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The weight of environment in medical school decision making

SkypilotSkypilot 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
I go to a New Jersey University.
Major: Biomedical Engineering
cGPA: 3.94 sGPA: 4.0 MCAT: 517
Clinical Shadowing Hours: ~160
Non-clinical Volunteer Hours: ~160

I have a difficult decision before me.
Take a chance by applying to out of state medical schools in regions that are more suitable to my lifestyle (very outdoors oriented, camping, hiking, biking, backpacking, skiing, etc.) or go early decision to NJMS.
I have no idea if the importance of my lifestyle is something I should weigh heavily in my application, and I'm very afraid of giving up a sustainable lifestyle to try and apply for a school I believe I have a chance to get into.
A.) How much weight should I give this metric
B.) Do I have a chance of getting in to any of the out of state schools: UCs, Oregon, Colorado, UW, Dartmouth, Keck, Duke, etc?
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Replies to: The weight of environment in medical school decision making

  • thumper1thumper1 73712 replies3213 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 16
    UW...University of Washington...not likely. They give huge preference to instate and students from the few states around them with no medical schools.

    UCs...University of California? Again...not likely. California has tons...and and I mean tons of applicants.

    You might get accepted at either of these schools...but my opinion...they are sure not a slam dunk.

    How much time do you think you will have for hiking, camping, biking, backpacking, skiing etc while you are in medical school? You will have vacations when you can do these things...but you can travel to do them...just like you do now from NJ.

    Are you guaranteed admission to NJMS? Why can’t you just apply in the regular cycle to this school as well as the others you have listed...and more?
    edited June 16
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10108 replies200 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 16
    1) Lifestyle is important. You have to live there for 4 years and it helps not to be miserable, but there are other factors which probably should hold greater weight when making a decision about where to attend med school.

    Curriculum and grading--having P/F grading during the didactic years takes a some of the pressure off in what is a high stress environment. Also you should look at whether schools offer a curriculum that you will find compatible with your learning style. Programs have wide variety of approaches--ranging from very traditional with mandatory lectures to flipped classrooms that eschew classroom time in favor of recorded lectures combined with team-based projects to entirely self-paced computer-based learning.

    COA-- some of the schools you mention have very high OOS tuition cost coupled with a very high COL This means you will need to take out additional loans to pay your living expenses. Portland, LA, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco are all very expensive place to live. Consider hw much debt you're willing to take on to enable your lifestyle choices.

    Support system. Do not underestimate the value of having family nearby.

    Also some of the places you're considering are not all that close to the mountains and may not be conducive to getting into the outdoors. Also most of the cities are not bike-commute friendly.

    You don't have all that much free time during med school, especially once clinical training begins. Don't plan on buying season ski passes because you won't be using them. (LOL! D2 bought season ski passes for 2 years in med school, She went skiing exactly once each year--and it was during semester break. Total waste of money.)

    That said, both my daughters are westerners (who hike, rock climb, ski/snow board, backpack, bike, etc) and took locale into consideration when making a decision about where to apply to med school and where to apply for residency. Location was important, but it was never the deciding factor.

    ~~~~~

    2) RE: you school list

    UWash does not consider non-WWAMI applicants for admission except for the MD/PhD program so take it off your list.
    (WWAMI- Washington. Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho)

    OHSU has about 20% OOS, but has one the highest OOS COAs in the country. (OOS tuition & fees >$70K/year.) It also has a unique curriculum that you should review before applying there. You will either love it or hate it. Portland is a huge city and has a very high COL. There are very few apartments near the medical campus which means you will be commuting to campus daily, often from 45 minutes away. (The main hospital is literally set on a mountain top and can be accessed by a commuter tram that offers a spectacular view of the Cascades.) Parking on the med campus is spectacularly expensive and med students aren't prioritized for parking so getting a permit may not even be a possibility. Because of the sheer size of Portland, getting away to the outdoors means an hour plus car ride.

    CU prefers western applicants, but your stats are high enough you might get a look. If you have any Spanish language skills, this will be a plus. CU's OOS tuition is also very high. (OOS tuition & fees >$66K/year). CU's main med campus is in Aurora, which is an eastern suburb of Denver. It's out on the plain and not especially close to the mountains. It'll be an hour or more by car to get into hiking areas. I-70 gridlocks during ski season and getting to & from ski resorts will take longer than you'd like. CU's secondary medical campus is in Colorado Springs, which offers immediate access to Pike's Peak, God of the Gods and other outdoor recreation areas. Great mountain biking! As a FYI Aurora prohibits certain breeds of dogs and has other restrictions on the types of pets allowed within the city limits.

    UC med schools are always a dice throw. UC-Riverside only accepts applicants with ties to the Inland empire are of CA. UC-Irvine is reputed to be OOS unfriendly.

    ~~~~

    If you want a med school adjacent to the outdoors--add U Arizona-Tuscon to your ist. Small school. Smallish town, lots of nearby open space for hiking, camping, rock climbing, biking. Skiing will require a 3-5 hours drive to Cloudcroft, NM or Flagstaff, AZ
    edited June 16
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  • SkypilotSkypilot 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    Public schools like UCs and UW are not something I'm expecting to get into, but will try anyways if I decide not to do ED. From my perspective, none of the out of state schools can be considered a slam dunk, but it is something I would like to try for.

    So the difference in lifestyle is something that comes from accessibility. As someone who has grown up hiking and camping the Appalachian trail and virtually every reservation nearby, New Jersey has nothing that I am interested in hiking camping etc within a 6 hour drive at least from where I am living. Especially not in Newark in the concrete jungle merging into NYC. So even if there are some good trails within a 30 minutes to an hour away from a college, that is something that will seriously boost my morale, am willing to make time for, and doesn't require mental willpower to plan and do.

    I don't think I implied I am guaranteed admission to NJMS, just that my best chance is to go there. If I apply regular cycle, this chance decreases a lot. So its between trying for a small percent chance at other schools while risking a big drop in chance at NJMS. If I consider that I have little to no meaningful opportunity to get admission to any school that is out of state public or not, then I will not try.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6581 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Have you been to High Point State Park? It's just about 60 miles from Newark and has a section of the Appalachian Trail running through it. The NW part of NJ is actually very hilly and has some good hiking. Northeastern, PA also has some great hiking that would be less than 2 hours from Newark.

    FWIW, I would say to apply where you have the best chances of getting in. Dear friend just went through the med school application process with her student with stellar GPA and MCAT scores and it was absolutely brutal.
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  • SkypilotSkypilot 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    @WayOutWestMom Thank you, that was extremely comprehensive and useful!

    Duke University School of Medicine 518 3.86
    Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth 516 3.74
    Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine n/a n/a
    Keck University of Southern California 516 3.77
    Oregon Health & Science University 512 3.74
    Stanford University School of Medicine 520 3.93
    University of California Los Angeles 518 3.88
    University of California, San Diego 517 3.84
    University of California, San Francisco, 518 3.88
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 514 3.81
    University of Colarado 512 3.82
    Brown 517 3.84
    University of California Irvine 516 3.84

    Anything glaring that I shouldn't apply to from here? If I can get your opinion on that?
    Also thank you for the Tuscan suggesting, I will definitely look into that.

    I was also considering applying to schools that are reaches in terms of MCAT, but not GPA. Like Yale or Stanford. Do you think that is worth my time?
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  • SkypilotSkypilot 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited June 16
    @momofsenior1 Yes. I was a Boy Scout growing up, so I've camped and hiked practically every inch of the AT in New Jersey and New York. I find that its difficult to justify 4 hours of driving to myself for hiking the NY/NJ AT trail areas as they not particularly rewarding.

    Is your friends student trying again next cycle? Did they try difficult schools?
    edited June 16
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  • thumper1thumper1 73712 replies3213 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Maybe it’s me...but I think that’s a very top heavy list. You have excellent stats...leverage them the best you can.

    You already have Stanford on your list above.
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  • SkypilotSkypilot 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited June 16
    @thumper1 No, its not just you. I only put the top schools I am applying to in that comment. Applying to all the NJ schools as well and other more "safe" schools but that's not something I needed to clarify whether I should be doing or not.

    Thank you for taking the time to read.
    edited June 16
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22403 replies14 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The CU med school is in Aurora, but that is not on the plains. It is about 10 miles from downtown Denver, and the school itself is on I-225/I-70, so if you lived right on campus (which you won't), it would add about 15 minutes to a commute to the mountains than if you lived in downtown. It's also on the Lightrail now, so you can take a bike and get to the foothills without much trouble.

    Yes, Aurora has a pitbull ban, but so do Denver and some of the other cities/counties surrounding the metro area.

    Very difficult admit.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6581 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Skypilot - I messaged you.
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  • texaspgtexaspg 16488 replies340 postsForum Champion Pre-Med & Medical Forum Champion
    when do people doing medicine have time for outdoors life?
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  • SkypilotSkypilot 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    @texaspg
    Is that a rhetorical question? I'm not sure how to respond to this.
    Are you basing this off your experience with medical school? If so, I'd like to hear about your lifestyle in medical school.
    Are you also overestimating how much time it takes for outdoors life? It can be a simple walk in a reservation for an hour a week or something.
    I have spoken with plenty of medical students who find time to go to the gym and stay healthy, why is this any different? Please elaborate.
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  • texaspgtexaspg 16488 replies340 postsForum Champion Pre-Med & Medical Forum Champion
    I think of outdoor life as taking weekends off. If you equate it with taking a walk in forest like going to gym then you might be right that you have time.
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  • SkypilotSkypilot 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    Are you a graduate of medical school @texaspg ?
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  • texaspgtexaspg 16488 replies340 postsForum Champion Pre-Med & Medical Forum Champion
    edited June 16
    no. most of the people responding to you are not either.
    edited June 16
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10108 replies200 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 16
    So the difference in lifestyle is something that comes from accessibility. As someone who has grown up hiking and camping the Appalachian trail and virtually every reservation nearby, New Jersey has nothing that I am interested in hiking camping etc within a 6 hour drive

    LOL! My daughters blacklisted all New Jersey and NYC med schools and residencies for exactly this reason!
    D2 solo hiked the John Muir in college, hiked 3 segments of the Appalachian Trail, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and backpacked through Central America from Costa Rica to the Mexican Yucatan in the two months before she started med school. During med school, she hiked the circuit in Torres del Paines (Chile) over winter break one year and spent Christmas hiking the bottom the Grand Canyon another. D1 climbed competitively during college and during med school hied off to the rocks every time she had a free weekend. D1 is doing her residency in New England and heads off for the Whites or Gunks every chance she gets. The girls also biked to the medical campus on a nearly daily basis during med school. Besides saving money of parking fees, it was a great way to get some exercise & stress relief.

    I would say accessibility is a major consideration if you want an outdoor lifestyle. Not sure the CA coastal cities offer the accessibility you're looking for.

    Some medical schools with good outdoor access--

    UUtah --the medical campus abuts National Forest land and there's a great mountain bike trail that starts right next to the hospital parking lot. Plus if you have a long weekend, you can head to Red Rock country. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Bears Ears are just a few hours away. The north rim of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone/Grand Tetons are both less than a 5 hour drive. Utah accepts 30 OOS residents year (out of a class of 125) OOS tuition & fees are quite expensive, >$72K, but Utah will allow you you to petition for in-state status after 1 year. BTW, as UU med student you can get reduced price ski passes to the local ski resorts. (Snowbird, Alta. Park City). SLC can be expensive, but it's not nearly as expensive as Portland or LA, SF or SD.

    UVermont? It's very OOS friendly and in smaller town with good outdoors access.

    SUNY-Upstate? The Finger Lakes has some great hiking.

    Rochester? Rochester has plenty of winter sports (but alas skiing is a couple of hours away and it's eastern skiing, not western skiing), Summer has hiking, mountain biking and kayaking along the Erie Canal. The trail is a 5 minute walk from the med school.

    UVA? The Shenandoahs are 30 minutes away. Beautiful campus with a new medical research facility.

    edited June 16
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  • SkypilotSkypilot 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    @texaspg Which is fine, as they are offering opinions which are reasonable for someone who hasn't gone through it. But making an assumption that being in medical school means that you won't have time for anything else ever spreads a message of negativity. Physician burnout rates are already so high and there is a movement to help med students and doctors have a more sustainable lifestyle. If you try and impress on others you won't have any time in medical school, it will contribute to burnout.

    Majority of doctors and medical students I have spoken to have told me to have a hobby and maintain an interest in something else going through the process. They've described how important it is to make time for yourself, and take a step back from the studies and medical cases.

    Please in the future consider supporting the hobbies and other interests of future applicants. I am sure I will be able to find a weekend or two here and there to do what I love.
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  • texaspgtexaspg 16488 replies340 postsForum Champion Pre-Med & Medical Forum Champion
    @skypilot - i think you are too fixated on justifying yourself. You should be able to hear negative views without judging them since you are here for feedback.
    go early decision to NJMS.;/

    The only real opinion I have is don't apply early decision.
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  • SkypilotSkypilot 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    @texaspg I understand the justification part, however my intent was to spread some awareness. I also don't believe that what you have is a negative view entirely. It is incredibly important to consider how much time you have during the process. For me, this is an important issue because I personally know a student and a doctor who have described to me how important it was for them to make time for other things they loved for their mental health.

    Also, I appreciate your opinion on NJMS, it really does help to get a consensus of an outsiders viewpoint.
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  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman 589 replies52 postsRegistered User Member
    If you're serious about applying to OOS state schools, keep CU on your list. As noted, the campus is very close to both light rail and two main highways, and both Denver city and Jefferson County have great mountain parks a very short drive away. And it's got a very high rate of acceptances of OOS applicants, for many reasons, not the least of which it gets almost no money from the legislature so they want the OOS money. I recently sat next to a CU Medical professor, who claimed state support was as low as 3%; not sure if he was exaggerating, but the medical school takes a lot of OOS students.
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