Super Star Blogs!

Congratulations to Ashley! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.   My name is Ashley and I attend University of North Georgia with a Major in Biology. I love animals, spending time with friends and family, and helping others. It is my dream to become a Medical Scientist and research Autoimmune diseases like MS. It is also my goal to make a positive impact on the world by traveling to different countries and pursuing Medical Missions.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teacher was my 5th grade teacher. I wasn’t a very good student when it came to Math and Science. My teacher Ms. J encouraged me. She told me that I was intelligent and that I can be whatever I want to be. This really impacted me to work hard and improve my grades.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  It all happened when my Grandfather was dying. I was 8 years old when my Grandfather passed. He was like a father to me since my own wasn’t around that much. I used to help take care of him along with my Grandmother. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be a Doctor. I loved the feeling of caring for someone. I got interested in Medical Sciences when my Sister got Diagnosed with MS in 2015. I grew more intrigued with Autoimmune diseases and how they show up in the body. There is no cure for MS, and there are multiple explanations of how it starts.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? Medical Sciences, Global Science, and Pediatrics. I am interested in all three categories.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  I had a little research experience from my Chemistry professor a year ago. He taught me about different skills such as pipetting.

6. What is your favorite book?  My favorite book is Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson. It’s the Autobiography of the famous Pediatric Neurosurgeon. Him and I seem to have several things in common. He empowers me to become a Doctor after reading his story.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.   Most people don’t know that I can sing. I also love to listen to music. Opera is my favorite! I listen to it while I do my class work.

8. What do you like most about PreMed STAR?  I really enjoy interacting with people who have similar goals and dreams to mine. I also like coming together as a online community and encouraging others. It’s hard when your by yourself trying to figure out your path to Medicine. It can get overwhelming, if you don’t no where to begin. But with PreMed STAR, it gives you relief to know that there are others in similar situations. We are all figuring out this Medical journey together!!

 

How to Get an Excellent Letter of Recommendation

If you’re like most premeds, just the thought of requesting a rec letter makes you nervous.  It’s kind of like asking someone out on a first date.  Even if you’ve known the person for a long time, there’s always that fear of rejection.

Well, here’s the deal, it doesn’t have to be that way!  I’ve asked for enough rec letters, and I’ve also been asked enough times to know that there’s a good way to do it, and there’s a bad way to do it. You want the former.  If you do your part ahead of time, you won’t have to worry about anybody telling you no.

Here are 3 basic steps to help you get excellent letters of recommendation for your medical school application.

Step 1:  Start Building Your Relationship on Day One

This is where most premedical students drop the ball.  They can’t get great letters because nobody knows them well enough (your parents don’t count).  The moment you decide that you are premed is the moment you should intentionally begin building relationships with people qualified to write your medical school rec letters.  As much as I wish there was a way around this, there simply isn’t.  If you want a great letter, you must have a great relationship.

Step 2: Ask Early & Ask for Greatness!

Six months in advance!  That’s when you should be contacting your letter writers to make this request. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re likely not the only person asking your professor or lab supervisor for a rec letter.  These individuals are busy enough as it is, and the rec letters are additive, “non-essential” work.  In other words, if they don’t write your letter, they’ll feel bad, but likely won’t get fired from their job.  That being the case, your rec letter may not be at the top of their priority list.  This is why you must ask early and get to the front of the line.  Students who ask after you will have to take the back seat.  Also, if you ask early, your letter writer will have no good reason not to submit your letter on time.

Great & Excellent!  It is rare that a premedical student uses either of these words when asking me for a letter.  On the other hand, I never ask someone for a letter unless I use one of these words.  Be bold and make the ask.  Keep in mind, the default letter is good.  That being the case, good becomes average.  You need your letter to be great!  Don’t be scared to explicitly request this.

Step 3: Send Supplemental Material

Sometimes, us letter writers need to have our brains jogged.  We interact with a lot of students and can’t remember everything about everyone.  So, do yourself a big favor and send over some information to remind us who you are.  Send over your CV (you can download your PreMed STAR profile from the portfolio tab) and if you’ve written your personal statement, send that as well.  This will help us write a letter that better reflects who you are.

Rec letters are extremely important. Medical school admission committee members don’t have the opportunity to interact with you much, therefore they must rely on what others tell them.

What other tips have you heard of, or used to get great rec letters?  Share your comments!

 

**Premeds, login or register HERE for free.  PreMed STAR is the online recruitment network for premedical students.  You build your premedical profile…we’ll showcase it to medical schools.

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*Image credit pixabay

Congratulations to Quanitria

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Hello, I’m Quanitria most people call me Nena I love to help encourage others to continue to push for there dreams no matter how big or small. I love to take on challenges no matter how overloaded my schedule is however I love to do it with passion. I’m a former college student and will be graduating in May afterwards will begin to prepare for the MCAT.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teacher in high-school was Mrs. Haley an anatomy teacher at the time I was team captain on the track-field. I remember one day actually skipping a little of practice just to help dissect a pigs brain. I was truly fascinated and shocked that I was eager to dissect than to go practice on the track field.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? Well it was not planned in the beginning I remember being a senior in high school and remembering of how the human body intrigued me and no matter how many classes I had taken that semester I would always seek interest in this subject. I remember this huge project that was due at the end of the semester that everyone talked about and it scared them to actually take the class because of it. I actually procrastinated and did it within two days and excelled. I did it very well that she kept it and I was able to help others that was not doing so well in the class.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  Neuroscience or cardiologist those are the most complicated intriguing parts of the body that we still have a lot to understand about.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  Attending an ASCB conference in Philadelphia last fall I was able to present my research.

6. What is your favorite book?   A child called it

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  I’m a vegetarian and I love to teach children ages 2 to 5 within my church and public library.  I read Spanish books to them.

8. What do you like most about PreMed STAR? I love this website and app because its authentic, its my second home. Most of all its encouraging, impacting and uplifting I’m grateful for being able to have an opportunity to obtain great advice from people all across the world that are trying to become great authentic people. I love that PreMed STAR encourages you to follow your heart, dreams and become who you are. This is a wonderful opportunity for others to network and be encouraged by the success of others, but also know their own dreams can be fulfilled with consistency, dedication and motivation.

Basic Study Methods Tips

As pre-medical students, we are often faced with the challenge of understanding various complex concepts, which span from the biological sciences right into the chemical and physical foundations on which they stand. In our efforts to drive this information into our heads, we find that there are many ways to do this, some which work better than others. Some of us use note cards, some do problem after problem, while others resort to memorizing every word in the text. The study methods that we use depend on both our learning style and the material being studied. Unfortunately, we do not stride right into college with effective habits; instead, we have to develop these on our own. As a general biology and organic chemistry tutor, I’ve had the opportunity to witness both the methods that appear to be effective, as well as those that are not. The process of developing your own study methods can be a hard and frustrating one, and my intentions in this short blog are to give new college students, as well as those of you who are a bit more seasoned, grounding on which to start developing and refining your own methods.

Don’t just memorize, conceptualize:

Contrary to what many of us may have heard from our high school teachers and college professors, memorization is more important than we think, especially in the sciences. The reason there is so much angst over the idea of memorization is because the word often elicits an image of students mindlessly memorizing terms, which have no significance to them. This sort of studying is often seen in students who don’t want to spend time understanding the material and are most concerned with “just getting through the exam.” The last thing that you want to do is memorize a bunch of terms without seeing the big picture, so you have to be mindful when using the method of memorization.

Start this method with study cards; memorize all the terms and definitions associated with one specific concept, not perfectly, but sufficiently enough to be comfortable when seeing them. From here, we start the real learning. Now it is time to connect all of these terms that you have been memorizing. Without looking at your cards too much, start to create concept maps on your own. For example, if you are studying the organelles of the cell, you could start by memorizing all of the terms and definitions (nucleus, nuclear pores, ribosomes, rough ER etc.). Then move on to understanding how these work together. You could connect the functions of these organelles by saying that the nucleus is the site of RNA synthesis; this newly synthesized RNA leaves the nucleus through the nuclear pores and enters the rough ER, where ribosomes translate the RNA into proteins, which are sent to the Golgi apparatus to be modified, and so on. At this point you not only have the terms memorized, but you have a solid understanding of how they relate to each other. This method of memorization followed by conceptualization is something I have seen bring much success to the students that I tutor, as well as myself.

Don’t forget to read the textbook!

In many of our classes, we have the horrid textbook. The textbook is long, boring, and can be quite overwhelming. The truth is, this seemingly endless book is actually your best friend. Textbooks provide us with a detailed, step-by-step understanding of the material, which is blown through by our professors, who often fly through the material faster than we can take notes. Our textbook will stand on every word, create detailed concept maps, and repeat itself to us over and over again until we understand the material inside and out. Our textbook is always there to help us get through the concepts; all we have to do is open it.

Once we pry this beast open, we can start solidifying our understanding of the concepts on which our lectures are based. While in the text, there are a few things that can make our time most effective. First, let’s break out a highlighter or a pencil; now we focus on highlighting main points, key words, and details that we did not see in lecture. Don’t get carried away with this, only highlight what you feel is absolutely necessary. Also, whenever we see something in the text that was not discussed by our professor, we should make note of it and ask them about it after class or during office hours. Lastly, we have to be sure to read actively; we can’t simply read the words without interacting with the text. We have to constantly take notes in our books, noting connections, questions, and our reactions to the material. Interacting with the text will insure that we don’t spend hours reading the text, to remember only the last paragraph that we just finished reading 30 seconds ago. With that being said, the textbook is our friend, and it will take its time to make sure we understand all of the material sped through in lecture; we just have to be patient enough to read it.

Seal the deal with active studying:

Though making study cards and reading the text are essential to understanding the material we are studying, these methods should not be used alone. The purpose of creating study cards and reading the text is to develop a fundamental understanding of the concepts. These passive methods give us a basic grounding in the material so we can begin applying our knowledge, analyzing new and related knowledge, and synthesizing your own ideas. This is where active studying comes to replace our passive methods. When we study actively, we seal the deal; we bring our literal knowledge of the concepts to life.

Methods of active studying vary with the course being taken. Let’s start with courses like chemistry and physics. In these courses, we not only have to understand the basic concepts, but we have to apply what we know to solve new problems as well. In these courses it is essential that we spend a good amount of our post-passive study time doing problems. For this method, it may be worth investing in a white board; I often find myself most capable of organizing my thoughts about a problem when I take it from my notebook paper, and lay it out on the larger whiteboard.

Active studying also has its place in those courses that don’t involve the level of problem solving seen in physics and chemistry. It is in our biology courses that we don’t have to solve long, drawn out problems, but often have to apply our knowledge to answer questions that stem from the same basic concepts presented in lecture. Unlike most biology courses in high school, university-level biology courses no longer call on us to simply memorize the material. We have to know the material enough to be able to apply our understanding to situations that were not discussed in class. In order to be able to handle these types of questions, we have to take our study methods to the next level. We have to begin to create detailed concept maps, which describe not only individual details, but the big picture behind the concept itself. For example, if you were studying glycolysis, after you understand the pathway and what it is responsible for, you want to fit it into a larger context. In doing this, you may explain to yourself how it fits into metabolism as a whole, and what other pathways it is connected to (e.g. synthetic, aerobic and anaerobic pathways). You can even go as far as looking into what happens when this pathway is not working properly, or missing essential reactants and or enzymes. This is just one of many ways which could be used to look at the information we are studying from a broader perspective. As future doctors, active studying can help build those critical thinking skills which are essential to the career we plan to enter.

 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Would I Choose Medicine Again

It seems that over the past year or so, there has been an onslaught against the field of medicine by none other than medical doctors!  Facebook is inundated with blogs written by disgruntled docs who at times seem to be on a mission to worsen the physician shortage.  Certainly I agree that there are aspects of entering the medical field that pre-meds should know such as long work hours and debt incurred, but what’s with the obsession of attacking our field.  Is it really that bad????  Well, since it seems that nobody else is doing it, allow me to be the one to say….I’d Do It All Over Again!  Below is my list of 5!  Five reasons I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

5) Money: It is funny that so many blog posts of late have criticized the pay of physicians and our level of debt.  The truth is we still have more wealth than 95% of Americans.  Just because we do not make as much as we would like to make does not mean we don’t’ make a lot of money.  Would I be a doctor if I got paid 30 thousand dollars a year…..the honest answer……No, I wouldn’t.   So the level of pay is definitely a plus.

4) Job Security:  This sounds shallow but it is true.  As long as we live in this broken world, there will always be sick patients for me to care for.  One thing is for certain, we are all going to die one day and the majority of us will see doctors along the way.  Obamacare, fee for service, socialized medicine…it doesn’t matter what kind of payer system we develop…at the end of the day, our services will be in demand and we will have a job.  As physicians we can complain about the field all we want, but the vast majority of us would rather have this job security than not have it!

3) Intellectually Stimulating:  It is VERY hard for me to think of another field as stimulating as medicine.  What we often fail to realize is that medicine is more than biology and chemistry.  This profession includes ethics, mathematics, technology, spirituality, etc. I challenge you to find an aspect of life that a physician does not encounter.  Each day I face new challenges that stimulate my brain.  Each day I learn something new.  Each day I say WOW!

2) It Is an Honor:  We very often fail to realize the privileges we are granted as Medical Doctors.  As a 30 year old black man, an 80 year old white woman might tell me her deepest secrets, secrets that  her husband of 60 years  might not even know (I do not this endorse this, but it’s just the way it is).  What other arena of life does this occur in???  We are entrusted with our patient’s most sacred information.  More times than I can remember I have been told by patients’ and family members to do what I think is best in any given situation.  The conversation often goes like this.  “Your husband is dying and I can still offer him X,Y, and Z.  If you do not want to pursue those options we can let him die comfortably.  How would you like us to proceed?  Well doc, we trust you.  Just do what you think is best”.  To be regarded with such high esteem.  To be entrusted with the life of another human.     What an honor!

1) It Humbles Me:  Let’s face it, doctors are BIG HEADED!!!  Conceited, arrogant, narcissistic aren’t we???  Interestingly, I’ve found that medicine has humbled me beyond expectation. This perhaps is what I love most about it.   It reminds me of my mortality and to cherish this gift that is life.   At the age of 30, working in the critical care environment, I have seen more people die and told more family members they lost a loved one than most people will in their entire life.  This makes me VERY aware of the reality of death.  You may be wondering why this would make anyone want to be a doctor …but trust me, when you truly understand that death is real and that tomorrow is not promised, you appreciate things in a different light and live in a different manner.   This has done more good for me than I can explain.  It is priceless!

So with an emphatic YES, I’d do it all over again.  It is rare to find a field that offers the combination of these five benefits which I feel are key to establishing a satisfying career.  As always, I leave you with words to consider… “All hard work brings profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” .  Work hard and don’t complain!

 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Never Lose Sight

Sometimes I like to take snapshots of myself and my environment before life changing events take place. One of those still shots came when I received my acceptance to medical school in 2004 (wow, that was a long time ago!). Those around me wondered why I was not frantically jumping up and down screaming like a mad person. Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic but at the same time understood the new battles I would face. Not necessarily the sleepless nights and tests but also the battle of being true to myself and truly being happy in life. These are the 5 areas I have focused on:

1. Be Humble:
Like many highly esteemed careers, medicine can really get to our heads. I remember so many premed students gaining acceptance to medical school and just being grateful that someone found them worthy enough. Or many students anxiously walking into their first med school class. Years into training some of these very same students have already lost that humility. Medicine, if you think about it is much like a cast system. The more prestigious the school or specialty the easier it is to succumb to this superiority complex. It is also amazing how much power a white coat or two letters behind your name have. People (family, friends, and patients) just as easily can inflate our heads. For many, acceptance into medical school equates to becoming a trophy for others. We have worked extremely hard to get to this position, but never let it make you look down on others. We must always look back and remember how grateful we were just to serve in this profession. Stay humble.

2. Don’t Let Others Change Your Goals:
A huge problem people face during medical training is not knowing how to manage outside influence. There are great mentors one can benefit from but then there are others who attempt to sway you towards a life you are not meant to live. I have witnessed so many friends being encouraged to pursue a different field than what they are drawn to simply because it makes more money, is more prestigious, or will benefit that particular person (may be expecting free healthcare from you). I’ve even seen people discourage people from medicine altogether. I’ve seen some forced to live a certain lifestyle above their means (built on loans) and some forced to marry a particular type of person. People assume many things about your life when you are in medicine and some will begin to live your life for you if you let them. It is important to discern advice from others because in the end you will have to live with those decisions.

3. Don’t Forget Where You Come From:
Medicine can be very time consuming but never forget your family and friends. Most of us can find refuge here. Its great when they offer that support you need from them but remember you too should support them (attend weddings, baby showers, birthdays, etc). Unfortunately, some close contacts don’t understand the demands of medicine and as you lose some others come in. Give back to your community as well by mentoring or volunteering. It’s amazing how many premeds spend hours upon hours volunteering in the community but when they finally get into medical school or residency they drop it like a bad habit. Sadly, sometimes we have selfish motives behind our good works.

4. Live Your Life:
Many people delay so much during medical school. Some are for good reasons yet all will affect you in the long run. “I’ll wait to get married… to have children… to take that arts and crafts class… etc.” The truth is this God given life is so precious and it will go on with or without you. You don’t want to regret anything at the end of your training. It’s all about balancing things because there will never be a “perfect time, place, or person” for any of your plans. The type A, perfectionist, calculative personality traits many doctors have can really hurt us in the long run. It would be great to live long enough to see your great grandchildren. You also don’t want to be that woman in her mid-30s who waited all this time to have children and find yourself rushing against your fertility clock. I have spent some time training in an infertility clinic and the attending shakes his head every time he sees a women in their late 30s wanting fertility assistance (very $$$). The sad part is many of them are in high demanding careers such as medicine. Time always beats out brains.

5. Keep Your Faith:
Again, time restraints and numerous distractions can pull us from this. Personally, I’m Christian and feel this should come first above all in life but many times I did fall short on holding to this during my training primarily due to poor time management. I was encouraged by watching a friend in ENT who would be worshiping in the pews every Sundays, half-asleep, fresh out the OR wearing his scrubs. I’ve seen a lot of people lose sight of real life priorities during their medical training. Many people put career above their faith. I personally would prefer to be identified as a Christian before being identified as a doctor.

At the end of it all the key is to be happy. At least I believe that is most people’s long term goal. Many feel medicine is a means to this happiness. I’ve seen many doctors enjoying life and I’ve seen some very very miserable doctors. Chasing money, power, prestige, or respect will not bring this. I’ve found that sometimes, thinking back to that excited, ambitious, meek, premedical student with that acceptance letter in hand really allows me to better appreciate this journey.

 

Written By Dr. Daniel

Image Credit: Pixabay

Choosing Your Major as a Pre-Medical Student

You’ve decided you want to become a doctor, and you’ve completed the first step of gaining admission into or starting your first year of college. Congrats!!!! Now the biggest thing to decide is which major to choose.

Most colleges and universities do not have a specific “pre-medicine” major, and this can come as a shock to some students who are then faced with the decision of having to choose among a variety of many different majors. Most students feel that a science background will be best suited for entrance into medical school, and according to AAMC1data, the majority of students applying to medical school pursue a biological sciences major. This does not mean that you should pursue this degree, but choosing this as your major will generally help you take all the coursework required to gain admission into medical school.

Medical schools have set pre-requisite requirements that generally include a set amount of hours of biology, chemistry, physics, organic chemistry, humanities, and other courses intended to make students well-rounded and better prepared for the medical school setting. It really does not matter what you major in as long as you complete the specific prerequisite requirements for the schools that you are interested, and lists of individual medical school requirements can be found in the AAMC Medical School admissions Requirements2 guide and AACOM’s Osteopathic Medical College Information Book3. Also, most students entering into college will have to take general coursework such as English, humanities, math, etc., so the best thing to do is to choose a major that best suits you.

The following are three questions to ask yourself before choosing a major that will hopefully help make the decision a bit easier:

  1. What am I passionate about (ie, what do I like to do)?

College is the time to explore your passions and find out who you really are as an individual. Whether you enjoy constructing things, writing, drawing, or doing chemical equations, there’s pretty much a degree for anything you can think of. The key is to make sure you complete the prerequisite requirements for medical school. This means if you choose English as a major, you’re going to have to add in science coursework to your degree program, and since you won’t be taking a lot of science coursework, you will have to do really well in these courses to make sure your science GPA stays high. A lot of pre-medical students start college thinking that medicine is for them then decide down the road that they are miserable with the coursework, which leads to changed majors and money lost. If you choose a major that suits your interests, then it can help maintain the stamina and enthusiasm needed to make it through college.

  1. Will this make me money if I don’t get accepted into medical school?

Let’s face it, not everyone gets accepted into medical school on the first try and your degree can determine the job opportunities you are offered fresh out of college. No one wants to work hard to obtain a college degree and then be stuck working a minimal wage job that really didn’t even require a degree to begin with. Most premedical students obtain a degree in biological sciences only to find out after graduation that there aren’t many job opportunities available for the degree. The same can be said for individuals majoring in degrees like theatre, pottery, music, etc. It is important to look to the future when you choose your degree and see what opportunities will be available to you if your medical school dreams take a little longer than expected.

  1. Will this challenge me and help me grow as an individual?

Don’t choose an easy college major thinking that receiving a super high GPA will help you in the medical school admissions process. Medical school committees will review every class on your transcript and they generally know which classes were BS classes and which were challenging. Also, make sure that whatever you choose will give you a fairly heavy course load. Medical school semesters can equal the equivalent of 27 or more credit hours, and if you only took a few credit hours at a time as an undergraduate, then it will be a very rude awakening. Try to always maintain a full-time student status with difficult coursework. Not only will it be a good challenge, but it will help you grow and see how much you are truly capable of accomplishing.

The sky is the limit when choosing a major as a pre-medical student, so don’t let anyone tell you what degree you should earn. As long as you make sure that whatever you choose makes you happy and covers all the basics for entrance into medical school, then you will be good to go!

 

Written By Danielle Ward

Read More of Danielle’s blogs at: www.aspiringminoritydoctor.com

Image Credit: Pixabay

Congratulations to Brooke! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I am from a small town in Georgia called Ringgold, Georgia, and I currently attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Some hobbies of mine include hiking, camping, driving, and trying new restaurants and places where I live. I am currently applying to medical school and have received two interviews to schools I really hope to be offered acceptances to attend. My big, long term dream is to be working in the US and travel for a couple weeks at a time to plant clinics in third- world countries in order to help make the towns and people more self- sufficient and informed about how to stay healthy.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teach in college has been Dr. Thomas because she challenged me to truly be the best student and person I could be. She is honest and caring while still not allowing her goals for us to be let down when we thought it was unattainable. She was such an encouragement as a women who values both education and family and succeeds at being a great professor who knows how to say no to extra requirements that she cannot take on without dropping the ball in her life at home.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  I first decided to become a doctor in high school when I completed a health professions pathway that ended in shadowing providers around town. I saw the problem- solving tactics of physicians combined with knowledge and intra-personal skills that I wanted to use myself to make a mark on the world.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? Right now, my biggest interests are Ob/GYN and pediatrics. I want to encourage women in one of the truest ways that make them women.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? There are so many! But, one of them is when I was a Clinical Research Intern at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. I had the outstanding opportunity to work in the best healthcare environment I have ever seen as well as help with research that will help hospitals improve processes that impact the patients they serve.

6. What is your favorite book?  My favorite book right now is Poets and Saints written by my pastor. He is so creative and the best storyteller I know. In this book, he recalls the journey he took abroad to learn about the saints and figures within Christianity to give them a new light in the world of Protestantism.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. An interesting thing about me is that I have performed in Carnegie Hall. I was in a competitive community choir throughout my middle school and high school years, and we were invited to a festival that ended with a performance in the most beautiful concert hall I have ever seen!

8. What do you like most about PreMed STAR? I love that PreMed STAR is working to connect students from before they are even applying to medical school. I think we can sometimes get caught up in the hard work that is required in the path we have chosen that networking is sometimes not a priority; PreMed star is and is going to continue to improve to be a place where that is possible!

Three Reasons Why You Will Never Become a Medical Doctor

Becoming a medical doctor is challenging BUT possible.  There are plenty of road blocks along the way which are strategically placed in attempt to weed you out.  Some of us successfully navigate the tortuous road and become doctors.  Some of us do not.  If you are among the group that does not…here are my thoughts as to why you will never become a medical doctor.

Lack of Passion! This is by far most important.  Many of you will not become medical doctors simply because you do not want to be medical doctors.  I have been mentoring premedical students long enough to know that some students really want this whereas others are caught up in the hype.  The 18 year old college freshman has to have a major.  Premed sounds good doesn’t it?  Rolls right off the tongue.  But with time, it becomes evident that many who self-designate this route do not have the passion for it.  The evidence lies in the effort they put forth.  Passion gives birth to hard work.  Those who do not work hard to become medical doctors don’t have the passion for it.  I do not want to be misunderstood and have readers conclude that lack of passion for medicine is a bad thing.  On the contrary it is a great thing.  If you do not want to be a medical doctor, then you should not chase this career path.  The time and effort necessary to reach that goal is not worth it unless the passion is there.

Fear!  This is the second reason that some of you will never become medical doctors.  It is possible to have passion and still not succeed in the medical field.  Premeds are afraid to speak in class, afraid to sit in the front, afraid to go to office hours, afraid of the MCAT, afraid to apply to medical school, etc. etc. etc.  The list goes on and on.  Fear is crippling, and I have seen it in action.  One by one it knocks out our legitimate premedical candidates.  I don’t know how many students “failed” the MCAT before ever stepping into the exam room.  Fear did that to them! Why are we so afraid to fail?  With failure comes growth! If you tell me that you have never failed, I will tell you that you have failed to try challenging things in life.  It is okay to fail sometimes, BUT, do not let fear cripple you, or you will fail every time.

Lack of Mentorship!  This is perhaps the single most important modifiable reason.  How can you become a medical doctor if nobody shows you how to be one?  The heartache and time that is circumvented simply by someone more knowledgeable than you are serving as your informant is tremendous.  There was a time that lack of mentorship could be used an excuse, but that time has since passed.  Nowadays, technology can provide mentorship and information at the click of a button. If a student lacks guidance, it is his or her own doing.  You cannot expect people to volunteer their time and resources to your success.  But if you do ask for mentorship, it is likely that you will be given mentorship.  Remember the wise words, “you have not because you ask not.”

You will never become a Medical Doctor if these 3 things hold you back.  Lack of passion is actually a good thing because it will save you from years of what would seem to be torture if you do not love medicine.  Fear and Lack of Mentorship on the other hand can be modified. Don’t let them hold you back.  If you’ve read this far into this post, I have a gut feeling that you’ll be okay.  I believe in you and you can do it!  In retrospect, the title of this blog is flawed.  The words “would have” should replace the word “will”.  I can’t wait to see that white coat on you!!!

So, my question to you is this: what things get in the way and hold you back from giving it your all to become a doctor?  Post a comment and let me know.

Congratulations to Sabeehah! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  I am an international student from South Africa, and I completed high school in Kuwait. I am in my second semester, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree Integrative Animal Biology. I am on the executive board of an organisation that mentors minority high school students through their college application and transition process. I am also a Patient Support Volunteer at the Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation. I am passionate about adolescent mental health and immunology, and hope to pursue research in those fields. I plan to return to South Africa after medical school and practice in areas with underserved communities.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? My favourite teacher in school was my English Literature Professor. He helped me discover my love of literature and encouraged me to explore my own writing passion. While most of my peers went on to attend university in the UK, he helped me research US schools and how to become a doctor. He made the entire process simpler and more enjoyable. He was incredibly supportive of me both academically and personally, helping me through some difficult times.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? My reason for pursuing medicine comes from an event in my childhood. When I was eight years old, my two-year old cousin fell into a pond and almost drowned. His situation looked woefully grim, to the point where his parents had given up hope of him waking up from the coma he had fallen into. However, his neurosurgeon refused to surrender. He spoke with the parents in the most comforting and intelligent manner, before working tirelessly to perform a twelve hour surgery. My cousin is now ten years old, with no neurological deficits. This experience exposed to me the interplay of science and faith that characterises medicine, and it was incredibly inspiring. I have heard the notion that doctors work solely in a scientific bubble, but the fact is that medicine is about people’s lives and their futures. While science has always piqued my curiosity, the prospect of letting people who have all but lost hope know that doctors are willing to fight for them and their loved ones is what I think is most rewarding.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? I have a medical school mentor who told me that your interests change drastically once you actually begin studying medicine. However, I am currently interested in pediatric surgery and neonatal medicine.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?
I currently in the process of completing the second semester of my premedical journey, so there is still so much I want to do. However, I am currently involved in a psychology lab that focuses on suicide prevention. I am working on a research project about how lack of access to mental health resources impact the suicide rates of LGBTQ+ youth. LGBTQ+ mental health is tragically unexplored in scientific research and this topic is one that is really close to my heart. I hope to present and/or publish the research once it is complete.

6. What is your favorite book?  My favorite book is Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta. It is an incredible story set in Nigeria during the Biafra War, that follows Ijeoma. She is an Igbo Christian woman who falls in love with Amina, a Muslim woman. Against the backdrop of civil conflict and an abusive mother, Ijeoma has to come to terms with her faith, her political perspectives, and her sexuality. The book reads as a coming-of-age story, but my favorite thing about it was the exploration of the intersectionality of the protagonist.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  One thing people don’t know about me is that I love to write. I write poems and short stories, inspired by my experiences and the people in my life. I have found it a little scary to share my writing with people. However, my best friend encouraged me to start a blog over the summer, and people have been incredibly responsive. Sometimes, I write to feel less alone and being told by a girl I knew in high school that my work helped her find her own creative streak was so humbling.

8. What do you like most about PreMed STAR? I love the sense of community. Not only does it give me access to useful resources, it also allows me to interact with people who are further along their journeys than I am. As an international, first-generation college student, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the road ahead. However, PreMed STAR has helped me feel like I am a part of a much larger group of peers and friends, which motivates and comforts me.

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