Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

My First Interview Invite!!!

In applying to med school, interviews on August 29, 2009 at 11:06 pm

I’ve been meaning to post prior to this, but I’ve been uber busy with my new job and getting acclimated to my new routine.  However, I do have some great news!  This past Thursday, I received my first interview invite!! I actually received two that day, but found out about the second one much later.  Guess which school, of all the schools I’ve applied to, heard my cry?  Tulane! Waaaay down in New Orleans.  Ha.  If you all knew how much of a Northern girl I am, you’d probably chuckle at the thought of me applying to Tulane.  But, as I previously stated (or did I?), I thoroughly researched the programs at every single US accredited medical school and selected the programs I felt were most aligned with my personality, learning style, and career goals.  As it just so happens, Tulane aligned rather well with those items.  Plus, I know it’s the South, but New Orleans is such a unique city.  I’ve never been, but at least in my mind, I picture it a culturally rich town full or character…lol  This coming in the wake of the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (shame how devastated some of the area still is…thank you, George Dubbya and FEMA)  Granted, as a friend put it, I’ll need some intense A/C and a tazzer, but I think I could handle it.  So begins the intense preparation for the interview…

To all the anxious pre-meds that might ever read this, either now or in the future – nothing will decrease your anxiety during this process like the receipt of an interview invite.  I was such a wreck before this invite: compulsively checking my e-mail and med school status pages.  After I got the first invite (which I got while doing work in Barnes & Noble, causing me to silently wig-out for a good 30sec…lol), I immediately stopped checking my inbox.  In fact, had I not been on SDN that day, and been tipped off that my second invite school (Drexel) was posting invites on-line, I probably still wouldn’t know I had an interview there!  It’s like an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I know this isn’t it, and that I must put a lot of work into these interviews, but it feels nice to know I actually have a shot.  I’m not naive.  I know that right after the interviews, the anxiety is probably going to shoot right back up until I hear whether I got hit with the acceptance, waitlist, or rejection.  But, for now, I’m sitting on Cloud 9!  Shoot, I even got rejected from Georgetown the next day (imo, their loss, not mine – it’s expensive too!) and hardly batted an eye.  I’m not going to lie, the first rejection stings a little, but having an interview invite or two to soften the blow is rather nice 🙂

Next up: finding a summer skirt suit for interviews and prepping for the multitude of potential interview questions!  I’m pumped.

Stay blessed everyone!

Noticing a Mistake too Late…

In applying to med school on August 18, 2009 at 8:24 pm

…can lead to panic!

But before that, a little more about myself.  I am a slightly non-traditional student.  I completed my undergraduate studies in 2007 and took some time off out of shear exhaustion.  I had overextended myself in undergrad with numerous activities, ridiculous schedules, partying, and no sleeping.  Before I continued on my path to the M.D., I wanted to take a breathe, re-evaluate my life, make sure this was the calling God has on my life (I had other interests I was considering), and just rest.  Some might look down upon my decision, but wouldn’t you prefer a doctor who thoroughly thinks out their decisions rather than rushing headlong into whatever is before them? I think so.

Anywho, when you add in trips, various employment, and full-time enrollment in a post-bacc and such, it is easy to forget everything you did in undergrad.  Today, I finally received my Drexel secondary and was in a rush to hurry up and submit it.  I quickly sped through it until I got to the various activities section.  After making a side list of all my activities, and filling in the different sections (i.e. medical volunteering, employment, and other volunteering) I realized that more than one of these I neglected to put on my AMCAS primary application. Ut-oh…oh no! No no no no noooooooo!

Am I subconsciously sabotaging myself?!?  I compared my Drexel list to my AMCAS list and then felt like an idiot.  I hope Drexel does not doubt the legitimacy of my involvement in these other activities.  So, you might be asking why I neglected to put these activities on AMCAS.  I think it was a combination of reasons.  First, some were from freshman year (’03), which was all of an eternity ago.  Since then, more important info has been stuffed into my brain. Secondly, I only put the activities down on AMCAS that were substantial to me.  While I might have a shorter list than some, most of my activities are 3+ years of involvement with leadership positions, I am hoping that will speak to my dedication and not to a lack of interest.

As I look around on SDN – such a love-hate relationship, I swear – and MDapplicants I see similar applicants with comparable marks getting interviews already.  You already know what thoughts are racing through my mind… What differentiates us?  Why are the AdComs un-responsive to my application?  Should I have been less honest and open in my secondary responses?  Was I not personable enough? And lastly, especially for applications with few-to-no essays,  Are they not even giving my secondary a real look because my primary isn’t interesting enough to them??? Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!  While I try to stay as positive as possible through it all, I’m not even going to lie; among the first emotional flashes I get is jealousy.  But, that’s just man’s flesh and sin nature lashing out.  I try as best I can to quickly squash that and go back to being happy for those who’ve received their invites.  I just have to hold on to my promises from God and know that in due time, which is in His time, I too will reap the fruits of my labor.  After all, all I need is just one door to open, just one interview, and just one acceptance.  God knows the school He has for me, and who’s to say He’s not going to make the final decision simpler for me by just opening up one school for me?  Only time will tell…

State Schools

In applying to med school, new jersey, Rants on August 15, 2009 at 10:59 pm

As I spent months preparing for this application process, I thoroughly researched every US accredited medical school.  Of course, as an applicant you are strongly advised to always apply to your state schools.  Me, I’m from New Jersey – born and raised.  In this backward, corrupt state that I do so love, nothing is as typical or even resembles the normalcy of other states.  Prime example – our medical schools.  Aside from the recent Touro medical school that opened in our state (or is set to open – I’m still not quite sure), the only state schools we have fall under the umbrella of the statewide institution known as the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (mainly referred to as UMDNJ for simplicity…however, most people get tongue-tied attempting to say the acronym).  I still don’t completely understand UMDNJ, I think it includes a pharm school, three med schools (2 MD, 1 DO), maybe a vet school, a school of public health?, and of course dental school and it is spread out between 4+ cities/towns in the state.  Anyways, it’s entire structure is confusing and it’s website is uninformative and non user-friendly…

Back to my qualms with my state school(s).  Granted, I feel somewhat blessed to even have a state school (although the ones lacking usually have some agreement with a neighboring state to give them some sort of preference), however, I really wish they acted like a state school…or at least the one I have envisioned in my ideal world.  When I look at, oh let’s say the big ol’ state of Texas, where their state mandates by law that ~80% of their entering class must be Texas residents, I get pissed.  Call me bitter, but this is in no way fair.  I know some not-so-bright people from undergrad who applied everywhere with not so nice stats and non-interesting backgrounds/ECs who got rejected everywhere outside of TX, but are now well on their way to becoming doctors because Texas takes care of their own.

One of my chief resources when doing school selections was the US News and World Report’s book on US medical schools [note: this is not the only thing I used to base my final list on…I’m much more thorough than that ;)].  In this, I specifically recall looking up both UMDNJ schools (MD) and reading that my state school(s)(?) only give slight in-state preference, and on top of this, (not stated in their book) they also give some preference to NY and PA residents. [note: I am unsure the validity of this, but since it’s in print, I’ll say its safe to say there is some truth to it]  Come on!  You don’t see NY or PA schools giving any special looks to NJ residents.  Jersey is the most densely populated state in the US, and as such, many med school applicants are from my state…meaning, in-state competition is high enough already, we don’t need to be competing again NY residents (which there are also a plethora of).  I keep looking on MDapplicants, and the amount of people I see from Cali, New York, [insert random state] applying to either UMDNJ-NJMS or UMDNJ-RWJ astounds me.  I mean, I know we’re a great state, but I didn’t expect people to be clawing to get into our med schools!

I just think it should be an all-or-none deal – if one state so choses to require an insane percentage of their med school class be in-state, all should have similar requirements (I do think 80% is a tad bit ridic, maybe more like 65%?).  Really, TX should just break off and become it’s own country!  At least I’m not a Cali resident…now, that’s a crappy draw!

The Idle Mind

In applying to med school on August 12, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I should be doing work right now.  But, since my boss has yet to send us our next project to work on, I’m sitting here in front of my Mac, shiftlessly searching through the internet for entertainment – and you know how that always ends…right back on MDapplicants and StudentDoctorNetwork (SDN).  I have successfully worked myself into a miniature nervous panic.

I submitted early, which is supposedly good – but will this backfire? Should I have waited until I secured a full-time job before I submitted secondaries?  Should I not have discussed my job leads on my secondaries?  At the time, the job leads seemed like guarantees, but both fell through (through no fault of my own).  My thought process was that I’d rather write about my potential leads (discussing them as so), than have nothing to put down in the “what are your plans for the upcoming application cycle if you are no longer in school,” which might have made me come across as a slacker.  Are the update letters I am drafting good enough to compensate for that change in information?  Am I panicking for nothing? Probably.  Should I have waited until mid-late summer to verify my AMCAS so that I could add certain activities to the application (like clinic volunteering, more doctor shadowing, etc.)?? Will my applying early and having to send update letters back fire and simply extend my application process by months instead of making it less stressful?  Will I have been complete to most schools by July, only to be put on hold for re-review in December??  Ahhhhh!

While the “hold” category is the equivalent of being in purgatory, it is certainly much better than a flat-out rejection (blessed to say I haven’t received one of those yet this application cycle).  However, I am highly uncomfortable in this limbo.  It’s like, I’m not quite good or interesting enough for the school to want to take the next step in getting to know me by inviting me to interview, but they don’t dislike me.  Having applied earlier than most, my hold category is more along the lines of, “we want to wait and see the caliber of other applicants that are applying and see how you stack up against them.”  If our economy wasn’t so horrible and I know people who might have normally taken time off are now applying directly because they know finding a job is tough, competition is tight!  How do I guarantee I get out of this sticky hold category? How do I ensure the AdComs are going to really re-read my application and my desire to attend their school?  I suppose the answer lies in update letters.  I just need to keep letting them know things I am doing that will increase my exposure, and remember to throw in a line or two about how the experience relates to my desire to attend their institution.  Dammit, early holds!  I have this unjustified feeling that they are going to set my file away and then accidentally forget to ever pick it up again 😦

In other news…I wanted to pull a Ghost Dad and reach through the internet and punch this kid in the throat last night on SDN.  Someone had posted a topic asking for advice on how to answer the “how would you bring diversity to our school?” essay question. The first answer was by this fool who said – let me just quote him:

Because I am a white male and really the only thing I can contribute to diversity is that I speak German, I added a funny bit at the end about how my town holds a record for something that is stupid.  I mentioned things about sports and volunteering and blah stuff, but I felt that its nothing that is actually diverse so I thought it would be funny and a change of pace for the adcoms. I havent received an interview yet though so i wouldnt really recommend it. But what do they really expect from a white male, the most discriminated group in the US now?

I absolutely detest the bitter.  In what world is the white male, the perpetuator and initiator of racism and prejudice throughout the world, throughout history, the most discriminated group?!?  Don’t even get me started on the silliness entitled “reverse racism.”

Keeping up with the Debate

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2009 at 2:30 am

Without further adieu, I present to you the site which has most greatly simplified my life: The NY Times Topic – Health Care Reform.

With potential medical school interviews looming a few months away, it is of the utmost importance to stay abreast on all current events – especially those pertaining to health care.  Since early 2008 with the Presidential race, the topic of health care reform has been highly debated for months and on the front lines of papers everywhere and news sites across the nation.  After President Obama’s win, the progress of the imminent reform changes nearly daily, with sides unable to come to an agreement, town hall meetings confusing things, leaving me with the feeling that not only are we taking two steps forward, one step back (I do think we are making progress – just slowly), but with each step forward, it’s like we’re pointed in a slightly different direction.  You follow me?

Thankfully, a fellow SDNer (Student Doctor Network user) has put me on to this lovely website that neatly organizes the major points of the debate, as well as pros and cons, and opposing views for the issues on the table.  All I can say is, “AMEN!”  I was getting exhausted trying to keep up with the news daily to make sure I hadn’t missed a major development in the debate.  While I am not oblivious to the news, I try to watch as little of it as possible.  It is just so negative and full of saddening stories or pointless information (at least pertaining to my life).  Plus, it is so ridiculously biased, the newsworthy stuff that actually makes the cut is tainted and unreliable.  Ugh…  I do love me some CNN though – namely Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon (I have major crushes on both!)

[p.s. – submitted Northwestern and Loyola today.  Waiting for 3-4 more secondaries that should be out within the next week or so – my patience is really being tested!]

Not owning a BB/iPhone is holding me back! >:O

In Rants, Volunteering on August 9, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I signed up at the end of the spring semester to volunteer with a local outreach program.  Without giving out names, the program sets up a free health clinic at a different homeless shelter 5 days a week, offering services and education to under-served communities.  This is the type of work I would love to stay involved with throughout my career, if not run one myself in the future.  I read through their website and signed up to be on their list serve so I can sign up weekly according to my schedule.  Back in May, I was excited to finally get some more hands-on clinical experiences with a different patient population than I had seen before, and to have a productive activity to fill my time  with until I found a full-time job – in sum, I was the stereotypical eager pre-med kid, geeked to potentially be experiencing something more closely related to my anticipated career, and that would make my overabundance of free-time this summer look better.

Fast forward 3-4 months.  How has my experience been? Oh wait, what? Where am I?  Sitting at home on my couch, frantically checking my e-mail. And why?  In addition to searching for notifications of status updates from med schools, I am waiting for the weekly e-mail to be sent out to this list serve so I can finally experience this outreach I’ve heard such wonderful things about.  The problem is, the program, much like my part-time job, operates on a “first come, first gets” basis, which in turn boils down to those with continuous internet access (i.e. those with Blackberries or iPhones) repetitively beat out those of us with normal cell phones.  Sent on different days at varied times, there is absolutely no way to predict when the email will be sent. With over 100-300 people on the list serve (depending on the time of year), and maybe 10 openings a week, competition for these slots is high.  Ugh, talk about frustration.  A friend of mine has already volunteered with the program a few times.  Yes, she has a Blackberry. Oh, and wait for it – she also works my same part-time job and gets all the gigs she wants, when she wants them. In sum, her BB not only enables her to make more money than me, but it also allows her to volunteer better than me! Talk about a slap in the face!

I already put volunteering with this organization on my submitted secondaries, so now I feel forced to keep trying to hook up with this program even in the face of repeated fails.  Fortunately, this week has been good for me.  Not only did I find and start a good full-time job in the area that allows me to telecommute, but I also finally was able to secure a spot in this evasive volunteer program.  Furthermore, I found a closer volunteer opportunity at a Planned Parenthood clinic that I can potentially work with on Saturdays.  While I believe in quality over quantity, the limited availability of the superb quality offered by the program is about to take a backseat to the vast quantity of decent experience I can gain at the local clinic.  I will still try for the hard-to-get experience, but I’m just glad I found something to tide me over in the meantime.

What can I say? I absolutely love volunteering!  This past year, I was so involved in my program and working in the ER, that I neglected volunteering at all.  Honestly, I haven’t really volunteered since undergrad (clue #1 to my background) and have truly missed it.  It feels good to get back into giving to others.  I’ve spent these last few years establishing who I am and what I want to accomplish with and in my life.  Now that that’s all settled, it’s time for the new and improved me to start helping others achieve their goals.

An Introduction of sorts…

In medical school on August 8, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Hi. I am not new to blogging – I have a separate blog where my identity is not completely anonymous, that serves as my social commentary on the world around me. I decided to create a new, completely anonymous blog to chronicle my ventures to obtain a Medical Degree.

For those unfamiliar with the application process to medical, allow me to summarize for you – to call it an emotional roller coaster is beyond a misnomer.  Not only is it the longest process known to man (starts in early June and ends anywhere from early Winter to late Spring, depending on the strength of your application), but on average, it also costs between $3000-$5000 to apply (not including the ~$1600 one spends on MCAT prep courses).  So far we have high monetary and time investments, with no guaranteed return.  With the average medical school acceptance rate being ~ 3-15% and with a total of 16,000 open seats across the US and 36,000 or so applying each year,  you see that ~45-55% of applicants don’t make it in each year.  The hardest part of the process is not studying for the MCATs, not in filling out your primary application, nor is it  the numerous individualized essays on secondary applications, but the anticipatory months spent waiting, playing over in your head what you could have improved or written better, hoping that your attempt at honesty and creativity caught someone on the admissions committee’s eye and that you will be granted a few interviews.

As the days roll on, I’ll update you with more about myself: my character, my interests, my history, my family, my friends, and my ambitions.  I hope my readers will find this somewhat entertaining – I am quite the character, once you get to know me 😉  I hope my sarcasm correctly projects across the internet!  Perhaps my experiences along this application process can be insightful and of benefit to at least one other poor, tortured pre-medical soul.

Signing-off, for now…