As with most things during COVID, medical schools have had to replace in-person interviews and visits for prospective students with virtual options. While it may be challenging to really know what a medical school is like without seeing it and experiencing it yourself, it is still possible to learn a lot about a medical school virtually. We have some tips about how to evaluate medical schools without stepping foot on campus this year.
How to Select a Medical School During COVID:
- Request a virtual tour or attend a virtual open house.
Even if you aren’t there in person, you can get a sense of the people, facilities, and specialties of a program virtually by requesting a 1-on-1 interview, attending an open house, or special event for prospective students. These types of virtual experiences are great opportunities for you to ask questions and feel out the culture of a medical school. It’s also a good way for you to get a sense of what the medical school is most proud of—what did they talk about the most or seem excited about sharing?
Here are a few ideas of good questions to ask during your virtual med school tour:
-What sorts of opportunities are available for students to connect with faculty outside of classes?
-Do you spend any time outside of class with other medical students?
-Are there any clubs or groups to get involved in on campus?
- Talk to current medical students, your peers, and advisors.
If you attend an event at a medical school that you are interested in, try to find out if other current medical students are available to speak with you. You can also do this after a virtual tour.
- Chat with med students in online forums.
Another option is to reach out to your peers and friends through social media and forums like Student Doctor Network or Reddit. Just make sure to take what you read on these forums with a grain of salt as they may not be monitored for fact checking.
- Meet with your undergraduate advisors.
Your undergraduate advisors are also good people to ask for advice about medical schools.
- Ask volunteer or research colleagues if they are familiar with the schools you are considering.
If you completed any clinical experience, volunteering, or research, you can ask the people you worked with if they know anyone who attended the schools you want to learn more about. You’d be surprised how far simple networking can get you.
- Do your internet research.
This last one may sound obvious, but besides researching the medical school’s website extensively (and we mean extensively), you should go beyond the institution's website and look at the school’s social media accounts. Take a look and see if they posted any videos on YouTube. They may have videos from current medical students, virtual tours, and more on there to check out. Do they have an Instagram account or a Facebook account? You could see all of their recent posts and make sure to follow them to be alerted when anything new gets posted. There may also be Facebook groups for the medical school specifically for prospective students as well.
While nothing can replace seeing and experiencing a medical school in person, there are ways to become more confident in what different medical schools have to offer. For additional tips on evaluating med schools virtually, check out this post on virtual med school interviews.