school, you can help the admissions committee better understand who you are.
For some it can be a very personal experience. One of our students wrote in his trial on losing her grandfather to COVID-19. She went on to explain that her grandfather had always valued higher education and described how her loss further motivated her to pursue medical education to keep her legacy alive.
Even if you haven’t had the first-hand experience of losing a loved one to COVID-19, or if none of your loved ones got sick from the disease, you can share your perspective. For example, has the pandemic influenced your perspective on the roles and responsibilities of health care providers? What have you learned about disparities in health care by examining the current situation we are facing? How has your motivation for medicine increased because of the stories of loss and pain we hear about every day in the news?
As you ponder these questions, consider reading reliable media to analyze the various issues related to this global public health problem. For example, a student shared in her medical school application that by witnessing COVID-19 disproportionate impact on minority populations, she became more motivated to work with these populations as a future doctor.
Keep in mind that while COVID-19 could have had a big impact on you, it shouldn’t be your entire essay or application. How much you write about it and exactly where you share the information will depend on your application. You can devote a paragraph to it in your personal statement, use the space reserved specifically for this question in the main application such as AACOMAS or mention it in your secondary applications if necessary.
However, as you describe how the pandemic affected you, be sure to mention the many other ways you prepared for medical school before this unforeseen event.