BS/MD Programs: Everything You Need to Know
Interested in applying to a BS/MD program? Learn more about these competitive programs that combine undergraduate education and professional medical studies in one during a 60-minute webinar from CollegeAdvisor.com. The webinar will be led by Katie Chiou, a current student in Brown University’s Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME). Katie will discuss the pros and cons of BS/MD programs, her own experiences at Brown, and how to stand out when applying to BS/MD programs. You won’t want to miss this!
2022-07-06 BS/MD Programs: Everything You Need to Know
Hi, everyone. Welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I am a Senior Advisor at CollegeAdvisor, and I will be your moderator this evening. Welcome to the special workshop for future docs, entitled Everything You Need to Know About BS/MD Programs.
To orient everyone with the timing of the webinar. First, we’ll start off with a presentation for about 30 to 40 minutes, and then we’ll open up for the remainder of the hour to answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides under the handouts tab, and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab. Now let’s move forward and meet our panelist.
Okay, I’ll give you an opportunity to introduce yourself.
Hi everyone. Um, my name is Katie and I am currently going into my second year of medical school. As you might guess, I went through a BSMD program. So I actually went through Brown’s PLME program, otherwise known as Program in Liberal Medical Education. Um, I’m currently, like I said, going to my second year at Brown Universities Warren Alpert Medical School.
Um, and I majored or graduated with an AB in Science Technology and Society with the focus in Anthropology and Mental Health. Okay, awesome. Thank you for that. All right. Before Katie jumps into her presentation, we wanna get an idea of, of what grade everyone is in. So take a few minutes to let us know what grade are you going into in the fall?
So Katie, as we’re waiting for a poll responses to come in, it would be great to hear from you. What kind of doctor are you planning or aspiring or working towards becoming. Yeah, so going into medical school and I think this is the case for a lot of people. I really didn’t know. Um, in fact, something that I came in thinking was, I was like, I definitely don’t wanna work with kids.
And now I’m on the exact opposite side of the spectrum. Um, I’m thinking about child neurology or child adolescent psychiatry, or just general psychiatry those are all things that I’m enjoying. Cool. I, my, one of my best friend is a psychiatrist. Um, and so I’m very familiar with that process, especially with, um, early childhood and adolescents.
Then I have a friend who also did Pete’s ER, who, so I think pediatrics is also also considering yeah, they, they get, they get their closet. I think once people do like a pediatrics rotation and people get hooked, so, um, but that’s great. That’s awesome. Good luck. Um, thanks for sharing and thanks to everybody for letting us know what grade you’re in.
I’m gonna close our poll and it looks like the majority of folks are in 11th and 12th grade. So about 33% are 11th grade. 41% are going into 12th grade. Then we have a handful of others, ninth graders, and 10th graders. So hopefully that can help gear, um, that folks are in the process of researching or in the process of, of getting ready to apply.
Um, so with that, I’ll sign off for a little bit and, um, jump back on later on. Okay. Awesome. So I’ll start off by kind of answering very basically what a, BSMD program is. So much like what the name suggests a BSMD program is a combined bachelor degree. So bachelor of science is the BS and medical degree program.
Um, so important things to note. There are also BSDO programs out there, a do is a doctor of osteopathic medicine. So that’s also another route besides getting an MD. Um, and also I wanted to know, like I said, I graduated an AB or otherwise I was a BA, so I actually did not graduate a Bachelor of Science and that is completely allowed at most programs as well.
So typically these programs start from about six. So the total, if you were to go through as like a pre-med and then apply to med school, typically it’s eight years of school. So a six year program is shortened. You would only have two years of undergraduate college education and then four years of medical school, um, all the way up to eight years.
So my program for example is eight years, which is the typical four years of undergrad and then four years of medical school. There are very strong pros and cons to both and I’ll kind of talk a lot, bit about that later. But one thing to note is obviously a shorter program. You are paying less money and it’s taking less, um, you know, years of your life.
So it’s less tuition. However, you also have less undergraduate schooling, which also means you do have less time to take summer courses, less time to do research or other summer opportunities. And also sometimes you have to crunch in a lot more of your science classes. Um, so other important things to note is, as you’re looking through these different programs, please take note of what requirements they might have for application.
So whether it’s, oh, you must have US citizenship or, oh, you must have certain AP tests completed. Um, Other things that are very important to know is going to be what requirements are there for matriculation into medical school. And what that means is what does the program require from you in college in order to be able to get into the medical school?
So then people don’t realize that even though you get into a BSMD program, it’s not guaranteed per se, they might have some conditions on it’s a conditional acceptance. So some of those conditions might include a certain MCAT score, or it might include a certain GPA. Um, so those are pretty common as.
Okay. So why did I choose to apply to a BSMD program? So looking back, um, I applied to a whole host of schools, so I’m from California. So I applied to the UC schools. So my local public schools, which I encourage, um, I also applied to across like the Ivies across the top, well known schools, as well as to a couple of BSMD programs.
And the reason for that was because I knew that medical school, I was like, pretty sure that was gonna be kind of the path for me. And it certainly was the path for me thinking at that time. Um, and looking back, I really, really am thankful for myself that I did that because for me, I was really excited about freedom of education.
So I kind of wrote that down here, really, just to emphasize that I was not the kind of student who was only interested in biology or was only interested in medicine. Um, I really wanted to explore different subjects. For example, I really loved English and the humanities, and I didn’t get a lot of that in my high school.
And so when I went into Brown, that was something that I really wanted to explore. And Brown’s kind of curriculum is all about that. It’s called the open curriculum. So I really discovered, oh my gosh, like I had no clue this field of Anthropology existed out there. What is this? So I kind of learned more about it.
I took a philosophy class. I took creative writing classes, multiple acts. I took a poetry class. I took a class on death and Buddhism. Um, so really all over the place. And that has all like dramatically changed the way I view the world. But also more importantly, I think has changed how I’m gonna be a doctor.
Like I’m able to speak intelligently about a lot of these things at are, for example, at the death and Buddhism directly related to end of life care and kind of as a doctor, how am I to cope with patients, um, passing potentially, but also how to speak with patients about it intelligently. Um, the other last reason is it might be a benefit for you to save some funds for.
Um, and I also wanted to say, sorry that, um, you know, in high school I had spent a lot of time preparing thinking and a big benefit of a BSMD program. I’m not going to lie is not having to apply to med school. Um, I did not have to go through that whole process. And as any of my friends who did apply this year could tell you it’s really, really difficult.
I was able to save the money on all of that, but also I was able to take my undergraduate time and just really find the things that I enjoyed and kind of chase after those avenues instead of feeling like, oh, what do I have to do in order to book up my resume for medical school? Okay. So some pros of BSMD programs.
Um, so like we’ve talked about, um, the freedom of learning experience and exploration. There really is no pressure at all, specifically in to. Just do biology or just do like a particular kind of research I was able to really explore. So for example, for one summer, I worked at a nonprofit for another summer.
I worked with homelessness in Los Angeles where I’m from. Um, it was really just the time, the time I was, um, I spent a summer in China learning about traditional Chinese medicine. And so these were all kind of things that I was able to do because of the fact that I knew I had this conditional acceptance.
I knew that I could really actually find the things that I enjoyed and kind of chase after them and see how they led me back to different passions of mine. Um, I wasn’t out here to check boxes kind of like I wrote here. Um, so that was really amazing. The other thing is connections. So now that I’m med school, I have classmates, um, and good friends of mine who are from the program.
And also we’re not from the program who kind of apply to Brown medical school through a more traditional route. So one benefit I’m not going to lie is that I know the professors that are here, I know who’s coming in. Um, so for example, our. Introduction to like cell biology kind of course in medical school was taught by the exact same professor who taught me in, um, basic biology and undergrad.
His name is Kenneth Miller. He’s very famous. He testified in front of the Supreme court for, um, a case on evolution. He’s like one of our star professors of Brown. And I’m able to see that again. Um, another thing I might already have, and I do, I already have connections with professors. So for example, when I’m working right now on my scholarly concentration and people are like, oh, like who are some professors we can, um, you know, ask to come in and speak to the medical students.
I’m like, oh my gosh, I actually took a course with so and so professor, they can come in to speak about it. Um, this other person, oh, I actually worked at the undergrad nonprofit, um, company that worked in this area. Let me invite the founder of that person. And I have a connection with that person cuz I worked under them in undergrad.
So I’m really able to kind of understand like, and, and know all of these different connections between. just the people on campus. On top of that, I will admit that familiar with vocation is really nice. Um, I have explored, I should explore more of, but I have explored a bunch of Providence, but more importantly, I think I know where all the little things are.
So I know for example, how to access health services here in a way that a medical student might not get be familiar with, but that’s just because I am familiar with the undergrad campus. Um, I know where all my secret study spots are, for example, um, when all the libraries get full or something. So those are kind of some of the things, um, and I know really importantly who to reach out to, to get me the next connection or the next step in terms of finding my next mentor, when it comes to what I’m gonna be doing for research or who to ask questions for, or how do I get to this hospital?
How do I get to the other hospital? What are the bus routes here? Um, all of that stuff is kind of knowledge that. I have gleaned just from having already spent four years of undergrad here and knowing the people, knowing the location. I also know the community, which means that I know Raden hospital. I know that for example, Providence is very largely made up of Spanish and Portuguese speakers.
So I’m able to kind of weave those parts in when I’m thinking about how is my medical practice gonna impact, um, the community of Providence. That’s a very important thing that, um, we like to think about at Brown. Okay. So what are some of the cons of BSMD programs? For some programs, it can be very restricting.
This was something that I really did pay attention to when I was applying. So for example, um, a six year or seven year program, you will have two or three years of undergrad only, which for the most part means that if the medical school requires a large amount of, or just like, you know, the basic set of biology and chemistry courses, You have to condense them all into those two or three years, which means you might be taking only stem courses or a lot of stem courses, or you might also have to supplement that time with summer classes.
So you might actually have to be at school for the fall and spring, but also for the summer, maybe for the winter, right. There’s gonna be a lot more of trying to pack all that information in. So you might not get the chance to explore kind of elective courses outside of that, if that makes sense. So that is also part of it.
And it’s also, it can also just be more hectic in terms of having to do that. Um, Some programs such as a program at RPI is, um, they’re, they’re called a physician scientist program, which means that they’re really trying to create folks who are going to go into MD, but are also gonna have research via huge primary point of their like educational circumstances, if that makes sense.
So, um, for a lot of those folks, um, who are in that program, it is required to do research during your summers. Um, when you might want to be doing something else, you are committing to this school, and that’s really important. You’re committing to the school, you’re committing to the area you’re committing to community.
So you want to be sure. I mean, first and foremost, do you like the area? Do you let the city, could you see yourself being here for anywhere from six to eight years? and if the answer is no, you might be looking for somewhere else, you might be looking for like a different BSMD program or just not a BSMD program in itself.
Um, that’s really, really important thing to think about. Cause you don’t wanna be stuck in a place that you don’t enjoy for eight years. And the final thing is that depending on the program, you may not be allowed to apply out or maybe frowned upon. And I would say in general it can be frowned upon. So applying out, what does that mean?
What that means is that. So for me, when I signed on to the BSMD program at Brown, I was basically committing myself to the undergrad, uh, degree, obviously. So I went through Brown for four years. Um, during those four years, at any point I was allowed to drop out of the program, meaning I was allowed to be like, you know what?
I don’t think I wanna become a doctor. I think I want to become an artist or a writer or something else. Um, so I could have left the program and said, Hey, I’m no longer interested in getting an MD degree. Another path you can take is to specifically apply to another medical school. So if you are applying to another medical school, um, you are forfeiting your spot at Brown’s medical school.
So that means that you were giving up the spot that you’ve been, that you’ve been conditionally flipped to, to apply to other medical schools. Now, this is frowned upon, especially because your direct advisors or my direct advisors in undergrad, right. Are the same people who like really believed in me who read my application, who accepted me into this program.
Like I know the people who are reading all of your guys’ applications. Um, and so it’s one of those things where obviously that they saw potential in you. They saw some, like pointing you going through this eight year program and they were really trusting and hoping that you would stay in the program.
So that is another part of it, um, is that you were allowed to apply out, but it is extra work to, to do that. Um, and for different programs, you might also have. Different grade requirements. So for example, within PLME, we’re allowed to take some of our classes pass fail. So for example, we’re allowed to take intro to chemistry, pass fail.
Um, and so if you’ve taken it pass, fail already, it would be possibly really difficult. Or you have to retake the class in order to apply to medical school through the kind of more traditional route. Okay. So what are some colleges that have BSMD programs? So obviously Brown university, that’s the one that I’m from, that is an eight year program.
And we typically have, I think, around 60 students. So I think we’re one of the biggest BSMD programs in the country. Um, that’s not to say it’s not competitive. So I do wanna emphasize the, all, all of these programs on here are extremely competitive. Um, wash U was another example of amazing program.
Northwestern, Rice, Baylor. So some, a lot of these programs really only accept like anywhere from 10 to 15 students. So I want you to keep that in mind is that it’s a really, really rigorous process. Typically you apply, you write a whole bunch of extra essays and then you also have to go through an interview process, um, which is at least back before COVID it was conducted in person.
And then from there they would then select only 10 or 15 students. Um, RPI mentioned earlier university of Rochester, many, many others. So I believe Rutgers also has a program. For example, there’s one in Texas. There’s one in Connecticut. These are all programs that could also be state specific. So it’s an important thing to pay attention to either they only accept students from in-state or they might give preference to in-state students.
There’s also some of these BSMD programs that are really interesting. They have these additional, um, tie on. So I believe there’s one, that’s like university of Akron. That’s a BSMD program, but the requirement is that if you take the conditional acceptance, you have to go into primary care in a rural area or something like that.
Um, so make sure you pay attention to all of these conditions before you accept, obviously, because it’s something that you wanna make sure is aligned with your goals, for what you want to become. So if you know, you wanna go into primary care and you know, you want to serve in a rural population, maybe that program is perfect for you.
Um, I also wanna encourage folks to consider BSMD programs. There’s also like BS nursing programs, BS, dentistry programs. Do your, like, take a look around. Okay.
All right. So we are back together and we wanna know, given that we are in the early stages of talking about where these programs may be, where are all of you in your college application process? So we’re gonna do another poll. Let us know how far you are into the college application process. You haven’t started.
You’re researching schools, you’re working on essays, you’re getting it together or you’re almost done. Um, thanks for sharing all of those. I will say some other programs, cuz I’m in the mix with a student right now. Who’s doing BSMD programs. Mm-hmm Penn State has a great program. Uh, Temple University has a, um, expanded, uh, pre-professional health studies program.
Just wanted to name a few more. I think BU and George Washington have, um, or seven year programs. Yeah. There’s a, there’s quite a bit out there that people don’t, um, realize until they start Googling it. Yeah, no, I, I, I, it was an education for me working with my student to realize how many there were and like all the different avenues and requirements.
And we sat down and created a spreadsheet for all the essays. And there are a ton of essays. There are a ton of essays though. I paid for the spreadsheet, uh, method. It’ll help you keep track of all of them. And I also also have earlier deadlines. So you’ll see like November 1st, November 15th, November 30th deadlines.
And so those are all things to also keep track of for all of you, uh, seniors out there. Yes. Um, a lot, a lot. So thanks folks for taking this survey, I’m gonna close it out and it looks like the majority of folks are researching. So this is why they want from you. They wanna know what they should be looking at, um, what they should be considering as they put it together.
A small percentage of working on their essays. So kudos to you for getting at early start. Um, and a few folks are still getting their application materials together for the folks who haven’t started. No worries. That is why we’re here to help you get that jump start going. All right. Thanks Katie. Thanks folks for doing that poll.
I’ll kick it back over to you.
Okay. So how do you stand out when applying to BSMD program? So there’s a couple of things going on. um, so the first thing is gonna be essays, right? And I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time. And I also emphasize this. I think essays are an incredibly important part of your application. I would like to think that’s like a major part in what helped me stand out in terms of getting into my programs.
So what are some qualities that they might be looking for? Well, if you think about it from their perspective, right? Think about it from, um, like a BSMD admissions officer. You’re looking at getting into the undergraduate college, and then you also have to get into the BSMD program, which is often the readers of your applications are gonna be physicians themselves.
Um, so things that they’re looking for, they want to really see maturity kind of like your ability to handle difficult situations, your coping skills, resiliency, independence, that kind of information, because they really wanna make sure that you are gonna not only make it through undergrad, you’re gonna make it through undergrad and do well.
And also that you are dedicated to medicine that. You are going to mature into a good doctor, that you are gonna make it through medical school as well. So there’s kind of all of these things I could think of it as they’re essentially taking a risk on you. They’re, they’re kind of rolling the dye with taking this 18 year old and saying like, oh yes, I’m gonna give them acceptance into my medical school.
Right. So it is a big chance they’re taking on you. So it’s really important that in your essays, you’re really showing these qualities. And I always say, right, like the, the typical, like show, not tell I that’s like a basic tenant of writing, but I always to say, like, when you’re writing in your sentences, I have to think of it as.
You only have EV like very few words, try to make those words as precise as possible, not concise, but precise haven’t mean what you say to mean. And really every sentence ha can, can have like hidden meanings of like humble bragging, I guess. I like to say, right. It’s not as if you, you do not need to come out and be like, I am such a selfless person.
Right. You can kind of embed that, um, kindness into what you talk about or in your story and kind of how you show that in your actions or whatever you’re writing about. Um, so, okay. Um, keep in mind that undergrad school essays are different from med school essays. So the typical med school essays, um, and when I say med school, I mean like the, the BSMD side of it, um, they will always ask you, why do you want to go into medicine, please talk about some of your experiences.
What’s your interest in medicine. They will also almost always ask why do you want to enter this program specifically? So that’s where you need to do program specific research. And the third question is usually some of a toss up question. So some schools like Rice, for example, will ask you, what’s something difficult that you’ve had to overcome in your life.
Um, Brown will ask unless they change it recently. Like what does professionalism mean to you? Um, they will ask kind of all sorts of these, like trying to get at your inner qualities kinds of questions. Um, and then for the undergrads, I’m sure like you have seen a, like, if, if you have been looking at any of these essays, those are kind of a whole other batch.
So make sure that across these essays, we like to say is think of them as a portfolio. So for Brown alone, it’s gonna be a lot of essays. I think it’s like six, seven essays at this point, if you apply to the BSMD program, which not all of them are very long, so don’t get too scared, but it’s important to note that you have all of these essays and you wanna think of it as presenting yourself as a whole person.
So you want things to kind of fit like a puzzle with each other, but you don’t want them to overlap. So for example, what I recommend is don’t talk about how you want to be a doctor in every single essay. Think about it from like the reader’s perspective, right? They’re reading them all in one 15 minute, go, it’s gonna be really repetitive of over and over.
You’re like, I want to become a doctor because I wanna help people over and over again. That’s going to be really repetitive. How can you show those qualities when you’re talking about different things and how can we fit together in a Jap puzzle? Um, finally, the other thing is interest in medicine, remember to pick out specifically like pick out specifics about why you’re interested in medicine.
Um, the example I gave was I want to help people and that’s hopefully, hopefully like every doctor wants to help people and. Be more specific than that, right? Like what is it about the active physician, for example, that might Inc that might particularly want you to become a physician and not, um, a nurse or a social worker, so, or a lawyer who advocates for people.
Right? These are all things that I often think about when I’m asking people, why do you want to be a doctor? Um, so for example, you could talk about physician advocacy as a particular route or being a physician educator. Um, what are the different kind of like faces that a doctor has to put on that really kind of call to you as a person that can really show me that you are genuinely interested in medicine, and again, you are writing to a doctor, so you writing, like I want to help people like, and repeating that over and over, whatever.
And you know, I’m gonna give an example is not, might not convince them. You wanna have a specific of a story as you were able to tell, kind of think about your own experiences. Good and bad with doctors and what are some things that you could kind of draw on from there? Um, And how can that be in a story?
So finally, I’ll speak to a little bit to my own essays. Um, so I’ll kind of speak to, so my essay was about, I kind of told it in like this joke of which I was like doing a little surgery on a pig, and that ultimately translated into me talking about, um, I know that doesn’t sound like a joke. You’d have to understand.
Sorry. Um, but it kind of translated into me talking about physician education. So I’m particularly interested in teaching. I really enjoy teaching, hence why I’m here. And so I really talked about how a physician and in their essential role is their role is an educator and I’ve always wanted kind of that direct patient contact.
Um, I’m not someone who now that I’m here is particularly loves like rounds. I like having, or like surgeries. I love having patients come into my office and kind of talking to them one on one, getting to know them. And in that process, part of my job as a, as a doctor is to practice education on Nutri.
Practice education on alcohol use, practice education on tobacco use, right? These are all things that I have practiced in school and I have thoroughly enjoyed and things that I knew back then, even that I really enjoyed. Um, so that’s kind, that was kind of like my little path. And then I talked a little bit about, at the time I had worked at a suicide hotline in high school.
So I talked a lot about my experience in the suicide hotline and how it taught me to like, listen in between the words, if that makes sense. And also kind of really showed my resiliency and see in terms of dealing with really difficult cases and just talking to people in general. And I think ultimately like my passion for working with mental health and specifically that I wanted to get at the time, I really thought I wanted to get into thinking about child abuse and how it affects, um, kids and kind of like trauma and that whole sphere.
And who knows, like I’m still in it today. So I guess it worked out, but that was kind of like my set of, um, medical essays that I can speak to. Okay, how difficult is it to get in? Like I had said, said earlier, it is incredibly competitive. So they accept anywhere from five to 20 students. I think the five is rice.
Baylor is famously like very few. Um, so the acceptance rate is some more, less than 3% every year. And I don’t say that to discourage folks. I say that because I want you to be prepared and I want your essays to be the best they can be. And hopefully this is one of those like encouraging things where you’re like, I understand now I have to make this essay and work really hard on these essays.
Um, also consider BS D programs is what I said here. Okay. So about PLME specifically. So we are a program that emphasizes liberal arts and you’re like what? I thought medicine was about science. Yes. And we also are looking for well-rounded doctors. So that’s kind of what drew me to Brown actually specifically, like I had said earlier, I was.
Really interested in humanities and really enjoyed it and just didn’t really have the tools to explore that in high school, I was, I went to like a much more like stem focused school for some, um, like it just happened. Stance happened to be that way because of our teachers. And so that’s important to know is like I wanted to explore.
And I think plenty really is looking for that. Our Dean, um, who just retired actually, but she used to always say like the L and plan is very important, alpha liberal arts. Um, so you’ll have your own advisor in your first year. Who fun thing is part is one of the application readers for you all. Um, You’ll also be mentored by Michael Johns, who are older upperclassmen, who are specifically first year advisors.
Some of the requirements include four courses in biology, biochemistry, chem like biochemistry, chemistry. Um, notably the one thing that is missing is that you don’t have to take the last semester of organic chemistry. I know this is like getting a little too specific, um, other things to note you can test out of it.
So to be honest, I, um, tested outta physics and math. So I haven’t taken physics or math in the five, six years now at this point. Um, other than that, you really are free as a bird. So you can take all your other classes, pass, fail. If you want to. Not many people do that. And I don’t wanna give the wrong impression of Brown because that’s really not how the students are here.
Everyone’s really driven, but you could technically do that. And you just as well could take all of your classes for a grade and you could take only the hardest classes. Um, and so for me, it’s like, it’s like a really good way. If you have multiple interests, for example, if you really love computer science or you really love, um, English or literary arts or.
Visual art or dance. Like these are all ways that you can incorporate that into your education. Um, matriculation into Albert medical school in downtown Providence. So you are allowed two years off with like justification and then any more years require usually a longer written consultation. So you can take two years off, like for pretty much like most reasons and then enter med school.
Um, and there’s also PLE only opportunities. So for example, like when I was talking about going to China and Taiwan to learn about Chinese medicine, you can also go to Germany, study ethics and aging. Um, we have summer funding for research. That’s only for PLE needs. We have all these connections to professors in our area and doctors love to work with us because they’re like, Hey, you’re gonna be here for eight years.
Like, you’re gonna be great, like help because I can basically keep you here for eight years. Um, if you want to, to work on their project. So they love to hear that about, um, students.
Okay. Final advice. Remember what is already known to admission advisors from your resume, your personal statement, right. Again, with the not repeating things, there are some don’t. Describe to me what you do in red cross, because that should be in the resume section, the extracurricular section already. I don’t need to know exactly what you’ve done.
Tell me a story about that. Tells me about your personal connection to red cross. For example, um, standing out is really tough. It’s really hard to be like, I have to write a really unique essay. Like no one else can have written this essay. I think that might be impossible. Even try to commit it from your own perspective.
And you know, if you’re conveying about yourself, at least you or your own person, so whatever qualities that you can tell, the stories that you have, that’s the way to go. And the final thing take a risk. You’ll have saw many essays, so, so, so many essays, um, Some of your essays might be safe for like the essay I was describing earlier that I talked about my work with a suicide hotline.
That was my personal statement. That in my book was like a safer essay in terms of like, you know, it was about one of my extracurriculars. I kind of talked about what I learned that was like a pretty like straightforward essay about an extracurricular, if you will. Um, but I also wrote some risky essays.
For example, I wrote one of my essays in the form of an autopsy report, as wild as that sounds. And I kind of wrote about it in a way to describe, um, my personality and kind of my, the way I approached speech and debate was one of them or some other Wilder essays. I wrote goodness. Um, I wrote an essay about a, um, what are those called a flower shop and related it to education somehow about like flowers being clipped and whatnot.
I don’t know. Um, but anyways, what I’m trying to say is don’t be afraid to take some risks with some of your essays, that kind, that can be your chance to stand out. And especially for like these really top tier Ivy league schools, they really want to see. The fact that you are, you can write and that you love to say about yourself.
I think that’s like a really good way to go with there, but those are my piece of advice and that’s it. Awesome. Thanks so much, Katie. Um, so we do have some questions coming in. Uh, and the first question I think goes back to you briefly mentioned kind of the do programs, but what is the difference between, um, being a do or getting an MD?
Uh, if you could clarify. Yeah. So a doctor of osteopathic medicine, do I think technically what they say is that it’s considered, um, a more holistic understanding or like a more holistic view of medicine. I think realistically, like you can practice in the same way, so you can do the same medical practices that MD can.
It might that the matching process. So the process that comes after medical school might be a little bit different. A B S D O program typically is easier to get into. They have like slightly higher acceptance rates. By all means it’s not gonna be easy. I think they still accept like a small women amount of people, but, um, the acceptance rates are typically a little bit higher.
Um, and then, uh, one student asked if you can apply early decision for the Brown program. So if you can clarify, I guess, like the specific deadlines for those programs and how they might be different from early action, early decision, et cetera. Yeah, absolutely. So for the Brown, B S F D program specifically, um, that deadline is gonna be November 1st and you can apply ed to Brown to the BSMD program.
However, it’s important to note that if you get into Brown as the undergrad institution, early decision, but you do not get into PLME, you are still committed because it’s early decision, right? It’s EDU you are still committed to go to the undergrad. Um, even if you don’t get into the BSMD program, um, that being said, I have heard of some students getting in like over the regular decision cycle in January.
So that can also happen. Other programs will work a little bit differently. So Northwestern, for example, um, I believe their BSMD program deadline is, or it used to be like December 1st, same thing with Bryce. So a lot of programs are different and you have to really do your research as to if you are committing yourself to the program or not.
Um, Rochester, for example, I think you are not committing to the program. And if you get into the BSMD program, you automatically get into the undergrad program. That is not the case for every school. Um, so that’s important to know. Okay. So it feels like in the research process, you need to really clarify what the school’s policy practice is.
Yeah. And it’s, and it can be very, very frustrating because every single school has their own website. And I think that’s part of like a little bit of the pain of applying to these programs. But amongst like the well known programs, their policies are pretty straightforward. So you can get an interview for the BSMD program at Northwestern, meaning like you progress the next step of the BSMD process, but that does not guarantee that you’ve gotten into the under.
and typically like they will delineate that pretty clearly in the email that you get. So, um, yeah, that makes sense. Um, so we got a couple of questions for folks asking for your advice on what they can be doing now. Are there specific classes they should be taking? What they, what can they do in high school in order to set themselves up to have a successful medical career?
Yeah. So when it comes to these medical programs, I like to think of it as like three basic check boxes. And when I say that, I want to emphasize that this, this is not mean you have to check off all of the check boxes. I did not. Um, so I wanna be clear on that. So the first one is going to be some sort of like hospital shadowing or clinical experience.
So that can be in, um, like a senior home that can be in a hospital. Right. And I totally understand that for a lot of high schoolers. Like I was like, we’re a little too young sometimes to get started early and they’re aware of that. Um, so shadowing is gonna be the first one. um, the second one is going to be research.
So if you can get any form of research and like the highest level of that is gonna be a publication, I don’t even have a publication yet. And I’m a medical student. So I, by no means saying that you could do that. What I’m trying to say is like really any form of like any exposure to research can be really helpful.
Um, so there are like summer research programs, for example, that you can apply to that, um, can really help show that you have interest in the subject and kind of, you are able to talk about that experience. Um, well, um, and then the third thing is just going to be. Goodness. What is the other thing? Why I always say this?
I think it’s, it was like extracurriculars related to science and, and those, and like, kind of like, cuz sometimes you can’t show interest specifically in medicine. So just broadly kind of showing interest in science and, and those kind of areas that being said, like people transfer all the time, so it’s not a must, but those are kind of like the three things that I often talk about, um, will affect your chances of getting into medical programs.
Like I said, they like to see an interest in medical. Like they want to see like a, like, like every major they wanna see some interest in medical, like related fields. And that can look like any form of that. As long as you’re kind of showing that interest or if you’re able to write it very convincingly in your essay that might also work.
Um, but they are taking a chance on either taking a chance that you are going to be a high schooler who is going to go into medicine, right? Like they ideally want you to finish out the whole eight year program. So in essence, like as part of your essays, think of it as you are essentially convincing them that you want to be a.
um, and classes. Yeah, I was gonna say, are there specific classes that you folks wanna look at, too? Sure. Yeah. So the required classes, once again, I hate to say this, it is gonna differ slightly between schools and programs. Um, that being said, I think the majority of it’s gonna be like, just generally, most schools are looking for four years of English, right?
Four years of math, um, four years or, or the three years of science, like biology, chemistry, physics, generally. Um, so there’s not specifics usually that they, like, you must have. Um, that being said, like different programs. I know I did, I was doing some research with my CollegeAdvisor student at one point.
And like, she was an international student and we were like, oh no, cuz one of the class requirements was you take a class in us history. And she was like, I’m from Canada. Like I’ve never taken a us history class. Um, so we had to like work around that and like call them and see what, what was up with that.
But I think they ended up being like, oh, it just has to be a history class. Um so anyways, I think the requirements generally are pretty basic. Um, you do want to best as best as you can show your, um, competence in, in like especially the science and math subjects, right? So that, that can happen through AP tests or IB tests.
I, um, or any kind of form of that advanced taking advanced math courses in a community college, all of that can be ways to show your proficiency in those subjects. Um, and that will help. I’ll be honest. thank you. Um, one question I got earlier was how, what advice would you give for students who are trying to find the best program for them, given that there are limited programs?
Like what should they be looking for outside of the fact that it’s a dual degree? Yeah, that can be really tough. Um, so I think I started out by really figuring out, like, I kind of had like this whole list of BSMG programs and I thought kind of about how many students they accept and whether or not like, for example, the state specificity would probably rule me out.
So I was from California and I was like, yeah, I don’t think university of Connecticut’s gonna want me, I don’t think universities, like the records, universities didn’t want me, cuz I think at that time, at least they had like more in, they were like, they, they skewed towards instate. Um, BSMD acceptances. So I was like, okay.
So I eliminated some of those, um, the other thing that I kind of chose by was also if I was excited to go to the undergrad. Cause I think I get that question a lot, which is like, should I go to a program in which I’m not as excited about the undergrad as I am about the BSM P program overall? Um, I got lucky cuz Brown, I really lived as an undergrad institution, but for example, when I visited another and I’m not gonna name them another BSM P program, I ended up decided the location was like in a, like, it was in a very, very small town and being from Los Angeles, I was like, I don’t think this is the right environment for me.
Um, so I ended up eliminating them for my list, uh, was one example. Um, the other thing is really that year thing was what I was emphasizing pay attention to whether or not they require an MCAT, whether or not be GPA average. Right. Those are all things that you have to decide. Like, do I want to take the time to take the MCAT?
Um, do I want the flexibility of being able to drop out? Am I willing to have a shorter undergraduate education? Um, and am I confident that I. like will do really well in all the sciences and kind of like be able to speed through it. Like, and some people are certainly are like very, very competent sciences and will be able to speed right through it.
And some people like me were just like, I actually really want to do some, anything like butt sciences in my undergrad education to be totally honest. I mean, obviously I did the science that I was required to, but I was like, I really wanna do the science adjacent things. Like what is a history of science?
Um, and so I chose Brown because I knew that it emphasized liberal arts much more, and that really came through on my application. And so, um, yeah. And that’s how it worked out well, for me, I know you touched on this a little bit earlier, but if you could, I guess revisit deciding between, uh, BSM MD program and just going pre-med like, what are the kind of critical differences between those two choices?
Yeah. So, um, the pre-med pathway is going to be, you get into college. And, um, I think a lot of people have this. They, they think that there’s a pre-med major. There is not a pre-med major , um, you can actually major in whatever you want, as long as you complete, ultimately the requirements that medical schools, um, want to see.
So you can major whatever you want and then you, but you do have to take a certain amount of courses. So you have to get up to a certain calculus. Um, I think it’s like calculus, BC, um, take some physics, uh, chemistry, organic chemistry, all of these basic class requirements, then take the MCAT. And then to my knowledge, at least all my friends have said all of that thus far was pretty reasonable.
And then we get to the application portion for different people. That’s gonna be different amounts of stressful, but it could be pretty stressful, right? Like imagine the college application process all over again, but maybe we like. Quite a bit harder, um, think of it that way. And, and with in person interviews this time, um, like fly out to places, so it can be a job process.
Um, but that’s kinda the process of it. Um, I know for a lot of like a lot of my friends, um, really love the traditional pathway in the sense that first of all, they weren’t sure that they wanted to do medicine right away. And so I think they maybe first wanted to be engineers or some of them did wanna go into medicine, but they were like, actually I think I wanna take the time to, um, decide that for myself in undergrad, in case my mind really changes.
Um, and for other folks, they just really wanted the flexibility of being able to go wherever they wanted. So maybe for example, I don’t know, like you don’t get into the undergrad school of your dreams, but you’re like, that’s okay. Like I wanna go to this school, like, I want to go to like this other school, the school of my dreams for medical school.
And that’s like one path you can kind of work towards. You’re like, yes, I really wanna go to that school for medical school, you have the flexibility to apply to all these medical schools when you’re going to traditional pathway. Whereas you are more confined in a BSMD program. You are most likely going to go to the same institution for, in a BSMD program.
Um, so that’s kind of one of the benefits, I think, to the premed pathway. Can you speak to if there was a, and maybe you may not have this context of like, is it a financial decision for some folks, especially paying for the eight years versus paying for the six or seven years? Yeah. Should that be a motivating factor for deciding between BSMD and like pre-med or, or majoring in, you know?
Yeah. And I think it is for a lot of folks in terms of like applying to medical school is. Really expensive. It’s like, it’s like applying to college, right? Like all the application fees add up all the flights, certainly add up. Um, the other thing, cause I had this, I kept on this question. I think last time I gave this lecture, which was on financial aid.
So you might also decide it based on, um, the undergrad institution will give you a certain amount of financial aid and you might get into a pre-med school. Let’s say you get into like amazing, like let’s think into like Harvard, right? And they give you a full financial aid package versus you get into a smaller BSMD school and you have to pay your way all the way through it.
Um, that might be a big decision in, in terms of like making the choice between guaranteed medical program versus like it’s a full financial aid ride. Um, so that’s like one thing that I think comes up for a lot of my students sometimes. Um, typically if you get into a BSMD program, the undergraduate financial aid policy is what applies to you.
So think of yourself as like a typical undergrad student, as far as financial aid. But then once you get into medical school, then the medical school, financial aid policy applies, and I’m gonna be totally honest. Medical school is a big money drainer. It’s very, very expensive and the loans are not good.
They do not give you a good interest rate. They expect you to finish medical school and they expect you to pay it back. So that’s very expensive. um, and that’s like, again, another benefit of the pre-med is like, if you are, as you’re applying to medical school, you might think, oh, okay. I only want to apply the medical schools where I know I’m gonna get a good financial aid package for medical school.
So one of my best friends, for example, applied to Cornell and got in their medical school and their medical school, I think has like a, like a loan free policy, where if you, if you demonstrate need, they will just give you the money and that worked out beautifully for her. And so that’s like another thing to think about is.
Balancing like the, Ooh, the expense of applying to medical school versus, Ooh. If I get into a medical school with a really good financial aid package, it’s plausible, I might have to pay much less money or get much nicer loans from the school than you could get from the government or from like a private entity.
Um, so definitely very important. thanks for that. And there’s clearly a lot of different factors going on. Um, a lot of things to ask yourself, a lot of areas where you might need some guidance. So for those in the room who aren’t currently working with us, we know how overwhelming the process can be, especially for those, uh, who wanna pursue specialized program like this.
So our team of over 300, four minute admissions officers and admission experts like myself are ready to help you. And your family’s navigated all in one-on-one advising sessions. If you’re interested or excited, uh, to get that kind of help, you can take the next step in your college admissions journey by signing up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session with an admission specialist on our team, you can scan the QR code on the screen.
During that meeting, we’ll review your extracurriculars. We’ll talk about an application strategy, discuss how you line up your college list and also outline tools that you need to stand out in the competitive admissions world. If the QR code isn’t working for you, you will also be directed to, to sign up for a meeting.
Right after, um, the webinar closes. So wanna encourage folks to do that? We’ll leave the QR code up there. Um, and we’ll get back to questions. Um, sorry, let me pull up this next question. So one question came in, which is how much of a co a life are you really, really able to have? What is college life like when you are in a BSMD program?
Are you able to enjoy the college experience and some folks also ask, can you balance that program with other extracurricular activities like sports or like playing an instrument? Yeah. So I can speak to my own experience, which is that Brown’s BSMD program is built to be more freeing than it is restrictive.
So I honestly had way more free time than, um, my classmates who are the pre-med program, just because like. because of the conditional acceptance. Like I did not have to necessarily lose stress about my grades as much. I took a lot of my chemistry classes pass fail, because I knew that it wasn’t information I would need in medical school necessarily to like a high degree.
And also because I knew like that was a weak point of mind to be perfectly blunt. Um, and so I was like, I’m gonna take it pass, fail. I’m gonna relieve the stress for myself. And then I’m gonna take a bunch of other classes and things that I really love and work, um, harder on those. So just put simply yes, I had a lot of free time.
I had a lot of time to explore a bunch of different fellowships at Brown. I was a part of a whole bunch of different like writing fellowships, storytelling, fellowships, um, extracurriculars, just like starting to do research. I was able to get a lot more research experience under my belt than a typical pre-med student, because of not only the connections, but also because I simply had the time to dedicate.
I was like, yeah, I. I, I am able to dedicate this time because I don’t have to worry so much about exactly what I need to be getting done and always free classes. Um, that being said, some BSMD programs are not organized like mine. So like, like I was saying like a six year program, for example, you, uh, might not have so much free time.
You might be really like, if you’re taking like four stem classes this semester, which I know doesn’t sound like much too. Maybe you guys, um, but from a college load perspective, that’s a lot of stem classes, right? So you might constantly, constantly, constantly be on top of it, kind of like preparing for test studying and important to know.
I think also is that in college, it’s the setup slightly different from high school in that they don’t give you a lot of homework for the most part where it’s not about homework, it’s about like these tests that you’ve graded on. So you might have three tests for one class, so you can study as much or as little as you need.
Um, you just need to do well. And everyone else also will be studying hard do well. Um, so that’s kind of the way I think about it. Your grades and undergrad do matter for college, um, unless you’re a BSMB program in which case different requirements. But yes. So what I’m trying to say is an eight year program, like mine tend to be much more flexible than a typical pre-med schedule, a shorter program.
Like, um, um, MKC might be more restrictive than a typical pre-med schedule. Um, so just depends on which side of the landing you want to go on. Um, what’s an ask an interesting question of, do you think there are common mistakes that students make
steps that folks encounter during their, during their initial time in the program? Yeah. Uh, like mistakes when applying or mistakes when they’re in the program, mistakes when they’re enrolled. Okay. Um, so mistakes when they’re enrolled. I think the biggest one is that people go in a lot of us go in thinking like, Ooh, we are big biology buffs.
Like we love biology. Let’s take only biology classes. And I think. A lot of like, and our advisors do a great job at, at Brown of like encouraging you to do at least one class. That’s kind of like outside of your comfort zone, something that you’ve never seen before. So that’s where my deaf class came in.
My, um, first year of college was I took a random deaf class my very first semester, and that really opened my eyes like, wow, this professor is really inspiring. He’s up there on the podium. He’s giving lectures as if. Like, I don’t know, as if he’s giving like a Ted talk, I was like, this is shocking. And then I went on to take more history classes at Brown.
So apparently Brown is actually really, really well known for history. Um, and I was like, wow, all of these professors, I’m like, this is amazing. Um, they’re so inspiring. And I still think about them to this day, every time like I have to talk in class, I’m always able to reference things that I learned in undergrad that are not at all medicine related.
So anyways, long story short, what I’m trying to say is I think people focusing too much on the biology courses. When in reality, like once you get to med school, you will understand that what you learn in biology is quite a bit different from what you learn from biology and undergrad. Um, because they’re, they’re aimed different things.
Right. And undergrad’s aimed at research and then in col or yeah, and then in medical school, it’s aimed at like clinical things. So you’re learn more about diseases and stuff. Um, so broadening your focus is what I would recommend. Um, yeah. And then I, I think a common mistake in AP applications, which I feels like I’m, I, I swear I do like biology.
I’m not here to like pee, hating on it, but a common mistake that I’ll see is people will apply to like just plain biology to a lot of schools, because it can be really difficult to write a why major essay about biology. If you only have experience with biology in like, um, a class setting. So, um, I’ve read my fair share of essays.
I’ve also read a lot of essays that are like, I sat there in the classroom learning about myosis and wow. It was myosis. My mind was blown and I was like, yes, but also everyone else has a very similar experience to this. Can we think about like, do some research into school, like figure out like, Ooh, what are some things that might be specifically interesting to you?
Possibly with a different major, right? Like, feel free to explore that. So, um, yes, you do not have to be a biology major to be a pre-med student. I appreciate you sharing that. I have a student who, like I said, is doing BSMD and they’re specifically interested in neuroscience and she was saying to your point, like, but I don’t know, like, I don’t know a lot.
And I was like, well, that’s the kind of. Point of why you’re applying to the program is that you have this interest, you have this big kind of understanding of what neuroscience is, but you know that this school is good at it. And you want to get the resources and support that this particular school offers in order to learn and deepen your knowledge about neuroscience.
So exactly. I think, I think sometimes students are afraid to be like, I don’t know, but I wanna learn about it, but that’s the whole point of, of going. Yeah, exactly. Like, I, I mean, most people, I would assume have not taken neuroscience in high school. I certainly didn’t. I was like, I don’t, I don’t know. I want neuroscience.
Um, I knew something about biology, but I was like, no, but I wanna know more about, I applied as psych of science major. So I was like, but I wanna know more about this thing. So this is what I’m gonna apply to. Yeah. Uh, I appreciate you just affirming that. So some folks were asking about the difference between PA programs, nursing programs.
I don’t know if you can speak to how those compare contrast to the BSMD. Yeah, I can speak kind of briefly. So PA is physician assistants and N P is nurse practitioner for those who don’t. So those are different from a do in that. Um, either of those, you are not a medical doctor. Um, it’s, it’s a completely different, uh, like license and like job, um, like description that you are doing.
Um, so a PA I worked with a lot of them at, uh, the emergency room, for example. Um, I think it’s a shorter pathway. I, I believe I’m, yeah. I believe it’s like a shorter pathway. I think an MP can also be a shorter pathway. Both have a lot of different variety of opportunities. I think with nursing, particularly like you can really get like different levels of licensing, depending on how far up you want to go.
Um, and then a PA is like, like, the name is like, you’re a physician’s assistant. So, um, a lot, some of the PAs I know, like they do a lot of the work that you might imagine a doctor doing. Like, you go in, you talk to the patient, you do all these things. Um, but ultimately like. Uh, I, as a doctor or them as a doctor, like they are the ones who are like, this person needs to get an x-ray, this person needs to get these medications.
So, um, I like to think of it as like, at least in the ER, cause that’s a setting that I know best where PA works with the doctor or a bunch of PAs with the doctor, think of the doctor as like the final sign off. And also as like, um, kinda like a leader of a team, like it’s, it’s, it’s very much like a team exercise and the doctor is like the final sign off on it.
Cool. Thanks. Uh, I know, I think there are some nursing programs that are still five or six years, but they may not be as long as, um, seven or eight years, like something. Um, but yeah, if you could speak a little bit to the research, cuz I, I know there are some folks who are like, what does that mean? What can I do?
How, how can I get research in? Um, if you could speak to your personal experience or advice you have for like building that particular area up in an application. Yeah. So as a high schooler, I’m not going to lie. It’s incredibly difficult to get research and that’s something I am fully aware of. The application readers are fully aware of as well.
Um, So it’s tough. Um, something I started with was, and, and I know this sounds like really sad, but just dry emailing professors or something that I did and kind of introducing myself, attaching my resume sometimes. And that was typically more my sophomore and junior year. It does help if you have some sort of skills, which, I mean, I, I didn’t, to be honest, so I can’t really say anything, but I know, I know people who have like different coding skills, like have a leg up in that process.
Um, so why I draw emails, a bunch of professors, like out of 10 professors, you should expect one to respond maximum. They, their answer might be no. Um, so just be aware that it’s gonna be a lot of rejection. Um, the other path is to apply to programs. So there are some nice, like there are some free program, there are some paid programs.
Um, ideally you wanna, you’re looking for a research program in which you work with a mentor. So you have like a one-on-one or like one on two experience where you’re in their lab, assisting them with their research. Just because like, because of, um, your youth as a high school, or even like me to this day, I mainly work on other people’s projects that they come up with first because it really only like the highest, like PhDs, like beyond like the age to have like actually develop their own projects.
So ideally you wanna kind of like hop onto a project and, and just like, I like to say, like, if you can get like an abstract out of it, which pretty much, if you ask any professor, like, can I get an after out of this? It’s usually, it’s like, it’s not very difficult. Cause abstracts are very short or like maybe 300 words and kind of like a description of what you worked on.
Um, that is usually like enough to serve as like, Hey, I did something. Poster presentations are the next level up and then publish paper. Like I was saying, I have not accomplished yet. However, I know some high schoolers are able to accomplish that. So , that’s also a. Yeah, no. Um, like I said, my student is doing research based on other people’s data, cuz she wants to do neuroscience, but clearly they’re not gonna let her that’s the way to go people’s brain.
Um, so she’s way to go data from other folks research and then kind of doing a compare and contrast. So exactly that’s the way to go. They already had the data for you cuz you can’t like as a high school, you probably are not really able to talk to patients cuz that’s like breaking the rules sometimes in some cases, depending on your age.
So it’s much easier if they’re like here there’s some data, take a look at it. take a look at it. Yeah, exactly. Um, so someone asks, if you could clarify the difference between BAMD and BSMD, is there a big difference? It’ one harder. Easier. Yeah. So there’s not actually a real difference between the two, um, BA versus BS is just the name of the degree.
So most schools will offer a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Bachelor of Science. So for example, um, neuro that’s, like neuroscience example at Brown neuroscience, there’s a BA program and a BS program. The BS for program, I think requires like two extra lab classes or something of that sort. And the BA program does not.
So that is really just like an undergrad getting a degree thing. Um, the program itself, in terms of like the BS and BAMD thing does not have any significant difference. It’s just about like what you choose to major in and what degree you choose to get within that. Um, that is all of our questions. I don’t know if you have any parting thoughts or, or last minute advice to give, especially for our rising seniors, uh, before we close out for tonight.
Yes. Um, best of luck to you all. And there are so many more essays that you could ever imagine. Please get started on brainstorming, um, soon. Yeah. Um, so yeah, thank you so much. Uh, Katie, it was a great, great presentation. We really enjoyed your enthusiasm, um, during the session. And also thank you for tackling so many of the questions that is the end of the webinar.
We hope you gain some really valuable strategies and insights onto BSMD programs. Our July webinar series continues with a Masterclass of Supplemental Essays, which will be tomorrow, July 7th. So if you are looking for some support around writing, you might wanna join that. We’ll also have Finding the Right College Community on the 11th, Financial Aid and Scholarships 101 on the 13th, and then we’ll have a College Panel with Yale University on July 17th.
So I hope to see some of you as some of our future webinars until then have a great evening, um, take care.