As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeps the nation and the world, MedEdits’ goal is to serve as a centralized resource for premeds and medical school applicants to understand the overall impact COVID-19 is having on medical school admissions, the MCAT, and the medical school application process. Our primary concern at MedEdits is that everyone stay safe and work collaboratively to get through this stressful time together.
We anticipate that this admissions season will be a fluid process and the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine will work with medical schools to determine the best course of action as the admissions season and the COVID pandemic progresses. Applicants and premeds will need to cope with a degree of uncertainty and flexibility as deadlines and requirements could change over the course of the year.
COVID-19 Medical Admissions and Education Updates
The AAMC has said they will be adding new 2020 MCAT test dates and also indicated that scores may be expedited so all applicants applying in the 2021 admissions cycle will be able to apply with scores.
Refer to our MCAT Test Dates page for test date updates as they happen.
Developments that Impact Premedical Students:
Academics: Grades versus Pass/Fail
If you have the option to take courses for a grade rather than pass/fail, do so. Medical school admissions committees prefer grades. Read the statement by MSU which echoes what other medical schools are stating as well.
The April 4th MCAT has been canceled. The AAMC has said they will add additional test dates, if possible: “Due to the impact coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on the MCAT exam, we are looking to provide additional testing opportunities as circumstances allow.”
Pearson VUE testing centers plan to open April 16th “if conditions allow.” No one knows, but, it is possible that there will be more test date cancellations and Pearson VUE closings.
Questions that no one has the answers to yet:
- Will medical schools consider students without MCAT scores (if it comes to that)?
If this becomes a reality, it is possible that without MCATs medical schools will ask for SAT and ACT scores in the same way that accelerated medical programs do. GPA, experiences, and letters of reference become more important. If you have a lower or borderline GPA, you might consider postponing your application. The personal statement and work and activities entries will become even more important in the process.
- Will medical schools shift application timelines?
Depending on how the coronavirus pandemic progresses, some medical schools might shift the timeline later.
- Will medical school be less competitive this year, overall?
With the uncertainty about the MCAT and summer plans, it is possible that fewer applicants will apply to medical school this year.
AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS
At this time there are no changes to application deadlines or processes. Stay tuned.
- AMCAS opens 5/28
- TMDSAS opens 5/1
- AACOMAS opens – not yet announced. Likely early May.
Developments that Impact Medical Students:
Most medical schools are not allowing away rotations at this time and some have been canceled until June through September depending on the medical school. We realize this has a huge impact for medical students who are matching in 2021. Stay tuned for developments.
Medical Student Voluntary Care of Patients
The Association of American Medical Colleges is allowing medical students to voluntarily care for patients with COVID or presumed to have COVID in areas where there is a critical Health Care Workforce (HCW) need. Otherwise, students should not be working in the clinical arena as outlined on March 17th for at least two weeks.
“This [AAMC] guidance document is intended to add to, but not supersede, an academic medical center’s independent judgment of the immediate needs of its patients and preparation of its students. The medical school dean has the authority and responsibility to make such decisions about medical students; circumstances will vary at each medical school. Schools are advised to consult with their own legal counsel when making these decisions.
At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, our medical students’ participation in direct care of patients with or without known or suspected COVID-19 must be voluntary, not required. Opportunities to volunteer should be offered to students only if there is a critical HCW need for them to do so.”
Medical Student Voluntary Early Graduations
Icahn Mount Sinai, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Weill Cornell, and New York Institute of Technology are allowing fourth year medical students to voluntarily graduate early to care for patients in internal medicine or emergency medicine departments.
The Einstein School of Medicine is asking students to volunteer to care for patients but will not graduate early and will not be paid.
All four Massachusetts medical schools will be allow senior medical students to graduate early (BU, Harvard, Tufts, UMass)
Mario Cuomo Executive Order about Work Hours
An executive order by Mario Cuomo asks “to the extent necessary to remove limits on working hours for physicians and postgraduate trainees;” It is not clear if the ACGME is on board with this, however.
The ACGME has designated three situational clinical stages as follows:
- Stage 1 – Business as Usual
- Stage 2 – increased Clinical Demand
- Stage 3 – Pandemic Emergency Status
In Stage 3 curricular didactics can be suspended.
However, programs must ensure the following:
- Adequate resources and training
- Adequate supervision
- Work hour requirements (are unchanged)
- Fellows functioning in core capacity
Further, “Abuse of residents, use of residents in areas in which they do not have the knowledge and skills to provide the services demanded, or failure to comply with any of the above four expectations may result in ACGME intervention.”
The majority of colleges in the United States that have moved to distance learning are offering students the option to take classes pass/fail. If you are in this position, we advise you to take your medical school requirements and all classes that fall under the biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics (BCPM) categories for a grade. Some colleges, however, are not offer a graded option. If your college is only allowing you to take your courses pass/fail, there is little you can do.
Students are concerned that taking classes pass/fail will be viewed poorly by medical school admissions committees. However, because all students are now in this situation, medical school admissions officers will not view a pass/fail grade negatively if that was your only option.
The bigger question, however, is for students who are applying to medical schools this spring who were hoping for high semester grades to boost a GPA or demonstrate an upward trend. How we would advise students in this position would really depend on the earlier academic performance.
Many MedEdits’ students are disappointed because some valuable experiences and opportunities such as research, shadowing, volunteering, and teaching, have been canceled for the summer. Obviously, students who are now home rather than on campus also don’t have access to the opportunities they once did. It is important to remember that everyone is in the same boat!!! At this time, very few medical school applicants are working or volunteering outside the home so medical school applications will be reviewed with this in mind!
What can you do to show you are still invested and involved? Take an additional course that interests you, volunteer (virtually if necessary) to help your community including school age children who are now homeschooling, the elderly who are isolated, or see if there is an opportunity to volunteer with the Department of Health in your area.
At this time, there has been no change to the medical school application timeline, but, that could change depending on the progression of COVID-19 throughout the nation. At MedEdits, we anticipate that the medical school admissions timeline could get pushed forward with interviews starting later.
It is possible, depending on how much COVID-19 impacts applicants’ ability to take the MCAT and whether or not the medical schools change the medical school application timeline in response to MCAT testing availability, that this could be a less competitive year for medical school admissions. Why? Since many students take April, May, and June MCAT exams, if those exams are canceled and medical schools do not change timelines or MCAT requirements, it could result in fewer people applying. Let’s wait and see what happens on this front.
AACOMAS deadlines have not changed.
Because CASPER is an online test taken at home, we do not anticipate any changes.
Depending on the progression of COVID-19, it is possible that medical school interviews will be conducted virtually. If this is the case, it is possible there will not be MMI interviews this year and those medical schools would convert to traditional interviews this season.
If you need further assistance or if the impact of COVID-19 makes you question whether or not you are ready to apply to medical school this year, please sign up for a free 15 minute consultation for guidance.