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What Is The Breakdown Of "supplemental + Ec's" Category? (Need Advice)


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Hello all!

 

First off, congratulations to all those accepted for the class of 2019 and good luck to those waitlisted! For the rejected applicants, myself included, don't give up hope and keep trying. Given that some of us won't get feedback from admissions until May/June, I thought that us unsuccessful applicants who plan to reapply could start a dialogue on why our application didn't hit the mark and what we plan to do to be more competitive for this next cycle. That's what I'm trying to do now by addressing what the weaker points of my applications were. This is my first time posting on this forum and if I've breached any of the policies, please let me know.

 

My score breakdown:

 

GPA & MCAT = 18/25

Supp/EC = 17/35

Interview = 28/40

 

For a total of 63/100, first time applying, NS resident.

 

For this next cycle I can't do much about my academics (this will change if I have to apply a 3rd time) and though I felt good coming out of my interview last time, there's clearly room for improvement. I have my interview prep plan laid out (generally, as it's still 7-8 months away) but to be honest, I had expected a higher score for the supplemental category. 

 

I thought my essay was quite strong. I took months to write it, poured my heart and soul in, and had lots of people review it, including medical students, a physician and friends who have their PhD in English. My impression of having such a low score is that the listed activities I put in employment, extra-curricular, medically-related activities and volunteering were not sufficient for this year's adcom to view me as competitive, which may have brought down my essay score and likely netted me 0/5 on the discretionary criteria. Or admissions just didn't "buy" my story.

 

At first I thought that a verifier of mine had torpedoed my application, but that was just the denial phase which lasted all of 10 minutes. I realize now that my application was not up to snuff and I'm simply lacking some things they're looking for. Now to get into the details of my EC's.

 

Awards:

 

Just Dean's list for one and a half years.

 

Employment:

 

  • Worked a restaurant in Halifax for the last four years (overlap into undergrad, graduated from Dal 2012) to present
  • Worked in a bar in France for eight months (to learn French/travel/work etc.)
  • Worked in a bar in Germany for four month (three years prior to France, during summer between 3rd and 4th year undergrad. Learned German and the ins and outs of service industry).

**Did not list having worked for a landscaping company for the two summers prior to Germany. Seemed even less relevant to medicine than work in the service industry, though maybe it couldn't have hurt to mention it

 

Extra Curriculars:

 

  • Listed "work exchange to France" and "work exchange to Germany", used the work references as verifiers here (they likely did not give me points for this, might have considered it a repetition of Employment)
  • Two years of Muay Thai
  • Listed having completed the Bluenose Half-Marathon
  • Listed an ongoing campaign raising funds for Canadian Diabetes Association, ending in a full marathon (not complete) This "ongoing" campaign may have been a red flag as it's not a completed activity

 

Volunteering/Medically-Related Experience:

 

I have three solid volunteering activities listed totalling over 400 hours over years, but all three were clinical volunteering, and I don't have a single non-clinical volunteering activity to list. I was told by a few people just to list those activities in both categories, but in hindsight I should have been seeking out more diverse activities instead of being happy with what I had. I've already begun pursuing several non-clinical activities this month in my city, but that's unfortunately only six months ahead of when secondaries are due for the next cycle. Hopefully that's okay. I also plan on adding shadowing to my next application.

 

Research:

 

None. Not much to do be done about this for this cycle. If I need a third attempt, I'll likely be doing a Masters and studying for the new MCAT (since Dal only accepts that starting 2017) and taking a year or two being applying a third time. So I would be able to get some research in if this the course of action I have to take.

 

 

 

For the sake of privacy, I've kept certain details obscure, but other than that I've laid myself out pretty bare here. Any insights, comments, concerns or general feedback about what I plan to do and what I've done so far would be appreciated. Anyone else who would like the share like this please feel free! Strength in numbers, right? ;)

 

Cheers!

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Hey!!

 

First of all, don't feel down in the dumps. Last year, I was rejected as well with a score of 64/100. I worked my butt off during those six months before the next application submission and was accepted Tuesday. Right off the bat, my advice for you would be to list everything you've ever done for volunteering after highschool. I don't think you need to tailor you entries to only medically related activities. They wanna know who you are, so list everything! I'm sure if you worked that hard on your essay, then it was probably fine. my best advice is to get involved with long-term volunteer activities that will help display your leadership and ability to work well with others :). You have a great application, and you'd be surprised what you can accomplish between now and the submission of the next application! hope this helps :)

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Hey chemicologist,

 

First of all I'm really glad to hear you'll be applying again. I applied to Mun after my 4th year undergrad and was rejected pre-interview and this cycle after completing my MHSc I interviewed at both Dal (accepted) and Mun (still waiting for a decision!) so I have some idea of what you're going through. I agree with rella, having a list is incredibly important and try and fill up those med volunteer slots if you can.

 

In my mind the adcom wants to know that you have a) sacrificed in order to become a doctor and b ) tried to understand what being a doctor would be like. I know people may not agree with this, but when I wrote my essay that was generally what I was trying to get across to the committee. I tried to make my essay incredibly personable (started off with a running experience) and explain the WHY of everything I did. It's great to volunteer, but the personal reason behind volunteering is just as important.

 

In terms of the interview I did a lot of research prior to preparing so that I would get the best bang for my buck. I ended up going with a guy named Gordon Spurrel at Blue Dolphin coaching in Halifax and clearly it paid off (http://bluedolphintraining.com). A number of friends of mine have used him in the past for med, dent, pharm and physio and they are all in professional programs at the moment. You want to portray the best aspects of your personality while going in confident and Gordon helped me do just that. Check him out!

 

I know research may not be your cup of tea but it may be something worth investigating. If you are persuasive and well spoken with clear goals I'm sure some prof would allow you to help with bench work or random duties around the lab. Personally I had extensive research experience when I applied and it just serves to make your application that much more well rounded. I'm currently finishing my MHSc so I may be able to suggest some programs if you need any advice. 

 

It seems like you have a great application and I wish you the best! Feel free to pm me and we can chat more.

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Hi there!

 

I think you've got really amazing extracurriculars, but I also think it doesn't help you if you leave stuff out of your application. Leaving out things you may not think are applicable to medicine may not give a sense of some if the skills that you gained from that experience that would be applicable to the field. I think it would show who you are and how you're unique, as well as qualified.

 

I think you identified that you want to diversify your experiences. Perhaps including community related volunteering as well? Also, making sure you volunteer in medical related activities where your having interactions with patients? Having leadership positions in volunteer organizations is also probably pretty helpful. Or even showing intiative to start a group or a campaign of your own. And I think you alrwady know this because 400 hours is absolutely astounding, but being consistent across a significant time span is also important as well, IMO.

 

 

Hey chemicologist,

 

 

In terms of the interview I did a lot of research prior to preparing so that I would get the best bang for my buck. I ended up going with a guy named Gordon Spurrel at Blue Dolphin coaching in Halifax and clearly it paid off (http://bluedolphintraining.com). A number of friends of mine have used him in the past for med, dent, pharm and physio and they are all in professional programs at the moment. You want to portray the best aspects of your personality while going in confident and Gordon helped me do just that. Check him out!

 

Yes! I also went for his sessions! He definelty lives up to his reputation, he's very knowledgeable about the MMI and the research behind it. He helps make what seems like a very daunting process into one that is far more easily approachable, without giving you a template or a textbook answer or anything like that. I liked how he encouraged me to retain my individuality, kept the atmosphere positive, but still gave critical feedback in a clear and approachable manner.

 

I've recommended him to everyone else I know as well.

 

I also went to Jeanette Hung's sessions in Dalhousie. They were good for practicing and easing the nerves in the month befor the actual interview itself. Plus, I studied a lot for the interview, looking at bioethics, relevant cases in Canadian medicine, social determinants of health etc. It not only prepped me for the questions themselves, because I thankfully wasn't left shocked or completely lost on any of them, but I also understood more clearly about my motivations for wanting to pursue medicine as a career. I also practiced a lot at home as well.

 

This is all jmo of course. I think you've got a great attitude, really exceptional extracurriculars and that you've got a plan. My advice is limited by my experience, and it's you who knows yourself best. If you ever want to ask about any specifics, don't hesitate to message me!

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Thanks for the responses. You all have some great points, especially in seeking out more leadership positions in volunteering and being more thorough in what I list on my application.

 

The fact is that these three clinical volunteering experiences comprise all of my volunteering as of the previous cycle. I didn't list some work and extra curricular stuff I thought would be irrelevant but I put all my volunteering done (which is why I immediately starting seeking out the experience I was missing. I like the idea of starting up a volunteer group myself also. I'll be checking out those resources for interviews once I get my new schedule sorted out.

 

Thanks again and I may pm you guys sometime soon if that's alright!

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This is definately the area I need to work on as well.  Can anyone advise me as to how you went about shadowing a physician ?  I think it would be a great experience and extremely relevant however the places I've contacted have all told me the physicians are too busy.

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I meant to mention this before ^^. My first time applying I shadowed two different physicians a few times. After I was rejected and I called to find out why I was rejected, the lady told me that they did not look at shadowing as anything special. She told me they compare it to "watching someone play guitar - you cant learn how to play guitar by watching someone else". I still found shadowing extremely cool and informative. It might have just been her opinion. But essentially, what I got from that convo, is they don't really value shadowing all that much! But I valued it so...

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That's great to know, thanks ! Cause I scored above average in my pool on every other category except supplemental, so that was the deciding factor on my acceptance. Can you guys give my any advice as to what I should focus on this summer ?

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Hello all!

 

First off, congratulations to all those accepted for the class of 2019 and good luck to those waitlisted! For the rejected applicants, myself included, don't give up hope and keep trying. Given that some of us won't get feedback from admissions until May/June, I thought that us unsuccessful applicants who plan to reapply could start a dialogue on why our application didn't hit the mark and what we plan to do to be more competitive for this next cycle. That's what I'm trying to do now by addressing what the weaker points of my applications were. This is my first time posting on this forum and if I've breached any of the policies, please let me know.

 

My score breakdown:

 

GPA & MCAT = 18/25

Supp/EC = 17/35

Interview = 28/40

 

For a total of 63/100, first time applying, NS resident.

 

For this next cycle I can't do much about my academics (this will change if I have to apply a 3rd time) and though I felt good coming out of my interview last time, there's clearly room for improvement. I have my interview prep plan laid out (generally, as it's still 7-8 months away) but to be honest, I had expected a higher score for the supplemental category. 

 

I thought my essay was quite strong. I took months to write it, poured my heart and soul in, and had lots of people review it, including medical students, a physician and friends who have their PhD in English. My impression of having such a low score is that the listed activities I put in employment, extra-curricular, medically-related activities and volunteering were not sufficient for this year's adcom to view me as competitive, which may have brought down my essay score and likely netted me 0/5 on the discretionary criteria. Or admissions just didn't "buy" my story.

 

At first I thought that a verifier of mine had torpedoed my application, but that was just the denial phase which lasted all of 10 minutes. I realize now that my application was not up to snuff and I'm simply lacking some things they're looking for. Now to get into the details of my EC's.

 

Awards:

 

Just Dean's list for one and a half years.

 

Employment:

 

  • Worked a restaurant in Halifax for the last four years (overlap into undergrad, graduated from Dal 2012) to present
  • Worked in a bar in France for eight months (to learn French/travel/work etc.)
  • Worked in a bar in Germany for four month (three years prior to France, during summer between 3rd and 4th year undergrad. Learned German and the ins and outs of service industry).

**Did not list having worked for a landscaping company for the two summers prior to Germany. Seemed even less relevant to medicine than work in the service industry, though maybe it couldn't have hurt to mention it

 

Extra Curriculars:

 

  • Listed "work exchange to France" and "work exchange to Germany", used the work references as verifiers here (they likely did not give me points for this, might have considered it a repetition of Employment)
  • Two years of Muay Thai
  • Listed having completed the Bluenose Half-Marathon
  • Listed an ongoing campaign raising funds for Canadian Diabetes Association, ending in a full marathon (not complete) This "ongoing" campaign may have been a red flag as it's not a completed activity

 

Volunteering/Medically-Related Experience:

 

I have three solid volunteering activities listed totalling over 400 hours over years, but all three were clinical volunteering, and I don't have a single non-clinical volunteering activity to list. I was told by a few people just to list those activities in both categories, but in hindsight I should have been seeking out more diverse activities instead of being happy with what I had. I've already begun pursuing several non-clinical activities this month in my city, but that's unfortunately only six months ahead of when secondaries are due for the next cycle. Hopefully that's okay. I also plan on adding shadowing to my next application.

 

Research:

 

None. Not much to do be done about this for this cycle. If I need a third attempt, I'll likely be doing a Masters and studying for the new MCAT (since Dal only accepts that starting 2017) and taking a year or two being applying a third time. So I would be able to get some research in if this the course of action I have to take.

 

 

 

For the sake of privacy, I've kept certain details obscure, but other than that I've laid myself out pretty bare here. Any insights, comments, concerns or general feedback about what I plan to do and what I've done so far would be appreciated. Anyone else who would like the share like this please feel free! Strength in numbers, right? ;)

 

Cheers!

Hi,

 

Good to see you are being proactive.  I have zero knowledge of the Dalhousie process and what they look for - but my 2 cents on your ECs based on other medical school processes' are as follows:

 

Although you have good involvement, when compared to the med school applicant pool, they seem on the surface to be a bit weak. I don't see any leadership roles? Or perhaps you haven't elaborated on them. 

 

Also, while Muay Thai is a nice personal activity - are you competing in competitions? Are you mentoring other's whom are training in the sport? Also, completing 1 half-marathon isn't really something noteworthy for your application - unless you turn it into a trend and compete in many half-marathons as a way of life etc or did fundraisers to raise money towards a cause over a long period of time associated with the half-marathon. These are the kinds of questions you can ask yourself, when trying to get more depth to your experiences and involvements.  

 

While 3 health-related volunteer roles of 400 hours total is commendable - that is about 130 hours each role, over a few years - not all that much then when you think about it in this context - if you spread that out of 2-3 years, that is about 1 hour a week for each role.   

 

Just want to provide that realism, that many other applicants are going to have leadership roles, perhaps research(but i don't feel that is all too important) and other long term volunteer roles.

 

I think you're definitely on the right track, and keep moving forward, learning and growing from all your experiences. Best of luck.

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That's great to know, thanks ! Cause I scored above average in my pool on every other category except supplemental, so that was the deciding factor on my acceptance. Can you guys give my any advice as to what I should focus on this summer ?

 

Would you mind posting your EC's or sending me a pm if needed? Without a glimpse into what you've done, its difficult to accurately assess where you need to improve.

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Thanks for the response, ubc2012. I agree with you that leadership roles are something I am lacking on my application but I'm working quickly to correct that. Leadership roles are (and correct me if I'm wrong) most often found in the employment and volunteering sections, where one reaches a managing position or gains higher responsibilities over time in such an activity.

 

I have been a server and bartender primarily in my employment for the last five years. I am now a trusted and integral part of my restaurant with higher responsibilities and things expected of me since I've now worked there longer than most of the others, but I'm not a manager. I'm still just a server employed to work large dinner sections on the busiest night. This was a similar situation to france, I started at the pub there as many employees were leaving, so the manager essentially made me his number two and got me to help him with the hiring/training, but again not a manager, just a bartender.

 

For volunteering I began in third year (switched from arts to sciences in second year, took the year to find my footing) tutoring adult individuals with cognitive disorders and brain damage in math, French, Internet or whatever they wanted to know that I could teach them. I did this for a year, and will be going back there this summer). There's a year and a half gap in my volunteering which I attribute to moving to Germany for a summer, then taking on too heavy of a course load in my first semester four year and beginning to work at my current restaurant job the next semester. I should have sought out at least something during this time but I was preoccupied and here we are three years later. Since then I have spent over a year volunteering in a pre-op area assisting nurses and have done extensive work at the VMB with veterans over the past two years.

 

Though I had responsibilities and was relied on to make it to these consistently, finding a leadership role in clinical volunteering seems unlikely unless you're put in charge of other volunteers, but I'm usually the only one. I'm going for a meeting at the Ronald McDonald house Monday to discuss a volunteering opportunity starting at the end of March for a year. I'm going to try my best to convince them to start me off in some leading capacity. I have sent off many other inquiries this week (mostly for shadowing and non-clinical volunteering positions) in search of the experience I lack but this is the best idea I have so far for getting leadership experience (I'll never be a manager at my restaurant, some people have been there years more than me and still aren't).

 

As for the ECs of Muay Thai and distance running, theyre just hobbies of mine and I listed that they were, but you might be right that they're a bit superfluous.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In regards to the essay, did people approach it formally or more as a personal informal explanation of why you want to go into medicine. And what type of information did people include to make theirs stand out ?

I made mine with a formal structure but also bringing up many personal accounts for why I want to go into medicine. I found having a structure made my thoughts more clear, and having the personal elements made it sound more genuine and more intriguing to the reader. Really indicate the struggles you experienced throughout your journey to applying to medicine and how you overcame them, and I think that will help make the essay stand out.
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