Starting the Medical School Application: DO vs MD

A+goal+without+a+plan+is+just+a+wishMay 1st the application opened as it does every year and finally, I can see what it all looks like. I’m applying to both MD and DO programs this cycle and praying that I get offered an interview. I don’t feel my strengths present well on paper, I’m much more than a list of numbers and letters; I’m a people person.

Fun Fact: Application services names!



Anyway, the application is a bit daunting knowing everything on it matters so much. Both MD and DO applications are very similar. The only major difference other than formatting is the DO application has a lower max character count. DO max character count, including spaces and punctuation, of course, is 4500 for the personal statement and 600 for each experience or achievement. Whereas the MD max character count is 5300 for the personal statement and 700 for each experience with the exception that you can choose 3 most meaningful experiences which allow for 1300 characters.

In reality, all these things should be prepped and ready to go by the first week of May. The application is time consuming enough simply entering in all the grades, contact info, etc. However, even now on May 24th, I haven’t finished writing up all my experiences. With a full-time job and life keeping me busy and classic procrastination on some of the tougher to explain experiences, I really need to crack down and get things done!

However, as far as the timeline goes for those wondering, the application is available to submit the first Monday of June. This year it will be June 6th. That’s one month to get your affairs in order and beg your letter of recommendation writers to submit on time. Timing is essential in the application process. The longer you wait the more applicants’ get ahead of you and your chances decrease. It’s a lot like fishing, the later in the day you wait to get to the river to cast your line, the less likely it is you’ll catch a fish as they will have already eaten for the day. Each week and heaven forbid each month you wait to submit the primary application your chances of catching the fish decrease.

Tips for Med School Applications:

  • Start writing your personal statement in January and make sure a lot of varied people read it. I wrote about 6 drafts and I’m not one to make multiple drafts of everything. (To be honest I usually only re-read these articles once before posting!) So take it from me, its 100% encouraged to even trash a version and start with a fresh sheet.
  • Print up a set of Unofficial Transcripts from every school you attended. It makes entering in your grades a million times easier.
  • Try to establish a good relationship with your letter of recommendation writers. This can be hard, especially in your gap year, but maintaining contact with old professors will save your butt when the time comes.

One last thing, you’ve worked for 4, 6, 8+ years to get to this point and it can be scary having to rely on letter writers to complete your application. What if something goes wrong and you need to resubmit it? For this reason and other, I decided on using Interfolio to gather my letter of recommendations. (Click HERE to see the website) It is $20 for a year subscription and $4 per LOR to submit it to AMCAS or AACOMAS. So I figure with 5 letters and 2 applications that’s a $60 investment for peace of mind and a type of insurance if you will for my letters, as well as my letter writers.

After primary applications come the secondary apps. I’ve yet to tackle these so keep an eye you mid-July/Aug for an article describing that process.

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– Megan 

#lifeinthegap #lifeasapremed


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