MEC aids in students’ doctorate dreams

For students looking to enter medical school, their time as an undergraduate must be spent building a resume that includes a high grade point average, hours of internships and reputable recommendations. While it is up to the student to attain the right GPA and prove they are willing to work hard, it is left to those who have taught and mentored the pupil to provide the letters of recommendation which many medical schools require. A student may find the best route in attaining the requirements of being accepted into medical school is by pursuing a recommendation from the Southeastern Medical School Evaluation Committee, which has recently provided recommendations to 10 of 10 students evaluated. 

The Southeastern MEC has been offering assistance and providing recommendations to the most deserving applicants for decades. Success rates of recommended students who apply into medical school have increased in recent years since Dr. Volker Stiller became the chairperson of the MEC. A recommendation from the MEC does not necessarily guarantee a student admission for medical school, but it is an excellent goal to strive for if medical school is the goal. 

Although a recommendation from a single faculty member could be enough to fill the criteria for medical school, there are ways to obtain a recommendation that carries more influence. A recommendation from the Southeastern MEC is more than just one professor’s opinion of a student. The committee is composed of faculty members specializing in subjects ranging from biology to chemistry to kinesiology. Any student who is awarded with a recommendation from the MEC can rest assured that the letter has been carefully written and revised by the committee members.

“We met for three days and sat there for eight hours non-stop to just edit those letters,” said Stiller. 

One overlooked disadvantage of the letter of recommendation process is the students themselves often do not get to read them. This leaves room for typos and mistakes on the writer’s part. Any recommendation written by the MEC is only sent to the student once the letter has already been read and edited by the committee. This benefits the student by allowing them the chance to point out any mistake to the committee. 

“Every medical school I have researched and applied to emphasized the value of a university MEC letter. The assumption is that the committee will have a chance to review all of the applicant’s credentials and then use that information to write a non-biased letter,” said Katelyn Robillard, one of the 10 students, who recently earned a letter of recommendation from the MEC. “The recommendation has already played a huge part in my acceptance into medical school, which was the ultimate goal. I am very grateful for the effort each committee member put towards my future career and am sure there will be other opportunities to reference it.”

Requirements to apply for evaluation by the MEC may be demanding, but the standard has been set high in order to prepare the student for the requirements of medical school. Both a 3.3 GPA and a 3.5 science GPA are required by the committee. Students should aim to not only meet, but exceed these requirements, as the average GPA of students accepted into medical schools in Louisiana is higher than the requirement set by the MEC. The average overall GPA of students accepted into the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine is 3.7, while the average overall GPA of students accepted into the Tulane School of Medicine is 3.52. If the student meets the required GPA, then they can obtain the documents needed to apply for evaluation by the MEC. These include an evaluation request, a list of all science courses taken, a personal statement, a transcript and a professional photo, as well as several other documents. All of these documents are due to Dr. Stiller the week following graduation, which is typically in early May. If selected to be evaluated, the student can prepare for an interview with a committee member to discuss their application as well as to get to know the student. 

“To increase your chance of getting a recommended letter from the MEC, start working on your grades, taking upper level sciences, do community service such as the Big Event or volunteer in a hospital/profession, join organizations, especially DOA [Delta Omega Alpha] and keep track of all of these things,” said Blake Matherne, a student who received the “highly recommended” letter from the MEC. 

Students looking to get more information on the Southeastern MEC can go to the biology department’s page on the university’s website.