First Semester Reflections

Second semester is in full swing and the grind is REAL. Before I get into all that in a later post, I’ld like to provide some insight into what first semester was like. Particularly for those interested in the OSU MEDPATH program – I believe the applications are due end of this week! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the MEDPATH program is a conditional acceptance into The Ohio State University Medical School. It’s an AMAZING opportunity. That said, you still have to work your butt off. The Medpath alums (now MS1, MS2 etc) gave us quite a bit of advice in the beginning of the semester.

“Do extremely well in the first semester, so you aren’t worring about grades in the second semester, when you should be focusing on the MCAT.”

Ahhh yes the MCAT, for those who aren’t aware, that’s part of our conditional acceptance – grades and a retake of the MCAT. Although retaking the MCAT might seem daunting, our white coat ceremony is August 1st (6 months from now!). That’s all the motivation right there!

So what does doing well entail? As high a GPA you can get. Seriously. Essentially the higher it is, the more time you can put into studying for the MCAT, instead of worrying about trying to meet the grade requirement. So that’s what our cohort of 15 set out to do. Some of the classes we were taking were:

  • Human Physiology I (everyone has to take this)
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Pathophysiology
  • Immunology
  • Medical Terminology

Your schedule is designed by the program director based on your academic records and what they feel will benefit you the most. You do also get some say so. I personally had human physiology I, biochemistry, genetics, and medical terminology.

How I studied

In general, I was using my log book and my plan of 20 hours/week minimum focused study time. Sometimes I fell short, some weeks I went above, but most importantly, I stayed on it. Consistency, I’ve realized is key!

Human physiology:

In the beginning I was doing my method of recording myself going through the lecture slides and listening to them over and over again. You can check out the post here. I did this for the first two exams. For the last 2 exams however, I switched things up and started concept mapping. I actually found this to be more effective. The process of concept mapping on its own is really beneficial, but most importantly constantly going over the concept maps I created helped A LOT. It’s one of the strategies I’m going to address in a post.

Biochemistry:

I would go over the lecture we had that day, that same night. I also watched a lot of Khan Academy videos on things I needed clarification on. These helped a lot. Along with practice exams – not one practice exam but four (or as many was available). What also helped was my study group. We would start meeting up about 1.5 – 2 weeks before the exam and would go over concepts and problems.

Genetics:

I had a study partner and we met up every single week to do genetics problems and review lectures. Some  weeks (i.e. exam week), we’d meet up two or three times that week and work through several practice exams. And these were about 2 hour long sessions each. Outside of this time, I also had my personal study time.

Medical Terminology:

We had weekly quizzes, the midterm and the final. This class was straight memorization. No way around it.

Challenges I encountered

So in the very beginning, I was told that life happens, and there might be some unexpected personal things come up, but the key thing is to stay FOCUSED. Remember why you’re here, and refuse to let anything get in the way of your success. Well, sure enough life did happen. The first week of school, I got into a car accident and my new car got totaled. I was understandably DEVASTED. But can I just say that GOD IS GOOD, and He’ll never give you more than you can handle? It’s a testimony on its own, but long story short, I was able to buy a used car in CASH (this is HUGE because no more monthly car note – broke student struggles!), it was just $2300 (also HUGE, it was in GREAT condition), and I bought the car just 2 days after the accident (it happened so fast!). When I say it’s a testimony, I mean it really is. All that to say God won’t give you more than you can handle. I got through the situation and got back on the school grind.

Another major challenge was working during the semester. Because the way my finances are set up, along with other factors, I took a part-time job somewhere on campus. We’re allowed to work during the program though it’s STRONGLY recommended that we don’t (and most don’t!). And if we choose to work, there’s a 20 hour max, which is precisely what I did. 20 hours. Every single week. And y’all it was HARD. It forced me to be very efficient with my time and account for every “free time” I had. There were several times I wanted to quit, but again like I mentioned, certain circumstances. So I worked, studied, slept, and repeated.

But life is all about balance. 

Even with all that I did have a life outside of school and work. One of the key things that was emphasized in the beginning is having a stable support system. I spoke to my family often. They encouraged me through it all, which was awesome. Same thing with my boyfriend. He’s a 3rd year medical student, so we understood each other’s schedule and made sure the communication lines were always open. Daily. We’re long distance (but thankfully a 3.5 hour drive) so we also alternated on who was doing the traveling. We saw each other twice a month which was great. As far as long distance goes, I will say that it does help having someone who is in the same field, but most importantly, I think the big factor to making it work is communication. This included voice recorded messages (through Whatsapp), video messages, scheduled phone calls, Skype etc. The way I see it, you make it work if you want to.

I hope this provides some insight into what the semester was like. If I were to sum it up in one sentence, I’ld say: My success last semester was possible through determination, focus, my support system, and the grace of God. HANDS DOWN. If you have any questions or comments, do drop it below! I love hearing from you all 🙂

16 comments

  1. You mentioned that the program strongly recommends not working, does that mean that the cost of the program is covered by Ohio State or do most students end up taking out private loans?

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    1. If you’re an out of state student, it’s a combination of Medpath scholarship, federal student aid, and private loans. Students who were in-state didn’t need to take private loans. I don’t know if things might get restructured for the incoming class financially, but that’s how it is for our class.

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  2. Regarding the MCAT, do you have a dedicated time to study for it after the spring semester then take the test?Does OSU have you enroll in a structured review course, say TPR, Kaplan?
    Based on what I have read on multiple premed blogs and forums, the best MCAT prep is one that allows the student 6-8 weeks of nothing but MCAT content review and practice. My understanding from reading your post is that OSU have the post bacc students prep for the MCAT DURING the semester. Must be a pain then if that’s the case. Please clarify and good luck this semester.
    Also, what’s the minimum number of credit hours or classes a student is allowed to take during a semester?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there, as part of the program, we’re all enrolled in The Princeton Review Prep course. We started TPR the first week of school and it goes on till mid-April. We have about 2 weeks from when the semester ends and when we take our MCAT. All that to say, yep, we’re all going hard with the MCAT studying during the semester. Our course load for 2nd semester isn’t too bad though. Again, that’s why it was important we did well during the first semester so we could put more hours into MCAT.
      The minimum is 12 credits. I’ve had 13 both semesters, but the TPR course counts as independent study during 2nd semester.

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  3. One of the conditions for acceptance is retaking and earning at or above a particular MCAT score. I believe the benchmark was a 25 for the old MCAT, what is the designated score for the new version?

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  4. I recently stumbled across your blog and it has been pure heaven. Great tips/advice. I definitely plan to implement some of these study ideas when I start school this summer! And yes life happens, I glad that everything worked out for you. Risingdoctorchronicles.blogspot.com

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  5. Hey Derin!

    First of all I would like to thank you for such an informative view of the MEDPATH program. I was accepted to interview next week and I can not be more excited/nervous. I really want to get into this program and I feel like OSU would be a great fit for me and my long term goals. What would you consider is very important when interviewing? Are there any Latinos in the program? What tips can you give me about the interview that will help me be accepted?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congrats on your interview! If you haven’t yet, do RSVP for the reception dinner. Myself, current Medpathers, and alums will be there and able to give tips for the interview as well as our personal thoughts on the program. As far as Latinos being in the program, there’s definitely a good amount. There are currently 3 in my year (out of 15 of us). We’re a pretty diverse group overall, which is great.

      I’ll be around on both the reception day and interview day so hopefully we’ll get a chance to chat more then. See you then!

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      1. Hey Derin! It’s Roberto again. I was wondering, should I send an email to my interviewers? I felt like I did very well but I don’t want to mess up the hardwork I’ve put in. I mean they remember everything about me I think and I made a connection with both of them but I feel that if I write them that’s the last thing they will hear about me which my alter their perception of me. What do you think?

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      2. Sorry just seeing this! If you didn’t it’s fine. I like to write a short thank you email and reiterate a point a made in my interview (within 24 hours, whether it’s a work or school interview), but even if you didn’t, it shouldn’t hurt. And if you did, it typically either helps or is neutral/ no effect 🙂

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  6. Were there significantly more in-state students in the program than out-of-state, or was it split pretty evenly?

    Thanks for all of the information, btw!

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