MCAT

Meet Jessica – A 1st Year Med Student at The Ohio State University

A first-generation high school graduate, college graduate, and now medical student, Jessica certainly has an inspiring story! Born to Mexican immigrants, she serves as a role model not only to her family members but to people in her community. She’s a good friend and classmate of mine who recently started Inspire Hope, a YouTube channel targeting high school and college students interested in the premed track. I’m very excited to share her story on my blog and hope you will be as inspired as I am!

A few key points from the interview:

  • It wasn’t until her senior year of high school that she decided to pursue medicine
  • She went through the medical school application cycle twice
  • The MCAT was a challenge for her, but after a couple of retakes, she beat it
  • She created her YouTube channel to inspire high school students

Free MCAT prep courses mentioned in the video:

Check out our video interview to learn more about her story!

Reaction video: It’s official!

Yesterday was a BIG day for me. How big, you ask?

FLIPPING BIG!

Yesterday, the MCAT scores were released *GASPS!* Yes, I know. This is major. As you all know, one of the requirements for my conditional acceptance into medical school was retaking the MCAT. The date was scheduled for us, fixed, with no chance of rescheduling. All 15 of us MEDPATHers were set to take it on May 14th. This was about 2 weeks after our second semester ended. The goal was the meet/ surpass the minimum score required of us. As part of the program, we took The Princeton Review MCAT prep course; this was our “Independent study” course and counted towards credits for the spring semester. This was HUGELY beneficial for me since I had never taken a MCAT prep course in the past.

Anyhoo, fast-forward through all the studying, taking the exam that fateful Saturday, then waiting 31 days for the score to come out. June 14 finally rolled around and being the person that I am, I documented the moment I saw my score – I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for capturing memories. I opened my score page and…**drumroll please** not only did I meet the goal score, but I surpassed it and scored in the 80th percentile. To give you an idea, that translates to somewhere between 30 – 31 on the old MCAT. So yea, it went relatively well. No more ifs, buts, or maybes, my white coat ceremony is August 1st! I’ll definitely write more in-depth about how I studied in future posts. But first…here’s my reaction video!

Click here to  watch

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 🙂

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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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!

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!

Perelman School of Medicine 2015 Summer Pre-Med Enrichment Program for URM Students

Hey Y’all! I received an email about this program and I figured I’ld share with my younger readers. You don’t have to be a Penn undergraduate, so if you meet the eligibility criteria, I encourage you to apply! I personally did not do the program, but it definitely seems like a GREAT opportunity. Check out the details below.

Also, if you would like me to post other opportunities like this, do let me know!



The Center of Excellence for Diversity in Health Education and Research of the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine is now accepting applications for the 2015 Summer Pre-Med Enrichment Program for Under-represented Minority Students (for undergraduate students).

http://www.med.upenn.edu/pcedher/pre-med.html   

The application with all required documents must be received by 5:00 P.M., January 31, 2015.  In addition to the completed application, applicants must also submit two recommendations from faculty members or administrators at their undergraduate institution, on official letterhead.  Letters should comment on the student’s academic performance and potential to apply and be accepted to medical school.

Brochure_2015_Final1

Click to view brochure

 If the student is selected, they will participate in an intensive 10-week training program (end of May to July 2015),  which will include bio-medical research, clinical experiences, classroom instruction, Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) preparation conducted by the Kaplan Educational Centers, and other activities designed to assist students in gaining entry into medical school.  Students are paid a stipend of $3,500  (minus tax) and are provided housing and two meals per day (Monday thru Friday) for the ten-week period at no cost to the student.  This is a great opportunity for students who are serious about becoming a physician.

Brochure_2015_Final2

Click to view brochure

This program is made possible through funds provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Workforce.

A Dose of Encouragement

As mentioned in a previous post, writing is one of the strategies I use to manage stress. It allows me to release the emotions I am feeling and reflect on the situation at hand. Last summer, I spent the entire 3-4 months self studying for my first MCAT exam. I moved back home to rural Pennsylvania and was indoors majority of that summer. This was the first time since the summer going into 8th grade, that I did not work/ have a job – not exaggerating. I was fresh out of college, slightly nervous about my future and applying to numerous full-time positions as well. As you can imagine, it was a stressful period. Studying for the MCAT can take a toll on you mentally. My solution?

Writing motivational messages to myself. 

Yes, I am not kidding. Sometimes you have to encourage yourself, and that’s precisely what I did. I forgot about these notes (which were written on my phone) until today. I write in this app quite often, so it’s easy for some notes to get forgotten – that is, till I go looking for them.

I figured I’ld share these motivational messages with you all. They are all original, all written by me, and as you can see by the dates, unedited.

I hope you all get encouraged as you continue to study for the MCAT, write secondaries, prepare for interviews, and pursue your personal goals. That said, here is a dose of encouragement:

july 17 13

july 17

july 19

july 19 134

july 19 13

july 21

july 29 13

aug 4 13

aug 10 13

9 21 13

 Thanks for reading ladies and gents. 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!

Ready for Review!

So AMCAS finally processed my last transcript yesterday! It took almost 10 days. Yet again why it’s important to send your transcripts ahead of time. I turned in my app on June 3rd and this 2nd transcript was mailed on that day as well. Now that I’m ready for review, up next is the long wait for verification – which can take up to 4-6 weeks. Womps. In the meantime, I have a lot to keep me busy. I’m considering pre-writing my secondaries, so I can take my time to produce quality work. At the same time, I’m taking the MCAT – again. Sigh. This mountain WILL get conquered. So that date is August 2nd. So between secondaries, MCAT studying and the everything else I have going on in my life, I have a lot to keep me busy.

So now the big question, what schools did I apply to? I did 15 schools. Thanks to FAP (the financial assistance program), I was able to apply to 15 schools free, Yes FREE. And if I’m correct the secondaries will be free as well. I’ll add on about 5 more schools later (I’ld have to pay for that), but these are my original fifteen. I based my choices on these major factors: location, mission of the school, demographic make-up of students, Research possibilities, and student experiences (from those I’ve talked to or read online). I definitely cast a wide net and applied up and down the spectrum, but I’m counting on God’s favor big time. All I need is one!

And here are the schools – alphabetical order:

[Sorry, will put list back up after cycle]

Let the games begin! Ciao!