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Medical school-bound undergraduates might be pleased to know that it is more than their grade point averages and Medical College Admission Test scores that count in the often cutthroat pre-med environment. Last night, in a small lecture room of Stiteler Hall packed with about 130 Penn pre-med students, four deans of admissions from elite medical schools shared their views on the ins and outs of the application process and offered advice on pursuing a career as a physician after medical school. The topics discussed ranged from what medical schools are looking for to the quality of life at schools in general to working as a physician in the 21st century. Most of the students present were freshmen, sophomores and juniors, with only a few seniors interspersed in between. Those who came said they wanted to get a better idea of what qualities medical schools require of their applicants. "This [panel] allows you to have contact with people you normally wouldn't be able to during the admission process: the deans of admission," College sophomore Meredith Chiaccio said. The panelists stressed that high scores and grades are not the only important criteria for medical schools. Besides strong academic credentials, quality of character and individual special characteristics rank high on the lists of medical schools, the panelists said. "You need to have meaningful, dedicated involvement in something important to you," said Charles Bardes, an admissions officer at Cornell University's Weill Medical College. He stressed the importance of having different life experiences and possessing special talents and activities. A doctor, Bardes said, needs a balance of biomedical knowledge and healing ability. George Heinrich, the assistant dean for admissions at the New Jersey Medical School, then discussed the gap between the pre-med experience and life as a physician. He stressed that good doctors understand themselves and can interact successfully with those around them. And Gaye Sheffler, the director of admissions and financial aid at Penn's School of Medicine, did her best to soothe students' nerves about the interviewing part of the application. "You need to think about what things about you are special and unique and will contribute to the medical profession," she told the students. Students then asked questions on issues including whether they can take time off between college and medical school, taking the MCAT and required courses and receiving financial aid. College junior Ayca Gucalp said she felt the panel "reaffirmed [her] general idea of the process." "It was well organized and informative, but they didn't get into the details of the process," Gucalp said. "It was a more general idea."

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