Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Interview Experience: Boston University

Boston University School of Medicine--10/3/12

I flew into Boston a little late in the evening the day before my interview, so I opted to stay at a hotel this time instead of with a host. I stayed at the Best Western Roundhouse (they had a pretty significant BU discount), which is within walking distance of the school and provides shuttle transport to and from Logan airport. Unfortunately, the shuttle service was closed by the time I flew in. Since it was late, and the hotel was about twenty minutes by car versus an hour with public transit (plus, I would have had to walk a little under a mile to get to the hotel from the nearest bus stop, which isn't terrible, but still...), I just took a cab, which was about 29 dollars, including a tip. Painful, but efficient.

The hotel was nice and within walking distance of the school, so in the morning I just strolled on over. The day began with a light breakfast at 7:30 am, followed by an hour-long presentation given by Dean Witzburg on the history, mission, and current state of BUSM. Afterwards, the interviews began. There were basically two waves, and those applicants that were not interviewing participated in an open discussion with a faculty member. My interview was one-on-one, lasted about 45 minutes, and was very conversational. I had been expecting an ethics question, based on other applicants' experiences, but there really was nothing of note... (unless asking how I would react when presented with a right and tempting wrong choice counts??). Overall, I felt that it went well.

After the interview, my wave of interviewees had their open discussion with a faculty member, followed by a tour, lunch, financial aid talk, and a wrap-up talk by Dean Witzburg.

The facilities at BU are a mesh of nice, new, modern refurbished floors and floors they haven't done anything with for a while. The lecture hall was nice, and the anatomy lab was open (and was on the tenth floor, if I recall correctly, so it had windows).  The campus as a whole has a Boston-y, red brick building feel to it. They recently opened up a student residence, which is apparently really nice. First year students are guaranteed a spot if they want it, and rent is currently $850 a month (though there was a rumor that this would go up by a hundred dollars or so next year, when I would be there).

BU's curriculum is pretty cool. Over the first year, it's fairly traditional. Second semester is basically histo and physio, which are integrated by organ system. It is pass/fail, unranked, and tests are computer based and grouped together. Many tests tend to fall on Thursday or Friday. Second year is totally integrated and organ-system based, so you are basically taking one big class. Patient contact starts in the first week, with a clinical skills class and a  PBL-ish class occurring throughout the first two years. Class occurs from about 8:30 am to noon, and sometimes till about 1 or 4 pm, depending on the class. Two afternoons are dedicated self-study time. Lectures are recorded, and comprehensive syllabi are provided. The school hosts a Step 1 review course at the end of the second year. Last year their average score was 18 points above the national average. For the clinical years, most of your time is spent in Boston Medical Center, a busy safety-net hospital and trauma center. It sounds like students get a lot of hands-on experience.

Overall, I was impressed. I liked the curriculum, though I like Temple's fully integrated curriculum and schedule more. Also, if you opt out of student housing, Boston is an expensive place to live. But, it's a good school, and I would totally go here. For my list, I would probably rank BUSM at or just below the level of Temple.

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