Alea Iacta Est

I apologize for my long absence the past few weeks. I’ve been working on the application for my committee letter and it’s taken the vast majority of my time over the past month. I probably put something like 150 hours into it since I started working on it in October.


For those that don’t know what a committee letter is, I’ll explain a little bit. Most large institutions, particularly those that are affiliated with a medical school (e.g., Duke University) have a committee that overseas advising and recommendations for the pre-health professions. Students are given the option to submit a single letter of recommendation from the committee in lieu of soliciting letters from individuals. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, a letter of recommendation from a committee can potentially carry more weight than individual letters because the perspective of the committee is likely to be more informed on how best to support an applicants candidacy. Another thing to keep in mind is that, if an applicant goes to an institution that offers a committee letter, but doesn’t attain one, that tends to raise some flags. Finally, the medical admissions world is not very big – gaining a committee letter from an institution that holds applicants to a high standard can set you apart. Of course, the opposite is also true. If you poison the well at your undergraduate or post-bacc institution, you’re probably screwed.

The institution I chose to do my post-bacc coursework at has a rather rigorous committee letter application process. Several months ago, I had to attend a seminar on the process and more or less sign up to start. The application consisted of a few dozen short essays about our life, goals, reasons for pursuing a career in medicine, and things like that. We also had to compile all of our grades, calculate yearly GPA, report scores, and all of that sort of thing. Essentially, the purpose is to force applicants to compile all of the necessary things for application prior to June, when AMCAS begins allowing applications to be submitted. A secondary purpose for all of the writing is to get students primed to work on their personal statements. I’ll start working on my personal statement next week, but I think that one of my essays will probably be the basis for it.

Once all of that stuff is finished, I’ll have a series of interviews to determine whether or not the committee will support my candidacy or not. If they choose to, I’ll have to submit my application before a certain date and then the committee chair will write a letter of recommendation from the committee, which will be uploaded to AMCAS.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, right out of high school I was an awful student and had a terrible GPA. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago that I put all my grades together and figured out what my stats looked like. It turns out that my overall GPA is a 3.254 with an overall science GPA of 3.475. The picture improves quite a bit, when I look at my post-bacc grades: an overall GPA of 3.842 and a science GPA of 3.802. I have no idea how schools are going to look at this – hopefully they have the sense to see that I didn’t get serious about college until 2003 and that I’m actually serious about what I do today.

Caesar Crossing the Rubicon, from “Figures de L’Historie de la Republique Romaine

I’m set to start finalizing the list of schools that I’m going to be applying to. The Doctor Lady and I have had a lot of discussion on it and she’s gotten a lot more comfortable with some uncertainty about the future. I’m tired of being apart from her. I’m applying exclusively to MD / PhD programs and will probably pick around 15 schools – hopefully my lackluster GPA doesn’t hit the adcom too hard.

It’s interesting – writing nonstop for the past few weeks about my interests and goals in medicine has really helped me articulate it better. Things have come into focus for me a lot more than they would have been a couple of months ago. This is another of those hurdles along the way I suppose – it was an interesting experience, but I’m glad that all the writing is done.

My research project that I’ve been working on took a serious backseat about a month ago, so it’s time to dust it off and get back to work on it. Tonight though, I think I’ll crack a beer, cook up a steak, and play some Skyrim.

Oh. To all of you that helped me review my essays and writing, thanks so much. Couldn’t have done it wihout your help and I know you helped me improve a lot of things. Hopefully I did a decent enough job on it to convince the committee to strongly support my application. I’m going to try not to let myself get too worked up between now and my interview, since there isn’t much more I can do.


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