August 03, 2021

What does it take to get into Michigan’s medical school? Just ask the new dean

The conversation provides insight into what admissions is looking for in prospective students

University of Michigan Medical School education deans

As another competitive application cycle for medical students gets underway across the United States, hopeful candidates may wonder what’s needed to get noticed at a highly regarded institution like the University of Michigan.

Luckily, newly named Interim Assistant Dean for Admissions Deborah R. Berman, M.D., recently spoke with Director of Admissions Carol Teener, on that very topic, discussing what it is they’re looking for in their ideal applicant and more.

Teener: We often get the question ‘how would you describe your ideal Michigan applicant?’

Berman: Do you know what I would say honestly? I would say you are our ideal applicant, to whomever is listening.

We're looking to build a class, a transformative class, filled with unique, outstanding human beings. We want interesting people. We want fascinating individuals. We want individuals that we will communicate with, that future patients will communicate well with. What else? We want altruistic people, leaders, team players. People with unique potential to contribute to the field of medicine, resilient folks, adaptable, ethical people. We want communicators, connectors, dependable people.

We want people with integrity. We need people with kindness and humility. We want people who are straight out of college, and we want people who've lived a life and have had totally different careers that then directed them towards medicine. We would love people who are service-oriented. We're interested in people who are change agents for research, for social justice, for innovation, for fun. We want genuine people. We want curious individuals, resourceful people, and simply compassionate human beings. So as I said, we want you, because everybody applying has an attribute that falls into everything that I just listed.

Teener: So, uniquely themselves and not necessarily everything on that list?

Berman: Exactly. You are you. You are yourself and not trying to be someone you're not.

Teener: How are you preparing for this upcoming cycle? What is your overall approach to reviewing medical student applications?

Berman: The University of Michigan Medical School has a holistic approach to how we work through each applicant’s portfolio, and how we thoughtfully and intentionally look at each person's offerings, if you will.

You're not hearing us say we're putting a class together whose MCAT average is X or whose GPA average is Y. We're putting together a class of transformative individuals. We know that our applicants are human beings in the making, who are continuing to develop. They don't have it all figured out as they're applying. I would encourage people to access help and lean into resources. You're not alone.