Categories
Application Process Lists Medical School Premed

10 Things Vol. 5

10 Things to Think About When Selecting a Medical School
Some of you lucky premeds that are applying this year may have multiple acceptances by now, or will have them by the summer. I just wanted to share some things that you should consider when picking which one you ultimately go to. Having gone through the first semester, some things matter more than you think!
1) The city its in! It’s true, you’ll spend a great deal indoors and won’t have the most interaction with the whole city, but even more than what there is to do there- the city matters for demographics too. The city’s population can largely determine what your school puts an emphasis on. My school is largely geared toward preparing us for primary care because of the needs of the region. For me, this was a good thing. So check that out before you pick!
2) Touring the school. You should get a tour of the school with your interview of course, but I also went to a couple recruitment events and those visits were valuable in my considerations too. What is the environment like? Is it bustling and busy in the school? Are the lecture halls comfortable? You can tell a lot about what the school emphasizes by what kind of environment they foster.
3) What the students are like. Do you get along with the students that are there? What do they emphasize about the school when you interact with them? Think about whats important to you, and ask them about the school’s best and worst attributes. They should give you an honest answer. These will be your best friends in a few short months and your colleagues in the future. So, you gotta like hanging out with them!
4) Resources. Think about how you study. Does the school provide things that would be helpful to you? I especially think about all the things the library provides in the way of resources. Most of them I didn’t know about until I matriculated, but I wish I had thought to ask. Does the school have ebooks? Some classes give you a list of 7 textbooks for one 3 class and you only need to read a chapter from each. That makes ebooks extremely valuable. Are there isolated study rooms? Group study rooms? Is there a place to relax? Think about things like that. Call them and ask them if you don’t know.
5) Support system. This was a big one for me. You’re going to be losing touch with people just by being in medical school. So think about that if you’re going out of state away from family. Maybe you want a break to stand on your own two feet, or maybe you want to stay close to your college friends or family. So think about those things when you’re deciding where to move.
6) Cost. Duh. This can be a big deciding factor in going out of state or not. It’s going to cost a butt-ton of money either way, but really think about the money and where you think you’ll want to practice in the long run. Ultimately, knowing the school I ended up going to, I would have gladly paid the out of state cost to come here. So take it with a grain of salt and go to the right school for you even if it costs more.
7) Belonging. This kind of goes with the above. Do you see yourself going there? Did you feel excited when you were there? Does the environment and the people there make you excited about medicine? Do the students exemplify the kind of medical student you want to be? The kind of doctor you want to be? I can’t really describe the feeling I had or put my finger on what it was but it may be the most important one on this list. There was a sense of belonging for me when it came down to picking a school. I knew I would fit in there, be happiest there, and become my best there. Go with your gut.
8) What’s nearby. Long days spent studying, sometimes I don’t even think about dinner until its 8 o’clock at night and all I feel like doing is calling in a pizza. Look around the area for things to do and eat when you need a break. It matters.
9) Campus amenities. What do they have that other schools don’t? A plush student lounge? An awesome clinical skills practice environment? A buzzing hospital campus complex that keeps your eye on the prize? This is largely personal. So decide what you like.
10) Interview Experience. I went into my interviews panicking about how impressive the other interviewees were, feeling like I didn’t belong at all. By the end of the day though, I realized that we were equals, and I could even see myself among both them and the medical students that took us around the campuses. There was also a big difference between the type of questions I was asked at both of my interviews. You can read about both of them here and here. This one is largely intuitive as well, as I found I just preferred one interview experience over the other just because of my personality.
Hope this helps!
And… Thanks for reading! I never imagined this blog would be what it has become! Keep sharing with your friends! Comment, like, subscribe! Follow on twitter here and instagram here.
P.S. Look for a feature on my blog at http://blog.accepted.com/tag/med-student-blogger/ in the coming days!
 

Categories
Application Process Family Friends Health Life Medical School

Kids, Sickness, Hangouts, and Medical School News!

Nothing keeps me busier than when these four kiddos come to visit! The highlights of their days include Magic School Bus, fish sticks, swimming pools, playing the floor is lava, and anytime a slushy is involved. The highlight of my day is “quiet rest time” when they don’t have to nap but they have to sit still. They do funny things to get around it, like crawling very very slowly, playing “very still” tag- which turns out to be not very still at all, and repeating everything one of them says until that one person is crying. I also like helping them with their summer math and reading practice more than all of them like school combined.

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Summertime and the livin’ is easy

I was always much more into school than they are. Maybe because having three other siblings that close in age is more fun than anything school has to offer. I’d probably be the same way if I had had several roommates to play with. It’s a good thing that they are staying juvenile as long as possible. When I was the twins’ age, (8) I feel like I was pretty self-sufficient. I could make my favorite meal by myself, stay home by myself, and bathe myself. I want them to stay young as long as possible. Though, I do admit being an adult is a lot better. Being as independent as I was, I got frustrated a lot when I got to preteens and teen years and people were still telling me when to go to bed, and how much I could eat. With these kids though, they would eat nachos til they puke, not bathe for 6 weeks and watch TV until their eyes bleed, so I’m glad they still depend on us to take care of them.
With the kids come new germs my body is unfamiliar with so I have the beginnings of an upper respiratory infection. It always comes on the same. I wake up with a sore neck in the back, sore lymph nodes beneath my jaw and a painful throat with no cough. The second day I get an even worse sore throat, a puffy face, and a nice stream of mucus down the back of my throat that makes me not hungry and feel like I could gag at any minute.
I usually nurse one dose of Dayquil liquid for about ten minutes every 8 hours. It tastes terrible but its good at coating my throat.
Despite the oncoming full-blown infection, I went out last night to meet some future medical schools classmates. We were going to go to a minor league baseball game, but it got rained out. Instead, we watched the Thunder game at a sports bar called Leon’s. It was super loud whenever Thunder swished it, which I thought was cool. I went even though I didn’t know anyone else there. Everyone was super chill, friendly, and funny. Several guys brought their wives or girlfriends, which I thought was cool. You get to know more about people on a deeper level that way.
We met up through a Facebook group, so the joke of the evening centered around a guy on Facebook who couldn’t find where we were sitting. One guy went around the bar trying to find “Matt” who none of us knew. He asked a bunch of strangers and people that looked alone or lost. It kept getting funnier because people were walking around and people kept yelling “Are you Matt?” One person held up Matt’s Facebook profile picture and yelled, “If this is your picture, sit down!” I thought it was hilarious.
Some second years asked if I was excited to start with a skeptical look on their face. I told them I knew it was going to get scary really fast but that I really was ready to meet everyone and see what its like. I do still want my FULL summer first, though!
We also talked about where we were when we got “the call”. I think its something that everyone remembers. One guy said he was at work at a clinic and his boss was a doctor so he let him answer let him leave early too. Mine was during class. I stepped out for a minute and called OSU back after I got the missed call. Unable to stop smiling or silently shrieking, I ran back into class and yelled to everyone that I just got into medical school. It was a good moment.
Speaking of getting into medical school. I got an email this morning that I have made it off of the wait list into OU med. It was surprisingly uneventful. Having already made so many plans at OSU, I entertained the idea of actually going to OU for about 3 minutes total, (but man those mods are nice). I’m happy and proud that a great school like that would offer me a spot, but ultimately it came down to a technicality.
Getting an interview somewhere means you are qualified to go to the school. Getting on the wait list means that your arbitrary “score” with the interview considered wasn’t high enough to get an outright offer of admission. Basically it means that you didn’t completely blow your interview, but they aren’t ready to let you in in case they can get someone “better” in their sense of the word.
Getting off the wait list just means that enough of their “preferred” people have accepted offers elsewhere, so they’ll “allow” me in more or less.
It was different for me at OSU. I felt valued as an applicant from the moment I started dealing with OSU. Like they were saying “Thank you for considering us,” to me. And when I was wait listed, I still got a personal phone call and was welcomed to send them updates on what I was doing. Then, I found out that like dating- OSU wanted me to want them too. (My physician mentor that’s an OSU alum looked at my file, saying that I applied to OU. Since they figured I would get in there too and pick there, they didn’t make me an immediate offer.) So I sent in a “letter of intent”, and a week later I got in.
 
It’s a shame that something this important to my life comes down to games like this that both OU and OSU play. But that’s the way it goes.
Maybe I’m too prideful to accept the offer from OU when I seemed to be a second rate choice. Regardless of the reason at the heart of it, I know I’d have a good time suffering for four years at either school. Like so many other things in life, it comes down to it being what you make of it. I’m sticking with OSU, though, because it already feels like home.
 

Categories
Application Process Medical School Medicine

My Second Medical School Interview

I woke up this morning and felt like writing, so I’m going to get this doozy out of the way. I’ve been meaning to do it for a while- since I wrote this post about my first interview back at the beginning of April.
I’m struggling a little bit with how to write this, because I want to be honest. For me, this wasn’t as positive of an interview. I feel like I said the right things, and I didn’t colossally screw up. It was just not a great experience for me. That’s an opinion. It’s how I personally feel about what happened. It is a really great school. It just isn’t the school.
My second and final interview was at OU.
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Again, I went to bed early the night before. Also like the first time I woke up ready to get it over with.
I distinctly remember getting to the medical park- which includes seven post graduate healthcare profession schools, a few hospitals, many research institutes, student unions, etc- and not having a clue where to go. I wandered aimlessly, thinking showing up 15 minutes before required was plenty of time.
Two minutes later, when I found where I was supposed to be, I also found I was the underachiever of the bunch. I was one of the last ones to get my name tag and my packet.
The panic that was assuaged when I got to my first interview and discovered I was one and the same with my fellow interviewees, was exacerbated when I got to this interview  and discovered I was not one of these people.
First of all, there were too many of us to count. Secondly, many of them it seemed were non-traditional students (which can be intimidating on interview day, to a kid that has never had a meaningful job in here life). They had briefcases and stilettos. I had a water bottle and flats.
After letting us mingle in the lobby, they sent us into one of the main lecture halls and told us about the school, the campus, and the selection process. We were divided into groups. Some people went to their interview first, some went on a tour, some went to see the skills lab, and some talked about the online lecture system with the med students. I was in the group that got a tour first and then my interview.
My group’s tour guides were wonderful. They were easy to get along with and answered a ton of questions. That was soothing to me; that when everyone wasn’t in interview clothes and all high-strung and nervous, I felt like I could fit in with the type of students OU has. The children’s hospital is gorgeous and inspiring and it made me want to be a doctor right away. The entire medical campus has like 548960958 places for faculty and patients to eat, which was cool. (I will be eating soft pretzels everyday from Quiktrip a mile down the road from where I am going).
At my interview, I waited outside for the last group to finish for what seemed like forever. Finally the door opened and I was introduced to a female family doc, a fourth year male med student, and an ancient male plastic surgeon. They asked me about myself. I struggled to mention a few adjective that described me and then I decided that saying I was “diligent” meant nothing to them so I went on to say what it is I like to do. When I mentioned that I have five nieces and grabbed my necklace with their initials, the family doc wanted to see the necklace, and she put her hand on my shoulder. Boom, I liked her. We were connected. From then on, she was on my side. The med student and I had a mutual friend. Bam, connection. These two people asked me questions that were easy to answer, fed me prompts so I knew which direction they were looking for, and understood the answers I was going for.
The plastic surgeon, not so much. I had no common ground with him. He asked me odd questions where I wasn’t sure what he was getting at. We started discussing Shawnee. He mentioned the casino there and asked me if I had ever been. I said “No, I have not”. He asked, “Are you against gambling? Do you gamble?”  To me, those are two different questions and both are irrelevant to obtaining a medical education.
I said, “No I do not gamble, not necessarily for any other reason than that I don’t think it sounds fun. Am I against gambling? No, not particularly, though it does cause some difficulties for those that do gamble so its not always wise.” Blah blah blah. I knew I was rambling. I had no direction because I wasn’t sure where to go or what he was wanting.
The other bothersome question he asked me was about medicine at least. He asked if I see a patient- and am completely unable to help them, I just send them home, would I charge them for their visit. I said, “What do you mean, unable to help them?” He said, “You provided no services and no care because you did not know what was wrong.” I said, “I’m not sure that I would see that as an acceptable visit. I would do something else to figure out what was wrong, refer them to someone, do some labs; but, if I really did not do anything for them, no I would not charge them.”
He wrote something down on his paper and I wanted to scream. WHAT WAS HE AFTER? The family doc offered some verbal buffer because she could tell I was confused. I wanted to know what was wrong with the hypothetical patient I couldn’t help and why I was so incompetent to not help them. The plastic surgeon asked the medical student what he would say. The med student said he would charge for it. The plastic surgeon said “You see, when medical students come in their first and second years, over half usually say that they wouldn’t charge them. But third and fourth year students and practicing physicians learn that a doctor’s time is worth a great deal more than you’d think even if a service isn’t provided. At my practice- just making someone an appointment when they show up and sit it my waiting room, it costs me $257 in overhead. So when a woman comes in and asks me if I mole is cancerous and I look at it and say no and send her on her way, I charge her for it.”
Ahhhh. I see now. Relief. He didn’t care what I said. I thought to myself.
I was a part of his own personal survey project of testing-the-naive-little-pre-doctor-on-her-lack-of-jadedness-and-isn’t-she-so-cute-with-her-ignorance.
I called him on it. I told him that the mole scenario was a different story than the situation he gave me. If the woman made an appointment to see if her mole was harmful, she was paying for a professional opinion, even if it just meant she was getting peace of mind. In that case, yes, I would charge her. I also stuck to my guns and said that in the first situation he gave me, where I was literally unable to do anything for a patient, I do not see it as correct to charge her if I just send her home.
OU has a partial blind interview. Halfway through, after they “get to know you” (in fifteen minutes), you step out and they look at your numbers- MCAT and GPA.
I stepped out and my medical student tour guide talked to me about how it was going, assured me that I had a right to be here and to be proud of my grades and MCAT- after all, I was here. She said that they have already determined my grades to be good enough to go here, that they just want to hear my side. With a little bit of comfort, I went back in.
MCAT first. Plastic surgeon said, “If you had taken your MCAT again do you think you could have done better?” “Yes.”
“It says Physics is your lowest subscore and you also have a poorer grade in physics on your transcript.”
“Yeah, Physics is definitely not my strong suit. But, I did improve my Physics subscore and brought up my physics grade by a letter grade in between physics 1 and physics 2. I just had to buckle down and learn how to study.”
“You won’t be able to go into orthopedics or plastic surgery without an understanding of physics. Those specialties require an understanding of structures and straight lines and connections.”
Me, not too heartbroken or swayed by one man’s opinion of the medical importance of physics, “Ok, I’ll keep that in mind.”
Med student pipes up. “Do you feel like you did your best?”
“Um, that’s difficult question. At the time I felt like I was giving it my all. Looking back though, I can always see ways in which I could have done things differently to improve.”
Plastic surgeon “Your GPA is a little low, would you be worried coming in to OU that you would fall behind?”
“Not at all. My ‘low’ GPA is due to a couple of classes that are required for medical school to show you can do the work. If you look at the semester where I took 4 biologically relevant LAB science classes all at once and got straight A’s, you will see that Anatomy, M&C, Physiology, Genetics, etc do not deter me. PILE THEM ON, I LOVE THOSE COURSES.
Yes, I said “pile them on”. And my biggest fans smiled. Plastic surgeon did not. Plastic surgeon thinks Physics is of paramount importance because he got an A in it in 1842 when he took it and there was only one chapter.
Other questions:
What has been your most meaningful volunteer experience and why?
In your shadowing, have you ever seen a patient that stuck with you emotionally, why?
Where else did you apply?
After my interview, we had lunch and did the rest of the touring/rotations. They had baked cod, salad, and mashed sweet potatoes, which I though was weird. All I ate were rolls and cookies.
I was emotionally drained by the end of the day. And starving. I felt proud that I had answered the “grades” questions with conviction and told plastic surgeon off, sort of.
But, I didn’t like that I had a naysayer. Nobody likes a naysayer. I didn’t like the huge impersonal environment, where I would get lost. I was upset. At the time I was still on the wait list at OSU and so much was unknown. I was afraid that if I didn’t get in to OSU and did get into OU (unlikely) that I would have to go to OU and wouldn’t like it.
Thankfully, it all worked out in the end, as it always does.
 

Categories
Application Process Growing Up Medical School Medicine

My First Medical School Interview

I mentioned here that I hate interviews.
Applying to medical school is a funny thing because a lot things are very personal, (GPA, MCAT) but everyone wants to know how you’re doing. Vague answers usually get you by- but now that I’m in- knowing that in a lot of ways (test scores) I’m very average and that, in the end, it was enough- I don’t care who knows what. So I might as well maybe help someone know what to expect, or explain more fully to my loved ones what it was like for me.
Now it all feels wimpy because I’ve lived to survive the tale. But when you’re in it, its very scary and it definitely feels like a strange, stressful torture in the weeks, days and minutes leading up to it.
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My interview with the school I’m going to was my first interview and I had it pretty early in the interview season (Nov. 1). In the two week notice I had leading up to it, I somehow got through my classes in a blur because most of my energy was focused on panicking. I had several legitimate panic attacks, spent hours on the internet searching interview questions and their proper answers, and spent even longer awake in bed at night imagining different scenarios in my head instead of sleeping. I asked my family and friends to ask me practice questions, but I would get so worked up that I had to stop practicing a couple of days before I went to the interview. I took a lot of walks to calm down.
Why was it so scary?
Well, first of all, the entire application process is torture. So its all scary. You go into every new wave of premed, slowly going up the ranks, wondering what new form of cruel and unusual punishment awaits you.
Secondly, I heard somewhere that getting an interview means that a spot in the class is “yours to lose”.
Yikes.
Looking back, I was way too worked up. But being a Type A, I had to be doing something to prepare and sometimes thinking about it feels more productive than not thinking about it. It was also extremely scary to think about all my studying, years of work, volunteering, and worrying coming down to a 30 minute conversation. It almost felt insulting that it was all reduced to resting on this one interview.
The night before my interview, I went home, ate a good dinner, shut off my computer, set out my clothes, (complete with knee-high stockings, bleh) and took a Benadryl at 8:30PM. That was the best thing I could have done for myself, honestly. I slept like a baby. I woke up rested and ready to go. Nervous? Yeah. Excited? Yes. Ready for it to finally be over? Definitely.
Once in the building, they escorted me into a conference room where there were beverages and 6 other nervous applicants. They were all boys my age! (ahem, men). I was the only girl. Suddenly, looking at these other guys my age, it occurred to me- I‘M THE SAME AS THEM! They have the same amount of training, we are all equally qualified. Heck, if I went to school with them, I could have easily been friends with them. I guess maybe I was expecting to walk into a room full of intimidating doctors, because that’s how unqualified I felt to be there. So, once that all set in, I realized that I had a right to be there. I deserve to be here, I thought.
The dean of admissions introduced herself and the recruiters and talked for about 30 minutes. I don’t think any of the applicants could tell you what she said. They divided us into three interview sessions, I was in group B at 10:30. So I had to sit there fidgeting and making small talk with the other guys for 2 hours. They let us be, though, and I was grateful for that. I texted my doctor mentor who used to teach there and told him my interviewers names. He assured me that they were both very nice, gave me some encouragement and told me to try to enjoy the experience. Bless that man.
I worked the previous summer in a lab upstairs and my boss came and visited me too. Both of those moments soothed me a lot. I don’t remember much else. Except that my stomach started growling about 15 minutes before my interview and so I choked down a granola bar in my purse because if my stomach growled audibly during my interview, I was certain that I would absolutely just die.
These thoughts I’m having, the events that transpired that day, how many times I peed that morning, none of these things are things that I thought the holy medical student, much less a doctor, would have as they were interviewing to become said doctor. But more and more I’m realizing that I have immortalized the career as unattainable and even other medical students are not as human as I am. Their stomachs don’t growl. They don’t listen to Jesse McCartney or watch Spongebob. Then I pinch myself and realize that I’m one of them. But, I’m just a kid. I don’t have an ever-loving clue. Well America, we are your medical students now! God bless us all.
Anyway, I was introduced to my two interviewers. An older guy that works as a clinical psychologist. And a younger pediatric resident. I shook their hands, told them that yes,”Andi” was preferable to Andrea, “thank you for asking” and sat down.
The resident halted the interview at once and said, “Before we get started, I just wanted to commend you on your personal statement. It was extremely mature, well-written, and unique. I read it twice myself and once to my wife. She liked it too.”
Be still, my heart.
The psychologist then asked me to tell him what I do for fun. Wait, what? “I don’t have fun.” Was my first thought. I told him I run, cook, and I have 5 nieces that I love spending time with.”
The resident piped in a answered half that question for me. He said “It looks like you have a lot of church and volunteer activities too, is that something you do for fun.” I said that yes, I was very happy about all the opportunities I’ve had to help others and travel and it’s become an important point of maintaining perspective from school work I genuinely love it.
It was at this point I realized I did not have control over this interview. My interviewers were charming, kind, genuinely interested, and eloquent. They treated me as an equal and I became all of those things as well. God had this. I never had anything to do with it.
Some other questions they asked:

  • Why do you think being a D.O. is something you want to do?
  • Why do you think OSU is a good fit for you?
  • How do you relieve stress?
  • What would you do if you had a patient that had a problem that you could treat, but was not compliant and would not listen to you?
  • What has been your most meaningful medical experience and why?

It was very conversational, and my interviewers would interject their own thoughts and agree with me or add something to my answer. I felt like I belonged there being colleagues with them. I went 15 minutes over my allotted interview time. A lady had to come in and drag me out. I shook their hands again, they smiled genuinely at me and I smiled genuinely back. I really could have talked to them all day. My boss was waiting for me outside the room again because I was on his floor. He asked me if I threw up on them. I laughed, grateful that he was there, and shared my first breath of relief with a familiar face. It was nice. I was happy.
I’ve been so used to looking like an idiot in front of my professors, that this new-found confidence and equally-yoked conversation about medicine struck my fancy quite well.
The rest of the day, I was much more relaxed. We did a tour. They demonstrated their simulation patients for us, and we had lunch with some medical students. By the end of the day I was tired. I was ready to go home, wipe off my polite poker face and squeal about how well it went to my mom and dad.
Some tips:
1) You’re going to be nervous. Just know that you are going to be nervous and try to learn how to best present “you” when nervous.
2) Prepare for the questions you think they’ll ask. But quit a couple days before because you’ll just freak out about everything you don’t have a perfect answer to.
3) One thing I regret is how private my classmates and I were about our experiences applying. Like I said, for some reason, scores and interview offers are very personal and every individual journey into medical is very different. Perhaps for jealousy or competition reasons but it doesn’t have to be that way. Find someone else going through it to talk about it with! It helps to talk about it. It keeps your worrying thoughts from going to “the dark place” when you can bounce them off of someone else out loud.
4) Sleep good the night before, even if you have to take something.
5) Enjoy the experience! Its not everyday, you get to be considered for something so prestigious.
6) When asked a question, its okay to take a breath. Pausing before answering sounds a lot better than blurting something out or taking several different paths throughout your answer to end up where you wanted.
 
 
 
 
 

Categories
Lists

Things I Hate

(While still being a positive person)
1) I hate the fact that I have to pay money to order checks to pay money to other things.
2) I hate cigarettes.
3) I hate squeaky brakes.
4) I hate beans. Of all kinds, cooked any way possible.
5) I hate interviews. (More on that later this week.)
6) I hate sending emails.
7) I hate calling customer service.
8) I hate yoyo diets and fad diets. (Atkins, South Beach, Plexus, hCg, calorie counter people I’m talking to you)
9) I hate headaches.
10) I hate relish, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.
11) I hate satin sheets.
12) I hate Computing for Science Majors. Never has a class been so pointless and frustrating.
13)I hate when the elastic wears out on my socks.
14) I hate not running.