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6 Tips for Pre-Meds During the Quarantine

MedSchoolCoach Founder, Dr. Sahil Mehta, explains how you can turn the effects of COVID-19 into a positive by using it to better yourself, your health, and your medical school application!

He shares his top tips for pre-meds and answers questions like:

  • How do I stay healthy during the quarantine?
  • What can I do to stay social and improve my family life?
  • Should I use the time for a passion project?
  • How can I improve my medical school application when I’m stuck at home?

More links from the video:

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hey, guys. Dr. Mehta here. In some of the last videos we’ve talked about the MCAT as well as admissions and how that changes this year because of COVID-19, if you haven’t seen those videos, make sure to hit the subscribe button and the bell because you can get notifications and all our videos which we release.

We’re trying to keep you updated on really a daily basis here because we know that a lot of you guys out there are looking for information. In today’s video, though, we’re going to cover something a little bit different. I want you to turn this negative into a positive. How can you use this time to better yourself, your health, your family, as well as your med school application Let’s dive into a few specifics.

Now, the first tip I have for this time is take some time for yourself. You’re at home. You probably have a workout routine, but if you don’t, you should get into one. Make sure you’re spending at least 30, 45 minutes a day doing something to keep physically fit. For those of you who have a workout routine already, incorporate something new, something you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t had time for. Maybe it’s yoga or meditation to go along with the running and weightlifting that you’ve always done. These new things that we want to experiment with like this is a perfect time. There’s actually a great app called Down Dog, which is free until May. It’s got yoga. It’s got meditation. It’s got high intensity training. All these things that we don’t think about sometimes as a pre-med student because we’re sitting in a library and pounding away. Now is a great time. Use this time for your mental health.

I also want you to use this time for your social health. Now you’re social distancing, Right? If you’re not, you definitely should. It’s definitely helping flatten the curve. We all know these new words. It’s really important that you stay inside the house or limit your exposure as much as possible to other people. But those who are living in the same household are now the people you’re going to see on a daily basis. Now, you may have been a pre-med who came home from college. Maybe your brother and sister are also home. And your parents. When’s the last time you guys all got together as a family? You’ve been a premed for a number of years away at college, doing all the things that you need to do in order to get into med school. Now is the time maybe to reconnect with your parents, right? Put away your phones for an hour a day. See what happens. Play some board games a night. See what happens. I promise you, you’re going to enjoy that time. And it’s time that you probably would have never had without this crisis that we’re facing right now.

Now, we talked about your mental health. We talked about your physical health. Let’s talk a little bit about how maybe you can actually use this time to improve your application itself along with helping the world. And that’s what I want to focus this on, is use this time to do some good for the world. I saw a medical student who was sent home from rotations and actually decided to start a COVID-19 health literacy project in different languages. So in rapid fashion, she was able set up a website which was able to give COVID-19 information to the lay public in different languages because there was a gap of knowledge for Spanish speaking, Chinese speaking, Hindi speaking people out there who maybe couldn’t understand what was being published in the English literature. So she was able to take that and turn it into something for them. I mean, what an incredible thing to do. So take this time, do something related, do something good for the world.

Now, it doesn’t all have to be focused around COVID-19. Remember, before this pandemic, the world had plenty of problems famine, poverty, war, inability to access medical care. All those things are still prevalent across the world. So maybe this is the time for you to dig into some of that stuff you’ve been hoping to dig into but never had time for before. You’re gonna make the world a better place and you’re gonna make a better med school applicant.

So you also have a bunch of time now that maybe you didn’t have before because you’re home from school and maybe your colleges have gone to pass fail for this semester. Well, that can be a great thing if you we’re planning to take your MCAT. Now, you know, the MCAT’s been canceled in at least March and early April right now. Probably going to be canceled beyond that as well. But it’s not a test that’s gonna go away. You’re still going to need to take it at some point in almost all situations. So because of that, now is a great time to hunker down and really study for the MCAT. I mean, students would love to have a dedicated six week study time. A lot of you guys out there, we’re balancing classes, balancing extracurriculars, balancing social activities, along with studying for the MCAT. And now essentially you may just have the MCAT to study for. This is your chance to nail it. Really do those practice tests, do AAMC questions, do the classes, do anything you can to make sure your MCAT score is as high as possible. Now’s the time. You have the time. Utilize it.

I’m also going to tease you with something awesome. I’m going to show you how to utilize that MCAT time with something that’s gonna blow your mind, 100% free. Stay tuned to the end of the video. And you’ll get early access to it.

Now, another thing to do now is actually to start on your medical application. And specifically the personal statement, the activities, but also secondaries. Keep in mind a timeline, right? Medical applications typically open up in June. Now this year, it may be pushed back a little bit, but let’s go with that timeline. June applications open up July, August, you start getting secondary applications. Now July, August, September. That’s the time when pre-med students really get bogged down with their secondary essays. You have to write anywhere between one and five essays for all these different schools. You may have applied to 30 schools. A lot of people can’t even get through it. But you now have the time.

You have plenty of time right now to maybe pre-write those secondary essays. That’s such an important thing to do. How do you prevent those secondary essays? Well, go to ProspectiveDoctor.com, click on the tools button and secondary essay database. We’ve compiled all the secondary essays from the last three years from every school in the country and put them here. Now schools may change their secondary from year to year, but the reality is that a lot of schools: #1 Don’t, #2 Even if the secondaries do change, pre-writing these secondaries gives you a huge advantage because you can change a few things to really be able to expedite your submission of them. So there’s no excuses this year. If you’re somebody who’s going to be applying to med school, you should start pre-writing your secondaries now. You have the time.

The last thing I want you do in this time is embrace online learning. A lot of you guys have already learned from videos in the past and online courses in the past. But the reality is our world is totally moving towards that right now in rapid fashion. How does that affect medical education in the future? Well, I’m not completely sure, but I do anticipate that more and more schools will be open to virtual education in the future after even after we get off of the COVID-19 scare / pandemic, not just a scare anymore. It’s actually a reality. That said, embracing virtual learning requires you to redefine how you study and learn. The great thing about it is that you can pick the best of the best. Now, if you had to take a biochem class in college, you had your professor who may have been great, who may have not been great. And that was your only option. Now, the reality is you can choose the best of the best. Go find the best biochem video out there and learn biochem from there, because that’s how you’re going to really learn the material and do well, find the teaching style, find the teacher who really resonates with you and make sure that you’re motivated as really self-motivated to not just watch the video, but be active, take notes during it, do practice questions, all the things that are going to make you understand the concepts.

And that’s why I’m super excited to actually introduce you guys to the MedSchoolCoach MCAT Prep app. This is going to blow your mind and will be out shortly! We’ve compiled the best teacher in the country on the MCAT, specifically in an application that’s all about MCAT. All these videos are 100% MCAT and nothing else. It’s everything you need to score really well and it’s totally free. So go to this page. It’s available for iOS soon! It’s available for Android as well as on your desktop. Go there. You’re gonna love it. It’s 100% free. We have some premium features that we’re adding to it on a day by day basis. But right now, totally free for you guys. I want you to use this time to study for the MCAT. And this app is going to get you an amazing score because it’s got everything you need in one.

So to recap a little bit. Lots going on this world. This pandemic is changing us. We’re all really hopeful that things are going to settle down really soon, that the patients who are suffering from this disease are going to get better, that we don’t accelerate the curve. But I’ve given you a couple of things here to focus on for yourself right now and for your eventual med school application. Why? Because now, more than ever, we need physicians. We need doctors working in hospitals to get our patients better.

Now, you’re not going to be there for a number of years, but I promise you that this was not the first pandemic we’re going to face, nor the last that we’re going to face. There’s going to be additional challenges that come up from now until really our race is done. So we need physicians to help us. And you out there are starting to become one.

Don’t lose sight of your eventual goal. You’re going to get there. Bunker down. Study harder. Use this time for yourself and your application. Before you know it, you’re going to be on the front lines taking care of patients.

Sahil Mehta

Sahil Mehta M.D. is an attending physician in the Department of Radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Founder of MedSchoolCoach. Dr Mehta is one of the world’s experts on medical school admissions having founded MedSchoolCoach in 2007. MedSchoolCoach provides admissions consulting to premedical students in the form of interview preparation, essay editing and general advising. In the past 10 years, he has had a hand in over a thousand acceptances to medical school.

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