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How might coronavirus-related issues impact future med school applicants?

cmfl11cmfl11 116 replies8 threads Junior Member
My daughter is a college sophomore intending to apply to med schools (hoping to be able to start med school immediately after finishing undergrad). She is very concerned about how the recent coronavirus-related issues might impact her application.

First, she says most med schools don't like online classes, and of course her college switched to online instruction a little over half way through the semester. She is currently taking organic chemistry and physics. They are still doing lab, sort of, - the prof demonstrating the hands-on parts, working with provided data sets, etc. Will med schools find this acceptable?

Second, how will interruptions in extracurriculars look? D has been volunteering at a free clinic near her school - of course that had to stop since she had to come home. She was signed up to start volunteering in May at a local hospital here, but not sure whether that will happen or not. I saw that they are looking for Meals-on-Wheels volunteers locally, so I will suggest that to her, but of course that won't satisfy a need for clinical volunteering.
She was also doing lab research at school and was supposed to give a poster presentation at a conference this spring - that is now canceled.

Third, her college is offering the option to take a regular grade or credit/no credit for classes this semester. Of course she is going to opt for a regular grade for the med school prerequisites, but she is taking a history gen ed class that she would like to take credit/no credit. Would med schools look on that unfavorably?

Finally, what if next semester classes are also online? She will have to register soon and won't know for sure whether classes will be able to be held on campus again. She is planning to take Biochem, but worried that it would look bad for that to be online.

I know this is a new and unexpected situation, but was wondering if anyone has any insights on how things might go.
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Replies to: How might coronavirus-related issues impact future med school applicants?

  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10903 replies232 threads Senior Member
    edited March 29
    I know this isn't going to be reassuring to you, but the truth is no one knows. And no one knows because this is an unprecedented situation.

    I think online classes for this term may be acceptable to many med schools, but perhaps not all of them. I doubt online labs will be accepted and lab credits may need to be re-taken or completed at some later date. (Med schools really, really want actual hands-on lab experience, not online demos or computer simulations.)

    If at all possible, your D should opt for actual grades in her science & math classes. Her history classes is probably OK to take P/F.

    I would postpone taking biochem until your D can take it as an in-person class.
    Adcomms will understand the break in clinical volunteering during "stay at home" orders. Honestly, no one want untrained people in their clinic or hospital right now. Even 3rd and 4th year med students doing clinical rotations have been sent home.

    Your D may need to consider an gap year after undergrad to help her beef up her clinical ECs. (BTW, gap years are the new norm for med applicants now anyway. Most successful applicants report having taken 1-3 gap years between graduation and med school matriculation.)

    But if she can do non-clinical volunteering with Meals on Wheels now that would be terrific. It's a greatly needed service right now and it helps protect our most vulnerable. Remember the whole purpose of becoming a doctor is to be of service to those in need.

    One other thing she can do--donate blood. Blood banks all over the US are at critically low supply and most of the blood donations are coming from healthcare workers who are already overworked and overstressed.


    Take a breath and remember (and help your D remember) that getting into medical school is not a race-- it's a marathon. This semester--and even next semester-- is merely one lap in that very long marathon. She has plenty of time to get everything in order. Med school will still be there whenever she's ready.
    edited March 29
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  • cmfl11cmfl11 116 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @WayOutWestMom , thanks so much for your response! I surely hope med schools will be understanding about the online classes this semester. At D's college, the classes and labs are combined, so it wouldn't be possible to go back and retake only the labs for orgo and physics, so she is stuck with the half-semester online. I will advise her not to take biochem next semester if it has to be online. I'll also suggest donating blood. Great idea! I guess we'll have to wait and see how things go.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10903 replies232 threads Senior Member

    When thing settle down--whether it's this fall, next spring or sometime next summer, have your d talk to health professions advisor at her college. By then everyone will have a better idea about what med schools will or will not accept.

    Your D may want to look into taking just the labs for Ochem 2 and physics 2 at a local community college next summer (summer 2021).
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  • cmfl11cmfl11 116 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @WayOutWestMom , thanks again for the great advice! We do have a local state school where she could take additional labs next summer if it turns out to be necessary.
    BTW, she is contacting Meals On Wheels today about volunteering and is planning to donate blood. I'm going to show her your other post about ideas for volunteering, too.
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  • MomLA2018MomLA2018 144 replies9 threads Junior Member
    So many top schools, including Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford are on-line and mandatory pass/fail. It's hard to imagine that med schools won't come out with some reasonable policy.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10903 replies232 threads Senior Member
    UCSF has release this statement concerning cancelled and delayed MCAT exams:
    UCSF will accept applications from individuals who were unable to take the MCAT due to COVID-related test cancellations. For these candidates, we will base secondary application decisions on the information that is available to us at the time of the application. Assuming that MCAT testing resumes prior to October, we will require applicants to have taken the MCAT before we make admissions decisions for the Class of 2025. If MCAT testing does not resume by October, we will reconsider the requirement. In any case, applicants should not delay applying simply because an MCAT score is not yet available.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10903 replies232 threads Senior Member
    1) Med schools are making plans to do virtual interviews with candidates in case "stay at home" orders are still in force or if public transportation becomes problematic or spotty.

    2) I think there is a non-zero chance that the entire upcoming application cycle may be cancelled.

    Why? There is bottleneck building in medical education.

    Current MS4 will graduate (assuming they've accumulated sufficient clinical hours to meet graduation requirements) and move on to residencies since the Match has occurred and contracts have been signed.

    However, as of right now, all away rotations for students have been cancelled. This means current MS3 will not have a chance to do audition rotations at programs they hope to Match to. It also means that students who hope to enter competitive specialties or specialties that require LORs from programs other than their home programs have a big problem. Step scores may become even MORE important, as will school reputation. Also many students will not be able to do a sub-I in their anticipated specialties--another huge disadvantage since almost every specialty expects/requires a sub-I LOR from applicants.

    Additionally, since all MS3s were removed from clinical rotations in mid-March, they are short clinical hours. Many schools have already pushed required MS3 rotations into the MS4 year. This means even less time for electives and sub-Is, not to mention mandatory MS4 rotations.

    I think it's quite possible if this epidemic continues, students may not have enough mandated clinical hours to qualify for graduation. The LCME has already announced it will not ease the number of clinical hours/rotations for graduation since doing so is a disservice to students, their future residencies [which cannot accommodate students who lack basic clinical skills and experiences] and their future patients.

    With the continuing closure of clinical rotations to med students, current MS2s cannot advance to MS3 (which is nothing but clinical rotations.)

    Current MS1 probably the least affected since at most schools since they have another year of didactic instruction.

    Incoming med students have already been informed they may be attending med school via online instruction. This means certain foundational, hands-on courses (e.g. anatomy & physiology) will need to pushed into the MS2 year and that will in turn delay the beginning of the actually MS2 curriculum by 8 weeks, which in turn delays the start of MS3 by 8 weeks, and so forth. There just isn't that much flex built into the medical curriculum.

    So this bottleneck plus the expected difficulties applicants will face getting their transcripts and LORs and the cancellations of MCAT dates (NY & CA testing sites are now closed through the end of May) --all totaled together means it's quite possible med schools will simply cancel a year.

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  • cmfl11cmfl11 116 replies8 threads Junior Member
    We saw this on the UF School of Medicine's website today:

    "The Office of Admissions recognizes that undergraduate institutions have had to adapt the delivery of prerequisite course content in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not wish for any applicant to be at a disadvantage due to mandatory changes made by their institutions. Prerequisite lectures and labs that have transitioned completely to online for spring and summer 2020 will be accepted to meet required courses. In addition we will accept a pass, satisfactory, or letter grade of “C” or better for any prerequisite course (or higher level substitute). We will remain attentive to ongoing institutional changes that may affect undergraduate course offerings as the national and global situation continues to unfold."

    Of course this is only one med school, but we found it very reassuring!
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