Super Star Blogs!

Who is on your team?

Any person who sets out to accomplish a challenge knows that having the right support system is critical to success. Therefore, it should not be surprising that preparing for a career in the health professions similarly requires the right support.

The Diverse Medicine Recruitment Center is one (excellent) tool for online guidance, support, and mentoring. In addition, I also recommend having an onsite faculty advisor at your institution. These are professors, upperclassmen students, or counselors who have a track record of successfully guiding applicants to entry in a professional program. A campus advisor can help with information such as: which sections of a class will be more beneficial; which professors are more likely to prepare a student for higher MCAT and other entry exams; and if there are benefits to any specific order to take pre-requisite classes to best prepare for applications and testing.

Another part of your support system is fellow students. Some students prefer to study alone, others in pairs or a study group. Students can help in more ways then simply study partners. Even if you tend to study by yourself, there are many benefits to networking (outside of study time) with other students at the same level you are. Other students will be able to share information they have learned from their own mentors; they may have access to study materials you do not have; and they may also have information on campus resources, clubs, or other organizations that can help you achieve your goals. Conversely, if you surround yourself with underachieving and unmotivated classmates, they may hinder your academic goals.

Last, but definitely not least, a third part of your support system consists of people and activities which serve to maintain your mental health. This includes date nights with your significant other; outings with your platonic friends; regular exercise; listening to music; getting periodic massages (massage schools have low cost massages!); attending religious services; or anything else that spiritually, mentally, and emotionally uplifts you. If your mind and body are in the ideal condition, you will be more likely to succeed academically and professionally.

Let’s keep this conversation going: in the comments, please include who else is in your personal support system; who has, or is, helping you to achieve your goals?

How to Request a Rec Letter

Many premeds undervalue the importance of getting excellent letters of recommendation for their medical school application. As a matter of fact, some students have been told that these letters aren’t all that important. Well, let me tell you right now, that is NOT true. These letters matter a lot. Just think about it, each medical school get’s thousands of applicants, most of whom were great students in college. However, for the most part, the medical schools don’t know the applicants personally, so they must rely on other people’s testimonies of the students to judge their character and work ethic. That’s were the rec letters come in play. In this article, I’ll share 3 “must do’s” for requesting a rec letter.

1) Build a foundation. This should be obvious, but I’ll start with it anyways. If you want great letters, you need to ask people with whom you have a great relationship. Great relationships don’t come overnight. Rather, they come from months to years of building a foundational trust and respect for one another. Your request for a rec letter begins at the time of your first interaction with the individual and continues for the full duration of your relationship. So, step #1 in getting a great letter is to invest in the relationship months to years before you need the letter!

2) Ask for a strong letter. Here’s where many premeds drop the ball. They simply ask for a letter of recommendation rather than asking for a STRONG letter. When you ask for a STRONG letter (you don’t have to capitalize the word strong) your letter writer will understand exactly what you mean. He or she knows you want a letter that will make you stand out above you peers who asked for a plain ol’ rec letter. Strong letters include words such as “excellent”, “best”, “exceptional”, etc. Trust me, when the medical schools read rec letters, they can tell the difference between a strong and regular rec letter. You want yours to be in the memorable pile!

3) Send your Diverse Medicine profile and personal statement. No matter how well someone knows you, you can’t expect them to remember everything about you so it’s important that you send them a nice summary of your accomplishments. This is very simple to do. Go to your profile page and click on the blue “share” icon in the top right corner. This allows you send an email directly from our site that has a link to your profile page for them to review. I’d go as far as to say that every member on Diverse Medicine should use this feature when requesting a rec letter. Also, if you had a completed or draft form of your personal statement, send that as well.

Getting strong rec letters is a priority when applying to medical school. If you can follow these three simple steps, I’m willing to bet that you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the quality of letters you get!

5 Reasons to Consider a Gap Year

Week 50 of  the PreMed Mondays book covers 5 reasons to consider a gap year.  Nowadays, many students take a break between college and medical school.  There are plenty of benefits to doing this.  In this weeks episode, we’l consider five of them.

Click HERE to register for our next webinar on Wednesday May 29th at 8pm ET- “Budgeting for the Med School Application Process”.  This is a part of our 3rd annual Application Boot Camp Webinar Series in partnership with SNMA

Premeds, find affordable services designed to help you get accepted into medical school at

Congratulations to Justin! Student of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I was born and raised in Brooklyn NY. I enjoy reading, swimming, and going out with my friends from high school. After finishing undergrad I spent a year interning in a research lab, volunteering in New York’s first geriatric emergency department, and tutoring 11 year old students in math and reading. I spent the past couple of years working as a research associate at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?

I respected all of my teachers however there was one that really had a lasting effect on me. That was 8th grade history teacher Mr. Callahan. He taught me that one should listen to learn and learn to listen. Very simple yet powerful statement. 

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? 

Well, I first knew I wanted to become a doctor after volunteering at the Weill Cornell Medical center and working in a unit that treats patients with neurological disorders. I will never forget the first patient I encountered, a bedridden man whom the nurses called Chris, “the king”, because of his desire for attention as well as his liking to misbehave and indiscriminately yell at the staff. I was deeply saddened when I saw him because of the state he was in and that he never had any visitors. I decided to visit him every day and help him with his meals until he was transferred to another hospital. After working in the neuro unit I wanted to be in a position where I could do more for these patients and help treat them. That is when I first started thinking about becoming a doctor. I was also fascinated by the brain and wanted a career in which I could care for these patients and come up with treatments that would improve their lives. I was also driven by a desire to contribute and eventually produce my own scholarship.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?

My goal is to become a neurologist and be a clinician as well as a translational researcher. I was always interested in understanding how natural compounds can be used to treat neurodegenerative disorders. Other areas of medicine that I am interested in are emergency medicine just because of the pace of things and the ability to constantly see something new. 

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?

Winning an NIH diversity supplement grant for two years under Dr. Pasinetti’s mentorship at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. After receiving the grant, I presented my research in conferences around the country and contributed to 6 original research publications. I worked alongside a postdoctoral research fellow for an exciting project aimed at understanding how dietary polyphenols compounds found in grapes improve memory function in mice by using a pre-existing technology called optogenetics a method that allows for the manipulation of neurons by turning them on and off using a certain wavelength of light. The project demonstrated that dietary polyphenols improve memory by upregulating a gene called c-fos in the hippocampus. 

What is your favorite book? 

Start with Why by Simon Sinek. I recommend this book because sometimes the most powerful statements are the ones that are the most obvious; the statements we are assumed to know but ignore and do not apply in our daily lives. I recommend Start With Why not just for pre-meds but also for anyone in general who is going through adversity or has lost his or her sense of direction. 

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.

I like reading books about history particularly the pacific theater of WWII and the Civil War. 

8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do?

I would pursue a career in education as I enjoy teaching. 

9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it?

My biggest obstacle in my premedical journey has been my mother’s recent passing from cancer and the immense challenges and uncertainty it has brought to my life. I used to accompany her during chemotherapy treatments in the afternoon and then I would have to return to the lab the same day. I am certain there is not a single person who can walk out of a cancer ward and not in some way be emotionally moved. Seeing the suffering of my own mother as well as those of the other cancer patients forced me to think about my own life and its meaning. It made me see the temporality of my own life and instilled in me a sense of urgency: to pursue one’s passions, to act, and to love now not later. I knew wanted a career that I could devote my life to and this tragedy has called me even more strongly to take care of sick and their families because I was there myself. 

10. What do you like most about Diverse Medicine?

Well, the sense of community that it builds the chance to interact with other premeds!

DMRC: how it all started

It was early 2013 and I was sitting in my 2nd floor, 1 bedroom apartment when I received a phone call from my brother Dr. Dale. “Did you read that AAMC report bro,” he said. Right then, I knew my brother was up to something. Something very big.

The next day, Dr. Dale and a 4th year medical student, Simon knocked on my door and the three of us walked downstairs to my apartment lounge to film the first ever Black Men In White Coats video. We propped up a cell phone camera and laptop and began filming the 36 minute impromptu discussion on the dearth of black males applying to medical school. In no time, the video spread around our Duke campus and across the internet. Our goal was to shed light on this very serious issue. The number of black males applying to medical school was less in 2011 than it was in 1978. Since then, we have received a number of honors and seen a movement growing as groups and books with similar themes of “black” and “white coat” began to appear. I’m very grateful Dr. Dale stepped up and took on this challenge.

The purpose of Black Men in White Coats has always been to highlight a significant problem that affects the healthcare system and to motivate the next generation through inspirational documentaries, podcasts, and books. However, motivation can only take one so far. This is why we created to reach and be more personal to diverse groups prehealth students and offer mentoring and shadowing opportunities. This was a very powerful platform that connected physicians with students across the nation.

It has been awesome seeing so many students we met years ago now completing medical school and entering residency. However, there were those students that unfortunately did not make it to medical school. They always stay on the back of our minds. The ones that really hurt were the those that would have been amazing doctors if someone took a chance on them or even simply got to know them a little better. On the other hand, there were some medical schools struggling to find or maintain a diverse, well-rounded student body. How could a small medical school in a less well-known town in Montana ever come across Maria who is from the Bronx? Something needed to be done to allow these students to showcase themselves holistically and for the medical schools to reach out to these students. Kind of like a for med school. This was the beginning of PreMed STAR which subsequently expanded to Diverse Medicine Recruitment Center. We’ve been privileged to partner with organizations like AMSA, SNMA/MAPS, AQuity Solutions, and Kaplan who allowed us to give out roughly $20,000 worth of MCAT prep scholarships to our community students in 2018. 

The Future

We are now part of something huge! I am super proud to be a part of this and I hope you are too. It is truly an honor to provide guidance to so many students. We are building a powerful, supportive community where premedical students can have a safe space to ask questions, share tips with one another, vent, and receive solid guidance from schools, med students and doctors. This is a very unique platform that has already helped a number of students in fulfilling their dreams of becoming a doctor. Our community is rapidly growing everyday with more and more students and medical schools joining. This is very exciting! We’ve come a long way and there are even greater things to come. I strongly encourage every premed student reading this to:

1. Complete and update your profile page

2. Invite your premed friends and clubs to join

3. Be active and share resources with your peers

4. Reach out to our partnering schools

5. Let us know how we can improve

The community can only help as much as you allow it to help you. Get involved and take full advantage of this opportunity. We can do this together!

A Day in the Life of an AQuity Scribe – Cody

I have had the amazing opportunity of working with Dr. Fleet of Huggins Hospital in New Hampshire.

Clinic starts at 8:00 AM; however, I log in about 7:30 so I can start his chart prep. We use a lot of templates and pull over pertinent information from the prior charts. We have anywhere from 12 to 16 patients a day. Dr. Fleet logs into FFS about 8:05 and we are ready to start the day. Prior to seeing each patient, Dr. Fleet will give me a rundown of what he hopes to review during the visit. During the rundown, he tells me what orders are needed (these are normally labs), historical dates to include, and the preliminary diagnosis that we will be using.

In the room I cover the HPI, ROS, additional vitals, PE, additional historical information, ordering labs, pending medications to be sent to the pharmacy, ordering referrals, coding, return visits, and anything else that may pop up during the visit. This sounds like a lot of information to keep track of, and it is, but we make a great team. You will learn that at some offices the assistants do very little, so the scribe will update the medication list, social history, family history, etc.

In between patients, Dr. Fleet will play music or we converse while I am cleaning up the chart for him to sign. I always make sure my chart is completed before we go into the next patient’s room; this insures that Dr. Fleet is not bombarded with a lot of charts at the end of the day.

The key to a successful provider/scribe relationship is communication between us. If you are not sure how to word something, or spell something, or how to order it, just ask. The providers want you to get it right and ask questions rather than guess and never talk. Just like if you were there in person, you have to keep the communication lines open.

Another important factor for successful scribing is to not get frustrated. In the beginning, there is always going to be a learning curve. We, as scribes, are learning a new EMR system that we have probably never used prior to joining the team, and we are learning a provider that we have never physically met. We cannot tell what is going on because we cannot see, so we are having to rely on our hearing. If you cannot hear, speak up. Your provider will use either a JABRA device or their cell phone for the FFS room. The JABRA is greatly preferred and appreciated because it can pick up everything; I think it is the best device for us scribes.

I have learned through my short time here at AQuity (3 months at the end of May) that we are all a family. Learn to talk to your provider, teammates, and managers. We all want each other to succeed! 

(Cody lives in North Carolina, where he is a virtual medical scribe for a doctor in New Hampshire.)

5 Ways to Pay for Medical School

Week 49 of  the PreMed Mondays book covers 5 ways to pay for medical school.  Unfortunately, many premeds aren’t taught much about finances prior to starting medical school.  This leads to some pretty poor decisions which have real implications years later.  In general, there are very few ways to finance medical school and in this episode I’ll cover 5 of them while enforcing some words of caution, primarily pertaining to medical school loans.

Click HERE to register for our next webinar on Wednesday May 22nd at 7pm EST- “How to get EXCELLENT Rec Letters!”.  This is a part of our 3rd annual Application Boot Camp Webinar Series in partnership with SNMA

Premeds, find affordable services designed to help you get accepted into medical school at 


Congratulations to Courtney! Student of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Hello! I’m Courtney Dudley from Cleveland, Ohio. I’m a rising senior at Ohio University with a Biological Sciences major and additional minors of Spanish and Community and Public Health. I’ll be applying to medical school over the summer!

I always search to reinvent myself through some new hobby or opportunity for more depth and knowledge on important topics such as human trafficking and trauma informed care. I aspire to constantly challenge myself and persevere through any experience or situation, so I continue to grow and never lose passion and zest for life. I’ve created a bucket list with hopes to explore the Amazon rainforest, play an extra for a Hollywood film, run a half marathon, surf, go on a yoga retreat, and many other dreams.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? Señora Chadima truly influenced me and ignited the passion I have for Spanish, the language, the history, the culture and traditions. She taught me valuable lessons about life beyond the classroom such as cultural competence, empathy, critical thinking, and communication skills. I had her for 2 years of Spanish class, and then senior year of high school, I traveled to Spain with her and some other students over winter break for a cultural immersion experience. We visited many cities including Madrid, Granada, Seville, Toledo, and Gibraltar. I hope to use Spanish within practice someday!

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? With Law & Order: SVU and Bones on repeat at the house, I quickly developed an interest and gravitated towards human rights and criminal justice. Issues of mass incarceration, human trafficking, wealth inequality, and health care access led to the recognition of disparities and inequity specifically within the United States. I desired to become a lawyer for most of my childhood. By high school, I noticed how I always felt passionate to serve others, to tend and take care of them. I found an amazing opportunity for an internship with the Cleveland Clinic, and we explored many health care professions and ultimately sparked my enthusiasm for a career as a physician.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? I’m interested in Geriatrics and Orthopedic Surgery. I volunteered at the veterans hospital, Louis Stokes Medical Center, in Cleveland with the geriatric research department. I had conversations with many of the elderly veterans who suffer from chronic pain, and it’s heartbreaking to know how much neglect and mistreatment they experience. Our health care system does not provide well end-of-life care and geriatric care management. I hope to support and serve them the best way I can to improve their quality of life, so they maintain independence as long as possible. I’m extremely fascinated by surgery, especially because of the immediate gratification of hands-on action to identify and solve the problem. I had the privilege to witness a kidney transplant surgery, brain and spinal cord surgery, and heart pacemaker surgery.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? I spent last summer 2018 with the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods at Case Western Reserve University as a student intern. The internship went above and beyond the expectations I had for the summer! I’ve gained a new, broader outlook on health issues with a community-based perspective; it’s not as simple to say ‘well, they should just eat fruits and vegetables, and they should simply be more physically active’. Health inequities and other social determinants create the disparities between neighborhoods, where further issues rise such as, access, affordability, convenience, and safety.

A key takeaway of the internship results from the impact of resident involvement. We worked closely with the resident leaders and CHWs + CHAs at the outreach events. I got to hear many personal stories about how they strive ‘to create change and make an impact’ within the community. They desire to give back to the community that raised them, and it’s a remarkable thing to witness first-hand the passion and enthusiasm they possess to engage with other local residents. They inspire me!

6. What is your favorite book? The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It played an intensive role on my journey towards medicine. It’s a multi-faceted book that covers Henrietta’s life, the research of Skloot and the Lacks family, the topics of bioethics and informed consent, and the story behind the HeLa cells. It intertwines a personal family story with an accessible overview of HeLa and cell culture research. The overlap between the Lacks family and the world of scientific research enabled Skloot to stimulate conversation and debate over scientific ethics, racism and poverty.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. A unique, special hobby I have stems from the curiosity and true interest of family history and ancestry. I recently took the Ancestry DNA test, and I quickly discovered that I have roots around the world! I’d depict myself as a true historian and expert researcher on genealogy because I have investigated into our family tree for several years, and I hope to one day travel on an expedition, such as an ancestry journey. I would visit many places and experience the cultures, traditions, and lifestyles!

8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do? I’d be a human rights lawyer as an advocate for others who have suffered from injustice, persecution and civil rights violations. Or I’d be a public health analyst for the NIH and implement sustainable resources to many communities that face an unfair burden of poor health within low-income, under-resourced neighborhoods, specifically in populations of color, youth, and older adults. The strong interest I possess for community and public health comes from the importance of prevention and health education for all.

9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it? I’m truly grateful for every experience over the course of my premed journey. However, I’ve struggled with time-management and confidence. Once I started college, I immediately thought that I must continually find clubs, organizations, volunteer and outreach opportunities to be involved with. Then, I became horrendously overwhelmed and never had the courage to say ‘no’ to any opportunity; I didn’t want to have regret of a missed opportunity. I exhausted all my energy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. With much responsibility, I barely had time to take care of myself. I worried and worked tirelessly until I couldn’t sustain the constant pressure and unspoken competitive atmosphere of other premed students. I had to reevaluate and finally decide what I’ll let go, so I’m able to balance my life and set boundaries over what’s important. Physicians must prioritize self-care! I remind myself often that I’m confirmed and affirmed by God, and I have an amazing support system of family, friends, and mentors.

10. What do you like most about Diverse Medicine? Diverse Medicine provides support and a platform for many students to network and share with each other personal testimonies. It’s a wonderful way to learn and ask questions from others willing to encourage me on my journey. I’m inspired by many other students and appreciate the articles and opportunity for connections

***1 day of GI Bill pays for an entire semester***

For my Veteran Peeps that are running low on GI Bill entitlement. It is the VA’s position that if you have one day of entitlement (you can start the semester) they will pay the school for the entire semester and pay you your stipend for the entire semester! The VA enrollment counselor may not be aware of this. It is not written in their rule book for entitlement distribution. You may have to initiate a three way teleconference with the VA and your schools VA payment processor. How do I k is this you ask? I have 1-day if entitlement left and will be using it to pay for the entire fall semester of upcoming special master’s program. Also, do not forget about the upcoming changes to the Forever GI Bill on 1 August 2019. If you are doing a STEM program (which includes special master’s program and medical school) and are a Post 9/11 Veteran you can submit for a one-time 9-month extension of benefits. Those with little or no entitlement remaining receive higher priority for extension of benefits request. Scroll down to the “STEM” section when you access the link from the VA’s website for independent verification. Note: you cannot submit the request for extension of entitlement until on it after 1 August 2019.

Words of Advice and Encouragement for Re-Applicants 

Not being accepted to medical school on your first attempt is very humbling. You go through a whole array of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Especially for those that have extensive work experience in another career you may ask yourself “should I go back?” I am currently on a 60-day on and 60-day off deployment rotation to Burkina Faso West Africa with the Department of the United States Air Force. My primary responsibly is to work as a Flight Paramedic providing aerial medical casualty evacuation of sick and traumatically injured United States Armed Forces Personnel operating in the region. In my off-duty time, I spearhead a fundraising campaign and assist with infrastructure enhancement for Gisele’s Primary School for Orphaned Children. I have raised over 10,000 dollars on behalf of the school. Working with Gisele and helping these children is both humbling and gratifying. I have asked myself, “is this my main calling in life?” Although I experience a strong sense of elation with this on-going project, my desire and passion for being a physician is steadfast. 

Prior to submitting my application for the 2019 cycle I recall saying that “I would go to a Caribbean Medical School be going to a Special Master’s Program.” Well….I did not get in and after extended personal research and contemplation an off-shore school is not the best path for me to become a physician. 

When I decided to truly commit to my journey of becoming a physician in 2014, I told myself, “ okay I just need to complete the required science classes, and those along with my life and work experience, this will be enough to get me into medical school.” I allowed myself to believe this lie. At the time this thought process sat well with me because I have no choice but to work full-time, or so I told myself. From that moment on until Summer 2018, I viewed the required coursework for entry into medical school as an obstacle to be merely overcome. I did not embrace the classes and material as a partner on my voyage to fulfill my dream of becoming a physician. When I took classes, I focused on how the material could be applied medically and filtered out the information I deemed non-applicable. When I received my MCAT score in August 2018 life abruptly changed for me. I had been instantly humbled and became more appreciative and respectful of what it takes to become a physician. I now know that my desire and wishful thinking are not enough. My past accolades pale in comparison because they do not compare to the level of responsibility of being a physician. The goal that resonated with me was that I needed to change my approach to achieve my dream of being a doctor and transform myself into a full-time student.

Before now, I had not attempted to create a support system. For my entire adult life, I have been accustomed to relying on myself to handle my affairs. There was always assistance available, but I did not take advantage of it. Despite some not so pleasant events and circumstances in my life (some self-imposed and external factors beyond my control), I am choosing to use past failures as a platform to establish future success. 

I have been accepted to Lincoln Memorial University’s Biomedical Professions Master of Science Program, in Harrogate Tennessee. The program begins August 2019. I am very grateful and thankful for this opportunity. I will demonstrate my ability to be a better student academically and have a second chance to prove to the admissions committees that I am a prime candidate to be a future physician and leader in medicine.  

If you do not take anything else away from this blog PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take everything good that you did in the last application cycle and bring it forward with you this cycle. Everything that was not so good determine what that was and get rid of it. Whatever is salvageable but needs refinement, make it better! 

#Lead from the front! #Its not how you start its how you finish! #Its a marathon not a race!


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