AMCAS

Happy New Year + Goal Setting

Happy New Year! I realize this is a bit late considering we’re already 8 days in – let’s just ignore that tidbit. First semester flew by fast! I’ll be writing a reflection post on that shortly. The post will include details on the classes I took, the challenges along the way, how I studied for each class, and my overall advice on having a successful semester – particularly for those considering the OSU MEDPATH Program. So look out for that post soon!

A lot happened in 2015 and some of you were able to share with me in those moments of celebration, as well as challenges. At the end of every year, I take time to reflect, purposefully writing down the highlights from each month, both the events that make me smile and cringe in memory. I posted an abridged version of 2014’s reflection on my blog last year (Click Here). I typically do my reflection in the last week of December. It’s good practice as it allows me to remember those times when I didn’t know how God would do it, but He did. He surely did. It reminds me how much can happen in a year, how a year can seem so short and yet so long. It allows me to see GROWTH. As I read through my past journal entries for this exercise, I see how thoughts can become actions, and how time, truly is a valuable thing. I write it all, so I can look back and always remember. It’s a practice I’ll definitely encourage. 

Coupled with this, I take time out to set some goals. These are just a list of things I’ld like to accomplish before the end of the year – they are short term. A few of the items on last year’s list included:

  • Buying my first car
  • Doing another Spartan Race in July 2015
  • Traveling to South Africa for my cousin’s wedding
  • Recording another Afrobeat workout video in January 2015
  • Consistently blogging once a week

Now I’ll be honest, I usually don’t meet ALL my goals for the year (case and point, the last two goals above didn’t happen), but I do come pretty darn close. Throughout the year, I periodically look at my list to remind myself what my goals are, to motivate me, and keep me focused. And yes, I periodically check things off during the year as well. I’m a big subscriber to the phrase:

Plan-to-Fail

I believe in doing things with intentionality. You can find a lot of articles on the importance of not only goal setting, but writing down those goals. There is power to writing them down. At the same time I also like to keep my yearly goals S.M.A.R.T.Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & recorded, and Time bound.

smartgoals.jpgFor example, one of my 2014 goals was to turn in my med school application on the first day. The key point here is that I noted the first day. I didn’t say early (because early is relative), I gave myself a specific timeline, and in the end I was able to turn it in on the very first day (see post here). I can certainly say that what kept me focused, determined, and motivated to get my application materials ready to go, was this personal goal I had set for myself, written down, and referred to from time to time.

A popular practice is making a vision board and placing it in a location you see/ pass through everyday. I personally created a folder in my Google Drive labeled, “New Year and Reflections” where I store both my reflections for the past year as well as my goals for the new year. So far I have reflections and goals as far back as 2012 stored in there. As you may have guessed, I’m a BIG fan of Google Drive – it enables me to access my documents anywhere, anytime, from my phone, my laptop, a public computer. I LOVE the accessibility of it, and it’s the reason why I used it during my application process (see post here).

This year, I decided to make different categories for my goals. They are:

  • Fitness goals
  • Health goals
  • Spiritual goals
  • Academic goals
  • Relationship goals
  • Financial goals

Each category has about 2-3 specific goals. I’m excited at the thought of accomplishing even just a few of these goals by the end of the year. So if you haven’t already, take some time out to reflect on the previous year, thinking about each month, the things that happened, the celebrations, as well as the challenges. Then think about this new year and some goals you’d like to accomplish in 2016 – they could be new goals, goals rolled over from the previous year, whatever it may be, make sure they are S.M.AR.T.

Reflect on!

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The Ohio State University’s MEDPATH Program: The Info

“The expert in anything was once a beginner.”

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I’ve received a few questions regarding OSU’s MEDPATH Program and I’ll admit this post is long overdue. I know the OSU secondary deadline is coming up in a few days (November 1st) so this might be helpful to some people. As some of you may know, I was conditionally accepted into Ohio State’s Medical School. Still feels surreal. It’s an acceptance and I’m here at Ohio State, but…there are conditions. I was accepted into the medical school for the incoming class of Fall 2016 through the MEDPATH program. Yes, that’s not a typo. It’s Fall 2016. To retain my acceptance, I do have to complete the one year MEDPATH program. This entails:

  • Achieving/ exceeding a 3.0 MEDPATH GPA in order to matriculate into Med-1
  • Taking the MCAT (again) during spring semester as arranged by the MEDPATH Program and achieving/exceeding a certain MCAT score on the first attempt on that scheduled date
  • Passing the Summer Pre-Entry Program

There are a few other requirements but these are the major ones. You can view the full list and official information on the program here. The program is fall, spring AND summer. The summer component (and the classes in general) puts you somewhat ahead of your fellow incoming MS1 students – you take Anatomy and a few other classes that you’ll be taking during MS1 with some of the same professors that teach in the medical school. It’s pretty cool. The whole program is designed to make you a strong and competitive student while in medical school; it’s meant to build you up for success. The people in charge of the program are really supportive and want you to succeed. There are only 15 people accepted, so this allows you to form close relationships with your cohort. There are a lot of resources and OSU is just amazing all around.

So yes, there are conditions BUT there’s also a white coat with your name on it waiting for you. The 2014-15 MEDPATH class had 13 out of 15 people matriculate. I would call that very successful, so going this route isn’t an impossible feat.

The application process:

Now regarding the application process, you do have to apply to Ohio’s medical school just like any other applicant and also turn in your secondary before the deadline. I personally applied early and completed my secondary for Ohio State sometime in July. Around October, I received a notification from the school informing me that I had been rejected but was being considered for MEDPATH and would receive more information about it soon. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of the program prior to receiving the correspondence from them. So I started scouring the web for any information on it (imagine if there had been a blog detailing all the info and an individual’s personal experience! *wink wink*). The information I did find (thank you SDN), did convince me that this would be an incredible opportunity if accepted.

I later received another email from OSU inviting me to fill out the supplemental MEDPATH application, that was due end of January. A few months passed and I was invited to interview at the school. The interview IS your medical school interview for Ohio State. It’s with a medical student and faculty. You go on a tour of the medical school and receive a lot of information just like other medical school interviews, but it’s recognized that you and the other interviewees are possibly incoming MEDPATH students. Just like OSU does for their incoming students, they call to let you know you got in. As I wrote in a previous post, when I received that call, or rather voicemail, I FREAKED THE HECK OUT! 

The stats:

From what I understand – and please don’t take my word as the “official word” on this – 100 students who apply to OSU but get rejected are invited to apply to MEDPATH. You have to be invited to apply and that’s the only way you can get the supplemental application. Out of the 100 students, 30 students are invited to interview. There are 2 interview days in the first week of April and it’s split up with 15 people each day. I interviewed on the first interview day.

Out of the 30 people interviewed, only 15 are accepted. As you can see, it’s competitive BUT if you’re able to get an interview invite, the odds are in your favor (50% chance – at this point just ace your interview!). It’s a conditional acceptance. So you’re accepted to OSU at this point as long as you complete the aforementioned requirements, and of course, sign the form that you’re coming.

My experience thus far:

Loving it! I’m studying my butt off (hence the lack of posts) but I’m thriving and that’s honestly what matters. I’ll be detailing more about my experiences in future posts. I have exams coming up next week so it’s back to the books I go! However, I hope this information has been helpful. If you have further questions, drop a comment below and I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

All the best with applications!

Updates: “Where You Been Girl?!”

It’s been exactly 6 weeks since my last post, YIKES! It’s not that I have nothing to write about or update on, it’s just…well, a combination of different things:

  • Been really busy – a promotion means more work. And boy, have I been working!
  • The healthcare management course – Absolutely love it! I have so much to write about on this but alas, see above obstacle.
  • My mood – I’ve had my share of ups and downs, writing means coming face to face with my feelings. Sometimes I’ld rather just squash them and pretend they don’t exist than face them head on.

So yes, these are the three main reasons for the hiatus. On that note, time for updates!

This med school journey has had me feeling like:

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Image source: Unknown

Hilarious, but in all honesty, I’m STILL waiting on an acceptance (yes, even till now!). I also have one interview coming up. This has been a loooong journey, and I am just TIRED. This process has been so draining, particularly emotionally. Mayne! I don’t know how others can go through this process without a support system. I’m thankful for the encouragement from friends and family, Definitely. It’s nice to have someone knock some sense into me when I start sinking into a hole of self-pity.

I do have some *exciting* posts coming up:

  • Writing update letters
  • Post-bac programs and SMPs: What to consider
  • Another med student spotlight
  • Where I’ll be going in the Fall – To be determined!!

On a different note, I’ve been learning a lot about the money side of healthcare. For those who aren’t aware, it IS a business. A huge moneymaking business. Quite fascinating.

Financial health

Image source

I personally believe it’s important for providers to understand how the health system works – some knowledge on the business side of things. From what I’ve learned, it really does affect your ability to care for the patient, and it can be frustrating if you have little to no knowledge in this area (Also note: Majority, maybe 90% of the students in my class have parents who are physicians and were highly encouraged to study this area of healthcare. Could also be a selection bias though – Wharton students). I have a few things I’ld like to write about based on what I’ve been learning (someone hold me accountable please!)

  • Payment models for physicians – fee for service is terribly outdated. Should we be moving towards a capitation model? And then there’s this thug of war with health insurance companies…will write my thoughts on this later!
  • Patients having more “skin in the game” – the move towards cost-sharing and promoting health literacy in the U.S (this is on health insurance)…I have some mixed feelings about this.

And of course, whatever else comes to mind 🙂

The journey continues!

Surviving The Wait: Med School Interview Invites

If there’s one thing I have learned in this process, it is PATIENCE.

For those of you also in this application process, I’m sure you can relate. Last year, a friend warned me that one of the most stressful part of this med school application process was actually AFTER the writing had concluded; it was the wait. Then, I couldn’t really comprehend what she meant. Sure, waiting for interview invites and decisions was bound to be nerve wracking, but it couldn’t be THAT bad right? Right.

Here is where I share my experience.

I was done with majority of my secondaries in mid-August, which was a good thing, BUT also has a downside: The wait. This led to the following things:

  • Checking the updates on each school almost EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Mind you, I have to log on to each portal to do so. This is completely unnecessary considering most schools, if not all will email you an update.
  • Looking at my excel sheet almost everyday. Nothing has changed I know, but MAYBE  if I stare at it hard enough my invite column will have a “yes” on it. Maybe.
  • Checking SDN for updates. Sigh. This site. On the plus side, it feels good knowing okay, other folks are waiting too, the con: well…you know.
  • Being distracted at work due to worry aka less productive.

The point is, there’s little that can be done to speed up the waiting process; You simply have to tough it out. And luckily, there’s a solution to make it less painful.

Distract yourself. Yes, distract yourself.

You’ve done your part and turned in your secondaries; quite frankly, worrying about it day and night won’t do anything. So the best thing to do is find ways to occupy your mind and time. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. That’s essentially what I’ve been doing and I must say it’s going well (check out my gap year adventures). The interview invites are going to come, you won’t miss it, trust me 🙂

Simply wait.

Ciao!

Secondaries: Lessons Learned

Let’s talk secondaries. Earlier in the summer, when I initially wrote about my plan to tackle secondaries, I was determined to utilize all the Do’s and Don’ts I had gathered.

My goal: To make sure it was as stress-free as possible.

I’ve been done with them for quite some time now, so this post is definitely overdue. Here are five lessons I learned from writing secondaries:

1. Each school is unique in its approach to fulfilling its mission

I repeat, each school is unique. Don’t believe otherwise. Sure when you read the mission, it may appear to be very similar to the previous school you just read up on, HOWEVER, once you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover the unique programs the school has to offer. And yes, I’ll argue that each school has something unique and when you discover what it is, it’s like Aha! Definitely mention it in your secondary. You find this out by doing your research – their website, their Facebook page, their twitter and other outlets.

2. It’s a tango between showing what you have to offer and what they have to offer

Finding the balance is key. When I wrote my first secondary and had a friend read it, she gave me this key piece of advice:

 “When describing your interests in a school – try to strike a balance between talking about yourself/ interests/ attributes i.e what you can bring to the table with what the school can bring to you. It’s a 2 way relationship if that makes sense.

I thought I did that but she noted that I was falling into the trap of regurgitating information about the school as I researched them.  This is no bueno, it’s important to talk about how you will enhance those features you like about the school. This key piece of advice early on in my process was immensely beneficial.

3. You shouldn’t rush a masterpiece. Slowly get it done

rushingThis one seems like common sense, but depending on your schedule, there may be some pressure to get those secondaries done ASAP. That’s fine BUT don’t sacrifice quality in that process. Personally, I never wrote and submitted on the same day. I usually waited at least a day to look it over again and make sure I caught all mistakes and was pleased with the final product. I definitely caught some mistakes utilizing that approach.

4. Deadlines make it all feasible

deadlineRemember my two week turn around plan for secondaries? I stuck to it! Because I had my two week deadlines written in my excel sheet, I was well aware of when I wanted to submit my secondaries; I could slowly work on each of them versus rushing to get it all done in one day. Again, everyone has a different schedule. I work full-time and I am involved in a host of other things, so the deadlines I established as I received the secondaries were immensely helpful. If I hadn’t set this game plan in the beginning, I’m sure I would have felt a lot more overwhelmed.

5. Have someone read it. Seriously. 

Shout out to my mom for this. She read a lot of my secondaries, provided constructive feedback, and helped me catch the silly mistakes. She’s not a doctor and really doesn’t know anything about the application process except from what I tell her, but her input on my secondaries was incredibly helpful. A second pair of eyes is VERY helpful. This could be a friend of yours in med school, a friend who’s an English major, or like me, a parent. My application process has been a family experience – essentially they’re all applying with me (and I feel blessed to have that family support!), so naturally, they were my second pair of eyes.

Did you learn some lessons as well? Leave a comment and share them below!
Ciao!

Strategies For Managing The Stress of The Application Process

The medical school application process can be very stressful. In addition to the overwhelming amount of writing – whether it be the personal statement or the flood of secondaries, there are also the “what ifs”, feelings of inadequacy, and the loneliness of the process. There is no doubt that the application cycle can be a mental battle of its own. Despite these factors, it IS possible to keep the stress level down and have a relatively anxiety free process. Personally, I have been using the following 10 strategies to overcome the mental challenges of my application process. I have found these strategies to be extremely beneficial and I hope they can help those of you also on this journey.

Here are my 10 strategies for managing the stress of the medical school application process:

1. Write in a journal

The back of my current journal

This is without a doubt one of my top methods for dealing with stress. I have been writing in a private journal since I immigrated to the United States in 2001 – Yes, that long! Research has shown that journaling is an effective way to relieve stress. It allows you to sort out your feelings and emotions and reflect on them. It also allows you to release your negative thoughts, emotions and concerns. It’s worked for me for the past 13 years and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon! Over the years, I’ve switched from fancy journals to simple composition books. If it’s your first time journaling, remember it’s only you reading it – no need to worry about punctuation, legibility and correct grammar. Just write your thoughts away 🙂

2. Get physically active

Hey look, it’s me!

This is also another one of my favorite ways to de-stress. I find that when I stop working out, I begin to feel overwhelmed and unfocused. It’s common knowledge that exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins – the “feel good” hormone. During this application cycle, I have been taking a West African dance class on Mondays and exercising other times during the weeks. To challenge myself, I did my second obstacle course race two weeks ago (To be fair, I signed up for this race back in Nov 2013). I find that the emotional benefits of exercising are unmatched. If you don’t feel like running, simply turn up the music in your room and have a dance party; your endorphins are guaranteed to go up!

3. Surround yourself with positive people; envision your goal

Positive energy is very important during this process. Don’t let your insecurities get the best of you! It’s important to surround yourself with positive people that encourage and believe in you and your goals. I have also found it beneficial to envision my goal – med school. This sometimes mean creeping through the #Medstudent, #Medschool or #FutureMD hashtag on Instagram to encourage myself (yes, I’ll confess – guilty as charged!) or reading blogs of other med students or current applicants. The goal is to stay as encouraged and motivated as possible. This is also another reason I post the med student spotlight; It’s encouraging to read about other students’ paths to med school. We all have our challenges, but if you persevere, the reward is well worth it.

4. Remove negative people and thoughts

As you begin to surround yourself with positive people who encourage and motivate you, it’s also important to remove the negative factors as well. This could mean spending less time with that friend who seems to always have a discouraging statement on their lips, or possibly deactivating your Facebook. If you find that being on Facebook affects your mood i.e. making you feel less than awesome because you find yourself comparing your current situation to your friends’ seemingly amazing lives, then stay off the social site – at least, for the time being.

5. Stay organized

This is a key to staying sane – seriously. Instead of trying to juggle all the secondary due dates in your head and all the tasks that need to get accomplished, simply write them down. Use your calender or planner. As I mentioned in a previous post, I use excel to track my secondary due dates, completion dates, and my overall application process. I feel a little less stressed knowing that everything is one place and I know exactly what I need to do and when it needs to get done.

6. Pray

Praying is one of my top strategies during this process. I find comfort in knowing that God is in control and that His plan for me is perfect. I know that he is looking out for me which is a huge burden off my shoulders. I especially rely on this verse:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

7. Talk to people

If writing isn’t your thing, then talking to people is one alternative. Although your friends may not be on this path with you, they are most likely willing to listen to you vent on the challenges of this process. A good friend, sibling, or parent is more often than not, willing to lend a listening ear. It’ll make you feel better and they may have some encouraging words for you. First, of course, you have to open your mouth. Don’t hold all that stress inside.

8. Be social

Just because you’re applying doesn’t mean your social life is over – how miserable would that be! It’s okay to take a break from secondaries or studying for MCAT, and hang out with friends. You can chill out with some Netflix or if you live in a city like I do, check out some of the events going on. This past weekend, for example, I spent some time studying, then treated myself to a local jazz festival – I regret nothing!

9. Manage your time wisely

You know what you need to do, your friends and family may not, so it’s important to manage your priorities wisely. Time management is key here! Sometimes that means saying no to friends – “Sorry, but I can’t go out tonight,” or perhaps taking a day off work to get some writing done. Your time is especially valuable during this application process.  However, when it’s all over, there will be lots of time to spare on any and everything, along with the joy of an acceptance.

10. Relax and hope for the best

Lastly, relax and hope for the best. You’ve worked hard and sacrificed quite a bit to get to this point. By now, you are certain you want an acceptance more than anything you’ve ever wanted in your life (meaning you can’t see yourself being anything BUT a doctor). That said, remember that even if the cycle doesn’t go as well as you planned, you can STILL become a doctor. That might mean applying a second or third time like some current med students and residents that I know. One thing I have learned is that this whole journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Just like any marathon, there are highs and lows, moments where you might fall or feel at your worst, but the key thing is to keep pushing towards your goal. If you have that drive, determination and perseverance, you WILL succeed. At least, I am certain that I WILL succeed, no matter how long it takes 🙂

I hope these strategies are as helpful to you as they are to me.
Do you utilize other strategies not mentioned here? Do drop a comment below.
Ciao!

Staying organized throughout the application process

As the secondaries continue to roll in, I have been utilizing excel to stay organized. I use a spreadsheet I created on my google drive (so I can access it anywhere) and it’s been a great help in keeping me on track and ensuring I’m submitting my secondary apps within 2 weeks as I planned. Here is how I structured mine:

***School names changed for anonymity***

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I also have separate documents for each of the schools, that include their mission, my research on the schools, and their secondary prompts. These documents and my spreadsheet are all kept inside my “AMCAS 2014” folder – again on my google drive.

I find that staying organized is so key in this stressful process. The goal is to keep my cortisol level as low as possible 😛

Any tips to share? Do drop a comment below.

Ciao!

Brace yourself, secondaries are coming!

I received a few secondary applications this past week and like any med school applicant, I was bursting with excitement and immediately logged into the schools’ application system. I read the first prompt, then the second, then the third and then the realization of what lay ahead hit me. The excitement diminished once it dawned on me that: one, I have quite a bit of research to do on these schools; two, a lot of writing and lastly, some editing to close it all up. I plan on having a short turn around with these secondaries and will be submitting them no longer than 2 weeks. Why so short? Well, for one thing, it shows your interest in the school and two, as with anything, the earlier the better (Procrastination is the devil I tell ya!).

I don’t want to sacrifice quality for timeliness (this is my future we’re talking about!), so of course, it was time to get down to business – STAT. First as mentioned is research. This means looking at each school’s website, their mission, the latest news, and finding out what makes the school unique. In other words, tangible reasons why I would want to go to that particular med school. After this comes the writing. Now, putting things into words can be challenging – well specifically forming cohesive and sophisticated sentences. So alas I had to go perusing for tips. Thanks to Google I found some Do’s and Don’ts of writing secondaries. My favorite bloggers at the moment, doctorORbust and 5 year journey: medical school edition also have some great tips on tackling these essays – Do check them out.

Now although these secondaries were automatically generated, I want to stress that this is NOT the case for all schools. Some medical schools do pre-screen for GPA and MCAT which streamlines their admission process. Now this can be an advantage or disadvantage for applicants such as myself.

Advantage: If you don’t make their stringent screening process then at least you’re not spending extra money on secondaries for a school that isn’t interested in you (Hey, look at the bright side). On the opposite end, if you meet their screening requirement(s), that means your application would at least warrant a look – Yayyy!

Disadvantage: If you don’t meet the stringent screening requirement(s), the school isn’t going to look at your app – point blank. Sad news, I know.

This leads to my biggest advice when choosing schools to apply to:

Buy MSAR

No, seriously, BUY IT. This booklet and online database saves you time and money, and might I add, this whole process IS costly. With the MSAR, you’ll know the most up-to-date stats of the accepted students – GPA, MCAT, what the school values in an applicant (i.e. how many of the matriculates had community service experience), demographics of the student body, as well as the school’s screening process, if any. This information allows you to apply strategically and write some well-thought out secondaries. Personally, I’ve found it very beneficial.

On that note, it’s time for me to get back to my secondaries. Time waits for no one!

Are you currently writing secondaries? Any tips to share? Do drop a comment below 🙂

Ciao!

Can I get a good word please? – Med school Letters of Recommendation

Never underestimate the power of a good letter of recommendation. This is a KEY aspect of your application – it can be the deciding factor for an interview or not. With this in mind, it’s important to ask people who you know will write an OUTSTANDING letter of recommendation; yes a stellar, outstanding letter of recommendation. Now most med schools require a committee letter, which is a letter of recommendation from the pre-med committee of your undergrad institution. For my particular undergrad, there is a specific process to obtaining that committee letter. It’s an application process on it’s own – you need to turn in certain materials, there’s an interview, a draft of your AMCAS app needs to be submitted, and of course your letters of recommendation needs to be on file.

Now for letters of recommendation, it’s a minimum of three and a maximum of six. Guess what your girl opted for? Six. Yes, playing NO games. Now the six recommendations came from:

  1. Biology Professor: I took his class my freshman year and received a “B”. He also wrote my Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) letter of recommendation. Granted it’s been 4 years since I took his course, but I knew his letter would be positive.
  2. Brain and Behavior Professor: This letter is my “least sure” letter. I took the course the summer of my junior year and also received a “B” for my final grade. I wasn’t incredibly close to the professor but immediately after the course ended, I asked her for a letter, so she wouldn’t forget about me. I’m confident the letter is positive, but I can’t say that it’s incredibly strong.
  3. Foreign language/ African studies professor: Had this professor for all 4 years. He knows me very well and is undoubtedly one of my biggest supporters. I have no doubts that this is a strong letter.
  4. Senior thesis advisor: He was department chair of my second major and I was close to him all 4 years of undergrad. I am confident this is a strong letter. He also asked to see a draft of my personal statement so it could guide his recommendation letter. Perfect!
  5. My current boss/ lab director: Since I’m working full time, it only makes sense to have a letter from my current boss. He’s also a physician – score! Again, I’m confident this is a strong letter. He’s aware that I’m hard working and knows how passionate I am about tackling health disparities and going into medicine. Most importantly, as a physician, he knows what qualities the admission committees are looking for.
  6. My previous track coach: So I asked the head coach of the women’s track team. Now even though I left the team my sophomore year, I maintained my relationship with the coach. Every year, I participated in the annual body building contest (a fundraiser for the team), and because we both work out in the morning (6 or 7am), we always caught up at the gym. So when I asked for a letter of recommendation, he was excited and more than willing. Another example why it’s important to maintain relationships. He’s been a witness to my determination both on the track and off the track. Again, I’m confident this is a strong letter.

The most important advice I have regarding letters of recommendation is to:

Make sure you ask way AHEAD of time. 

Ask people who you KNOW will put in a good word.

I made the mistake of asking a professor simply because she is a prominent figure and well-known. HUGE mistake. During our meeting, she made it clear that one: she felt I didn’t perform to the best of my abilities in her course (I had a B+ in the class), two: looking at my transcript, she didn’t think I was cut out for med school and felt I should pursue a masters or PhD instead, and three: She wasn’t willing to write a strong letter of recommendation for med school, but for other programs, she would. It was the ultimate shut down. I literally cried after leaving her office and sent her an email essentially saying no thanks. She replied back apologizing because she realized she may have portrayed her negative perceptions about med school based on a family member’s experience. After that meeting, I vowed I would prove her wrong. Moral of the story, ask people that know you well and will uplift you and support your dreams. A famous person does NOT automatically equate to a stellar recommendation.

By June 1st, I had all 6 recommendation letters and all materials turned in for my committee letter. In other words, smooth sailing with this. And again, this is why I stress the importance of getting things done EARLY because quite frankly:

“Omgosh!! I’m so glad I procrastinated and waited last minute!!” – said no one ever.

On that note, till next time. Ciao!