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Feinberg, Pritzker and Mayo (and that’s a wrap-up)

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

Wow, I’m behind on blogging. I was supposed to reflect on my interviews right after the day, but I kept saying “tomorrow” and here we are now. Feels like a replay of college when I would procrastinate on one thing, and then suddenly I’d be behind in 5 other things as well. Not going to write too much in this blog post about what I did outside of interview day (although it was the first time in my life visiting Minnesota and Chicago which is kinda exciting); just going to focus on the schools themselves. Figured I’d still do a quick reflection now so that I have something to read back on a few months from now when everything is a blur.


Lucky for me, it turned out that there was an In Vivo show the night before my interview day. In Vivo is a student-run comedy group, and this year they were having their 40th annual performance. A lot of it was inside jokes about medical school and Feinberg, but the parts I got were funny. It was also cool to see so many students and deans supporting the performers in the audience.


Notes about Feinberg

  • On the larger end of class sizes (~150 per class)

  • Heavy emphasis on student wellness, pretty much everyone brought it up. During our interview day, the admissions office were really welcoming and good at making the interview day stress-free. They even provided us with Feinberg-logo stress balls?? Also during our tour of campus we saw a lot of students go into the office of the deans to get free tickets to a Northwestern sports game.

  • Not sure how much it counts for but Feinberg had a pretty nice anatomy lab.

  • Pass/fail for the first two years. Systems-based curriculum with mandatory problem-based learning (PBL) sessions and optional lectures. Feinberg is really big on group activities/PBL

  • In addition to courses on science and clinical medicine, Feinberg also integrates other things like lifestyle medicine (where M1s motivate each other to adopt healthy habits), health equity and professional development (eg. upperclassmen teach/lead discussion groups for underclassmen) into their curriculum.

  • Required “Area of Scholarly Concentration” (research)

  • Most clinical rotations are conveniently in downtown Chicago at a Feinberg-affiliated hospital.

  • Lurie Children’s Hospital is really cool and has a unique “exhibit” on every floor to make the hospital friendlier and more welcoming to kids.

  • Since Feinberg is located in downtown Chicago I’d imagine the patient populations tend to be on the more affluent side, but my student tour guide did mention that Lurie’s is a safety net hospital and there are also opportunities to get involved with free clinics in the area.

  • In addition to Feinberg-affiliated hospitals in Chicago, medical students also have the option of doing clinical rotations abroad. A list of some of the places people go can be seen here

  • Longitudinal, four-year clinical experiences in either Education-Centered Medical Home (which exposes M1s through M4s to team-based care of a group of patients in an outpatient environment) or the Individual Preceptorship (gaining exposure to patient care under the guidance of a physician mentor). Students are randomly placed into ECMH or IP, although ECMH is the more popular option and Feinberg is trying to expand the program from 75 to 100% participation in the next few years.

  • Most M1s live near the medical school in Streeterville. Downtown Chicago, while cheaper than NYC and SF, is still pretty expensive with rent being around $900-1200/month. No university-sponsored housing so everyone finds apartments on their own/through GroupMes/listservs

After my Feinberg interview, I took the time to explore around downtown Chicago and do some of the touristy things that a tourist would do. Right after my interview, I ate at Au Cheval for an early dinner (my roommate had told me that they have some of the best burgers in America, but I was a bit underwhelmed considering the hefty price of $18 for a single burger with egg and bacon). Afterwards, I headed to Millennium Park and ice skated–er, or at least attempted to–for the first time in years. Unlike NYC, the ice skating areas in Chicago were free and although there was a skate rental fee, I didn’t have to wait in an extremely long line just to get skates which was nice.

Pritzker (University of Chicago)

After visiting Garrett’s Popcorn for the third time in two days (to be fair, they had run out of their cocoa/caramel popcorn mix the second time I visited, which is why I had to go back a third time..), I headed down to Hyde Park to meet my Pritzker host.

Notes about Pritzker

  • Small class size of ~90

  • Research requirement; about 75% go on to publish papers/submit manuscripts for publication, but there are people who don’t like research and the research requirement can be as lax as you want it to be.

  • Scholarship and Discovery 1a course (nicknamed eHarmony) to do research starting your first year. Paired with a faculty member in first quarter and get into a lab by the end of M1.

  • Not limited to one research project; many students take the option of switching topics after their M1 summer research.

  • A large emphasis on social justice and thinking critically about medicine/society at large. First years are required to take a course on health disparities in their first quarter as well as a class on healthcare in America during their second quarter.

  • UChicago Medicine also has the only trauma center in the south side of Chicago and Pritzker SOM has a heavy emphasis on serving the underserved

  • Free Clinics: Students are allowed to start working in the clinics and administration in December of their first year. There are both student and faculty-run clinics. Community Health Clinic (CHC) is one of the largest/well-established community clinics in the nation and Bridgeport Clinic is a student-run clinic next to Chinatown that was just recently established a couple years ago

  • Traditional 2-year pass/fail curriculum (unlike schools like Jeff and Harvard that are systems-based, Pritzker still teaches the traditional units of anatomy, histology, etc. A systems-based curriculum isn’t implemented until second year.) Aside from the course on health disparities and classes that involve patients, most lectures are not mandatory.

  • Most clinical rotations are on the UChicago campus or at the NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Evanston Hospital Campus. If you are at NorthShore, Pritzker will reimburse your transportation (or in some cases, even a hotel room for you to stay in during your rotation).

  • Pritzker is unique from a lot of other medical schools in that it’s integrated into the larger UChicago campus; a lot of students take advantage of this and take classes at the other graduate schools of UChicago.

  • Forgot to take pictures but the campus is really beautiful

  • The students spoke about really supportive faculty and an emphasis on student wellness, although the advertising wasn’t as obvious at Pritzker as it was at Feinberg

  • Students (M1-M4) are organized into “societies” but unlike Harvard and Georgetown where these societies also determine who you have class with, societies at Pritzker are just smaller groups for social events.

  • Depending on where you choose to live, rent around UChicago can be pretty cheap. My host was paying $600 a month for a pretty spacious apartment shared with 2 other roommates (each had their own individual room and the apartment also had a bathroom, washing machine, dryer, countertop kitchen and spacious living room). From talking to students and my roommate who went to UChicago for undergrad, it seems that monthly rent can range from 500-900 dollars with the more costly rooms being directly on campus.

  • No university-sponsored housing so everyone finds apartments on their own/through GroupMes/listservs

  • Only grocery store in the area is Whole Foods, which I thought was surprising.

Mayo Clinic (Minnesota Campus, didn’t apply to AZ or FL 2+2)

Notes about Mayo Clinic

  • One of three schools that are truly, completely pass/fail (only Harvard, Yale and Mayo do not have AOA/rankings)

  • Very low student to faculty ratio; shadowing, mentorship and research opportunities for medical students at Mayo are really abundant. (I met one first year who is conducting research this year with 4 physicians in different specialties). From what I heard from students and saw from their residency match list, it seems like there are plenty of resources at Mayo to pursue whatever specialty that interests you.

  • Selectives: Essentially 30+ weeks of “break” dispersed throughout M1 and M2 to encourage medical students to engage in extracurricular learning and pursue any particular interests they may have. What’s really great is that the requirement for what you do during a selective is very lax (eg. for one week, you might choose to just watch a health-related movie and write a reflection on what you saw), and not every selective week needs to be productive. This means that, unlike at other schools where you’ll likely be chugging through material week after week, there is plenty of time at Mayo to rest in between units.

  • Probably one of the only places in America that practices truly comprehensive care, which is a pretty cool environment to train in. A physician might call a colleague in another specialty and have someone over to see the patient in minutes, whereas at most places such a situation would require multiple referrals and appointments with people over the course of weeks.

  • High value placed on team-based care and mutual respect.

  • Physicians at Mayo are called “consultants”

  • All Mayo Clinic students in Minnesota still have the option of doing clinical rotations at the Arizona and Florida campuses.

  • Mayo Clinic sees a lot of patients from all over the world who fly into Rochester specifically to visit Mayo for their conditions. Minnesota also has a significant population of Somali and Hmong refugees and there is a dedicated time during second year to work at the REACH Clinic.

  • Apparently real estate in Rochester is a great investment.

  • Despite the class size only being 52 students, something that Mayo prides itself in and everyone brought up at least once was the diversity of experiences within the student body. (“No two Mayo students are the same.” “There are no two students I’d look at and say ‘you two are similar to each other.'” “Everyone is very different”). That being said, I did find it a bit odd that all of the students I met during my interview day were Caucasian, the morning presenters were both white male physicians and the representative of the Office of Diversity was also a white man. Not sure if that was just the luck of the draw

  • Like Pritzker, the curriculum is the more traditional 2-year set up that begins with anatomy. Unlike Pritzker, all classes at Mayo are mandatory.

  • One thing that initially drew me to Mayo (other than the fact it’s a great hospital with amazing care) was the Science of Health Care Delivery curriculum. However, after talking with current students it seems to be poorly taught/managed and has gotten a lot of negative feedback over the years (a lot of common sense, online modules that are easy to skip, not very useful material, etc). Would not include this as a factor when considering Mayo

  • Surprisingly, 15 degrees in Rochester doesn’t feel much colder than 35 degrees on the East Coast.

  • About half of the student body has a car, but those that don’t have a car often need to ask classmates to carpool/catch rides to the airport and grocery store and wherever else they want to go. Ie it’s probably just better to have a car for those who like being independent and not having to rely on other people to get around.

  • Housing is cheaper than cities like NYC, Philly and Boston, but on the higher end for small towns. Most students pay around $600-900 per month for housing near campus (except for the people who are married and/or can afford to buy a house, since buying a house is a more lucrative deal in the long run).

  • No Mayo Clinic-sponsored housing (I guess this is a trend for all of my recent interviews: Mayo, Pritzker, Feinberg). I thought I’d prefer something like the housing situations at Harvard and Cornell where there is a specific hall where

  • By far the most beautiful hospital I’ve ever seen in my life

  • As my interviewer mentioned to me, there are Asian food markets in Rochester! Considering there are about as many people in Rochester as my hometown (which did not open an Asian food market until recently), this was definitely a brownie point.

  • Was surprised when I went to Forager for dinner and they had kimchi mac and cheese on the menu.

And That’s a Wrap-Up!

Finally done with interviews. No more traveling or missing any more work in the foreseeable future. Now all that’s left is the long wait, fun fun! Honestly, I would have never expected to be in the position I am now. After talking to friends who stopped getting interview invitations in early October, I thought that Cornell in late October would be my last school visit. Who knew that 4/7 of my interviews would come after October 15th. I guess the lessons from this interview season have been (1) don’t sell yourself short; it’s never too late to get interviews. (2) Updates can be really important. (3) Don’t be afraid to send ITAs (4) don’t think too much about this process because nothing about it makes sense. Also you might get rejected from some of your top choices and/or end up loving places that weren’t really on your radar before. (5) Time flies faster once you stop worrying about things.

^ A note to self for future endeavors in life.

In other news, I finally got my rejection from NYU! Had been expecting it for awhile and was just waiting for it to come in.

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