Super Star Blogs!

Pathways to Health Professions

Mentoring in Medicine Speaker Series Presents

PATHWAYS TO HEALTH PROFESSIONS

with

Mekbib Gemeda

Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS)

Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Time: 8pm – 9pm EST

Learn how to:

* Explore various paths towards health professions schools

* Examine ways to own, construct and tell your story

* Explore ways to find strength and persistence

Register: https://mimpathway.eventbrite.com

(A recording will be made available)

Speaker: Prior to joining EVMS, Mr. Gemeda served for eight years as the Assistant Dean for Diversity Affairs and Community Health and the founding Director of the Center for the Health of the African Diaspora at New York University School of Medicine. Mr. Gemeda has more than a decade of experience in national and local efforts to reduce health disparities and increase diversity in the biomedical workforce. Learn more at https://www.evms.edu/education/masters_programs/medical_masters_program/

Should I Study or Protest???

In these racially challenging times, should premeds be going out to join the protest or should we stay buckled down and study for our MCAT exams? This question was recently posed by a member of the PreMed Mondays group.

The murder of George Floyd is taking a HUGE mental, emotional, and even physical toll on our country. Black individuals and those who sympathize with the struggles faced by the community are stepping up to say enough is enough. Peaceful, safe, and law abiding protest is highly encouraged, BUT this leads to a dilemma for premeds who want to be a part of this movement but already have a full plate (e.g. applying to medical school or studying for the MCAT). So, the question arises…How should you spend your time? How can you make the biggest impact?

There are a few things to consider when evaluating these questions. The first is, what does your heart tell you. One of my mentors is constantly reminding me to function from a perspective of no regrets. There are certain things in life that you know you’ll regret if you don’t pursue. You’ll have to decide if being out in the crowd is one of those things.

A second thing to consider is how you join the movement. Every person has his or her own role to play in promoting justice. It is true that functioning on one accord is essential for success, however, that does not mean that everyone does the same job. I imagine that most respectable members of the community would advise premeds NOT to disrupt their studies in critical times and to get the job done to get accepted to medical school. 9 out of 10 would likely say you’re more needed as a doctor than a protester. For most of us in the medical field…that would be our larger impact. As a physician, you’re needed daily to advocate for your patients and community. You’re essential!

Now, with all that said, you should keep in mind that doing both may be possible. If you’re focused and use your study time wisely, it is possible to peacefully and lawfully protest as well. These two things are NOT mutually exclusive.

REMEMBER…IF YOU PHYSICALLY JOIN THE CROWD AND PROTEST…PHYSICAL DISTANCE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AND WEAR A MASK! IT’S STILL COVID SEASON!!!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Protest or study?

image credit:  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/01/protests-coronavirus-pandemic-295285

Keep pushing. This Road is not easy!

What up guys! I am shouting out today to talk about premed and doubts. 

So why am I going to talk about this topic.. well I have been there multiple time and it will probably not be the last time. Our journey is long and so hard. But there are hundreds of people taking the same journey. Do not be afraid to reach out to your fellow pre med friends chances are they are going through the same page as you. Many times people has told me Alex are you sure you want to take this journey or I do not  thing this is the right path for you! This really hurt me and I left the premed track at a few times but the thing is at the end of the day I am always going back to medicine and  it absolutely does not matter what people say. if you want it bad enough it will happen. My GPA is around a  3.0 and that is of the lest few semesters I have worked so hard and so long and made great grades. I will me at ole miss a little longer then expected I  am a senior. And that is ok take as long as you need to get the grades you want and if your GPA is not where you like it for the MCAT then get you fellow classmates, teachers or what ever resources you can find   to help you study and  get the best MCAT score you can. And if you need to peruse higher education then do it. Because at the end of the day we want to become doctors. We love the world and want to help repair it and  for me the  look on peoples faces when they have good news is one of the reasons I want to peruse this career. We do not look at the money it about our passion. So seek help. Keep moving forward. This road is not easy nor will it ever be. We are is a challenge most people say no we are not smart enough to do it.  we are all in this together! I believe in you and that you will shine! Do not ever forget why you want to peruse medicine!

The Perfect Letter of Recommendation

Hopefully, by this time those applying to medical school this upcoming cycle have requested for their letters of recommendations. The letter of recommendation can be neutral but may also make or break your chances at getting into medical school. One bad letter can ruin everything even for the otherwise flawless student whereas one solid letter from the right person can take even those with lower scores to the top of the pile. Half of the students who have approached me for a letter have demonstrated great etiquette while the other half have been… lets just say, pretty alarming. For those who have procrastinated and for those future applicants, I have listed a few tips below.


1. Choosing a Letter Writer

Types of recommenders include professors (science and non-science), physicians, premed advising committee (if offered by school), research director, principal investigator, graduate program director, or medically-related extracurricular supervisor. If applying to osteopathic programs, it’s nice to have a letter from a DO. It is always better to have someone who knows you and thinks highly of you over someone well respected. They need to be able to speak highly on your qualifications, competencies, unique characteristics and why they think you will be valuable to these programs. It is not fair to ask a professor you do not know and place them in an awkward position. This is a big reason why Dr. Dale and I always preach the importance of office hours and getting to know your professors. It is also a big reason to stay in touch with people. If you did well in the class and established a good relationship make sure that professor knows your goal is to become a doctor and that you would love if they could stay in touch and they could write a letter for you when the time comes.

2. How to Approach

It is best to approach your potential letter writers for the first time early on, at the end of a semester after you have received your final grade or after a shadowing/volunteering experience you enjoyed. This way you are on their radar. Share with them your plans to become a doctor and that you would love a letter from them in the future if they are willing. Ask if you may stay in touch with them. Approach the letter writer again roughly four months before applying. My recommendation would be face-to-face meeting > email > phone. There is a good chance the letter writer is popular and teaches a lot of students so you want to be memorable and don’t want your message buried or placed at the back of the line. You may ask to meet the letter writer during office hours or depending on your relationship, over a cup of coffee.


3. What to Ask

Hopefully your potential letter writer knows you well but if not, it is important that you first start by introducing yourself and your link with them. A little bit of flattery always helps. Let them know how you enjoyed their class or your experience shadowing. You may even share a memorable moment or something you learned. “Are you willing to write a very STRONG letter of recommendation for me?” Simple as that. There are way too many students who will get awesome letters. You want someone that is super impressed with your work to write this letter or at least someone who is willing to learn a bit about you in order to appreciate how awesome you are. There is little to no benefit in a so-so, mediocre letter. If they are honest with you and aren’t able to write a strong letter, be gracious for their truth and don’t be offended. Simply move on to the next. Make sure to let them know when you plan to submit and ask if they are okay with a reminder.


4. What to Give Them

Be prepared to provide your recommender your CV, transcript and personal statement or brief summary/reminder of who you are. You may do this via email or bring with you in person. I am a huge proponent of including your Diverse Medicine profile link and/or your LinkedIn Profile link in your email signature. This will help them learn more about you and place a face with your name. You do not want to overwhelm the writer with too much info but if you know that they are the type that would want a little guidance you may provide them with the AAMC guideline.

5. How to Follow-up

As mentioned earlier, you need ask the letter writer if it is okay to follow-up at certain intervals. You may check in on them with an email 1 month before you plan to submit. Make sure you do not have any embarrassing or incriminating data online. There is always a chance your letter writer or anyone evaluating you throughout the interview process will search for you. Clean up your social media and make sure your email address is professional and unassuming. It is also important not to burn bridges along the entire application process. If a recommender hears something troubling about you, they may feel obligated to rescind their letter or contact the schools to warn them.


6. Other Important Information

It is important to waive your rights to see the letters in order to protect the letter writers and allow them to be fully transparent with the school. Programs such as Interfolio may help in organizing your letters. However, this is way after my time so check with other premeds on the site about their experience with this. Don’t forget to thank your letter writer afterwards. Update them along the application season. You never know if they have connections at a program you are waitlisted on or one you have not heard back from. Also, make sure to contact the medical school recruiters on Diverse Medicine if you will be applying to their program and feel free to ask them specifics about their school.

Any tips on getting that perfect letter? Feel free to share with your peers.

Compound Your Effort

Can you think of an overnight success? So often we hear this phrase. The media uses it for companies, actors, musicians. But is this true? Are these people and organizations really overnight successes?

Usually they’re not. Rather they’ve worked super hard for several years and benefited from a little concept called compounding interest. Compounding interest is really a banking term that explains how money grows exponentially over time. In other words, the small daily contributions will eventually grow into a large sum.

This concept extends beyond money and into all other areas of life. As it pertains to the medical field, becoming the best doctor possible is a step wise process. It’s a real grind that at times feels extremely unrewarding. Social media has trained us to desire immediate gratification. Put up a post and get a like. It’s kind of like the mouse pushing the button and getting the cheese.

My message to you today is simple….let your efforts compound on themselves. The hour of work you put in today will one day be worth a medical degree. Value every minute. They all matter! The power of compounding is among the strongest as it pertains to ultimate success. So those days and nights when you can’t make sense of why you’re studying an esoteric subject….just remember that it’s all part of your compounding effort to reach your pinnacle of success.

Bringing Value: The Essential Employee

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. Many of us have been forced to realize the things we truly value in life. In fact, I recently heard someone thank a grocery store cashier and told him that his job is more valuable than a lawyer these days. It really got me thinking…


Over 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past month. This breaks my heart. Many people do not recognize that many doctors are also taking a huge hit. Sadly, more and more clinics are being closed. For example, there are some dentists, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons (to name a few) who are having difficulty staying busy. These are very important fields but when times get hard, our patient’s priorities change. This is when money needs to be saved for essential medical needs.

When med students ask for my opinion on choosing a specialty, I always give the same answer; chose something that brings value to others. Bringing value allows you to live with purpose. It brings fulfillment. It gives you a strong reason to wake up in the morning. It brings job security. Bringing value to others is what will make you essential. Here are a few tips to find a valuable career:


1. CHOOSE A FIELD THAT TOUCHES EVERYONE

Preferably one able to serve the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the educated, the uneducated. If your field covers a condition that nearly every household is affected by, then you are of huge value.


2. CHOOSE A FIELD THAT CAN SERVE YOUR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY

You want to be there for those you treasure most at their greatest time of need. This will likely give you the most purpose in life.

 

3. CHOOSE A FIELD THAT IS FLEXIBLE

Being able to provide your services from any place in the world gives you a huge advantage. The less strings you have tying you down the better.

4. CHOOSE A FIELD THAT REQUIRES SKILL

You’ve got to have the skills to pay the bills. It’s wise to pick a field you go into having a particular skill set allowing you to have an advantage. A job without skill is an easily replaceable one. Nowadays, it is sometimes the wiser choice for a company to hire someone with less schooling and credentials than you if they are cheaper and can do similar work.


5. CHOSE A FIELD THAT REQUIRES A HUMAN MIND

We all know computers are taking over. It’s best not to be in a field where you are competing with an inanimate object. Spoiler alert, machinery will win that battle 9 out of 10 times.

Notice I did not mention choosing the job that pays the most. While money is a huge necessity and it should be factored in, it truly cannot buy you happiness. It cannot buy you purpose. It cannot buy you the knowledge you need to save your sick loved one. It cannot substitute for value. We currently live in a vain society where one can post YouTube videos doing anything and make money. However, our society is quickly changing. The teachers will come out more appreciated than ever. Our frontline healthcare workers have a new platform to voice their opinions. This pandemic is a wake-up call which just may better align value with compensation. 

Whether you become a doctor or not, choosing a job that adds value to the lives of many will serve you through thick and thin and provide purpose in your life.

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Other blogs by Dr. Daniel

Med School Application Timeline

Getting into Med School with Subpar Scores

The Five Types of Premeds

5 Factors Why Premeds Don’t Get into Medical School

Making The Most of Your Free Time!

 As much as this COVID situation stinks, there’s always a silver lining. For many premeds, an obvious benefit is time. You may never again in your life have this much free time so it’d be wise for you to take advantage of it. Here are 5 ways you can make the most of your free time.

1) Read Read Read. I always tell people that one of the best questions you can ask someone is what their favorite book is. Read the books that leaders read and you’ll be on your way to a similar position. Set a goal to read one book per week. Need a suggestion on which one, try Up From Slavery By Booker T Washington. It’s one of my favorites.

2) Write. There are few things that provide greater mental clarity than writing. Take this opportunity to write your personal statement. Even if you’re already accepted to medical school, write a personal statement for your life that is broader than just medicine. This is the perfect time for you to jot down your life goals and make a plan to achieve them.

3) Mentor. Just because most people on home lockdown doesn’t mean that communication has to stop. This is the perfect time for you to reach down the ladder and dedicate time to helping someone coming after you. Also remember, anybody can be a mentor. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you have to be at the next level to mentor. Start today.

4) Exercise. Unfortunately, it’s likely that many people are going to decondition during this time. Most will have limited access to a gym or their usual workout facility. Don’t let that be an excuse, get innovative and keep on exercising. Do pushups, dips with a chair, in house cardio. Stay fit!

5) Pray. This is the perfect opportunity for all of us to spend quality time with ourselves and our creator. Life typically has us doing a millions things and we never stop to spend time with God. Why not make it a priority now.

Finally, I’d caution you NOT to spend too much time on social media. So many people are focused on nothing but facebook, IG, TikTok, etc, that they fail to realize how much more they could grow if they invested that time in developing themselves. I’ll tell you this, most ultra successful people are not spending all that time on social media. Check it, post a few things, then get back to your grind!

I’d love to hear how you are spending your time during this COVID season?

[Spotlight] Dr. Patin: Naturopathic Medicine

We want to congratulate Dr. Patin on being featured on the Member Spotlight with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). In her brief interview she discusses why she chose Naturopathic Medicine and why she is a proud member of the AANP! Read her responses below:

1. What started your pathway in naturopathic medicine?

Growing up I was raised by my parents to follow a healthy lifestyle, though I was not privy to naturopathic medicine. However, after losing my father unexpectedly at the age of eight years old to a complication of his heart transplant and being diagnosed by the similar condition four years later -I did not want the same fate. I was very determined to seek the why, what and how regarding the causes of my father’s demise and stop the pre-destined fate for myself and future generations. Fortunately, with the help of my mother I found my way to Naturopathic Medicine, quickly applied and attended SCNM and the rest is history.

2. What do you like most about being a naturopathic doctor and what are some of your challenges?

I thoroughly enjoy the investigative process and following the principles of our medicine. Naturopathic medicine at its fundamental core implements individualized therapy and seeks to treat the root cause of a person’s ailment by following the laws of nature and eliminating the obstacles impacting the innate healing process of the individual, thereby allowing restoration to take place.

It is a wonderful feeling to see the transition of a person and witness the evolution of their healing process when these principles are implemented. Common challenges I found when being in practice is that many people are still learning what a naturopathic doctor means. Many people need understanding that we licensed naturopathic doctors are trained as a primary care physicians and often times get confused with the public that we are a nutritionist, homeopath or acupuncturist- which are just a few of the modalities that we are trained in and can provide to our patients, but we are able to provide much more. The caveat to the services or modalities we can provide is stipulated by the state in which we practice. This is also another challenging issue that comes up for many of my patients, which are they type of services which can be received. Unfortunately, the political factors involved vary for each state which can limit the services offered. However, the good news is following the laws of nature can never be limiting!


3. What makes your membership with AANP valuable as a naturopathic doctor?

I love being an active member of AANP because it is a comprehensive and national database that keeps me informed on the local and regional concerns within our industry. The accessibility of information allows me to write to my legislators on petitions and support our efforts by creating more awareness with the public and our government. Personally, I do enjoy the benefits of discounts to services that have helped build my practice and webinars to stay current with changes in our medicine.

If you are interested in Naturopathic Medicine feel free to ask any questions below or message Dr. Patin.

Who is Looking out for the Med Students and Residents?

Yep, you’ve got it. You’ve got the Swine flu.

It was my second year of my internal medicine residency and I was the sickest I could remember ever being in my life. Fever, coughing, night sweats, chills, and…. the first and only migraine I have ever had in my life. I was miserable sitting in my third floor one-bedroom apartment. I still find it a bit funny thinking back. I remember my mom and dad knocking on the door and I walking in my apartment draped in garbage bags. My mom had the antidote in her hand. A pot full of pepper soup. [Anyone with Nigerian blood knows what I’m talking about.]

According to the CDC, the 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) led to the death of 151,00 – 575,000 people worldwide during the first year. 80% of these were individuals younger than 65 years of age unlike the flu. Apparently, older individuals had built up enough immunity to that type of virus that they did not suffer as much as the youth. Those were interesting times but we were nowhere close to where we are today. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a different beast from the H1N1 virus. It appears more contagious and to have a higher mortality rate. It is most deadly in those over age 60 who have comorbidities unlike H1N1 that target younger populations.

After my quarantine period, I returned to the wards like nothing had happened. Back to seeing patients. Back to taking calls. Back to studying. Back to little sleep. My fellow residents weren’t too thrilled that they all had to take prophylactic Tamiflu during my absence and they weren’t silent about this. I don’t recall ever feeling as though my life was threatened by the virus but I do remember looking forward to getting back to work. I guess the sense of servitude to your fellow man superseded all fear. Or maybe it was the fear of missing work and having to extend my residency.

Looking back, I can appreciate how the voices of medical trainees can go unheard during a pandemic like this. I am hearing stories about students stepping up to assist in busy hospitals. Many 4th year medical students across Europe are now being asked to join the workforce early. At the same time, I hear stories about concerned medical students serving with inadequate protective equipment. There are no good solutions I have heard thus far and it can especially be very tough when your performance is being evaluated by a resident, fellow or attending. Now as a practicing physician, I have a seat at the table and get to voice my opinions and concerns to colleagues and hospital administrators.

I’m curious how premeds, med students, and trainees are handling this current pandemic. Do you feel safe? Are your voices being heard?

Stay safe out there. Limit your exposures and listen to your gut at all times. 

COVID 19 – Hysteria???

Lions and Tigers and COVID…oh my!


So, I’m a lung and ICU doctor…today that translates to a lot of people wanting my opinion pertaining to the impact of COVID 19. Let me preface this short post by stating even though I am a specialist, I am NOT an expert of COVID 19. Nothing in this post is intended to be advice or medical guidance. So don’t say…. “But Dr. Dale Said…”

The main question I seem to be getting is whether or not everyone is freaking out for no reason. Is this mass hysteria or appropriate precaution? Schools are closing, the NBA has suspended it’s season, and worst of all…it’s so hard to find TOILET PAPER! Why is everyone tripping!!!!

In brief, my answer to the question is NO, we are not over exaggerating the situation. People who disagree with that stance use Influenza as a key argument. Yes, the flu has killed a lot more people, but at least we have a general idea of what we’re dealing with there.

COVID 19 stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019. The virus that causes it, coronavirus, is commonly thought of as your typical cold. Yes, it is VERY likely that you have had a strain of coronavirus in your life. As a matter of fact, you’ve likely had coronavirus multiple times. But you probably (well, some of you reading this may have had it by now) haven’t had SARS-CoV2. This is simply the name given to this specific coronavirus that we’re dealing with at the current moment.

If you’re watching the news and you’re a relatively young and healthy individual, you may be thinking, even if I get it, I’ll be fine, so what’s the fuss about? I’ll tell you what the fuss is about. Our elderly individuals in society and those with underlying health conditions may not be fine. These “hysterical” precautions we’re taking are in large part to protect these populations. And as a society, we’re all linked. 

So it these groups take a huge hit, we ALL take a huge hit. I’ve seen some individuals make flippant and sarcastic comments about the entire situation. My response to that is we need to be sensitive to our fellow humans and ensure we are doing all we can to protect everyone.

A second reason our massive response to tackling COVID 19 is appropriate is we must buy time to prepare our healthcare systems for large influx of patients we may see as a result of this disease. This is a particularly unique situation because not only will the number of patients increase, the number of healthcare workers will decrease as a result of many of them becoming infected with SARS-CoV2. Even if these healthcare workers are asymptomatic, they’ll still be forced to take time off from work in order to ensure they do not spread the infection. By and large, I believe most healthcare systems across the country are NOT prepared for this. That being the case, whatever we as a community can do to slow the progression would be beneficial for our medical infrastructure nationwide.

Finally, there is a school of thought that by slowing down the progression, we can buy time and allow for seasonal change. Many viruses are seasonal and some believe that as we enter spring and summer, SARS-CoV2 may begin to fade away. As this is our first known encounter with this virus, we cannot be certain, but can be hopeful.

There is NO need to panic, but PLEASE take appropriate precautions, to ensure we’re all doing our part to care and show love to those who are at greatest risk to having negative outcomes from COVID 19.

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