encouragement

The Moment I Found Out I was Accepted To Medical School…

I was getting antsy. It had been over 2 weeks since my interview. 18 days to be exact. On my interview day, I and other interviewees had been told to expect an answer within 2 weeks. A guaranteed fast turn around. So then what was taking so long?

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I casually glanced at my phone. No missed calls. It was 9:30 AM on a Friday, if I didn’t hear back today, it meant another long weekend. Now believe me, I was no stranger to waiting. I had waited almost 6 months to get a decision from a previous interview. This school, however, was different. A defined waiting period.

10:20 AM 

I glance down again. A missed call. One new voicemail. Both from a (614) area code.

OH MY GOSHHH!!!” I screamed in excitement! My coworker had been startled and looked at me now, worried.

Are you okay?

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh…” I continue to mutter incomprehensibly. My hands shaking as I called my voicemail.

“…I just wanted to let you know you’ve been accepted…” The voice on the other line said.

I immediately screamed.

I’ve been accepted!!! Oh my gosh!!” I jumped up and down ignoring the rest of the message. Two other coworkers rushed in, seeing me jumping up and down, they immediately knew.

Derin, congrats!!!

The squealing, hugging, and jumping up and down continued.

I had been accepted.

ACCEPTED!

It felt surreal.

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I wanted to cry, I wanted to laugh. I didn’t know what to do, but my coworkers were there and they understood how long of a process this had been for me. They understood. So they squealed and jumped up and down with me.

After they left, I played the voicemail over again. And again. And again. Then the flurry of texts to my parents, boyfriend, and close friends.

I had been accepted to medical school. Not just any medical school, but The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Wow!

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It’s a conditional acceptance, and I’ld have to complete a one year program before beginning my first official year of medical school. Nevertheless, it’s still an acceptance. I’m going to be a DOCTOR! I’m going to be an Ohio State BUCKEYE!

I’m excited for the next 5 years, the lessons I’ll learn and the growth I’ll attain. It’s been a few weeks since I found out I was accepted, but that feeling of excitement is still the same. The journey continues!

Go Bucks!

That Time I Cried in My Med School Interview…

This is a true story. All of it. 

It was interview day. Myself and the other interviewees had been given a tour of the school and a presentation on how AMAZING the university and school of medicine is. Up next were the faculty and student interviews. I had the student interviewer first. He was a first year student and instead of the usual “Why medicine?” He asked questions relating to my weaknesses and the growth I’ve had since graduating from college two years ago. The interview was very relaxing; laughs were shared and he told me about his background as well. He also gave me tips for my faculty interview and in the end asked, “Is there anything you would like me to know that will help me be a strong advocate for you?” It was the golden question, and of course I delved into a specific interest and strength of mine.

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Next was the faculty interview.

I came in confident.

I’ve got this. 

Or so I thought.

So tell me about yourself?” The first question of the day. I had prepped for this and began selling myself.

I am a very driven individual. My perseverance and drive for success has enabled me to…

He interrupted me.

Yea, yea, I get all that. You’re a hard worker, driven, and all that. But tell me about yourself. When did you move to the U.S.? How was that for you adjusting to a new country? Did you speak English?

Whoa. I was taken aback. Not exactly the direction I had planned on going with it, but sure I’ld take his lead.

And then he went on.

More personal questions.

And more.

It felt like a thug of war in which I was losing…badly. I wanted to talk about how amazing I was, and he wanted to talk about my struggles.

  • Personal struggles
  • Family struggles
  • Immigrant struggles
  • Academic struggles

The tears started to swell up. He had me talking about things I rarely talk about, and which I didn’t know had such an emotional impact on me. The tears could no longer be contained. A drop fell, than another.

I’m so so sorry,” I said as I wiped my tears and began fanning my eyes, hoping to dry away the waterfall. I was embarrassed. This was my med school interview and here I was crying like a baby. I was mortified.

It’s okay. It’s a lot of things to deal with. Physicians have emotions too.” He tried to reassure me.

I eagerly nodded.

And then he threw in a joke, and we laughed.

And laughed some more.

And the interview was over.

I walked out feeling like I had been stripped of every guard and mask I had put on. I had been vulnerable and my faculty interviewer saw me for who I really was. Not just the strong, extremely driven, intelligent woman I try to portray, but other parts of me few rarely see.

My faculty interviewer made the effort to REALLY get to know me.

That was POWERFUL. 

Despite the tears and all.

Meet Ric – A 2nd Year Med Student at Drexel University

IMG_0579There are different paths to medical school, as seen through my blog. One path is through a program that offers conditional acceptance, such as Drexel’s Pathway to Medical School Program (DPMS). Note: Their application deadline this year is April 24, 2015. Although having a strong science background, Ric, a 2nd year at Drexel Med, still encountered his share of obstacles on his med school journey. Check out Ric’s story as he shares his experience in Drexel’s one year program, how that prepared him for his first two years of medical school, and his words of advice on choosing post-bacs.

What led you to pursue medicine?
When I was growing up, one of my aunts worked as a nurse at a small community health center. Whenever, I went to visit her at work, I just hung around the clinic and I admired how my aunt and the other healthcare workers cared for their patients. So from an early age, I knew I wanted to go into to medicine.

What was your major in college and how did that prepare you for medical school?
I have a B.A. in Honors Liberal Arts and Science with a concentration in Biochemistry from the Wilkes Honors College in Florida. My undergrad experience gave me a strong science background. The curriculum was also rigorous and robust so it gave me stamina and focus to tackle the courses during my post-baccalaureate year. However, I would say that only actual medical school courses, whether it is during a post-bac year or during the first few months of first year can truly prepare you for medical school. It’s a different beast from undergrad in terms of structure and what you are expected to learn and should master for the exams.

Did you ever consider giving up on your dream? What obstacles or hurdles did you have to overcome in your medical school journey?
I never did…. I moved to the United States from Jamaica for high school. So in essence, this was my best opportunity to make my dream a reality. My biggest  hurdle back in undergrad was my MCAT score. My MCAT struggle is like that of other applicants; that first score report was not what I wanted or “needed” to get into medical school. I was certainly disappointed in my first score report, and I decided at the end of my junior year to take some time off after undergrad to retake the MCAT. Around that time, I started looking into Master’s and post-baccalaureate programs.

You did Drexel’s Pathway to Medical School program, can you tell us more about that? What was the experience like for you? Any advice for students considering this option?
Yes, Drexel’s Pathway to Medical School (DPMS) is one of the post-baccalaureate programs offered by Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. I applied to this program because it is a linkage/bridge program geared towards under-represented minority (URM) medical school applicants. DPMS offers a conditional medical school acceptance to a certain amount of applicants who must complete a faculty interview before being accepted. I interviewed in May and was accepted in early June. I soon moved to Philly shortly after being accepted to start their summer prep course.

We are required to take several med school and grad school courses during DPMS. At first, getting accustomed to the course schedule and frequent study sessions at the library was an adjustment. I also had to retake the MCAT to retain my acceptance. So making the time to study for the MCAT was part of the post-bac struggle. One of the unspoken stressors of my post-bac year was the grading system: getting at least a B in certain courses required matching or doing better than the MS1 class average.

Overall, I enjoyed my post-bac year as it prepared me for the med school coursework. Nevertheless, my post-bac year was also a stressful and costly venture, and I dare to call it a gamble. Even though I did well in the courses, there was still the uncertainty of my MCAT score. I had my struggles with the MCAT for sure, but at the end of the day, I made it. Thank God!

Advice for prospective applicants: not all post-bacs are the same, so please do your research! Talk to program directors and most importantly, talk to current students in the programs and those who matriculated. Also if the program is a “bridge” program, research the host medical school and be able to see yourself as a good fit for that school and area because that is hopefully where you will spend the next four years after the post-bac. Rank the things that matter to you; for example, location/environment, cost of attendance (for the post-bac and the medical school), among others. Pursue the post-bac route with the end goal of matriculating (into the host medical school or otherwise) at the end of the program.

So after DPMS, how did the med school application process go for you?
As a DPMS applicant, I did not do a traditional application cycle. The general guideline is to apply to Drexel as an early assurance candidate. However, not all post-bac programs are like that, so like I said before, please do your research.

What was your first year of medical school like?
The best metaphor I can use to describe MS1 is that it was like a train traveling across the U.S.; there were scenic times and then there were other not-so-scenic times but the train kept moving. So in terms of the course load, we had several multi-disciplinary courses throughout the year. The most important factor seem to be keeping track of where I needed to be and what was due at a particular time. My post-bac year gave me a foundation for a few of the classes but others were unfamiliar. Thankfully, I did well by seeking out the resources that the school provides such as tutoring, talking to upperclassmen, and talking to course faculty.

What do you enjoy most about medical school?
At the end of a module/block, I’m really amazed by all the knowledge I amassed about that particular topic. Sure, the process of learning it all can be truly overwhelming at times, but when it all comes together and makes sense, it’s a great feeling. Additionally, being in medical school opens up more opportunities to shadow/intern in particular fields, conduct research and/or get published.

Please describe any activities you’re involved in during medical school
At school, I’m a Co-President for the Drexel chapter of Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and I help to facilitate an early childhood reading program at a local women’s shelter. I also work in the children’s ministry at my local church as a small group facilitator.

How do you balance your personal time with medical school?
Finding balance is definitely hard. It all comes down to making time for the stuff that truly matter. As a second year, I feel like I have less time to understand and master all the information about each organ system for school exams as well as studying for the Step 1 exam. So, I recently started scheduling “everything” into my web calendar. My personal goal is to keep in touch with family and friends as much as I can and whenever possible. I’m also in a relationship with an amazing woman, so I make time for that as well.

Do you have any advice for students considering a career in medicine?
If medicine is truly your passion and you can’t see yourself doing anything else, keep working towards that dream. Your path to medical school doesn’t have to be the traditional way directly from college so do what works best for you. Please do your own research in choosing the best-fit post-bac program, if you are considering that route. Lastly, find one or more mentors to help you along the journey.

 Thank you for sharing your story Ric. Very inspiring!
Any questions for Ric? Leave a comment below and he’ll get back to you.

Do also check out the other Med Student Spotlights!

Who Moved My Cheese?! – Reminiscing on Unexpected Changes

A few weeks ago, I was reflecting on my med school journey (as I often do), but this time getting frustrated. Why was my journey so different than I imagined it would be 6 years ago? In a matter of seconds, two words came to mind – curve balls. Yes, Derin, life is always going to throw some curve balls your way and you’ve got to roll with the punches. Hence why I created this blog in the first place.

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I’ve certainly had my share of unexpected changes in the past, and reflecting on them, I’m amazed at how God works – those changes have always been for the BEST. Let me share a few examples with you:

Case 1:

Moving in the middle of my sophomore year of High school. I moved to another state in the middle of my 2nd semester. Besides the challenge of making new friends, the curriculum was different (semester classes vs my previous year-round classes), which was disruptive to my education. This change however turned out to be one of the GREATEST blessings. Prior to moving, I googled my new school and found a short article on a former student who was a recipient of the Questbridge National College Match Scholarship. I was amazed and promptly bookmarked it for future reference. A year and a half later, I applied to that same scholarship and not only became a finalist but a recipient! This was huge for me. As a rising high school senior, paying for college was something I was highly concerned about. I immigrated to the U.S. with my family just 7 years earlier, had no college savings/ any saving really, and was strongly considering the Army Reserve to finance my education (my parents and I even met with a recruiter!). The move and unexpected change, turned out to be a wonderful blessing.

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Throwback to my acceptance: Source here

Case 2:

Fast forward to my college graduation. I was super excited as one can imagine, but also looking forward to a paid summer internship in Ghana. I would be working with high school kids at an innovation academy. Having tried for the past 2 years to attain an internship in Ghana, I was thrilled my dream was finally coming true. Even better, my flight was being paid for! Since I had this post-college plan, I stopped looking for jobs and decided to post-pone the search till my return to the U.S. Well, 2 weeks before I was set to leave the country, the internship was cancelled due to funding. My heart sunk. WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?! It was certainly an unexpected change and before I could let the disappointment fully sink in, I began applying for full-time jobs – literally less than 12 hours after receiving the news. Reality sunk in, I was a college graduate with no immediate plans. I was in panic mode. One of the jobs I applied to during that frenzy is the job I currently have. Funny enough, the position had been recently posted. When I saw the description, I was like what? Could it be? Research “capturing contextual and socio-cultural factors that contribute to health disparities” within a clinical setting and at one of the country’s top health systems. Whoa! This is exactly why I majored in Sociology of Health and Medicine! Well, I got the job and the rest as you all know is history. I love what I do!

All this to say, unexpected changes can TRULY be a good thing. Thinking about my med school journey, I’ve certainly had my share of unexpected changes. Sometimes it can be difficult to deal with, but one just has to keep chugging along. Just roll on out with the punches. As I wrote in an interview, a re-direction can be a good thing! See interview here.

For anyone that has difficulty dealing with change, do check out this book: “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. I first read it when I was 14 years old and loved it. As someone who has dealt with quite a bit of change, I highly recommend it!

WHO MOVED

How do you deal with change? Drop a comment below!

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

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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!

Meet Stacy – A 2nd Year Med Student at American University of Antigua

drConsidering a Caribbean medical school? Then check out Stacy’s story. Stacy is a second year medical student at American University of Antigua (AUA). We met Summer 2010 through SMDEP (college freshmen and sophomores, I encourage you to APPLY!). She certainly had her share of curveballs on her journey to medical school. During her sophomore year of college, she fell ill with Lupus, a systemic autoimmune disease. Despite this and other challenges along the way, she refused to give up on her goal. I’m in awe of her story and very excited to share it with you all!

What led you to pursue medicine?
My parents were great motivators for me to look towards a career in medicine. At a young age, they were able to assess my characteristics and really guide me towards the field.

What was your major in college and how did that prepare you for medical school?
I majored in Biology at North Carolina A&T State University. My major assisted me with understanding the foundations during my first year of medical school. The courses such as genetics, virology and cell/molecular biology are just a few courses that I really recommend undergrads take seriously if they plan on attending medical school.

Did you ever consider giving up on your dream? What obstacles or hurdles did you have to overcome in your medical school journey?
Oh yes! After my MCAT scores remained below average, I looked at several other options within the health field. To tell you the truth, every time I considered another option a little life escaped from me.

Like many students, I had my education and career goals planned out up. I planned on graduating Summa Cum Laude, within 4 years and heading straight to medical school thereafter. During my sophomore year in undergrad, I fell ill with SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), which was my first detour in life. Missing a semester (especially according to my education plan), threw off my course schedule which wouldn’t allow me to take the MCAT during my junior year. Therefore, I had to re-evaluate and adjust accordingly. I registered for summer classes and took a large load during the semester because I really wanted to graduate in the year 2011, even if it would be a winter graduation.

By the grace of God, I successfully obtained both my goals of graduating in the year 2011 and Summa Cum Laude.

The MCAT: I wanted to use the self-study method because I wanted to save my parents’ funds for when medical school actually approached. Unfortunately, this option didn’t allot me the scores necessary to gain acceptance into a U.S college/school of Medicine.

It’s really cool that you’re attending med school in the Caribbean, can you tell us more about that? What’s the experience like for you? Any advice for students considering this option?
Attending school in the Caribbean is a really great option for those who are still determined to pursue their medical career despite their trials. I am starting my second year at American University of Antigua (AUA) and I am extremely blessed for the opportunity to be here. One thing I enjoy about my school is that it’s comprised of students from different nationalities, all with the same goal. The classes are large (about 200 students) per semester, but the journey is worthwhile. I personally have not “enjoyed” the island because I am focused on the goal ahead of me. The culture of the local Antiguan residents is slower than most are used too, but I enjoy it.

For anyone planning on considering this option I would suggest you first pray for guidance on such a huge decision, and then find students who have attended that particular school and inquire of their particular experience. Attending a Caribbean school should never be considered an “easier route”!! One must now supersede their American counterparts board scores to be considered a spot for residency and the like.

So how was the application process for you?
Since I had all of my documents from the AMCAS system, the process was fairly easy and swift.

How is your first year of medical school going?
It is going (LOL). Or shall I say “it went” since I am entering my second year this February. It was a lot of hard work, and the pressure is always apparent. I had to find ways to relax and not stress out because medical school is a journey, not a race.

What do you enjoy most about medical school?
I love learning about how the human body functions. It intrigues me how well put together our whole body is and how we are able to self sufficiently compensate in times of stress (if all is normal).

Please describe any activities you are involved in at your school
I am actively involved in an organization called “Doctors for Christ” where last semester I was the Praise and Worship leader. We come together once a week to fellowship, pray and encourage one another through our medical school journey. I also volunteer for our campus health fairs that we hold for the local residents within the community.

How do you balance your personal time with medical school?
What personal time? LOL just kidding! I had to learn how to allow personal time in my schedule because I actually endured “burning out” and it was the most nonproductive experience ever. Since calling my family isn’t an easy option due to long distance charges, I have to find other things to do. Candy Crush was a very helpful remedy. I created time to attend a local church and spending time with the Lord in prayer has never failed me

Do you have any advice for students considering a career in medicine?
If you really have the passion for medicine take time to pray about your decision, research your options and literally surrender yourself to the journey that God Almighty will take you on. It may not be the one you planned on but If the Lord is with you, He will definitely see you through.

Thank you for sharing your story Stacy. Very inspiring!
Any questions for Stacy? Leave a comment below and she’ll get back to you.

Do also check out the other Med Student Spotlights!

Reflecting on 2014: A Year of Greater

It’s that time of the year when I sit and reflect on the year – the highlights, the lessons learned, the challenges, and the celebratory moments. To do this, I use my journal and scan through the many months of writing, laughing, “oOoo’ing” and “Awww’ing” all through the exercise. It is in this moment I realize how much I accomplished this year, the lessons learned along the way, and how much of an impact certain events had on my life. In the beginning of 2014, I sought to embody my church’s theme for the year: “2014: Year of Greater.” Below is an excerpt from my January 2nd, 2014 journal entry:

Words can’t begin to describe how excited I am for this year. Like forreal. This is my year of greater favor, greater blessings, greater miracles. I mean God is seriously about to work in my life.

And God did work. In a mighty way

Here are a just few highlights from the year:

January
I launched my fitness instagram: @fitandfine_withdee which promotes fitness, health, and nutrition.

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February
I created my Afrobeat cardio video which now has 6000+ views on YouTube. Never would have thought!

March
I felt extremely overwhelmed and exhausted working full-time and taking classes in the evening. Taking Immunobiology may not have been the smartest idea.

I also joined my church choir 😀

April
I felt exhausted for most of the month. A lot of late nights, not much sleep. I was working 40 hour weeks and taking two classes in the evenings (I also took Biochemistry during my gap year by the way). My plan was to take advantage of the tuition benefit at my job – taking up to 2 classes for free. Lesson learned for those thinking of working full-time and taking classes to boost your med school application: I should have stuck with one.

May
Traveled to Chicago for a friend’s wedding. Awesome time!

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June
Started blogging again! Turned in my med school application (AMCAS) early – oh yeaaa!!

Led a month long boot camp as an instructor for SweatU

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Also published my first med student spotlight. It was on Naya, a second year med student. The post received a lot of positive feedback and has become the second highest viewed post on my blog at 548 views (as of today).

My cousin visited me from South Africa – awesome time!

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July
Wrote a lot of secondaries for med schools

Got my braces installed – I am now team metal mouth 😛

Competed in my second Spartan Obstacle race

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August
Took my MCAT again – no more!

Taught my first college seminar (preceptorial): “Say NO to the Freshman 15!

September
Invited to be a campaign manager for Memunatu Magazine’s Indiegogo campaign

Accepted high school cross country coaching position!

Got my first med school interview invite!!!

Presented at a conference on research I’ve been working on at my job (I was a co-presenter)

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October
My birthday! Had a blast ALL week

Med school interview!

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November
Got into a relationship with the most awesome guy 🙂

I attended the RWJF Scholars Forum and SMDEP Alumni Summit – great time!

My first radio appearance!

December
I published my post: “#WhiteCoats4BlackLives: Acknowledging The Political Determinants of Health” which became the most viewed post on my site. In just less than a month, it has 1,122 views!

My post on the national white coat die-in gets published on “The health Care Blog.” This was a major accomplishment for me!! You can check it out here.

I get a promotion at my job!


All this to say, this year has certainly been a year of greater. I challenged myself more than I had done in the past and definitely pushed through several obstacles. I am thankful for an AMAZING year and very thankful to you, my readers, for reading each post, sharing them, and accompanying me on this journey. I am extremely excited for what 2015 has in store.

Cheers and Happy New Year Folks!

Interviews: Confidence, Confidence!

Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.” – Amy Cuddy

It’s been a while since I wrote about the med school application process – Life’s been crazy busy on my end. I’ve had it on my mind for some time now, to share the important video below on body language, confidence, and power. These are all important when doing med school interviews, and just any interview in general.

I first watched this Ted Talk about 2 years ago and was moved and intrigued. Amy Cuddy’s message really resonated with me. I definitely agree with everything she says in this video and since then, have made it a point to share with anyone who cares to watch.

Before interviews (job or med school), I “power pose.” It’s something I do, and I find that it works! As a highly observant individual, I personally pay attention to a person’s body language and often rely on nonverbal communication. That said, I’m keenly aware of how important it is to “fake it till you become it.” Check out the video and let me know your thoughts.

Ciao!

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!

Meet Micky – A 1st Year Med Student at Icahn School of Med at Mt. Sinai

What happens when you don’t get in the first time? You DON’T give up. Instead, you reflect, change your approach, and attack it again. And that’s precisely what Micky did. Micky is a first year medical student at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. After an unsuccessful medical school application cycle, he did not let that deter him. He applied a second cycle and discovered the rejections the previous year, turned out to be the best redirection! I’m very excited to share my friend and fellow Penn Alum’s story. Check out Micky’s story and his words of advice.

What led you to pursue medicine?
I was drawn to medicine because of the experiences I had with the Physician Scientist Training Program, which began in the 7th grade and continued until the summer after senior year of high school. This program is designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in science and medicine. In this continuous summer program, I found my passion in combining scientific knowledge with helping others.

What was your major in college and how did that prepare you for medical school?
I decided to major in health and societies, which is one of Penn’s interdisciplinary majors. This allowed me to study topics in health in a social, cultural, historical, and global context. I chose this major because of the emphasis on interdisciplinary studies relating to health in different populations.  Instead of being restricted to one area of study, I was able to approach the issues in health through a holistic lens.  I believe this approach is necessary in order to conquer the problems of access and health disparities that affect our communities.

While my major did not prepare me very well for medical school in terms of boning up my basic science knowledge (which I supplanted by taking advanced biology/chemistry courses), health & societies was essential in helping me begin to understand how many non-hard science based factors influence health, wellness, and medicine. I believe having an understanding of these factors is key to being a quality physician (as well as an initiator of positive change in general) and my major played a vital role in initiating these thought processes for me.

Did you ever consider giving up on your dream? What obstacles or hurdles did you have to overcome in your medical school journey?
My most challenging hurdle on my path to medical school was not getting into medical school on my first try! I applied to MD/PhD programs because of my love of research. By the end of the cycle, I had received interviews from four great schools, however, this resulted in only two waitlist placements, and eventually zero acceptances. My quest was undertaken with the right intentions but too much naivety. I did not properly cast my net wide enough, did not have a proper back-up plan, and did not seek out the proper support system that could cater to the needs of an MD/PhD candidate. Although I knew that this was a possibility from the beginning, I felt inadequate, due to my lack to success. “Did I not have what it takes to be a quality physician scientist or even a quality physician?” The doubts began to creep in.

To manage, I made a list of areas that I felt I had overlooked as weakness in my application and sought support from my close confidants as to the next steps to take. Primarily, I sought advice from my close friends, many of whom had already been accepted into medical school or were already in medical school, as well as some of the scientists I worked with that pursued MD/PhDs in their past.

After consolidating all off their advice and spending time in reflection, I came to realize that this episode was potentially a great learning experience. Clearly, some schools had seen my potential and that earned me an interview for their programs. It was now up to me to work to reach that potential. So I put their advice into practice and got to work on improving my portfolio and myself.

How was the application process for you the second time around?
The second time around, I ended up applying MD only and submitting my application on some of the first days of the application cycle (since I had become an AMCAS pro from the year before haha ). After doing the secondary and interview dance again, I was blessed and privileged enough to get into my top choice of medical school, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai during the winter of 2013. Once I received this acceptance, I withdrew my candidacy from other schools in order to open more spots for others.

How is your first year of medical school going?
My first year of med school at Sinai has been going well! As one can imagine, I spend a lot of my time studying but it is really a different kind of studying. For the first time in my life, I truly enjoy everything that I am learning (well, the majority haha) and feel like I am studying for myself in an effort to be the best physician I can be, instead of studying in order to beat the beat the curve. It is an extremely rewarding feeling. Mount Sinai also employs a pass-fail system, group anatomy practical exams, and online take-anywhere-you-want exams within a certain time window (all on the honor code, of course), which all contribute to a significantly decreased amount of stress.

Also, my classmates are incredible. We come from all walks of life and with tons of different experiences and it really adds to the quality of my individual and our collective experiences. Of course everyone has their closest friends but the class as a whole truly feels like one big family. It is truly incredible to be with a group of people that have the same desires and aspirations as you.

And of course living in NYC has been awesome!! There is ALWAYS something to do in New York, no matter the time, weather, temperature, or occasion. I’ve got groceries, laundry, cheap and healthy food options, CVS, a gym, basketball courts, and the subway, all within a 2-3-block radius of me! What more could I ask for?!

As would could imagine the transition to living in a big city has the potential to be hectic. Luckily, I was able to get a head start on the NYC adjustment through a summer research opportunity that I was afforded after expressing interest in doing research the summer before beginning medical school. Sinai is awesome because if you have a strong interest in something they do everything in their power to make sure it comes to fruition.

Please describe any activities you plan to get involved in or that you are already involved in at your school
Although I just started school about one month ago, I am already involved/will be soon involved in a variety of activities! I am part of First Generation Scholars, where I will be paired with a high school student who is the first person from their family to pursue college and is just about entering the process of applying to college. As a mentor, I will help them craft their personal statements. I also plan on getting involved in the Emergency Medicine Interest Group, among other things. Lastly, I am in the process of starting my own community service group that plays sports with children as a way to decrease the prevalence of obesity in East Harlem.

How do you balance your personal time with medical school?
To be completely forthright, balancing my personal time with medical school is not something  I can say I am an expert at yet. I think I will get better at this with time and experience.  The key for me has been to make time for the things that are important to me (i.e. Church, Family, Girlfriend,  working out) and block out the distractions when I am studying. In my opinion, achieving the perfect balance happens by being the most efficient when you are buckling down and doing work, so that you have more time when you are not. I am not there yet, but that is what I am striving towards.

In addition, the good thing about Sinai is that we have flex time every single Tuesday, meaning that classes end at noon every Tuesday! It is a great time to shadow, workout, run some errands, or just sleep!

Do you have any advice for students considering a career in medicine?
My advice to all students considering a career in medicine would be three fold:

  1. Truly do some extensive introspection to make sure you are  pursuing a career in medicine for the right reasons.  Medical school is not the ideal path for someone who just wants the prestige or money. There are much easier (and cheaper) ways of making money and gaining prestige than medicine.
  2. If you determine that a career in medicine is for you, attack your dreams with a passion unknown to man! If you want it bad enough, you will put the work in to make it happen, and  hence it will happen! Speak it into existence!
  3. Seek advice from people who have done it! They know the route and are the models to follow!

Thank you for sharing your story Micky. Very inspiring!
Any questions for Micky? Leave a comment below and he’ll get back to you.

Do also check out the other Med Student Spotlights!