October 2008

The Newsletter

Founded in 2003, ValueMD has established itself as the undisputed leader for information regarding International Medical Schools.  Over the past few years we have added both Residency and USMLE sections to compliment our very popular Medical Education section, which has expanded our ability to serve even further.  Close to 1 million visitors browse our website each month, making ValueMD the largest and best known resource for International Medical Education.

You asked and we listened.  Thanks to your suggestions, ValueMD is pleased to announce the release of the Inaugural VMD Newsletter.  We intend to use this as an additional vehicle to provide our users with important updates, medical education tips and other pertinent news in future editions regarding medical education, USMLE reviews, and Residency training programs.    

If you haven’t visited ValueMD.com lately, we invite you to experience our numerous recent updates.  But these changes are really just the beginning as we have plans for many new features and resources in 2009…..so check in frequently so you won’t miss out!

The ValueMD Team

New Blog Features

We'd like to thank everyone that has provided suggestions and feedback or reported a bug for the Blog. Almost all of the new features in this version were added specifically because of your requests. We are sure that you will like the improvements. Not every requested feature has been added as we have to balance time versus benefit.

Some of the new features in Blog 2.0 include:

  • Blog Customization - users may customize their blogs in the same manner that they can customize their user profiles (introduced in 3.7).
  • Group Blogs - users may allow other users to post to their blog.
  • Sidebar Blocks - users may create custom blocks to display in their sidebar. These blocks can be rearranged by drag and drop.
  • Custom Pages - users may create custom pages to be displayed in their blog.
  • Tags - tag support has been included.
  • Featured Entry Manager - multiple entries can be featured on the blog home page now.
  • Private Entries - users may set specific entries to be private while leaving their blog open.
Admin Categories - admins may define categories now.

There are many more new features and enhancements included.
You can visit the VMD Blogs here.

New Study
Strategies Forum

Newest Value MD forum has now officially launched. It will be dedicated to study strategies used by successful medical students in the basic sciences and beyond.

The 'official' on the new forum is our very own Cesar Orellana (a.k.a. utorontograd). He's a third year medical student at Ross University. He's been a ValueMD member since 2006. He's done well in the basic sciences and USMLE Step 1 and wants to share his insider strategies with our entire community.

We've timed it with the start of the January semester. For those of you just starting, you may find utorontograd's mentorship very beneficial.

You can visit the new forum here.

  1. What led you to this field in medicine?

2. Why our institution?

3. Tell me about an interesting case.

4. What are your plans for the future?

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

6. You may be presented with an ethical dilemma and asked to proffer a solution.

7. What is your research background?

8. Where do you see this field in the future? What trends are there in the field?

You can expect a 40 to 60 percent interview rate (the number of interview invitations divided by number of schools you applied to). However, this figure will depend on the number of schools to which you apply, the specialty indicated, and your qualifications.

Interview season starts around late September and continues into March and April. It is a myth that interviewing early is not advantageous. However, if you do interview early, it is a good idea to touch base with the programs around the time that program directors start drafting their rank-order lists. You can do this by revisiting them, writing a thank-you card (which you should do invariably), sending an email, or calling them to re-express your interest in the school.

The interview process can be quite draining. To interview effectively, you will need to strategize. Try not to schedule back-to-back interviews. Try to interview at your top-choice schools toward the middle of the interview trail. This way you'll already have some interviews under your belt, so you'll know what to expect. Try to schedule interviews in the same geographic area together (travel and hotel costs add up really fast.)

Before the interview, make sure you do the following:

1. Acquaint yourself with the school. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should know what is on the departmental webpage.

2. Acquaint yourself with interviewers. Sometimes you will be given the names of the individuals with whom you will be interviewing. Do some research about them the night before. Run a Google Scholar or PubMed search and see what they have published. Go through the abstracts. If you don’t know your interviewers.

3. Have rehearsed answers to questions that you anticipate are going to be asked.

4. Make a list of questions you are going to ask.

5. Keep your CV, personal statement, transcripts, printouts of the department webpage, and other information together in a folder.

6. Make sure all your clothing is ready.

7. Know your CV cold. If you published something years ago, go over the materials and be ready to discuss it during interviews.

On interview day, you want to dress professionally. Err on the conservative side if you are not sure (blue, black, or charcoal suits). You will generally arrive around eight a.m. to your interview. It will take all day, so be prepared. Most interview days begin with a welcome and an introduction to the program. Throughout the day, you will be interviewed by a series of attendings, the school director, and sometimes the chair of the department. Most interview days incorporate a tour of the facilities and lunch with the residents.

So what will interviewer ask you on interview day? There is no formula, but certain questions are so common that you should be prepared for them:


9. Tell me about yourself.

10. What do you like to do outside of medicine?

During the interview process, try to be as positive, enthusiastic, and professional as possible. Be nice to everybody, from the school chair to the secretary. Take notes as you go along; these will serve you in the future after you have interviewed with 10 schools and can’t remember who’s who and what’s what. During the interview, you will be evaluated on the basis of your reliability, commitment, motivation, communication, knowledge, and organizational skills. If asked inappropriate or illegal questions (regarding marriage plans, age, religion, or the like), try to finesse your way around the question (e.g., “I’ll have to give that more thought” or “I'm still contemplating that issue in my personal life”). Make sure you don’t tell them exactly how you are going to rank them, as this is a violation of NRMP regulations.

While at the interview, you will be prompted to ask questions after they are done grilling you. Ask good questions, such as the following:

1. Describe to me the culture and work environment at the hospital? How do people work together?

2. What research and learning opportunities are available for medical students?

3. If you were an applicant, what would draw you to this school? What is unique about this school?

4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the school?

5. What do graduates go on to do? Do they have difficulty finding residency spots?

6. How do residents do on in service exams? How do medical students do on the USMLE exams?

7. Ask about anything that you are confused about or anything you want to know more about concerning the school.

At the interview, make a good first impression. Be confident and don’t ramble. Smile a lot! Come across as the type of person that they would like to spend the next four years working with. Don’t put down other programs or applicants. Pay attention. Thank the appropriate people as you leave. After the interview, send a thank-you note to the program director and other key decision makers.

If you make any significant changes to your CV after you interview at a given program, don’t hesitate to pass that information on to the program director. Doing so brings you, the applicant, back to the program director's mind and reconfirms your interest in the program.

The interview is one of the most integral components of the Medical School application process. Don’t shortchange yourself. Prepare. Practice. Perform.