advice to premed

Advice/FYI’s to High School Seniors

My main pieces of advice for all those students starting their senior year of high school this fall. Of course, these won’t all apply to everyone, but take what you want from it. Here’s some advice from someone who just graduated. 

  1. By the time you get to senior year you either have 3 close friends. or you’ll be friends with everyone. Either way, cherish them all. 
  2. Do not slack off. If you do, at least wait until the second semester. 
  3. Take easy classes. Unless you don’t mind lower grades in hard classes due to senioritis then I suggest you keep your senior schedule pretty simple. 
  4. Take off periods. You will LOVE them. You will be surprised with how much longer your days feel.
  5. Definitely start driving to school, or carpooling with someone who does. 
  6. Go to the football games. Even if your team sucks. They’re just good experiences.
  7. Actually, go to as many school events as possible. Senior year was my first time going to volleyball games, or the dance shows. This is your last chance to experience them.
  8. You do not need to go off campus for lunch everyday. You do not want to earn your freshmen fifteen as a senior.
  9. Your senior year group of friends will be the group of friends that you wish you’d had all throughout high school.
  10. You will meet new people, and become friends and wish that you met them sooner. Because some of them will be juniors and you probably won’t see them for a very long time. 
  11. Start applying to colleges as early as you can. Preferably once you start senior year, or the summer before. 
  12. If you haven’t already taken your SAT/ACT you definitely need to get started on that your first semester. 
  13. Go to prom if you can. It won’t be the BEST night of your life, but it’s a good one. 
  14. Start thinking about what you want to major in. This is definitely subject to change, but you’re going to want to know a couple options once you start applying to colleges.
  15. Once you do accept your offer for a college, and it becomes definite, high school becomes so much harder to get through because you just want to leave. 
  16. You’re going to be waiting for graduation THE WHOLE YEAR. 
  17. If you’re in a relationship and are going your separate ways after graduating now would be a good time to either end it, or figure out ways to be long distance.
  18. Long distance very rarely works. 
  19. At prom, it is a very good idea to invest in some comfortable shoes.
  20. Take lots of pictures.
  21. Go on college visits to as many colleges as you can.
  22. Save your absences for the last weeks of school because that’s when you are REALLY not going to want to go. 
  23. Be one good terms with some of your teachers, because you’re going to want letters of recommendation. 
  24. If you want to take pictures with your friends after graduation, be ready to pick a place to meet up beforehand because it will be very hard to find them afterwards.
  25. Do your homework. Please. 
  26. Stop talking to the people that you realize you’re only nice to because you have classes with them. 
  27. Now is just not a good time to develop a crush. 
  28. AP tests are suddenly very hard to study for considering that you’ve been taking it easy all year.
  29. Your SAT score does not define you and getting a bad one is not the end of the world.
  30. However, do as well as you can because colleges often give assured scholarships to students who meet certain SAT/ACT scores. 
  31. Your GPA is either going to drop, or raise A LOT. 
  32. GPA doesn’t really matter at this point though. Junior year grades matter the most. 
  33. Spend a lot of time with your family. You’ll be off to college before you know it.
  34. High school parties are honestly overhyped. 
  35. Now would be a good time to acquire a taste for coffee. 
  36. If you oversleep, I honestly recommend just staying home that day unless you have a test. 
  37. T-shirts will become your clothing of choice. 
  38. If you love makeup, like me, by the last 2 months of school you just won’t have the energy to wake up 20 minutes earlier to apply it. So learn to be okay with how you look without makeup. 
  39. Please eat breakfast. 
  40. No one cares if you eat in the cafeteria. 
  41. The freshman look SO tiny and it makes you wonder if you looked that small 3 years ago. 
  42. Go to all the pep rallies. 
  43. Have fun during spirit week. Some colleges don’t have them, so take advantage of it now.
  44. It is totally okay to not have a date for prom.
  45. One of the happiest moments you will have all year is being able to walk across the stage. Also, one of the shortest.
  46. Despite what everyone says, there is a very good chance that you WON’T cry at graduation. 
  47. The senior year teachers are always the best.
  48. Be nice to the freshman.
  49. Be nice to any underclassmen actually.
  50. But also, take pride in being a senior. This is your last year. Own it. 
How to Kill the MCAT in 5 Weeks

Hey everyone! Sorry for the lack of posting these past few months. It’s been a whirlwind, with schoolwork, starting to apply to medical school (HCEC >__>), studying and taking the MCAT, writing an honors thesis, preparing another manuscript for publication, etc. I’m happy to say that I’m (mostly) back and will be trying to answer all of your questions! But this post is mostly dedicated to how I studied and prepared for the MCAT. While a lot of people spend months preparing for the exam, I didn’t start studying until the beginning of winter break and spent only 5 weeks (albeit a brutal 5 weeks) preparing for the exam. Scores were released yesterday, and I’ll just say that I’m very happy with my score. I’ll be discussing many aspects of how I prepared, and hopefully it’ll help someone out there.

1. Classes

If you really think about it, studying for the MCAT should really just be review. You’ve learned 95% of the material in your classes before, so re-learning it shouldn’t be as hard as the first time. In my opinion, the new MCAT really favors students who work in research labs since there are a lot of passages that require data interpretation. The exam seems also to focus heavily on biochemistry. I was lucky and took biochem just this past fall, along with another course called “Nutrition and Disease” (NS4410). Surprisingly, a lot of the content in NS4410 ended up being on the MCAT as well. Having taken biochem so recently, most of it was fresh in my head so it was not nearly as difficult to learn as it should have been. Realistically, you probably will only really remember material from classes you took from the past year - anything past that you’ll likely have to re-learn. My recommendation would be to take biochemistry right before the exam, since it is such an important component on the MCAT and you want it fresh in your mind. What is on the MCAT is really just a watered down version of all your premed classes - don’t forget that. It may seem like a monster to study for, but all the knowledge is somewhere in your brain - you just have to dust it off.

2. Study Materials

Personally, I am a self-studier. I’ve never done well with prep courses. I don’t really know why, but for some reason I think there’s always a part of me that feels like I’m getting ripped off since they are so expensive. There’s no reason you can’t self-study, especially since that’s what you do during the school year. As for me, I decided to go with the full set of books from ExamKrackers (EK) and Kaplan, which together totaled around $350 (vs. a $2000 Kaplan course). EK, in my opinion, is great because they explain everything so well and succinctly and are able to cover 95% of what is on the exam in half the length of other prep material. EK splits each book into chapters, and each book consists of anywhere from 4-7 chapters (each 60-70 pages long). For example, chemistry (organic and inorganic were combined) had 7 chapters and consisted of around 450 pages of content. The organic chemistry book alone for Kaplan, on the other hand, was 400 pages (general chemistry was ~600 pages). Since I was trying to get through all of the content within 2-3 weeks, EK was great because it was so short. EK also had practice passages in the back, which aren’t the same as the actual exam (they’re a bit more difficult) but are good for practice. I used Kaplan mostly for practice, since the full book set also came with online materials (including 3 full length tests). What I didn’t like about Kaplan was how long it was (as I mentioned before) and how detailed it went. They seemed to focus much more on facts unlike EK which focused on concepts. I also bought both full-length tests from AAMC (which together cost $60).

The one comment I have is about the psychology and sociology section is that I felt neither really adequately covered what I was tested. I had bought the Kaplan books because I heard they covered the psych/soc sections much better, but in the end there were a ton of terms on the actual test that weren’t covered in the books. I think this will improve as time goes on and more tests are released, as the test companies will get a better understanding of what is actually on the test.

3. Study Schedule

I set a very strict schedule for myself. I began studying the day after I got home from my last final. I studied every single day of winter break, 10-12 hours a day for 5 weeks straight (there were about 3 days [holidays] where I only studied ~4 hours). It’s brutal and takes discipline, but for me, this was the right decision since I knew spreading it out over the course of 3 months would be excruciating and I wouldn’t be able to retain the information as well. I promised myself that I would work through 2 chapters of EK each day, which is around 120-140 pages of content and I thought was very reasonable (I’m also a bit of a slow reader). At this rate, I was able to finish all the content in 2.5 weeks. After going through all the material, I took a single full-length practice test from Kaplan. The next day, I reviewed the test and spent the next week and a half going over every single subject again (doing 1 subject, like physics, every day). This entailed redoing all the practice passages in EK, all the book problems in the Kaplan books, and all the practice online passages for Kaplan that pertained to that subject. I spent the entire last week doing the other passages (the remaining 2 full-length Kaplan and the 2 full-length AAMC). I did a test every other day, and every day in-between I would go over the previous day’s test. On days that I did tests, I would watch a movie afterwards (as a reward for having just taken a 7.5 hour test), eat, and then go straight to sleep.

4. Practice

The best way you can study is practice. A realization I had while studying for the MCAT was that this, like many other standardized tests, is one that can be learned. There are very obvious patterns to questions (especially in CARS), and EK was great at giving you pointers for choosing the right answer. It’s tricky because something as simple as a single word could mean that an answer is wrong. So much of the MCAT is strategy and endurance, so be sure to take multiple full-length tests. Diversifying your study materials will help you adapt to different types of tests. For me, CARS was my weakest section, and I needed tons of additional help on it. I used Khan Academy’s free materials (they have 50+ passages you can practice on). Also be sure to review answers you got right (and why you got them right) in addition to the answers you got wrong. The two AAMC full-length tests are very good predictors of how you will do, in my opinion. There aren’t many full-length tests out there, so treat them preciously. Once you take one, you can’t really take it again as if it were “new.” It’s important that you don’t take a full-length test until you finish reviewing all the material at least once because there’s really no point in taking it if you’re going to get a bunch of questions wrong. On days that you take full-length tests, try to emulate test day. Go to sleep early the night before, wake up early, eat breakfast, find a quiet spot you can work for several hours, and begin your test before 8AM. Do NOT go on your phone or on the internet during your breaks. Treating the test as if it were real helps with mental preparation for the actual test along with time management.

To put things in perspective, I scored a 506 on my full-length Kaplan test, which was 2.5 weeks before my actual test. Following a week of review of all the content, I scored another 506 on a Kaplan test (which was pretty discouraging). I next took the scored AAMC test, which I scored a 513 on. I took another Kaplan test and scored a 510, and my final AAMC test I scored ~518 (it’s not scored, but that’s the approximate score according to the percentages). Improvement can be quick and drastic when you’re taking multiple full length tests.

5. Test Day

How you treat test day plays a large part in how well you will do. This is where taking practice tests and treating it like the real thing helps. For me, I had been taking practice tests for the entire week so it was kind of like just waking up and taking another practice test. Trust that you’re prepared, even if you don’t 100% feel it (no one ever feels 100% prepared going into these tests!). I went to bed early, but was pretty nervous and woke up a few times during the night. I didn’t feel particularly tired, however, and I felt surprisingly calm going into the testing center (besides the normal level of nerves). I know it’s easy to say “stay calm” when it feels like your future is on the line, but just take a deep breath every time you feel your heart beat getting a bit faster. Mentality is everything. There will be a surprising amount of security at the test center, but just roll with it. The testing center will have noise cancelling headphones, but since you’re in a pretty quiet room I didn’t find them necessary (I actually put them on for a second but found them to be quite uncomfortable, and I had been studying at a noisy Barnes & Noble so I was used to any noise). People may be coming in and out of the room (quietly), so try to request a computer farther away from the door. Once you start, just let your instincts take over. You’ve been preparing for this - you know how to do it, you’ve just spent weeks/months studying!

Here’s my biggest piece of advice: realize that every single question on that test has an answer and can be answered. If you read a question and are very confused because nothing in your studies covered the topic, then the answer is in the passage. The MCAT will NOT give you a question that cannot be answered. If the question seems to be discrete but you just seemingly can’t figure out the answer, refer back to the passage and look for the answer. It’s there! I promise!

At the end of the MCAT, you will have the option to void your score. Resist your temptation to void your score. No one ever feels good coming out of that test - it’s absolutely normal. You’ve worked so hard for the test - trust that your preparation was sufficient. Unless you actually like fell asleep and didn’t answer 50% of the test, do NOT void your score.

6. Post-MCAT

Congratulations! You’re done!!! Go and celebrate! Do something to take your mind off all things MCAT! I went and saw a broadway show with a friend, and it was amazing. The next month of waiting will be excruciating, but you’ll get through it! The day of score release, I had such bad anxiety the entire day (I had woken up at least 8 times the night before). When my score came out, the website crashed and I wasn’t able to see my score for over an hour (which was the worst). When I finally saw my score, however, I was ecstatic. All my hard work had paid off, and to be perfectly honest, I was crying tears of joy. If you’ve worked as hard as you can, then be confident that you’ll be happy too.

I hope this helps someone out there. I won’t post my score right now (perhaps after I get accepted somewhere), but I will say that my score will allow me to be competitive at the top 10 schools. The MCAT is intimidating, but it’s possible to crush it if you work hard. Put things in perspective: this is only the first of many tests you’ll have to take if you want to be a doctor. It’s just a stepping stone in your career, and you’ve already made it this far.

DS

I get a ton of messages basically asking the same question: How do I make myself the best applicant to medical school I can be?

1. Most imporantly: Do everything in your power to be a well rounded applicant
- Pick a major your interested, does NOT have to be a science major!

– Just because you want to be a doctor or work in healthcare doesn’t mean only science topics interest you! You can be an art major and still take all the courses required for premed. Ex. I did anthropology and Psychology, I have premed friend who were engineering and music majors. 

- Volunteer in the community with organizations that you are passionate about, NOT just ones that look good on an application

– These should be diverse but should be things you are passionate about, if you get more out of planting trees than volunteering in a hospital gift shop, thats okay! Volunteer in different groups and organizations, some should be medically related but they don’t all have to be! Showing a commitment to life long service doesn’t just mean in medicine. 

- Shadow: different fields of medicine and not just doctors, look into dentistry, nursing, psychology, social work –> figure out what type of healthcare provider you want to be. Contacting people may seem scary but it never hurts to ask, look for positions available, write them an email talking about the strengths and skills you have, maybe you don’t have a lot of experience but you can still be a fast learner and hard worker! 

- Research: if this seems boring to you, find someone researching something you’re interested in so you will actually enjoy it! I appreciated the results of research but always thought working in it would be boring and it was just another thing I had to do to put on my application. I was very WRONG! I found something lab researching a topic I was interested and it consumed me, I now have a greater understanding research and how fun it can be exploring a hypothesis! 

- Extracurricular: again do what your are passionate about, everything does not have to be about medicine, different life experiences teach you different life lessons. I learned different things from being VP of my Doctor Who club vs.  in my medical internship vs. being a ski instructor! 

- Study hard: create study groups, find tutors or be a tutor! If you are struggling in a class, study groups are shown to be a very effective way of studying, or spend the money on getting a tutor because it will be worth it in the end. When you are struggling in a class, especially a premed class, it can be a good time to reflect on whether this is a career for you. Being a doctor means a lifetime of learning, school, and tests. Seriously look into other career you might be interested in, its okay to change your mind about medical school, there are other careers in medicine, or other professions you might enjoy more. Everything in life takes hard work, its finding what you can endlessly work hard for. General Chemistry made me seriously look at whether of not this was the right path for me. After some serious self reflection, there was nothing else I could work this hard for. 

- Time management: Managing work, school, social life and everything else can be hard, don’t take on too much, figure out your limits, remember to ask for help when you need it and to take care of yourself. If you push yourself too hard you will break, we are not invincible. Its okay to say no, to take time for yourself!

Keep a detailed resume of all your actives, exact dates of when they started and ended, who to contact about them and a detailed summary of what you did and what you learned form your experiences! This will help you immensely when filling out your AMCAS 

If your application isn’t perfect or not very well rounded (lacking in areas), I highly recommend taking time off to fill those gaps. The biggest reason people who apply straight out of college don’t get in, even with great applications is maturity level. You may think, I am adult, I am mature! But just because you can act professionally doesn’t mean you are mature. The maturity they are looking for is achieved through life experiences. Many college kids really haven’t had much life experiences other that college, what adversities have you overcome, do you even really know who you are yet outside of your college experience. 

I have take two years off, even though I had a pretty good application before, it has only become stronger and I have lived life, I thought I knew who I was before but I really had explored that until I was out of college on my own.   

Optional: Take time off before applying (Recommended)
- Gaining more life experiences: Maybe move to a new place or Travel 

- Get a Masters Degree: this can help boost your GPA if it is not competitive 

- Work: doesn’t have to be in medicine but if you lack hand-on patient experiences than this is great opportunity to chance that! If you have never worked a job, than I highly recommend taking time off and working for a living to experience what its like to pay your own bills

- Learn about who you are: this will help you appear more mature when interviewing and make you more confident 

The Process of Applying 

- Competitive MCAT Score: you don’t have to pay for a course, do what works best for you. I believe the examkracker books were most helpful, Kaplan tend to have the hardest BS and PS practice test but Examkrackers is the best for VR. If you don’t do well the first time, figure out what went wrong and retake it! Learn from this experience because your future in medicine will require many more standardized tests so figuring out how to best prepare for them now will help you in the future! 

- Picking Medical Schools: pick 15 schools, have a few reach schools and a few back up school and then the rest ones you can reasonably get into. Take into account their curriculums, locations and if you are thinking about a competitive speciality look at the what residencies their students are matching! If you are interested in research, or rural care, looks at schools that over special programs for these paths. 

- Letters of Rec/Committee Letter: hopefully in college you made meaningful relationships with professors you had (you should definitely do this!), you will need a science class professor letter of rec, if you did research you will need one from your PI, if you worked with a doctor for an extended period ask them to write you one or if you worked with a volunteer organization for a long period.  Write them a nice letter in why you are asking them, provide them with your resume and all the information they need to know as well as where to send it to. Its okay to send emails reminding them to write it, they are busy people and reminding them shows it is important to you. Also figure out if your school offers a committee letter and be diligent about keeping up on every thing you need to do for it. 

Primary Application AMCAS

- Personal statement- make it personal, talk about experiences that have lead you hear today, but most importantly what you learned from them. This is about you, WHY YOU? vs. everybody else who is applying. This is a Persuasive essay! 

- Academic Record- make sure to request you transcripts to be sent as soon as possible so AMCAS can verify them quickly 

- 15 Activities - out of everything you have done you have to pick the 15 most important activities you have done and briefly talk about them. Then you get to pick three that were most important 

Secondaries 

- Strong Essays- These are your chance to show again why you!? highlight your strengths when you can, make sure they are concise and well written free of grammatical errors. Ask friends to read them over for you. 

- Resume - Remember that detailed resume I told you to about keeping! Many schools allow you to upload addition documents like a resume! Now beyond your 15 they have a list of all the actives you have ever done and what you have learned from them! 

- Headshot- passport photo size, 2 x 2 inches. Dress profession, SMILE, only should show show just below the shoulder and up. Remember this is their first glimpse of you, putting the face together with your application! 

- Research abstract - if you did research, make sure to have a document with just your abstract to upload if the offer additional documents area. 

Interviewing

1. Practice - Practice answering interview questions, use examples, highlight your strengths! Try limiting your answer to two to 3 minute: look up “Elevator Speech” - pitch to the ceo a great idea on an elevator ride of only 4 floors! 

2. Reading - the more you read the smarter you are! Reads books about doctors and their experiences, how to apply to medical school, affordable healthcare act, current events, current events in medicine, NIH, read papers on tough ethical topics, read papers published by people from that school, read everything you can on their schools website! Schedule a mock interview, video record yourself answering questions. 

3. What to wear -
Females - professional fitted pants suit or suit with skirt no more than an inch about knees with skin tone matching stockings. flats or heels no more than 2 inches high, make sure you can walk all day in them. simple jewelry, studs and a necklace, no more than one ring on each hang. nothing big and distracting. suite should be black, navy, or gray. Blouse or profession top not showing cleavage. If you hair is long wear it back. Make up, light. You don’t want anything distracting from what you’re saying!
Males- Well fitted suit, tie (safer) or bow-tie, pick a professional one that is not busy looking or distracting. Suit color: black, navy or gray. business professional shoes. Belt and shoe color must match. 

Don’t wear fragrances (but wear deodorant!), bring a briefcase or similar size professional purse or professional folder (just need something to hold business cards and papers). Look well manicured make sure nails are trimmed and neutral colors only. 

Remember to be professional, have a firm handshake, ask them for their business card at the end to write them a handwritten thank you letter. Sit up straight, smile, be you, and don’t forget its a conversation so don’t be over rehearse your answers. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say “I honestly don’t know the answer to that”. Come up with a list of your 3 strengths and weakness and examples of each as well as what you are doing to work on your weaknesses. 

Good luck! One day your hard work will pay off, there will be bumps along the way but each one will teach you something and bring you closer to your dream of going to medical school! 

Advice to Premeds: Questions, Questions, Questions (for interview day)

So I have an interview with UAB med school. What sort of questions should I have to ask them? What sort of questions should I be prepared to answer? -lifersway

Congrats on your interview! 

Here and here are lists of practice interview questions I’ve compiled to help you think about your answers. 

As for questions you should ask them:

  • How is the curriculum structured? How much time is lecture vs. PBL/group learning vs. lab time?
  • How much clinical exposure do students get in the pre-clinical (1st and 2nd) years?
  • What are the average Step scores/pass rate for the school?
  • Are the clinical rotations all in the same hospital, in multiple hospitals in the same town, or scattered all over? Is there an option for rural or urban rotations?
  • What research opportunities are available to med students?
  • What volunteer opportunities are available during the school year?
  • What is the school’s success rate in matching people in to the specialty you are interested in? Or what is their match rate in general (vs. number of students that have to scramble)? 
  • Where do most students live? Is housing affordable in the area?
  • How much free time do students have, and what do they do with it (this is a great question if you have a student interviewer)? Do the students hang out outside of school?
  • How are most students there financing school? Are there scholarship options?
  • What makes this school unique? What do they have that others don’t?
  • How do the students relate to faculty? Are they friendly? How available are faculty members for questions or tutorials?
  • Are there MD/MPH or MD/PhD options? How does that curriculum work?
  • How are clinical skills taught? 
  • Are there counseling programs available for medical students? What resources are available to help students struggling with burnout or depression?
  • What clubs or student organizations are available? Are there opportunities to be involved with organizations on the national level?
  • How much vacation time is available? How do most students spend their vacations?

And of course, before you go to your interview, research the school online. Find out what makes that school unique and ask about those programs and resources as well. 

Interview Tips (part 2)

Interview Tips part 1

Alright guys, I’ve been sitting on interview panels as a student and have more tips on interviews that I NEED to share with y'all. Most of my interview experiences were great, but some of these interviews I have seen are not-so-great. And it’s not that the applicant isn’t amazing and wonderful, but it’s just that their interview skills needed some polishing. So, here goes!

1. I may have emphasized this before, but know your research cold. True story: I’m interviewing a candidate with a professor and an MD. Professor asks student about research in chemistry lab. Student gives answer about the importance of the compounds and how they could be used in medicine, and the professor hands candidate a piece of paper and says, “draw the reaction, please." And this professor was a biochem professor that really knew their stuff, so there was no bullshitting to be done. Luckily, the candidate was excellent in this regard, and explained everything perfectly. (Then, I started having flashbacks of organic chemistry and felt mildly panicked… ) I was so nervous for this candidate when they started drawing… but they nailed it. And you better nail it, too. Don’t get caught with your pants down. 

2. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. I’ve said it before, but I cannot emphasize it enough. Get your friends, practice answering questions. When you get nervous, the beautiful words that are floating around in your head go into a blender, some stuttering is thrown in, you might sound like you’re about to cry, and it comes out of your mouth not-so-beautiful. This is understandable, and it happens to all of us. Also, don’t use phrases and words that you use while casually hangin’ with frands. "It’d be frickin’ awesome to come here!” should be, “I would be honored to have the opportunity to attend your medical school.” OR SOMETHING like that. Clean it up. You may have a young person who doesn’t care about your use of “frickin’ awesome,” or a 90 year old who does care. 

3. Before you go into your actual interview, go into the bathroom, tighten all your face muscles, make weird faces in the mirror (if you’re alone), clench your arms, fists, legs, every muscle you can and then RELAX. Take a few deep breaths, all the way in. Center yourself. This may be reviewing your application one more time, or reading the last line of your personal statement. Remember why you are there. You were invited by this school to interview, so you have the numbers and experience, then just want to talk to YOU. So be the calm, focused, and centered you. 

4. When interviewing applicants, I often pretend the candidate is going to be my doctor. Would I feel comfortable talking to them? Trust them? Feel that they would give me competent and compassionate care? The candidate may look amazing on paper, but this component is key. 

Best of luck, interviewees! Feel free to ask more questions about med school interviews in my ask box! :) 

Freshman year: Premed experiences and tips

Freshman Year as a premed is scary. Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Can I keep up with the other premeds?

You feel as if your decision to pursue being a physician is all reliant on your first year of college.

Breath. The only thing you can prepare yourself for on being a “newbie” on campus is to choose your classes.

Classes: at this time it is recommended that Biology and Chemistry be taken together (though everyone is different and there is no perfect way to have classes to get into medical school… this is under your discretion, this is only what I did AS A BIOLOGY MAJOR).

TIP 1: GET TO KNOW YOUR PROFESSORS; IMPRESS. IMPRESS. IMPRESS.

I believe the best thing you could do in these classes is… DO THE VERY BEST YOU CAN. IMPRESS YOUR PROFESSORS. GET AN A+ IF YOU CAN ON EVERY EXAM. HOWEVER, do not kill yourself… make sure there is balance in your life, but do the very best you can. Why?

This is the time where professors are just getting to know who you are. If you impress them as a freshmen, ideally they will invest more time into seeing that you succeed.

I go to a private college in California. SO, getting to know your professors at my school is much easier than a public university I would say, HOWEVER, it still can be done.

SIT IN THE FRONT OF THE CLASS. Do not be afraid to stand out. This is college, this is your career ahead of you.

When the professor asks a question intended for the students to answer and you know the answer, ANSWER IT. ANSWER AS MANY AS POSSIBLE.

Professors seek premed students to guide that are striving to succeed and have an unquenchable thirst for learning. STAND OUT. I would even introduce yourself to the professor one way or another if you have to. YOU WANT THEM TO KNOW YOU. Why?

After trying my hardest in these classes, my professors sought me out and are now offering me teaching opportunities in the future, as well as recommending me to other professors for research. I am researching right now because of a close relationship I have with one of my professors. I impressed him with my drive in his class as a new premed and he is now offering me opportunities I would not have been able to find on my own.

Whatever effort you put it, it will pay off.

TIP 2: TRANSITION

Make sure that the amount of units you are taking are enough to challenge you, but also enough for you to be able to transition to the new challenges you will face in college.

Transitioning into college life can be easy and/or difficult for students. This is the time where you learn how disciplined you are. Friends or Studying? Ect… Give yourself leeway if this may be a problem for you, like taking 15 units instead of all 18 for at least your first semester of freshman year. The worst thing you could do to yourself is disappoint yourself with how you preformed and give up on your dream to be a doctor.

Remember, we are only human.

TIP 3: GET A’S

It is important to medical schools that your GPA is high in college for a variety of reasons, but they are searching for medical school candidates that they know will succeed in their vigorous programs. They are investing in you to succeed.

Thus, get as high of a GPA as you can. Not only this, but freshman year will be one of your easier years and maybe even your EASIEST YEAR. Get A’s in your easy classes, so that when you enter upper level classes that you cannot get A’s in no matter how hard you try, you can feel at ease knowing that you tried your hardest and have a “safety net.

Getting A’s also gives you a confidence boost. “YEAH I AM A PREMED AND I CAN BE A VERY GOOD ONE TOO. BRING IT ON SOPHOMORE YEAR. I KILLED IT FRESHMEN YEAR.”

TIP 4: LOCATE OTHER PREMEDS

You will find many premeds in beginning biology and chemistry classes this year. Get to know them? Maybe they have information you do not know and vice versa. PREMEDS MUST STICK TOGETHER (to the best of their abilities).

It is nice to be able to discuss courses and maybe even study together if you are compatible with them. Either way, it is nice to feel like you are not the only one struggling at times. Yes, there are other people that have felt the pressure you are feeling and they have survived. You will live past this year.

Another way of doing this is joining biology, chemistry, and/or premed clubs! This way you can also meet juniors and seniors that are premed and you can ask them about their premed journey/receive quality tips on courses, which professors are the best, and even ways to study.

I know a senior who was accepted by a medical school in Wisconsin through premed club and now I can ask him questions to see how he got accepted or what he felt was most crucial to his application (what made him stand out the most).

TIP 5: MAKE A FOUR YEAR PLAN WITH YOUR ADVISER.

You can also do this on your own and check with your adviser (this is what I did). There are plenty of templates online/ you can make your own via Microsoft word. This will help you in the long run.

Yes, it will change so do not spend endless hours on it like I did. The availability of courses (EVEN AT A PRIVATE SCHOOL) can be tricky to fit into one schedule. At the very least, map out what major requirements you will be taking every year to meet that major (same with minors and concentrations). Then, you can fill in GE’s but be prepared for THOSE to potentially change.

Have fun with it. It should be exciting to see all the courses you could discover and take. It also takes pressure off of making a brand new schedule in such a short amount of time during the school year, while still taking classes. It will already be set for you via your four year plan and you make changes as you go.

TIP 6: TAKE GREAT NOTES IN THE COURSES FOR THE MCAT AT THE VERY LEAST

I will be making another post on how to take different types of notes depending on the class, but for the sake of this post, take great notes because of the MCAT.

You will most likely need the notes you took in Biology, Chemistry, etc… when you begin studying for the MCAT so make sure they are organized and stay organized. I organized mine in binders, since much of my notes were PowerPoints from my professor and typed notes/handwritten notes I made.  

Also, I am keeping my textbooks that have information that will be on the MCAT, but selling the others if necessary.

TIP 7: STAY BALANCED

This year will go by so fast that you will feel like you just graduated high school yesterday, but now you are a sophomore in college.

A way to stay balanced is to avoid procrastination. How? This will be another post, but doing this will avoid stress. Stress can affect your health negatively if it is constant so make sure you do whatever you need to in order to avoid unnecessary stress on your assignments.

Lastly, take time for yourself, family, and friends. Seems simple, but it is not. You can lose yourself in the books for classes, but take the time (even if you need to schedule it) to be with the people you love.

Medical schools like seeing that you can handle the school work in college, while finding time to do other things outside of medicine or school. Whether it is playing a sport, painting, or going to the movies with your family. Find a way to de-stress.

KNOW THAT COLLEGE IS ONLY ABOUT 8 MONTHS OF THE YEAR. THE OTHER FOUR ARE SUMMER. Yeah you may have to work… but it is not the same as studying (unless you take summer courses, DUH).

MY POINT BEING, BUST YOUR BUTT FOR 4 MONTHS AT A TIME (SEMESTER SCHEDULES). It makes it seem much less intimidating than thinking of it as a year (helps you not to mentally burn out). You take different classes each semester, so realistically it is only four months at a time. BUST YOUR BUTT, SO THAT YOU CAN RELAX IN SUCCESS THAT WINTER BREAK OR SUMMER.

Find your inspiration TO DO YOUR BEST and go with it.

ENDING WORDS:

You are a freshman with little to no expectations by others but much from yourself. Understand this next year will be a learning experience and pose odd problems, but you can do it. You will survive it and most will survive it with flying colors. Do not forget to have fun and learn to love your school (you will be there for the next 3 years of your life, most likely).

These are tips that I would have told myself before my freshman year, but if you decide to use them, I am not responsible for the consequences that follow. I can only see positive consequences coming from them, but life is crazy so I thought I would say this just in case. I hope it helped/poses a realistic view of your freshman year. Again, use my advice under your discretion.

PREMEDS UNITE. xoxo

anonymous asked:

How can I enhance my chances of getting into med school??

There are quite a few ways.

Let me pass along a couple of articles that you should seriously consider reading:

6 reasons why applicants fail to get into medical school

How to get into medical school

Getting into medical school

Hope this helps you out some! 

Remember to not let the stress get the best of you. Keep a clear and determined mind and you will be fine!

MCAT tip

For the psych/soc section of the exam I used all of the videos in the khan academy app/website.
Their app has a special section for MCAT. Once you find this you’ll see more topic groups. The psych/soc ones include:

-Processing the environment
-Behavior
-Individuals and Society
-Society and Culture
-Social inequality

Whenever I wasn’t doing intense desk work type studying I was listening to these videos. For example while eating meals, while jogging, and while driving. I probably listened to almost every video twice or more over three months. They provide great examples that really stick and help you learn and retain new concepts. (Especially if you’re a visual or auditory learner )

also, this is a FREE resource :)

1. Find a place to write down on a blank sheet of paper. Write on the top “Who you are” and on the back “Where you want to be”. Dedicate serious time to jotting thoughts on this paper. Use mind maps, drawings, even color code. Force yourself to think for yourself.

2. Try craving out time to assess your schedule and your professors. Why kinds of professors are making your stronger as a student, which professors are not? Create an office hour appointment. Create a list of problems/ ideas you want to clarify. 

3. What do you do repeatedly. Are you finding yourself devoting more time to a class, or sport. This question is beyond procrastinate, many student procrastinate, but with this question try getting at the core. Find what interests you and what activities are on autopilot versus those on manual.

4. Write down your goals. Mentally and physically create scene where your dreams outweigh excuses

5. Enhance the good rather than (repeatedly and unsuccessful) fix the bad.

6. Try to be dependable. Return phones calls and text when you can. Little things matter. That includes calling family and friends time to time.

7. Learn when to say no.

8.Be present. Sometimes thinking of future can make one lazy in the present. Just start. That is often times the hardest part.

9. Find love in your studies, and your student life. I think if one loves and is engaged in their work, procrastination might be more avoidable. 

10. Take care of yourself

As one semesters closes another one opens. The routine begins, new pencils, stickie notes, and note books, planners have smiles and students have motivation. 

But then the motivation begins to fluctuate. Some highs, some lows, the ability to pick up ones pride and start a new strategy is difficult. I do not think the hardest aspect of learning let alone getting good grades in motivation, instead I think it is how well a student has mastered themselves. In honors of finals week, I has created a list of thoughts aimed to help students improve their navigation of being a student:

anonymous asked:

hi rachel, can you give some info about your mcat prep? how much time did you spend on studying, how did you study, when did you take it, what advice do you have and stuff like that? thanks!

So I have a few questions about this piled up in my inbox because the answer to how I studied for the MCAT is… poorly. Lol. Let’s talk about it!

To get some quantitative info out of the way - I took it Jan 2016, and scored in the 98th percentile, if that lends any credence to what I’m about to say. 

I didn’t study for this exam that way that is recommended - three full dedicated months, 300 hours, 10+ practice exams, etc. Most of the time, YOU SHOULD DO THAT. Especially the practice exams, that’s way more important than any set period of time.

Timeline

  • Summer 2015: I did “content review” this summer. What this means is I halfheartedly started looking over the Kaplan Bio and Psych/Soc books and answering this questions. I also started some physics and began Khan Academy passages and discretes.
  • Fall 2015: First semester of junior year. I also “reviewed” physics throughout this semester. But, my primary focus was studying for my biochem coursework like never before. I had been told that biochem was huge on the new MCAT so I treated the class I was taking for my major like B/B content review.
  • Winter Break 2015-2016: this was the bulk of my dedicated study time. However, I was also at a full time internship and working on the weekends - again things you typically should not do. I got scolded by my premed advisors lol. But here’s what I did:
    • 1. got home - immediately did the AAMC scored. Do NOT do this. Save it for last!! I just didn’t know, and used it to gauge baseline knowledge.
    • 2. VERY brief gen chem/orgo content review with the Kaplan books. I tutored chem for a few semesters and felt good about it.
    • 3. Binge watched Khan physics videos to teach myself topics that I was not confident in. Did this while i had downtime in the lab. 
    • 4. I also did nearly every Khan academy practice passage in all subjects, also in lab downtime.
    • 4.1 Used Khan to supplement psych/soc concepts that we didn’t cover in my classes.
    • 5. Took a week to do CARS and only did the Kahn practice. I am naturally good at this type of reading and reasoning so I didn’t spend too much time.
    • 6. Over those 5 weeks, I did 4 other practice exams. 3 Kaplan came with my books and 1 Princeton review because it was free. 
  • Jan 2016, Week 1 of Spring semester: I came back and did the scored AAMC again, not representative because I had recall bias but just to practice the timing and sitting and focusing again. Then, for three days in a row, i banged out each of the three section banks (C/P, B/B, P/S) one per day. This was up through the Thursday two days before my exam.

Things that helped me the most:

TREAT. PRE-REQS. SERIOUSLY. I didn’t have to do significant content review because I learned it to truly understand the first time around. Go hard in your classes and you with thank yourself.

SECTION BANKS!!!! This was the MOST representative practice material i did and it really helped gauge the difficulty of the real thing.

Study for my biochem course like I have never studied before. Not only did it pay off in the grade, but I didn’t have to study the hard stuff for B/B anymore (anything and everything amino acids, enzyme kinetics, metabolism)

Also, having a lot of research experience really helped me. It’s not a reach to interpret experimental data when you’ve actually seen it IRL.

Things I wish i had done:

The AAMC unscored practice exam and question packs. I genuinely didn’t know that they were different from the scored and section packs. Be aware that the Q packs are reportedly easier than the real thing.

Done more practice exams. Just sucked it up and bought more.

Bottom Line: What I did paid off for me, but only because I genuinely learned it all the first time and knew that I could trust my test taking skills and memory. Dedicate the time and get the resources YOU need to succeed. Also, LEARN YOUR AMINO ACIDS LIKE THE BACK OF YOUR HAND. KNOW HOW TO INTERPRET A LINEWEAVER-BURK PLOT. You will thank me :)

anonymous asked:

What do you think would be good extracurriculars for someone in college to become involved in if they wanted to go to medical school?

Thank you! This is a great question that can help MANY pre-meds!

There is no set list of extracurricular activities that a pre-med must be involved in like there is a list of pre-med courses one should take before applying to medical school. But there are certain things MOST pre-meds do before applying to medical school because, historically, medical schools like to see these particular experiences. If you don’t do these activities, it isn’t a death sentence, you are just at a disadvantage already compared to other applicants and that is not desirable. This is not a comprehensive list but just my opinion:

Leadership

-Medical schools want to see some form of leadership on your application. Whether that be through being a captain of a sports team or president of a college club. The doctor is a leader in his or her hospital so developing those skills early on will be beneficial in the long term. I suggest joining a club early on so you can work your way up the hierarchy by the time you apply to medical school. In terms of which clubs to join, ANY really. Just explore what you are interested in. I suggest at least participating in a pre-med science club because that will show benefit in more ways than one. Demonstrate you can command your followers and lead them to success!

Work experience

-This one is plus or minus. Having a job in undergrad shows you can handle a busy schedule, follow directions, be reliable and respect authority. It also puts some cash in your pants which helps up all.

Research

-I think this one in the MOST important. Maybe I should have put it first? DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! Joining a lab will yield a possible letter of recommendation, published article and lots of experience. You may find out you love it more than medicine and switch over to a PhD. Research shows you are not only smart but thirsty for more knowledge

Volunteering

-Volunteering tells medical schools that I just cannot wait until I get into medical school, I want to help people NOW! I’ll do it for free too. Show off your altruism by working in a hospital, with homeless veterans, or any other volunteer experience you can find.

Shadowing

-Lastly, shadowing directly shows your interest in a career in medicine. “I want to know exactly what I am getting into.” It could lead to a letter of recommendation, possible future specialty choice, and great stories for your medical school personal statement. I mass emailed every doctor at the hospital near my school until one would let me shadow them. I’m not saying to do this, but I am also not saying not to do this…

Hope this helps!

anonymous asked:

Is there any extensive list of undergraduate schools with the best premedical programs? If not, are there any existing statistics on average MCAT score and number of applicants matriculated by undergraduate school?

You just need to pick a major and program that adequately prepares you for the MCAT.

You should check out these articles and statistics:

And here’s a related question: What does the MCAT test on? Medical aspects or..?? -Anonymous

The MCAT is a 4 1/2 hour exam you have to take to get into medical school.

The MCAT consists of four sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The Princeton Review has pretty awesome breakdown of the test here. You should also take a look at the test prep resources on the left hand side on that link.

Here are some other good MCAT resources:

How I studied for the GAMSAT

I’m in my final year of diagnostic radiography, and I’ve done the GAMSAT three times. In my last GAMSAT, my score was 69, which I’m satisfied with.

Some have asked how I studied for it. I don’t think I’m the best person to ask, because my marks pale in comparison to others! But I’ve seen my Section II stay constant so I guess I can share how I went about it, and my Section III has improved by 7 and 6 marks, so I’ll share how my study style may have contributed to it.



Section I

  • My scores have been 61, 64, 61, so all fairly constant.
  • I did UMAT three times as well, and most of my preparation came from here. 
  • Learning how to understand the passage and get rid of options that are too strong helps.
  • I made a file of words that I came across that I was unsure about, so that I could build up my vocabulary.
  • Free workshops from PrepGenie or other GAMSAT companies were good but I think it comes down to practice.

Section II

  • My Section II carries me every year. I think it is possible to have a predictably decent score.
  • I find it quite formulaic. 
  • In terms of preparation, I collect articles and make notes and flow diagrams.
  • I quoted heavily from an article on humanity that I read in the Newspaper earlier.
  • I memorised quotes and a few philosophical concepts. Start now. By that I mean tonight. I think it looks good if you know the author, too.
  • Towards the end, I was writing essays maybe every second day.
  • My essay structure would be: for, against, and its application to humanity (three body paragraphs). Every single essay I wrote went this way, and the lowest score I’ve achieved is 78, so maybe it works!
  • Always plan your essays, by writing down your points and the quotes and concepts you want to cite. 

I put some of this in my imagination essay this year!

I quoted heavily from this article this year in my humanity essay!

Section III

  • Ah, the dreaded section. You should learn from my mistakes! I spent my first time trying to learn things too in-depth.
  • That said, I watched 161 Khan Academy videos to get my head around organic chemistry.
  • Organic chemistry: Know the basics, like chirality and spectroscopy (so many in March 2014). Don’t stress too much about the other bits.
  • Physics: electricity, motion and forces. Be confident with circuits, and even more confident with forces
  • Chemistry: Haha, the number of acids and bases questions this year… I actually started off my Section III study with acids and bases. 
  • Section III is intimidating, but the best thing you can do for yourself is get started.
  • I found that the more I focused on past papers and targeted study to areas I was weak in, the better I did.
  • Gold Standard worked solutions for the ACER papers on YouTube <3

Materials I used

  • Des O Neill Red Book: I don’t really recommend this. Go for the green one, with science MCQ practice. These are really great, from the results I’ve seen from people using it.
  • Gold Standard: It’s alright. Not the panacea to GAMSAT success I guess, but a good start if you’ve got 100% no idea where to start.
  • GAMSAT Guru set: This was helpful because it had MCQ practice + marked essays. However, you’ll need to fill in the gaps because it doesn’t exactly hold your hand through learning the science. If you buy the set, there are also practice essay questions and Section I questions.
  • MetC short essay course: 3 sets of two essays each, which was helpful.
  • GAMSAT tutor tutorials: I felt that I may have wasted me time going to it before this year’s because it had very basic science. It’s good if you have a non-science background, but if you do, maybe his strategy tutorials (held later) are better for you.

I also had a tutor. He’s Canadian though, so he taught me many concepts MCAT style, which may not have been totally relevant, but I’m glad he got me started on the path to Section III study.

Study tips

  • I started early and prepped hard, but it’s honestly quality over quantity. (I try to go for both but invariably end up going for the latter, haha).
  • Past papers are really good maybe halfway through.
  • Don’t be afraid to write an essay. The discomfort of having no idea what to write at home far outweighs having that experience during the actual GAMSAT.
  • I never actually did group study, but I think this would work really well, particularly for Section II and III.
  • Paging Dr is also good if you want to read other peoples’ essays and get feedback. It’s also quite motivational being amongst other aspiring students! Just don’t get too distracted, haha!
  • Sometimes there are free workshops. Those are good to attend! And free!
  • I’ve done each ACER paper about five times. It makes you familiar with the style (and they sometimes use their past paper questions in the final exam). I’ve also seen UMAT questions in there.
  • Just keep practising. I made a list of every question I got wrong in my exercises and past papers and redid them all again, after investigating the concept they were testing. And then I redid them again a few weeks later, to make sure.

And final words

  • Don’t be disheartened if you don’t do well the first time, or your second, or even your third. If you have the heart for medicine, you can do it.
  • Consider UMAT if you don’t make it in. On my third UMAT, I received an interview for Newcastle and then an offer. (I just did GAMSAT in case I could go for the medical school of my dreams, or a shorter postgraduate course).
  • Please take care of yourself. It’s only an exam, and it’s only a job, and you are so much more than that.

Let me know if I can help in any way!

How to Send Professional Emails to Professors/Teachers

We’ve all had to email our professors/teachers before. And we’ve all dreaded it every time. How do I start the email….should I use dear? But wait that does that sound too personal……How about hello? But wait that might sound too informal…

I’ve come up with a template that I use whenever I’m sending a professor an email and I hope you I can help a lot of you guys by sharing this with you! And believe me, emailing professors professionally and successfully is key in being an involved student who stands out!  

Here is the template I use-

Dr. Blank,

[max 5-6 lines of text]

Sincerely,

Your Name

One of my honors college advisors gave me a very valuable piece of advice before I started my freshman year of college. If your email is going to be longer than a paragraph, then you should probably email them asking for a time to meet in person so you can discuss whatever it is that needs to be discussed. Many professors won’t sit through and read the book that you’ve written for them. Now of course there are exceptions. If the professor isn’t available to meet or if they’ve specifically told you to explain the whole situation or question over email or it’s an emergency, then writing everything you need to write in the email is justifiable. However, as a rule of thumb, if you’re going to go over a paragraph, then just ask to meet them in person. Meeting a professor in person has its upsides too! It’s basically like going into one of their office hours and it’s a chance to help them associate your name with your face. They will also appreciate that you took the effort to come see them in person.

ALSO, if you've attached something make sure you state in the email that you've included an attachment. It’s easy to miss that the email has an attachment if the person opening the email is in a hurry/just isn’t paying attention.

FINALLY, please include a subject!!! This is just professional and common courtesy. It doesn’t have to be something really long and complicated. “Homework Question [Class Name]” or “Will be missing class [Class Name] will suffice. Just something concise that gets the message across.

Oh, and this should be obvious, but make sure that you are emailing from an APPROPRIATE email address. Pinkprincess878@hotmail.com is NOT appropriate! Generally, all professors prefer that correspondence come from your university email account. If you are in high school, and don’t yet have a professional email address, then create one! firstname.lastname@whatever.com is generally a fail safe, professional email address. 

I hope this helped you guys! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to message me! 

1. Learn any new material before 10, and then after 10 use that time to practice or review. 

2. Do not mistake time for effort. Your aim should be efficiency understanding the material as smoothly without taking stressful amounts of your time.

3. Know what it is your late comfort, time. Mine is 2pm, which means after 2pm I might be awake but might not be prepared to wake up in the morning.

4. Evernote + Quizlet + Youtube= educational friendly media tools for late night crunch

5.  Find a groove, but late night studying should not be a complete chill fest, science has actually showed that difficult problems and assignment are better, and you actually retain more.

6. Find music that will set the mood. Instrumental keep me focused, hip hop keeps me up and creative, indie is lovely for writing. Just find what work. Also a study playlist could not hurt.

7. Although changing location may be hard at 1am, try changing positions, from standing up and reciting concepts from memory or using a white board to attack a problem in 10 minutes. 

8. Lastly, I love “sleepyti.me”.

anonymous asked:

What advice do you have for a 13-year-old who wants to be a physician/surgeon when they are older? Is there anything you wish you would've known before you picked this profession?

What follows is basically an updated version of this post from 2011. Some of these are things I did and others are things I wish I did back when. 

1. Calm down tiny one. You are 13. Please gaze upon this calming kitten for 2-12 minutes and then continue reading on.

2. Be 13. And 14. And 15. Forget about med school. You are, at the very least, 7 or 8 years away from medical school. That is many moons. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Be 13 please.

3. Get the stars out of your eyes. I’m not trying to be discouraging, but understand that it is nearly impossible for you to have any real understanding of what a career in medicine will be like when you are 13. Wait a few years and then start doing some shadowing so you can get a tiny taste of reality.

4. Read and learn everything you can. On all subjects, not just medicine and science. Pre-med and med school is the time to dig deep into the science books. For now, learn about the stuff you won’t have time to learn about then, and cultivate other subjects you’re good at. Learn to play an instrument or crochet or paint watercolors or what politics is all about or how to invest money or how to fix cars or how to cook your grandma’s best dishes or how to write computer code or what the heck Faulkner was thinking when he wrote those impossibly long sentences or… (oh look now I’m doing it).

5. Work hard. Develop your study skills and work ethic now. But don’t stress too much about your grades right now. Do your best and get into a college that fits your personality, but don’t believe the lie that med schools care about your high school GPA. 

6. Get a job when you’re old enough. Preferably retail or manual labor or waiting table. Don’t work so much that you can’t keep up in school, but do work. Learn the value of working through tiredness and how to deal with unreasonable customers. That’s a big chunk of medicine right there. 

7. At some point before med school, learn how to be responsible with your money. You will be broke for basically your entire education, so learn how to make dollars stretch and how not to dig yourself deeper in debt. 

8. Get some life experiences. Travel. Talk to people who you wouldn’t usually speak to. Go do something new or something that makes you slightly uncomfortable.

9. Don’t go to med school to save the world or because your grandma had cancer or because you’re smart and your parents think all smart people should be doctors or because you think being a doctor will be a great way to get rich. None of those things will sustain you in your years of studying. You gotta understand what you’re reaching for and also have the intelligence and work ethic for it. And for goodness sake, be realistic. You may “love medicine” (or whatever that means when you’re 13), but if you do not have the academic prowess or the work ethic for it, look for something else. 

10. Look into other fields besides doctoring. You may find out that you’re more interested in physical therapy or being a PA or a nurse. Keep your mind open to all the possibilities, especially when you’re so young.

5 Last Minute Tips: IB Mock Exams

Here’s my take on last minute exam revision!

  1. Don’t expect to learn all the skills and content. There isn’t enough time and you know it, long term knowledge/skill acquisition begins months before the exam. Next time, start earlier. (Maybe you did, if so, props to you!)
  2. BUT, you can learn mark schemes and EXAM techniques. It’s hard to get your commentary techniques solid, but you can sure learn to format your exams in a uniform manner (ie hook, thesis, body paragraph, and conclusion) such that your paper will be as consistent as you can make it to be. This is especially helpful for languages, humanities subjects (geography, history). For science subjects, you can learn how to approach equations (ie chemistry- calculations of pH of a buffer will always use pH = pKa + log10( [salt] / [acid] ) )
  3. Do HARD COPY past papers. 1-2 subjects per day max. Personally, I feel that this maintains your focus. PRINT the papers out. Sorry I want to reduce paper use but let’s be real the exams are in paper and being able to write quickly is so important for arts subjects.
  4. Wake up early, sleep early. Exams usually begins in the morning, get that brain used to waking up! Also, sleeping more is better than cramming when you are already drained and overwhelmed with facts.
  5. Take time to workout. I know this sounds counterintuitive if you already have limited time, but getting your sweat on and relaxing helps you stay more focused. Whenever you are feeling down, tired, or unable to answer the questions, do some sit-ups/go run.

Remember, it’s still a mock. Even it you mess this one up, it will only act as a reminder to study more, and study smarter for the real thing.

Good luck xx!

youtube.com
Kevin Ahern's Guide to Acing A Medical School Interview (Part 1)
1. Contact me at kgahern@davincipress.com / Friend me on Facebook (kevin.g.ahern) 2. Download my free biochemistry book at http://biochem.science.oregonstate...

A good friend of mine recently posted this to a Pre-Medical group I am a part of. Hopefully those of you who are interviewing soon can get a chance to see it and benefit!

Competitiveness, Negativity and Façades: The Premed Life

As you may or may not know I’m still undergrad premed and today I wanted to talk about the peer pressure some of us face during our time in undergrad; specifically during a premed/undergrad route. What do I mean by peer pressure?

  1. Competitiveness: I had attended a pretty competitive middle school and high school so I thought I was somewhat prepared to face what I knew was going to be an abundance of high-strung type-A personalities all striving to get into medical school. I learned through high school to just do me and that seemed to work because obviously not everyone you encounter will be working towards getting into med school which meant not everything you talked about evolved around medical school so I had actual friends. But boy was I wrong and very unprepared. Once you are enrolled as a premed student you become part of this underlying community in college. You get shoved on an email list with tens of thousands of other potential medical school candidates and put in chemistry classes with hundreds of other students doing the same exact thing you are and suddenly your professors are talking about ways to distinguish you between an A  student and ‘everyone else’. And just like that you’re lost and the brilliant little high school student you were is no more. You start making friends with people who are inevitably premed students because everything you do now is medical school related; get you’re premed courses done parallel to your actual major, research experience, leadership experience, work if you need to, network to get those LORs, study your ass off…and maybe have a barely-there social life. But these people you meet are unbearably competitive to the point of comparing their grades to your own and you realize they feel at least a little glad when they know you aren’t doing too well (because higher probability for them to get into medschool). So you start feeling isolated…or at least I did. I went through a 6 month hiatus where I second guessed my up-until-now 10 year commitment to medicine and focused on my major. I just told everyone medical school was no longer for me (I was kidding myself because deep down I knew it was the ONLY option for me). After I came to that realization, this time around I made the decision to keep to myself. I did not and will not tell anyone about my ultimate decision that medicine is my soul. Of course I told my dad who’s been the biggest support in my life since I popped out of my mom (tmi), my sister and my boyfriend and some special someone’s, but that’s it. That will be it until I know I am going to medical school. It’s definitely provided me with laser-sharp focus because I don’t have to worry about everyone’s and their grandmother’s opinion’s on MY future and MY path. And if it’s a little isolating then I am totally fine with it. This makes me seem like I care too much about other people’s opinions and to some extent I do but to another extent I usually don’t let it get to me. This is not the case though…when you are constantly surrounded by so much negativity it’s hard to shut it down and focus on your goals. This is a serious thing decision that I hold precious and I feel people shouldn’t be entitled to shower their crap of an opinion/narcissim all over me.
  2. This brings me to my second topic… negativity: As I’m writing this I wonder about all the people that have had or are having wonderful experiences with all the love and support from peers during their undergrad premed time and I am so extremely happy for you! I truly am and I wish that was the same for me and everyone else who feels like I do; having said that, all this competitive ugliness does bring about so much negativity and doubt. “What if I’m not good enough?”“I didn’t get straight A’s like that other kid did…what am I doing here?”“I’m not taking my MCATs junior year (like apparently everyone else) therefore I will not get into med school because I am not following the flock like the sheep we are.”“That person has X,Y,Z on their resume…I need to do that too!”“That person knows X contact.” Blah blah blah… I won’t lie and say these thoughts haven’t passed through my head because they have (before I took my mini hiatus). But let me tell you something and if you are someone having these thoughts I need you to really listen…medical schools are NOT looking for the sheep. They want extraordinary, unique and talented human beings who have a calling for healthcare. Who genuinely want to help their fellow humans and make this world healthier and better’ who are passionate; who find a thrill in solving problems and mysteries; who have impeccable work ethic and who are leaders in a society full of sheep; who will be able to hold someone else’s life in their hands, which is one of the greatest responsibilities of all.  If you build your resume based on what other people are doing they will see that. So it’s ok to break the mold. You need that extra gap year to get your shit together? DO IT! You aren’t taking the MCAT your junior year and applying your senior year?… is there a bullet point somewhere I missed that says this is law? NO! You don’t like research? Do something else…immerse yourself in healthcare-related-something. Go about getting the key components for your resume/applications YOUR way. Do you boo! Wake up in the morning with a smile on your face and know that you are doing you! Don’t let the negative crap influence your beautiful passionate soul! Persist
  3. Façade: It absolutely amazes me that no one talks about all of the above. 99.9% don’t talk about ever having felt this way because it’s a sign of weakness right? You’ll show the others that you’re the runt of the litter right? WRONG. You are a human being with emotions and feelings, ups and downs. You are not perfect. You want to get into a profession that literally places people’s lives and well being in your hands which as I said is a colossal responsibility , so at 22 if you’re not having mini panic attacks and having doubts about this then I’m sorry but there’s something wrong with you. (not to mention thinking about the life-long commitment/sleepless nights studying/ your job is your life thing). So I wish people would start saying “I’m not ok, I need to talk” and have a someone going through the same thing ready to listen with open arms and a nonjudgmental heart. I wish people going through this felt comfortable doing it. I think this is the stem of many of the physician suicides we see in residency (which no one talks about)… and competitiveness is the culprit. Let this stupid façade down.

I want you all to know we’ve got this! And that I love you and if you ever feel like you want someone to talk to I’m here.  

20 things I learned my sophomore year of college {Share}

1. Remember what the mistakes taught me. (via : Things I learned freshman year)

2. Block distractions… but be smart. “I learned I could do physics for hours with my ipod on and my study playlist. I also have started putting my phone in my bag when I study, and some hot tea is always a nice push!

3. Studying… College demands technology. So much so, many students including myself engage screens for more hours a day than sleep!

4. I am completely awed by how much I have learned in 2 years, at the exact same time, horrified by all the things I repeatedly forget.

5. Learned the art of observing and listening. Learn to find positives and negatives in structures and ideas.

6. Learning that in academica ideas are legitimate when they have been published in a book. In that theory most times out weighs lived experience, such dominance seems unhealthy. Very insular.

7. Follow your passion, is not one size fits all. Students have loads of the debt, and now the college debt is akin to a high school diploma. While education can be both inside and outside the classroom, certification of degrees, create hierarchy, act as status markers, and if more students will need graduate degrees to compete then why not follow ones passion then? Or …

8. Learned to find mentors who have found their spark.

9. Learned production is valued. Grades are valued, and with sophomore year being quite difficult for me, it is important to understand how numbers create options. Connections are important and valuable but numbers create options.

10. I have a lovely circle of friends, but when meeting others at party or social gathering, it can be a little tricky. I have learned, when I interact with an adult, try to have a conversation with him or her about a challenging topic. Ask for views to be explained as well as share yours. Push for clarity and be interesting.

11. When I am nervous I can go to my phone. I’ve learned, that technology at my fingertips can create missed opportunities. It is always sweet to show one’s patience, manners and social etiquette.

12. This year I unfortunately experienced what Malcolm Gladwell called, “relative deprivation — we make our self-assessments based on our immediate surroundings. So when you’re not part of the group that’s the best around you, you’re unhappy and feel like you can’t compete, so it dramatically increases the risk of dropout and failure.” Let me make this straight, I am not as risk of dropout, and I might even graduate earlier, however admittely being at an elite institution in the science when you are not in the top of your game (gpa or research wise..) it can hurt. No one ever talks about this. The feeling of inadequacy. It is real. But I found using my social and intellectual capital and network as support - kept me at bay.

13. I have learned (perhaps due to number 12) to be more humble and try my best even when I may not be motivated. Sophomore year for me was quite reflective. It was the year in which I wanted to “show my goals” rather than tell my goals.

14. To enjoy my Sunday ritual. Which consisted of: Eating my favorite omelet, doing my readings for the week ahead, making my weekly do-to list, cleaning my room, doing laundry and watching “Real Housewives” with my roommate! It is the little effective habits that makes the difference.

15. Upper division courses taught me critical thinking, and my freshman intro classes taught me the rules.

16. I am being much more assertive. Although I am still very polite and cautious (cue my immigrant parents who instilled such values), I have now been able to say “no” more often, and explain my priorities with ease.

17. Social scientists have described two entities known as treatment effects and selection effects. Treatment effects simplified says one builds character while in this institution and a selection-effect institution is because one already possess “valuable traits” that they are accepted to such institutions. College can feel like both.

18. Speaking of treatment effect, sophomore year has forced me to think about concepts in which repetition of facts is not enough, it has force me to have deep thought concerning my abilities and calculating where I am a and where I want to be, lastly I have been encourage be a bit more of social butterfly. I met so many awesome people though others.

19. I learned that pre med is grit. Since I have only two lab courses left to graduate, I will be taking my MCAT in september :\ It is nerve racking, and it is also yet another means of comparison. Along with gpa, and internships, mcat is the holy gail of medical school admissions. But I have learned to respect the mcat, respect the privilege I have as a college student to learn all the pre-req sciences and embark on AMAZING internships every semester since freshman year. I will study hard, and understand that while my worth is not measured by the exam, my ability to work under-pressure, think critically as well as adapting to different disciplines is measured. I want to swim to the finish line with dignity.

20. I learned that despite applying for study aboard as a sophomore I was accepted! I am going to Costa Rica this summer! I will not be blogging after May 24th but before then I have lots of posts. I am doing so much as a sophomore.