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Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

In applying to med school, Blessings on November 27, 2009 at 7:10 am

Today is the day after Thanksgiving; I have MUCH to be thankful for.  Like most everyone else, I am thankful for a wonderful support system of family and friends.  Especially the ones who stood by me through last year’s crazy application process.  I’m blessed to lack nothing I need (not want) in life, to have good health (though lacking health insurance, I smile), and to hold multiple jobs in this rough economic time.  This year, my thankfulness is extended to blessings in the medical school admissions cycle. First and foremost, I am thankful for finally having been accepted into medical school after years and years of hard work, time, and money. Amen! I could really end with this one statement, but that would make for a rather short post, so I’ll continue.

I am also thankful to have been accepted so early in this application cycle.  Talk about a stess relief! It’s priceless to know that no matter what happens in the subsequent months, whether that be in my personal life or in this crazy process, that I will definitively be a doctor in a few years – provided I don’t go and get arrested or something stupid like that…no worries there though.  It takes all pressure off possible future interviews. It’s even more beneficial that the first school I was accepted to is a school I love and can easily picture myself at. To give you a short synopsis of what happened, I applied early, had a first round interview at this school, was basically told I was “in” on interview day, received official notice of acceptance as early as possible, and I then mentally declared “Game Over!”  All worries and apprehensions were layed to rest as of October 16th, 2009. What a blessed day that was…a day I will never forget!  In addition, I am grateful to have had multiple acceptances – choice is lovely! 🙂

Next, as a tangent off my last point, and as a fellow SDNer put it, “I’m thankful that I will never have to apply to medical school again, and yet also thankful that I went through it at least once in my life.” As crazy as it sounds, I am thankful to have done this process twice. Yes, you read correctly, twice! Doing it once right from the jump is great and all (and certainly much cheaper and the way to go if possible), but in reality, about 50% just don’t get in anywhere on go around 1.  For me, there is something to be said about literally being crushed to pieces the first time around and having the resolve to summon enough energy to reassemble myself (with God’s great glue!) as a stronger applicant for the next application cycle, and without having to take an additional year off between rounds.  I feel pretty great holding acceptances at schools that flatout rejected me last year without so much as an interview.  I know that an acceptance this cycle means so much more to me than one last application cycle would have meant. And, granted, I hear that applying for residency programs very much mirrors applying to medical school, so I better get used to it, but to not have to deal with jumping through any more hoops or fighting to prove myself to admissions committees or even to my, at times, self-doubting psyche is the best thing this pre-med girl could ask for. I’m over this one major hurdle and have a few years to adequately prepare for the next big leap of faith. I’m game. Bring it!  Clearly, my adrenaline is pumping full-throttle this year.

Furthermore, I am thankful for batting 100 in interview conversions.  Granted, I have only had three interviews (3 I am extremely appreciative of!), but all three have turned into very quick acceptances.  All my interviewers verbally expressed how highly they thought of me as an applicant and as a future physician.  This definitely helped soften the blow of out-right pre-interview rejections and helped boost my self-confidence as an applicant.  One of my bigger fears entering this application process was that my GPA would hold me back.  I did just okay in undergrad and excelled in my post-bacc program, but had no clue how med schools evaluate my subsequent mediocre GPA.  While I think the A’s in the post-bacc certainly helped my cause, out of the horses’ mouths it is apparent that my ECs and life experiences count a great deal (or at least at certain schools). I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such opportunities and to have been able to be of service to so many even at such a relatively young age. God is good!

Also, I am grateful batting 50 for schools I applied to in general.  That’s 4 interview invitations (just got an invite the other day) and 4 pre-interview rejections, with many schools screaming silence or Hold.  With every rejection, my mom does a great job reminding me that there are plenty of others that are crushed right now and who would kill for just one interview, let alone an acceptance.  Trust, I was there last year, I know that she’s 100% correct on this one. And I know that as the cycle progresses, competition starts to increase, however, at the moment I am convinced that all I need is to get my foot in the door with an interview invite, and I’m fairly certain I’ll do a good job “selling myself” to the school.  After all, who knows me better than me other than my Maker?

On that note, I must say that I am thankful that this crazy process has drawn me closer to God and has strengthened my relationship with Him, and not the other way around, as I’ve seen happen to some scorned pre-meds.

In sum, I am grateful that I am blessed beyond measure.  All I can do is smile from deep down within my heart and scream Thank you, Jesus!

aside: I’m also extremely thankful I will not be participating in this year’s Black Friday! Neither as a retailer nor as a consumer. I swear, this day can bring out the worst features of mankind, and I’m in a full-on positive mood indefinitely. Would hate for that to be ruined by some silly sale!

The Dating Game

In applying to med school, Finances, medical school on November 16, 2009 at 11:33 pm

To a certain extent, searching for the right medical school is much like searching for the right significant other. Most people have a certain set of characteristics in mind when they search for a mate. For some, they look for a mate that they think is on their perceived level – someone they think physically looks as good as they are convinced they look (emphasis on perceived…you know how some people have that inflated self-image), someone who fits the look they are going for. Some (like me) find intelligence irresistably sexy, and consequently all partners must possess a certain level of smarts to make the cut. Some seek financial security. Still others (usually men) are intimidated by too many brains and therefore chose someone of lesser intelligence to accompany them throughout life. The list continues… Some look for a deep measure of humanity, a concern for the environment, a shared love of music/money/sports/[insert some random passion or value].

One of the funniest things I have said when considering someone is that I could picture them an excellent father and husband, but a boyfriend…not so much :/ Rest assured, we remain friends and have never dated, and I have absolutely no desire to date the man. His unintentional lack of follow-through irks me to no end. However, I know that in another 5 years or so, when he’s matured a bit more, he would be an engaging spouse and potentially an amazing father (I’m not ready to get married or have kids any time soon…let that be known). To round out the list, let’s be honest and just say that some people use their mates for networking opportunities (cold, I know, but I’m sure we can all name somebody). Ooo, one more. There’s always that desperate individual who really doesn’t care what traits another person has, as long as they are available (sometimes that’s not even a requirement) and possess the right body parts (still not always a requirement)…they’re the most entertaining to watch, imho. lol

Likewise, all these criteria are used by applicants to evaluate potential medical schools to apply to, and finally, which one to choose as their legally bound mate for the next 4+ years.  So, let the dating game begin!

So, what am I looking for in a man and/or a medical school? Well, let’s see, for a man, I look for someone who mirrors my life values. I want someone with a sense of humor, who’s bright (I get intellectual crushes very easily…just call me intellectually promiscuous), who understands the importance of giving to others, who’s down to earth (I hate pretension), likes to live life, has diverse interests, and likes to do random things. When evaluating a guy, money’s not an issue. I mean, if he has money, it’s certainly not a negative, but lacking money is not a negative either. Ha, looking at this list, it kind of looks like I am asking for a lot, but I swear I’m not! In the end, I just want a down-to-earth guy, with a nice smile and laugh, that likes to have a good time, but also has a serious side (such as focused on his career and family).

I am pretty much looking for the same thing in a future medical school.  I want a “family oriented” school, where there is a sense of family within my class and between the administration and the students.  Likewise, I desire and institution that supports my diverse interests outside the classroom through reduced lecture hours and various student groups and community service outreach.  The only big difference here is that financial ability will be a LARGE factor when making my selection. 

I am really curious as to how all of this is going to play out. For instance, if I am accepted at a school that seems down-to-earth, has a student body that’s into serving their community (both within the walls of the school and externally), and encourages its students to maintain their outside interests, but lacks a substantive financial support, will I pick them? My heart says one thing and my brain says the opposite. Ugh, I hate when that happens!

In undergrad, I was fortunate enough to receive numerous acceptances at a wide range of schools. One of the schools offered me a $100,000 scholarship for being one of their “top 100 applicants” or something like that. They went over-the-top, inviting us all to campus, taking us out on the town – the put on the works! However, despite their enticing offer, I chose a school that I wound up having to pay full-price out-of-pocket for (thank God I had been left money to finance my education). Why did I chose that school? Because I felt that my undergraduate years were, well, literally priceless! But, unlike medical school, I felt that it made a significant difference where I attended undergrad.

Medical school is a completely different game though. Any US accredited, MD-granting med school is good – it has to be, as we will be handling human life…something our society (rightfully) highly values.  With hard work (both inside and outside the classroom) you can get into any residency program of your chosing. With that in mind, it makes no sense to choose a school that’ll land you a quarter million dollars in debt (GASP!) when you can go to another school that you might not click with quite as well for substantially less money. Plus, lowering debt reduces the possibility of being pigeon-holed into a speciality just for the sake of being able to pay off loans versus following your true passion.  Like most other things in life, I feel that it is important to follow the heart and where God is leading. I’m excited to see what the spring offers. Whew, May 15th, 2010 is only 179 days away!!! Doesn’t seem so far away now, does it?  People keep asking me if I have a top choice right now.  My answer remains the same: I am trying not to get attached to any school until financial aide packages are laid out on the table.  I need to see my potential spouse’s hand before I commit!  I must know how deep those pockets go!

Premed advisors: You already know…

In applying to med school, Rants on November 4, 2009 at 3:12 pm

 

\frustration

What most of us feel like when dealing with advisors

As I look around and see where I am, I can’t help but begin to question who has been instrumental in my development as a human and on my trek on the road to the M.D.  While I can think of numerous people that in one way or another positively contributed to this journey, the one group of people that have done the least good (and possibly the most harm) have been pre-med advisors.  Who else is not surprised by this discovery? Lol

Ah, my experiences with pre-med advisors – where do I even begin?  Let’s start back in my freshman year.  I’m a bit of an oldhead now, so we’re talking Fall 2003…thank God women in my family age so well 😉  I had just came back from my grandfather’s funeral (an emotional event in and of itself) and was meeting with an advisor about missing classes.  He was the man freshman and sophomore pre-meds from specific dorms had to go to for academic advising.  This man also had an infamous reputation for being a mix of a douchebag and a pedophile.  Needless to say, I was apprehensive about even making the appointment, but knew I needed to have the excused absences duely noted.  So, he pulls out my file, starts asking me about missing classes and asks for the obituary while reading through my file.  Our conversation goes something like this:

Advisor: So I see on your first gen chem exam you got a B+. Why is that?

Me: Well, my grandfather was getting really sick. I was running back and forth between here and there trying to help him, blah blah blah (mind you, its a B+ on my first college exam, not an F…)

Advisor: And you want to be a doctor? Why do you want to be a doctor? You’ll never get into med school with B+s… (He then proceeds to tear me apart)

I proceed to ball out crying while my advisor exhibits no sympathy.  Remember, I was only  there to get excused absences, not career advice!  Ha. I was so young and naive about the usefulness of advisors. Once upon a time, I thought their word was gold. I quickly learned otherwise, thank God!  Some of them turned my friends off from medicine completely, but I guess you could argue that those individuals did not possess the drive and dedication and/or maturity necessary for a career in medicine.

Fast forward a few years to Story #2: Required advising meeting to plan my schedule

Me: I’m having trouble finalizing my schedule. Which three classes would be most beneficial for me to take? Immuno, Biochem, Cancer Cell, Developmental, or [insert a few others]?

Advisor: [on his computer, clearly not really paying attention] After a loooong delay, “Use your best judgment.” Followed by silence (I think he was playing a computer game?)

Me:  “Why are you here?!? What is your purpose???”  and proceeded to storm out his office, silently cursing my last attempt at actually using an advisor.

Note the difference in reaction only a few years made 😉  Yeah…they are quite the bunch.  Telling people not to do research or that applying in November is late…are you trying to set us up for failure?!?  Don’t schools want to boost the percentage of students that get accepted on their first try?!?   Those were only two of a few stories I had.  I’m sure I could’ve had some more, but I learned early on the unimportance of the pre-med advisor and the frustration that ensues every time you try interacting with them!.  They were good for two things: wasting my precious time and making me feel down about myself and my future.  Thanks a bunch, guys!

I will say, that I had one, lone beacon of light in this whole advising process, and that came in April 2009, roughly six years after starting down this journey towards the M.D.   A little late, but better late than never, right?  Sadly, the wonderful lady who gave me useful and advise and direction technically wasn’t even our pre-med advisor! Smh.  She was kind of “on loan” to us as an assistant advisor.  I tell you what – she put all our real advisors to shame! 

Here’s one of my favorite threads on pre-med advisors. Feel free to share your advising nightmares!  I know some of you need or want to vent…lol