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Applying to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders? Here Are 10 Tips to Help You Out

As a high school student with an interest in medicine, it is important for you to be on the lookout for opportunities to enhance your knowledge, skills, as well as exposure to the medical field in general. While high school will teach you the basics, to truly advance your learning and position yourself for successful acceptance to college medical programs, you need to engage in programs like the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, the subject of our blog post today. 

In addition to the incredible exposure to the medical field you will obtain here, participation also demonstrates your dedication, leadership, and commitment to your future career path, making you a standout candidate for top colleges and universities.

What is the Congress of Future Medical Leaders?

The Congress of Future Medical Leaders is a 3-day honors-only program for high school students who aspire to careers in medicine and medical science. This event gathers some of the nation’s brightest students to engage directly with leaders and pioneers in the medical field. Over the course of the event, you will gain unique insights into medical careers by interacting directly with some of the most noteworthy names in the field, including multiple Nobel prize winners, renowned scientists, and leading researchers and practitioners. You will get to learn about the development and deployment of cutting-edge advancements in medicine, and network with accomplished professionals and peers sharing similar aspirations.

Is it prestigious?

The Congress is one of the most prestigious, and selective, opportunities available to high schoolers in the medical field. For one, it only accepts nominations of students with a GPA of 3.5 or above. Its prestige also comes from the caliber of speakers it attracts - featuring not one but multiple Nobel Laureates, award-winning researchers, and leading medical experts. Past speakers have included such luminaries as Dr Drew Weismann, winner of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology for his discoveries that enabled the development of the COVID vaccine, Jennifer Doudna, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology for her development of a high precision genome editing method, and many more. Many of the over 40,000 alumni of the program have gone on to prestigious colleges and careers in medicine, thanks in part to the learning opportunity and mentorship provided by the Congress. As a participant yourself, you will be recognized with the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence, further boosting your profile when it comes to applying to medical colleges.

How is the Congress structured?

Held at the Tsongas Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell campus, the Congress will take place from June 26 to June 28, 2024. Here’s the schedule you can expect:

Day one: The Congress starts at midday, welcoming delegates to settle in and connect with each other. Throughout the evening, you will have the opportunity to be mentored by notable figures such as Gitanjali Rao, the 2020 TIME Top Young Innovator, and Dr. Mario Capecchi, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. There are also other sessions with various experts, including an MIT undergraduate student, a successful startup CEO, and a Johns Hopkins Medicine associate professor. These sessions are interspersed with Q&A opportunities, allowing you to interact directly with these leaders.

Day two: More expert sessions follow on day two. You can sit in lectures from various experts like Dr. Ned Hallowell, a mental health advocate and Harvard professor, and Dr. Wiley Souba, former dean of both Ohio State University School of Medicine and Dartmouth University’s Geisel School of Medicine. The afternoon sessions feature more intimate mentoring opportunities with figures like Nobel Laureate Sir Richard Roberts and other specialists in fields ranging from veterinary medicine to regenerative medicine.

Day three: The final day of the Congress features a live surgery performed by Dr. Anthony Romeo, an orthopedic surgeon, during which delegates can ask real-time questions. Post-lunch sessions offer mentoring from prominent figures like Dr. Jennifer Doudna, a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, and Dr. Robert L. Satcher, a NASA astronaut and surgical oncologist. The day includes inspirational stories and practical advice on personal power and resilience from a former NFL player turned author. The program concludes with a ceremonial address and an awards ceremony.

Who is eligible to attend?

Unlike other programs, the only way to qualify for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders is by securing a nomination for it.

  • You can be nominated by a teacher, counselor, or school principal.

  • You may also secure a nomination through other methods like academic events, recommendations, youth organizations, honor societies, medical institutions, medical societies, program Alumni, in-classroom surveys, and as a result of their participation with College Board’s Student Search Service.

  • However the nomination is secured, you must have a demonstrated dedication to entering the medical fields, leadership potential and at least one of the following:

  • A current or cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.

  • An SAT score of 1300+.

  • An ACT score of 22+.

How does the application process work?

Once nominated, you can simply enroll on the website here. You will have to choose one of the payment options most relevant for you:

  • Option 1 ($1285 OR 2-pay option of $675 + $675): Includes in-person instruction, activities, speakers, education personnel, and the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence.

  • Option 2 ($2075 OR 2-pay option of $1095 + $1095): Includes tuition benefits plus 3 nights of student overnight accommodations, daily breakfast, arrival and departure transportation from Logan Airport or Boston South Amtrak station, and on-site resident assistants.

Note that scholarships based on demonstrated financial need are available to help cover these costs.

Ten tips for a successful application

  1. Secure a strong nomination: The Congress heavily weighs nominations from teachers, counselors, or mentors who can attest to your academic and leadership qualities in the sciences. Reach out to educators who are familiar with your work and dedication in medicine and ask them to nominate you through the official Congress portal.

  2. Demonstrate academic excellence in sciences: Given the emphasis on a minimum 3.5 GPA, it's crucial to not only maintain this standard but excel in relevant subjects. Take advanced courses in biology, chemistry, and physics to showcase your preparedness for a career in medical sciences.

  3. Document leadership in medical-related activities: Whether you lead a health science club, organize community health events, or volunteer at local hospitals, detailed records of your leadership roles and contributions to these activities can significantly bolster your application.

  4. Engage with Congress alumni: Connect with previous attendees through social media groups or your school network to gain insights into their experiences and advice. Alumni can provide valuable tips on what the Congress values in its delegates.

  5. Prepare a thoughtful application essay: Your essay should reflect a clear vision of your future in medicine, demonstrating your passion, commitment, and the personal experiences that motivate your career choice. Discuss how attending the Congress will be pivotal in achieving your long-term goals.

  6. Understand the Congress's values and history: Familiarize yourself with the Congress’s past speakers, programs, and the medical innovations discussed in previous years. This knowledge can help you align your application more closely with the Congress's focus and ethos.

  7. Showcase your scientific curiosity: If you have participated in science fairs, research projects, or other exploratory scientific activities, highlight these experiences. Detail any findings or theories you have investigated that demonstrate your initiative and curiosity in the medical field.

  8. Highlight any unique medical experiences: If you’ve had unique experiences like shadowing a physician, participating in medical research, or attending related workshops, make sure these are prominently featured in your application. These experiences provide concrete proof of your commitment to medicine.

  9. Create a detailed log of your science-related experiences: Before applying, start compiling a comprehensive list of all your medical and scientific engagements. This should include descriptions of projects, your specific roles, outcomes, and any recognitions you received. This log will not only make it easier to craft a detailed application but also prepare you for any interviews or discussions where you can highlight your hands-on experiences in the medical field.

  10. Leverage your unique perspective or background: If you have a unique cultural, geographic, or personal perspective that influences your interest in medicine, emphasize this in your application. The Congress aims to foster a diverse community of future medical leaders, so sharing how your background has shaped your medical aspirations can make your application stand out. Discuss how attending the Congress will help you contribute to the field of medicine in a way that enhances diversity or addresses specific community health challenges.

If you’re looking to build a project/research paper in the field of AI and Medicine, consider applying to Veritas AI! 

Veritas AI is an AI program for ambitious high school students, founded and run by Harvard graduate students. In the AI + Medicine program, students learn how AI is used in the healthcare and medical industry. Students get a chance to work on real-world projects using AI & ML models to diagnose diseases, sharpen medical scans, and explain their outcomes to aid doctors and patients. Here is the program brochure and the application form.

If you’re interested in pursuing research in fields like medicine or related fields, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists logo


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