Super Star Blogs!

MCAT Study hall tonight! 

Happy Tuesday everyone! 

Elsie here. I would like to invite you to this week’s online MCAT study hall. If this is your first time hearing about this study hall, hello and welcome! This group is made up of premed students who would like to give back to students, like ourselves, who might be having a bit of a hard time studying for the MCAT. Research has shown that group studying is of great help since discussing and teaching material to others deepens one’s understanding.


No matter how far along you are on the MCAT journey, or even if you’ve already taken it and would just like to keep your skills sharpened, we would love to have you join us tonight and every Tuesday at 8 pm ET.

We have a wonderful team of leaders with different strengths and perspectives on various topics covered in the exam.

Outline for tonight’s session:

1) One person at a time will take a paragraph and paraphrase each sentence

2) Individuals will read questions and say what they think the question stem means, then share why they believe an answer choice to be correct/incorrect.

3) Any general questions or advice can be asked during or at the end (preferred).

Sessions are typically 1 hour long but could go over just a little bit if there are many questions. Please come ready to share: hearing everyone’s unique thought process helps us all.

None of us are MCAT tutors, just peers who want to give back. Hope to see you there!

Also, if you’re able to, kindly take a look at the passages beforehand. If not, that’s fine. We’ll go through them together with fresh eyes. Hope to see you there and have a great day!

Passages for the session:

Passage 1: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/biological-sciences-practice/biological-sciences-practice-tut/e/dna-technology–passage-1

Passage 2: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/biological-sciences-practice/biological-sciences-practice-tut/e/mendelian-genetics—passage-2

Class link:

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/6438358361?pwd=YU5JUnd1UFlPOVNyTHpJL2dKL0EwQT09

What 2020 Taught Me

What a year it’s been! I think most of us can agree that this year has been forever chiseled in the timeline of man. We’ve cried many tears and hopefully come to appreciate the little things in life. I’d like to share a little on what I’ve taken from 2020 in hopes some of you will also reflect and build upon.

January 26, 2020 came with a shock of 9/11 magnitude. We all know where we were when we got the news. On that day, I woke up to a phone call from my dad informing me that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash. We all didn’t believe it. We all pinched ourselves. And just when we were beginning to dry our tears… we got confirmation GiGi was gone too. 🙁 

May those 9 precious souls in that helicopter rest in peace.

A moment of silence for all others we’ve lost in 2020:

Kobe, GIGI and the other passengers 

Kirk Douglas

Irrfan Khan

Jerry Stiller

Naya Rivera

Regis Philbin

Chadwick Boseman

Sean Connery

John Lewis

Alex Trebek

Tiny Lister

Many many others

And then, there was the pandemic. Not a soul on the planet has been left unaffected. We’ve learned so much about mankind in such a short time. I’ve never been so proud of my fellow healthcare workers. Despite being at times forced to work under substandard conditions without adequate protective equipment; despite constant attacks at times from politicians and some patients; despite losing family, colleagues and friends also on the front line; despite coming home every day and placing loved ones at risk; so many have stepped up and kept pushing. All front line workers have stepped up and showed the best humanity has to offer.

Despite the desolation 2020 has attempted to drown us in, this year has been one of the most productive years I personally have had. Here are my 5 top lessons I’ve learned in 2020.

1. Cherish Life

Two weeks into the lockdown, I lost a close buddy to the virus. He was only 44, a father of 6, children’s bible school teacher and former college basketball athlete. It really caught us all off guard as he was the first person in the entire city to die of COVID-19 and not at all the type we were told would die. This certainly changed my perspective on a lot of things in life. I have since spent a lot more time with my son and wife, and checked on friends I haven’t heard from in a long time. This has been the year to forgive and let go, lend a helping hand to does in need, and working to understand those who are different than you are.


2. Work Harder at Your Why

This year has made us answer tough questions. Some were forced out of a job while others have completely changed career paths recognizing they weren’t getting fulfillment from their job. Many of us have roadblocks keeping us from being great and capitalizing on our why. As for me, I had to take the bold step of leaving my job of 5 years and moving with my family to a whole new city. It was a very scary decision moving from a life a comfort during a pandemic but it was time. It was import I set the table to capitalize on my why/purpose.


3. Health is Wealth

This virus has thought us how fragile life is. No one can cheat death and we certainly can hasten it with our actions or inactions. You can’t buy time or health. Many of those who died from the virus suffered from underlying health conditions some of which could have been prevented. I have had to rethink my priorities and now see health as a commodity. Just as I can leave a financial inheritance to my children I can leave a health inheritance. Teaching healthy eating and exercise habits to my loved ones is one of the most valuable things I may pass on to them.


4. Do it Yourself

This has been the biggest take home for me this year. 2020 was a year full of sacrifices. Many times we just have to make-do. One observation I have made is some people used this time to learn and better themselves while others became even more dependent during this time. I have had some patients lose weight now they have began cooking and eating out less while others have succumbed to the “Quarantine 15 (lbs).” Personally, I dabbled into gardening to grow my own oranges and hope to do more in the future. The cool thing about doing it yourself is you can do it your way. Many of you are aware that my brother, Dr. Dale and I took on the extremely challenging project of creating a movie (www.BMWCmovie.com) which will be played across the country in February. It was extremely difficult especially during the pandemic but it was worth it. We saw the need for this type of movie so we did it ourselves. Recently, I was looking for an animator for an upcoming project but the prices were ridiculous. My brother then reminded me, “Why not do it yourself?” Guess what folks, I’m about to be an animator! Sometimes running into roadblocks or hearing “no” can be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Fresh oranges! Gardening is fun.


5. Spend Time in the Word

This is always number one in my book although I don’t do as good of a job as I feel I should. I find it essential to have an anchor in life. It is good to find that source of meaning and positive guidance that transcends all. See at the end of the day, people can fail you and flashy things will eventually fade and get boring. Ultimate joy cannot come from material things or people. There is another source worth learning and spending time with.

I don’t know about y’all but I am super pumped for 2021. I’m in a new city, I have a new baby on the way, and I’m working on holistically bettering myself every day. All the work I put in during 2020 hopefully will make me a better physician, husband, father, friend, Christ follower and overall man in 2021. I want to congratulate so many of you who have made huge and bold moves in 2020. I’ve chatted with some who locked down this year and took the MCAT,  applied for grad school or medical school. Congrats to those who have and some who got accepted. I am super proud of you all! Special shout-out to all our PreMed Monday crew out there! It’s been an honor getting to sharpen one another over the past year and grow together.

Let’s get it!

“Breathe” Self-portrait drawing I did this year. It captured so much of  the struggles many of us felt this year  battling COVID-19, health disparities, and racial injustice. Keep up the good fight and keep getting into good trouble.

UC Postbaccalaureate Consortium App Opening Soon!

https://health.ucdavis.edu/postbacc-consortium/

Nth Dimensions Summer Internship

MS1s! Goal is “to immerse students in the specialty field

Through an 8-week clinical and research internship with a practicing researcher, which also includes a full-day orientation and culminates in the student presenting his/her research poster at the annual National Medical Association assembly.

Following successful completion of the summer internship program, students receive scholarships to participate in a designated Step I board review course, which is conducted throughout their second year in medical school.”

http://www.nthdimensions.org/ndsi-summer-internship

I believe they have programs for undergrads too. Check out their website. 

MCAT Study Hall

I hope that everyone is having a lovely Tuesday so far! Today, we are hosting, once again, an MCAT Study Hall at 8 pm via Zoom. If you haven’t attended one so far, please don’t miss out on this week’s session! 

This group was initially created because we want to give back to other students who may be facing challenges with the MCAT just as we did. The research shows that studying in an environment conducive to discussions and teaching is the best way to learn. We have a strong group of leaders with different strengths that can give you a variety of perspectives. Collaboration is key!

In today’s session we will review concepts from the Chem/Phys and Bio/Biochem sections. These were my favorite sections! See the link below to the passage and discrete problem set that we will be reviewing. Also, you will find the link to our Zoom meeting. 

Please complete the questions beforehand if your schedule permits. Usually the sessions last one hour and you are free to come and go as you please. Come ready to share! I look forward to seeing you there!

Best,

Kim

https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/biological-sciences-practice/biological-sciences-practice-tut/e/dna—passage-2?modal=1

https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/physical-processes/atomic-nucleus/e/atomic-nucleus-questions?modal=1

Topic: MCAT Bootcamp

Time: Nov 17, 2020 08:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81471778987?pwd=OTVXVWVGQkFsSEtwZnZmVjFuNTh3Zz09

Meeting ID: 814 7177 8987

Passcode: N0vM2Y

Happy MChat Tuesday!

Hello wonderful people!

Elsie here. I would like to invite you to this week’s online MCAT study hall. If this is your first time hearing about this study hall, welcome! This group was made with the intention of giving back to students who are having a bit of a hard time studying for the MCAT as we did. Research has shown that group studying is of great help since discussing and teaching material to others deepens one’s understanding.

No matter how far along you are on the MCAT journey, or even if you’ve already taken it and would just like to keep your skills sharpened, we would love to have you join us on Tuesdays at 8 pm ET.

There’s a wonderful team of leaders with different strengths and perspectives on various topics covered in the exam.

Tomorrow’s session will go as follows:

1) Do the practice passages and problems at home before the session (about 30 minutes)

2) In the session: one person at a time will paraphrase each paragraph

3) Individuals will read questions and say what they think the question stem means, then share why answer choices are correct/incorrect

4) Any general questions or advice can be asked during or at the end(preferred).

The sessions are 1 hour long but could go over just a little bit if there are many questions. Come ready to share: hearing everyone’s unique thought processes helps us all.

None of us are MCAT tutors, just peers who want to give back. Hope to see you there!

Pre-class assignments:

Passage 1: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/biological-sciences-practice/biological-sciences-practice-tut/e/dna-technology–passage-1

Passage 2: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/biological-sciences-practice/biological-sciences-practice-tut/e/mendelian-genetics—passage-2

Class link:

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/6438358361?pwd=YU5JUnd1UFlPOVNyTHpJL2dKL0EwQT09

Branches in Time | My Residency Application Personal Statement

I know alot of you out there are on a “non-traditional” pathway toward medical school. As someone who has walked just such a path, I just want to let you know that your journey will help define you one day. And hopefully make for an interesting read as you craft your personal statement some day soon. 

For anyone looking for essay writing inspo or who might just be curious,  the following is my actual personal statement submission for residency training in family medicine. 

I’ve often thought that if we could view all our lives together from start to end as a progression through time, they might resemble the branches of some great tree. We could trace each of our lives from the roots and trunk of the past all the way out to the branches and leaves of our later years and the budding fruit we leave as our legacy. Along the way, we could discern branch points in our lives-particular points in time when some influence led us down one path rather than another. I find this analogy useful at times when it seems that my life is indeed at one of these branch points. While none of us can know our future with certainty until we’ve lived through each moment, I find that recognizing the influences that have led to the present moment helps make clear the best way forward.

My path toward medicine started with a simple idea. As a child, my mother would often tell my siblings and I stories about her father who had been a field medic in Nigeria during the Biafran Civil War. I was always fascinated when she would tell us about how he had braved dangerous war zones to not only treat friendly forces, but also at times tend to the wounds of enemy soldiers. Even as a child who couldn’t begin to understand the toxic geopolitical and social forces that drive human beings to war, what I could very much grasp was the simple idea that the calling to help save lives and heal the wounded and sick is truly profound. Even on the battlefield it is recognized and respected. I grew to view medicine as more than a job or career, but rather a true calling. And I grew to see doctors as the people who bring the greatest intellectual gifts to bear in answering this calling.

As I advanced from grade school to college, my path was strongly influenced by an interest in the budding field of regenerative medicine. In particular, I was fascinated by the promise of stem cell-based therapies in treating chronic conditions. This interest shaped my course of study in college and my work as an undergraduate research fellow, and ultimately led to my pursuit of graduate studies. Just as impactful during that time were my first experiences really seeing clinical medicine firsthand. The physicians on my research team would allow me to observe their hospital rounds and take part as a curious observer in the consultations and discussions that took place. I was impressed by the gratitude expressed by patients who felt that the care team was working hard for their health, and by the tremendous level of trust evident in the doctor patient relationship. I saw first-hand that the doctors I worked with had built careers around the pursuit of excellent patient care while pushing forward the boundaries of medical knowledge. From them, I began to understand the truly profound motivation to be the best doctor you can be in order to do the best for your patients.

After graduate school, I had the enormous privilege to work in the clinics of family medicine physicians as a medical scribe. The doctors I worked with had practices that incorporated wholistic approaches to healthcare delivery using models like the patient centered medical home, and they leveraged technologies like point of care ultrasound and tele-scribing. In this new world of medicine brought on by the covid-19 pandemic, we have all begun to embrace telehealth by necessity. I feel lucky to have been able to gain great experience with these technologies during that time, and I very much look forward to implementing new technology to help deliver better care in the future.

Looking back through these branch points in time that have brought me to this moment, I hope you can see how I’ve been molded and shaped by my experiences. I am seeking a residency program which will expose me to a broad range of patients both from a medical and socioeconomic standpoint, and allow me to gain valuable hands on experience. After residency, I intend to pursue fellowship in sports medicine with the intent to explore practical uses for stem cell-based therapies for chronic joint conditions. I would be honored to be considered for your residency program. 

MChat Tuesday! 

Hello everyone! 

Hope you’re all doing fantastic! 

We will be resuming our MChat study sessions tonight at 8 pm ET. I will be leading the discussion on two Bio/Biochem passages (links posted below). Please feel free to drop in and join the conversation. We’re all about learning from each other and building great test-taking skills for the MCAT and beyond. 

Hope to see you there! 

Links for the meeting and passages:

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/6438358361?pwd=YU5JUnd1UFlPOVNyTHpJL2dKL0EwQT09

Meeting ID: 643 835 8361

Passcode: 4GZai1

Passage 1: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/biological-sciences-practice/biological-sciences-practice-tut/e/dna-technology–passage-1

Passage 2: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/biological-sciences-practice/biological-sciences-practice-tut/e/mendelian-genetics—passage-2

Personal Finance 101 for Students- Part 3 (Credit)

We are here in the final part of this financial 101 series and here to talk about credit. I’ll discuss what credit is, how to begin building it if you are new to it, how to recover from bad credit, and the perks that having good credit comes with.

So starting off, what is the best definition of credit? As per Experian (one of the three major credit bureaus), credit is simply defined “the ability to borrow money or access goods or services with the understanding that you’ll pay later”. This is ‘ability’ is usually marked as a number between 300-850 between three different credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian and Equifax) where anything below 670 is considered not good and anything above it is usually good.

As with everything in life, there are nuances so don’t take my previous statement at face value as there are good opportunities below 670 and you can still get denied for stuff even with a 740-760.

So what components compose a credit score:

  • Payment History (35%)= How well do you make monthly payments on accounts
  •  Credit Utilization (30%)= The amount of total credit you are using divided by the total amount of available
  • Length of Credit History (15%) = the average age of your credit based on all accounts owned.
  • New Credit (10%)= The amount of new credit you open within a certain period of time.
  •  Credit Mix (10%) = The different types of accounts you

You also that can negatively affect your credit score such as late payments, collections, charged off accounts (accounts closed due to non-payment), and etc. Just like a GPA, you can have many good things about your credit but the moment one of these hit your report, you credit drops markedly. So it is within our best interest to avoid these whenever possible.

So to begin building credit, you must sign up for creditkarma and assess where you are. This site will give you a rough estimate of where your transunion and equifax scores are at using the Vantage 3.0 Score (which has minor inaccuracies but can serve as a good estimate of where you with credit) If you are a student and received any form of financial aid that comes in the form of a loan, you already have credit setup most likely. If you are an authorized user on your parents credit cards, you already have credit. If you own(ed) a credit card, you already have credit. So its established but you need to solidify it.

  1.  Secured Credit Card: This is a card meant for individuals with limited credit history or bad credit history and is used to show that you are capable of handling your money and finances. It will usually require an initial deposit for the card which will act as a limit. From there, you will use the card as normal. Making purchases and paying it back every month on the right due date. It is recommended that you make purchases on the card that you would be able to afford with cash, that way you aren’t owing any money or carrying a balance which may accrue interest.After approximately 6 months or so, you may be asked to switch over to an unsecured card in which you will be paid back you deposit and own an actual line of credit. 
  2. Authorized User: If you are below 18 or have less than prime credit, you may be able to become an authorized user on someone else’s account provided that they trust you enough to do so. Usually this will be an account of a family member or significant other. You won’t be responsible for making any payments but all payment history, account balances, and length of ownership will be put on to your credit. So if you have someone with good financial skills to make you an authorized user, their good habits will theoretically pay off for you in the long run.
  3.  Increase you credit limit/Get a better card: After a while (6 months to a year) of consistently good habits you have two options:
  • Increase current credit card limit: Most banks usually offer an increase of some sort provided that you’ve maintained good habits. The purpose of this is two-fold: it provides you with more credit to leverage in many situations as needed. It also gives you more leeway with regards to your credit utilization I mentioned above. For example, if you only spend $50/month but have a credit card limit of $250, you would be utilizing approximately 20% whereas if you spent the same amount but have $500 limit, you would only be at 10% which helps you maintain a higher score.
  •  Get a better card: Here’s where the fun comes in, a lot of credit cards out there comes with cash back opportunities and other redeemable rewards. If you have a 720+ score for instance, you might be eligible for the Capital One Savor Card which means you are eligible for 4% cash back on all dining/entertainment purchases as well as a $300 cash bonus plus other opportunities and rewards. That’s a simplified example, other cards are known to offer travel benefits, access to special events and etc. So why not reap the benefits.

And then you pretty much wash, rinse, and repeat this process. If you have bad credit (as I once did), I would follow the following process:


1. Get an actual credit report: [annualcreditreport.com](http://annualcreditreport.com) gives you a free report once a year. You’ll want to see every derogatory remark on your credit, the monies owed, and etc that’s pulling your credit down.

2. Pay down your credit card debt: As you see in the calculation above, credit utilization accounts for a whopping 30% of your credit score so if your credit utilization is bad, you credit score is liekly not going to be good either. Setup a monthly budgeting plan to effectively pay off this debt without drowning in interests or monthly payments.

3. Make sure you aren’t late on any payments: Even if you make 98% of the payments on your accounts, it still isn’t a good range. Only 99% of payments paid and above is considered good.

4. Any sort of derogatory remarks on your credit should be disputed if there are any errors: People make mistakes of all sorts and sometimes you’ll end up with inaccurate reports on your account that you may need to dispute. A lot of times, collection companies will not follow up on these disputes and they usually get removed from your account. If there is any inaccuracy, I would attempt to dispute. If they even spell your name slightly wrong or the balance is off by a few dollars, dipsute it. It doesn’t hurt you in anyway to do so (unless you are disputing something that is fully accurate to your knowledge) and it is as simple as logging into credit karma and submitting a dispute. 

5. Try not to open up too many accounts at once: This not only hurts you because of something called a hard inquiry that is a negative remark but it also decreases the average age of credit which is not a good sign to credit lenders.

So why do you need good credit and what are the benefits? The short answer, credit runs everything financially. To truly leverage your financial standing in this country, its not about actually having a lot of cash, although that plays a role as well, its about credit. Good credit affords you the following:

  • Ability to borrow lump sums of money for major purchases that you may not have the immediate cash for: Houses, Cars, and Education to name the big ones
  •  You’ll be less likely to pay more money in the long term when borrowing for these things. Good credit holders usually qualify for lower interest rates and occasionally $0 down payments on expenses like those while those with less good credit will have to pay more upfront and in the long term.
  • Exploiting the benefits of high score credit cards is amazing. The amount of savings via cashback along with other personal benefits such as free travel, lounge and hotel access, and etc are unmatched and wouldn’t be feasible without good credit.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this last post. In August, I’ll be posting more academic stuff on how to study and etc so be on the lookout for that. Thanks for reading! 🙂

-Jay

Personal Finance 101- Part 2 (Debt Management/Investing)

In Part 2 of the PF 101 Series, I want to discuss debt management and investing. 

So after graduating school, you’ll have to debate between the following options: 

1. Pursue higher education immediately after school

2. Take a gap year

3. Enter the workforce.

For the majority of people reading this, you are probably somewhere between 1 & 2. If you are graduating your final level of schooling, then you are looking at 3. But either way, there are usually options for everyone. But let’s look at the general gist of debt management and investing before making a decision as to what we’ll do. 


Debt Management

  • The question to ask yourself is: Am I new professional with little to no debt or one with a lot of debt? This determines your direction with regards to debt management. 
  •  A lot of people tend to favor the avalanche method of paying off debt which basically states that you pay the largest amount with the highest interest rate and go down from there.
  • This method allows you to pay the least amount of interest in the long-term while getting rid of your debt.
  • You are also to able to do a loan consolidation which is basically when an institution pays off your debt for you and allows you to pay them instead, sometimes for a lower interest rate. However, with this option you may see a temporary decrease in your credit score because this option requires a hard inquiry towards your credit (more on Hard Inquiries later). But with on-time payments and etc, this decrease will lose its effects over time.
  • This method is best reserved for student loans or at least 10,000 dollars in debt.

Also ask what type of debt is it: Credit Card debt, student loans, personal loans, or the dreaded ~collection~ 🙁 

While I will dive deeper into these metrics for the last part of the series, in general, I would recommend budgeting to pay  above the minimum payments on all with an emphasis on paying off credit cards first then loans. We’ll talk about collections and how to handle those in Part 3. 

Anyways, onto investing: 

  • In 2020, there are many ways to begin investing and you can start with as simple as $1 so there are virtually no more excuses for not being able to invest. I formerly used CashApp to invest into the stock market. It was simple, easy to use, and you also have the ability to invest fractionally which means if a stock cost $1,000 (looking at you Tesla), you wouldn’t have to buy the entire stock. You could simply just buy a $1 worth of stock and still reap the benefit percentage wise.
  • However, obviously just buying a dollar worth of stock and leaving it there won’t build any sort of real wealth unless you give it like 50 years but even then..
  • So what I would recommend you do is to just round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest that PLUS set an arbitrary amount that you’ll invest every week. Let’s keep it at $20. Assuming this totals out to be $27 dollars a week you invest, you’ll have invested $1,404 by the end of a year. Now if we assume a 5% increase in your portfolio by that time, you’ll have earned $70.20 which means you’ll be left with $1,474.20 at the end of the year.

Some investing platforms include: 

CashApp (https://cash.app/help/us/en-us/5000-investing)

Acorns (https://www.acorns.com/invest/)

Schwab Stock Slices (https://www.schwab.com/fractional-shares-stock-slices)

Robinhood (https://robinhood.com/us/en)

WeBull (https://www.webull.com/pricing)

“So Jay, what do I exactly do?” To which I respond, it all depends. There isn’t necessarily a one size fits all. 

Create an excel sheet to track your monthly expenses and see what you would prefer to tackle first. For me personally, I take on whatever could damage my credit the most and what I will be able to work out over a longer period of time (since credit honestly matters more than your salary to be honest).  

I am a graduate student with a fair amount of student loan and I know more student loan debt is coming around the corner, so I emphasized paying off any sort credit cards and the biggest, highest interest rate student loan I have currently with a plan to just exclusively use scholarships and federal aid  for future education that I will be able to defer payments on and consolidate later. 

Any money I do earn along the way is to take care of that big student loan with a huge interest rate as well as invest into the market. 

That’s just me though, I am not a financial expert. Just a kid who knows a thing or two about finance and wants to open you up to the potential of managing your finances properly. 


Please take your time, however, to do your own research and if possible, discuss finances with a financial expert of some sort. 


Anyways, catch my last installment of personal finance 101 next weekend where I’ll be discussing the overwhelming importance of credit. 

Peace Out, 

Jevaughn Henry


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