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 Medical School

AMCAS and AACOMAS

Preparations for family vacation are well underway! Since all three of us “daughters” are rarely in the same state anymore, our vacation is always more complete when everyone can go so we opted to go somewhere close while everyone is here! To the lake it is! We were going to camp but it looks like thunderstorms are in the forecast so we booked a lodge in the state park. Vacations with my nieces are the best because I get to be like a kid again. I just show up when the food is ready, eat, and then go play again. Haha!
Other than that, summer is pretty calm. I’m feeling much better, and not worrying about AMCAS, AACOMAS, letters of recommendation or anything like that like I was last summer.
To anybody who is there right now, or will be there in the next couple years-
1. I suggest staying organized. AMCAS and AACOMAS (and I’m sure the Texas application service) are organized by tabs so I always organized related papers in the same way. I had folders with tab dividers that helped a lot.
2. Print and save a copy of everything. I typed all my “activity descriptions” in a word document and saved it. That way I could email it to everyone I knew, which I did for my next tip…
3. PROOFREAD, proofread, proofread. I had several people edit over everything I submitted. That included personal statement, the CV I had to make for my premed committee letter, my activities and work experience- all of it.
4. Make “letter writer” packets- I printed a copy of my CV, my personal statement, and the AMCAS or Interfolio instructions for submitting a letter an addressed and stamped envelope just in case they decided to submit their letter that way all in a nice crisp Manila envelope with each letter writer’s name on it. I thought the extra effort and thought would look nice and make sure that they put some thought into it, since I made it look important. I also put a $5 Starbucks card inside a handwritten thank you card in with it. I didn’t want it to reflect as a bribery technique or anything but you could send it separately if you think that far ahead. My card was thanking them in advance for thinking of me to write the letter but mostly I thanked each of my letter writers for their role as a mentor in my premed career. (I sent another thank you card promptly after I saw that they had uploaded their letters). I’ve never written a letter of recommendation for anyone. Maybe most of them do consider it an honor to use their credentials to help you in your goals, but if they do a lot of them, I imagine it gets sort of hard to write something original. Plus, if you look at this way, they take time out of their busy workday to spend time doing something for you, so being overly grateful isn’t really possible. I was shadowing one of my letter writer docs one day and he actually asked me to go shadow someone else while he went to lunch and wrote my letter! He was glad to do it, but it just puts it in perspective.
5. Thank everyone who helps you. I think it’s a good habit to write handwritten thank you’s and I got a lot of practice last summer! Thank people who proofread for you, thank your mentors, thank your professors, thank your parents, etc.
6. Submit ASAP. Make sure it is complete, well-written, no mistakes, and represents YOU. Once those are checked off, don’t obsess any more about it. Just turn it in!
7. If you’re applying DO through AACOMAS, I used interfolio. It just seemed a lot more streamlined and efficient. I paid $6 for the one-year subscription and all my letters were available to OSU for as many copies as they needed, and instead of having to fret about if my letter writer sealed and sent the envelope right, on the right letterhead, etc. (The schools are rarely particular to the letter writers about how they send it anyway because they know they are busy) and they can’t bother you about it because you didn’t write it!
I feel your pain, Juniors-now-Seniors. Your apps will be in before you know it and you will be prepping for interviews!
Good luck!

Categories
Family Health Life Quotes Running

Safe Running

My niece was with me last night and today during my classes. I have since realized my life is pretty boring for a six year old. And that’s with having gone to the park during one of my breaks.
IMG_4752
She woke up this morning before my alarm, thankfully knew better than to wake me, and was “Ready to start the glorious day of high school. Wait, are you in high school?”
“Nope, Kate. I’m in college.”
And yes she really did say glorious.
20 minutes into my first class she said “When is it time for a rest?”
Basically I am a granny. We still had fun though. We went rock climbing, played racquetball and went to an intramural futsol game.
IMG_7911
She dressed this little doll up on my iPad. She said “Look a swimsuit!” Sweet, modest, little Katie.
IMG_1186
One thing I do have in common with a six year old is that we both eat all day long, mostly a well-balanced diet of goldfish, apples, Easter candy, and pasta.
Anyway-
After many people begging and pleading with me to not run by myself at night, I have come up with some safer compromises that can be used as safer running tips.
I like night because its cooler, more peaceful, and the sun is not in my eyes. My face is really sensitive to sunburn and I’m a big time squinter.
But, especially in Shawnee I do not always feel safe.
1) For starters, a more obvious one- I usually wear a light colored shirt or something reflective.
2) I carry pepper spray on a little wrist band. You know- for rapists, serial killers, robbers, and more likely, big dogs.
3) If I run with music, I leave an ear bud out and lower the volume.
4) At each intersection, when I’m checking for cars, I take stock of my surroundings and look around behind me too. Not just as a paranoia thing, but for feral cats and skunks and weird kids trying to talk to me.
5) I only run in an area I’m familiar with. In Shawnee, I only feel comfortable in like a 2 square mile area. Its not always the most entertaining run, but I do zig zags like I drew in this picture of the beautiful city grid system to get to the mileage or time I want before I turn around. This usually works in neighborhoods best because you more than likely will have tiny blocks to go up in down each way. The example I have is in a square mile area but you can easily get 6 miles in.
ADP1
6) This might be the most paranoid tip, but I don’t make my Nike plus account viewable nor do I use the apps that post where I run on my Facebook. My nike plus account is hooked up to my GPS watch and keeps track of my pace and mileage, which are handy, but it can also show you my running habits like where I like to run, how long it takes me, and what time of day I went. So I keep both of those things private.
7) If at all possible, I take someone with me. My roommate rides her bike with me when she can and she has a bike light, giving us extra visibility. And if Zach comes with me, he has a head lamp and I don’t even have to bring my pepper spray. Boys are safe like that 🙂
Like I said, I’ve never had anything serious happen to me, but people walking in the dark sometimes do scare me. I’ve been chased by (and had to kick) a dog. And some places give me the heebie jeebies. So these are just the things I don’t take chances with.
How do you stay safe on a night run?