Super Star Blogs!

Top 10 Shadowing Tips

Shadowing a provider can be a very rewarding experience. Watching television shows and movies about healthcare workers is nice and all but this is far from getting the real experience of being a medical provider. Shadowing is the closest chance you will have. This is the perfect, one-on-one opportunity to get insight on what a health care provider actually does. The more you experience and interact with the medical community,
the more confident you will become that this is or is not what you want to do for a living.

1.  FIND A PROVIDER: You have to start somewhere and the sooner the better. You are never too young to begin shadowing. In fact, many children of physicians spend plenty of time observing their parent(s) in action. Don’t allow the search for a provider to become an intimidating task that you keep putting off. I get messages from premeds all the time asking how they can link up with a provider. Well, this may be easier than you think. You may consider asking your own primary care provider if he or she is willing to let you shadow or if they know someone in a particular field you are interested in. Many health care providers welcome shadowing students and like the opportunity to teach. You may also consider checking with your school’s premedical advisory body to see if they have a list of providers in the area. Maybe speak with the school nurse/physician or athletic trainer. Being that you are affiliated with the school the process may be easier. Just realize that there may be some red tape you may proactively need to address such as hospital/practice rules and access as well as HIPAA protocols.

2.  KNOW WHAT YOUR PROVIDER DOES: You want to avoid blindly walking into a clinic and calling an Ophthalmologist and Optometrist (or vice versa). Most providers will not expect you to know a lot about medicine but they probably would expect you to have a basic understanding of the type of patients they see and what they do.  Get an idea of what it is your provider does and the type of training it required.

3.  ASK BEFORE YOU GET THERE: Before the shadowing day, make sure you have asked key questions including: Where is the clinic or hospital located? What time and place can I meet you at? You may also want to ask about dress attire and medical equipment they suggest you bring. You do not want to assume things only to become a liability to the provider. Try to get there at least 15 minutes early. Doctors are notorious for getting places either early or late due to their erratic schedules.


4.  DRESS THE PART: It is probably best to simply ask what to wear ahead of time. If you are working with a clinician then you most likely will need to dress professionally. Do not show up in a t-shirt, jeans, short dress or shorts, tennis shoes or stilettos. You can imagine this would be very distracting and embarrassing for the provider as he or she wants to present a respectable appearing student to their patient. If you are going to watch a surgical procedure they may prefer you wear scrubs. You can easily purchase these at a medical supply store.


5.  SHHHH… SHADOWING MEANS SHADOWING: By all means, please do not overstep boundaries. A shadow follows someone quietly. It is not a good idea to go see a patient without the provider asking you to do so. Do not leave for lunch or for the day without letting someone (hopefully the provider) know. As a shadow, follow your provider and try not to speak out of turn when they are seeing a patient. Unless your provider encourages you to do so, do not begin asking questions or bringing up a similar case you recently watched on Grey’s Anatomy or House. You may consider asking the provider burning questions once they ask if you have any questions or once you step outside of the room. Questions are welcomed by nearly all providers but try hard to respect your provider’s time. If they appear stressed while frantically typing a note that may not be the best time to speak. As the day goes you will both feel more comfortable with one another and there may be more time for conversations. You may want to bring a small notepad and write a few questions and thoughts as the day progresses. There will probably be some words you do not understand so jot them down for later.


6.  EAT BREAKFAST: More than likely you will have time to grab lunch but it is better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you are well rested and have eaten a good breakfast. Providers always have unpredictable schedules. You have to come in with the understanding that they may be called to the hospital for a consult, an add-on patient may extend their morning, or a procedure may take longer than anticipated. I recall an experience in the orthopedic operating room watching an infected prosthetic joint procedure extend out from 4 to 8 hours. Needless to say, I definitely was not as prepared as I should have been.


7.  DO NOT OPEN ANY PERSONAL RECORDS: I’ll get straight to the point. This is illegal and can get you into a lot of trouble! Do not even open your own, a family member’s or a close friend’s chart. This is medical ethics 101 and would be a breach in confidentiality.


8.  ADD THIS TO YOUR CV: As with every relevant extracurricular or volunteer activity, keep records of what you have done. Keep notes on the day(s), the provider and specialty, type of patients you encountered, and procedures you watched or performed. Do not document any patient personal information such as name or medical record number. The experience will definitely be memorable and brought up in the future. You want to have accurate information.


9.  DO IT AGAIN: Every shadowing experience is different. You may have an enjoyable or horrible experience but do not simply make a judgment based on one visit. This is the great thing about medicine; there are so many specialties and personalities out there. You will never get bored investigating the different opportunities. Even within a specialty there are sub-specialties catering to providers with certain niches. You may shadow a general OB/Gyn provider and find that you are drawn to a fertility and reproduction case. At the end of your day you may want to ask your physician if they know a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist who may be willing to let you shadow.


10.  KEEP IN TOUCH: Providers you have shadowed serve as great mentors. It is important to keep in touch. Most will invest in students who show passion for the field of medicine and those truly making strives to enter the field. The more you reach out the more a good mentor will support you. There is no better source for a letter of recommendation than someone you shadowed and kept in touch with.

Congratulations to Dontrail! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hello, my name is Dontrail Durden. Located on the southeast coast of Florida, I was born and raised in a small town known as Fort Pierce. I’m currently serving in the Army reserve as a Patient Administration Specialist, attached to a combat support hospital. Along with my current military status, I’m also a 2nd yr premedical student at Jacksonville University, majoring in Biochemistry. Prior to embarking on my journey as a premedical student, I had the honor of serving 4yrs with the 10th Mountain Division based out of Fort Drum, NY. My active duty service with this distinguished unit included a successful tour to Afghanistan where I conducted numerous combat patrols and operations amongst many other critical tasks.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? Well, seeing that I truly believe every person I’ve had the pleasure of meeting has influenced my character in some way or another, I find it challenging to identify any one favorite. I will say, the most influential teacher I’ve had would actually be my high school guidance counselor. While in high school, I experienced a rapid coming of age that ultimately distracted me from putting in the effort required to excel in the classroom. In the midst of this, I went on to create chaos for myself academically over the course of my 4yrs in high school. Realizing my potential, my guidance counselor selflessly expressed a belief in me when the challenge to obtain a graduation eligible GPA in such a short amount of time outweighed the belief I had in myself. For this, I am forever grateful as it allowed me to take that next step in life. A step that I would later identify as the building block to my future endeavors.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? Although as a kid I was aware of the admiration I had for physicians, at that age, the “why” behind my endeavor was very broad and the underlying reason behind my passion was quite immature. It wasn’t until my 1st year of college and adolescence that I decided to actually commit to my dream of becoming a physician.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? Emergency Medicine

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? Attending the 2017 American Medical Student Association(AMSA), premedical festival! It was an opportunity to meet a very diverse group of knowledgeable premedical students from across the nation! The festival was also an opportunity to sit in on highly successful speakers, capable of providing me with the tools for success during the premedical process of my journey to medical school. The information provided allowed me to gain a better understanding of what it takes to further mold myself into that competitive applicant.

6. What is your favorite book? I’d have to say the novel, Weeping Under This Same Moon by Jana Laiz! It’s a story of hope, willpower, and overcoming adversity.

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

8. What do you like most about PreMed STAR? It gives premedical students an ability to build onto the foundation of their future career in medicine.

Top 5: Tips for Incorporating Studying into Your Daily Life

There never seems to be enough time in the day.  From class, to lab, the parties….who has time for studying anymore?  Time management tends to be one of the biggest challenges for college students, and if something has to be squeezed out of the schedule, often it is study time whether we realize it or not.  Here are my Top 5 Tips to help squeeze studying in throughout the day while not giving up your other activities.

  1. KNOW YOURSELF FIRST: What works for you may not work for the next student. Do you have a type A or type B personality? Some students thrive in a structured environment while others prefer a less regimented one. Figure out which one of these best fits you, and you will save yourself from a great deal of stress. Are you the type of person that eats the food on your plate one at a time or maybe even go as far as eating all of your food first before drinking? Or maybe you are more like me and like to take a bite of everything altogether? It may seem like a trivial matter, but if you try changing up your preference you may not enjoy your meal as much. The same goes with studying. Believe it or not, if you are studying correctly, it is actually possible to enjoy yourself. If you do fit the structured personality type you will probably get a lot more out of separating pleasure from fun. The next few points may not pertain so much to you. Whereas if you are more like me you may be okay studying in the middle of your daily activities but you will likely need a bit of discipline to make sure to fit it in there. If you are one of those who are able to mix things up then consider these fun ways to incorporate studying into your daily activity.


  1. WHILE AT THE GYM: This is an excellent time to listen to a lecture while running on the treadmill. I occasionally found it helpful to make audio recordings of myself reading questions or a book, particularly for classes that required memorization. I made these recordings very unique, emphasizing areas I had troubles with or felt were important for the test. You can throw in some mnemonics in there or even talk over some work-out music. I saved these recordings as MP3 files and downloaded them to my cell phone (or actually more like my mp3 player if not a CD or Walkman back in the day). The gym is also a good place for flash cards. Taking a buddy with you who asks questions and running laps for missed questions may serve as reinforcement tool.  Finally, for those of you who love basketball like I do, going over a couple of notes in between those rec center pick up games is a great idea.


  1. STUDY WHILE YOU WORK: Many premedical students take up a job but this can become a huge distraction. I strongly recommend that you choose a job that offers you a quiet environment allowing you to study. I always felt the ideal job would be working in the library. This fosters a quiet environment surrounded by other students who are studying and gives you access to tons of books and resources. Running into other students from your class may strike up beneficial conversations on helpful books and notes. It is much better to have one of these jobs than one you are rushing to leave so you can get home on time to study.


  1. STUDY ON THE GO: A road trip is another great time to pop in an audio recording and indulge in passive learning. In med school I often drove to my parent’s place for the weekend after a block was over. After enjoying the weekend I had to get my game face back on. On the way back to my place I found it helpful listening to a review audio disc from Kaplan or Goljan audio lectures. This was a great overview of what I was about to learn.


  1. PACK WELL: You never know what road blocks lay ahead in your day. How horrible it is to miss your bus/train, be stuck in an extremely long line, or waiting for a friend who is late. Time is extremely valuable and it seems to become more and more valuable as you progress through college into medical school. It doesn’t hurt to carry a study book or flash cards with you.  Consider carrying a long term study book in your car at all times. Maybe a MCAT study book for premed students. For med students you should always keep in handy the First Aid book. It should fix you right up. I always had a book-bag on me most places I went.


Unfortunately, I haven’t yet thought of any tips for studying while at a party, club or asleep (believe me the book under the pillow/ osmosis trick doesn’t work). That would be pretty strange anyway to say the least. You are on your own there. In conclusion, sneaking in study opportunities can be advantageous but it is important to still have a good balance in your life. Do not make the mistake of neglecting important people or areas in your life. Make time for worship, eat well, practice good hygiene, and please don’t forget to call your mom.

Written By Dr. Daniel

Image Credit: Pixabay

Congratulations to Auburn! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  My name is Auburn Skakle. I graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science (BS) focused in Biology and Psychology. Following graduation, I spent time preparing for the MCAT, obtaining licensure as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), working as a Certified Pharmacy Technician, volunteering as a youth soccer coach, and conducting patient interviews for a clinical drug study. Currently employed as a full-time EMT with Wake County EMS, I assist the people of Wake County and offer aid to medically underserved areas in both urban and rural settings of North Carolina. I really valu

e how emergency medicine’s universality enables me to care for individuals spanning across socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic spectrums.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? 
I find it difficult to choose a “favorite” teacher because in reflecting upon my past education, I realize that many of my professors have imparted valuable insight such as those taught by Dr. Hammer, my freshman English 101 professor, who introduced me to a new level of thinking by requiring his students to construct logical arguments. As a graduate level course, Behavioral Endocrinology, Dr. Burmeister improved my ability to comprehend and analyze scientific journal articles, thereby preparing me for the lifelong learning that a career in medicine entails. In this course, I also completed a research grant proposal for utilizing optogenetics to selectively stimulate specific hypothalamic neurons to gain further insight into the physiological underpinnings characterizing narcolepsy.


3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?
While no single circumstance led to my desire to become a physician, I was fortunate to see true health “care” practiced by my mother. As a pharmacist, her commitment to heal and compassionately affect her patients’ lives inspired me to hold myself to the same standards and values.
As a college freshman, I earned a spot on the Women’s Club Soccer team, despite acquiring a concussion during tryouts. However, I did not expect the medical repercussions that followed this concussion. The resulting migraines, vertigo, and nausea made the hospital atmosphere seem like home as the complexity of my symptoms required a diversity of treatment. Committed to the timeline and goals I set for myself, I continued to grapple with my symptoms until deciding to medically withdraw the spring semester of my sophomore year. With poor health impeding my academic success, I finally grasped the need to prioritize my health. I remember a neurologist trying to ease my frustrations, assuring me that, “six years from now you’ll be laughing about this!” I remember thinking how six years—not even having made it past my twentieth birthday—seemed like an eternity. I further wondered why my soccer history seemed so merciless, all-too-often leaving me bruised and battered. A heart murmur in elementary school, spinal fracture in middle school, scholarships lost due to a displaced tibia/fibula fracture in high school, and now a concussion. Yet, with the hardships came maturity and the realization that each injury furthered my passion and appreciation for medicine. My experience also furnished a sense of purpose to positively impact the lives of others. Even after eight years, my neurologist’s words still reverberate in my mind. Overcoming my challenges did not bring “laughter” per se, but provided invaluable insight for success as a future physician and taught me resilience and grit amidst adversity.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? 
I know my past experiences help shape my current vision; thus, I have an interest in the fields of neurology, emergency medicine, and pediatrics. I enjoy working with children and hope to integrate my experiences into my future career. I find it refreshing that children speak their mind without regard to others’ perceptions. Fueled by their energy, I feel I can be more creative in providing their care.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?
My employment as a full-time Emergency Medical Technician with Wake County EMS continues to fuel my motivations and commitment for wanting to become a physician. Interacting with a diverse patient population, I find myself learning something new with every patient. One of the neatest experiences I have had thus far surrounds the care I helped provide to a cardiac arrest patient. With many hours spent preparing for such circumstances, Wake County’s EMS protocol tends to cardiac arrest

patients using a “pit-crew” approach, which outlines specific roles for each emergency responder. For this patient, as the first-arriving EMS unit, with fire department personnel already on the scene having initiated chest compressions, I was tasked with managing the patient’s airway while my paramedic partner attached the defibrillation pads and monitored the patient’s cardiac rhythm. Some of my more specific responsibilities included inserting an airway management device and ventilating the patient. Responders from the second-arriving EMS unit oversaw appropriate medication administration, ensured high-quality compressions, and helped counsel the patient’s family. Our efforts eventually yielded success when our patient achieved a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). The “coolness” of this experience stems from the realization that when working together as a team, the impossible becomes possible.

6. What is your favorite book? 
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.
I value creativity and innovativeness. To nurture my creative impulses, I enjoy expressing myself artistically through painting, drawing, and crafting. Often requiring me to embrace a new vision, the process of giving physical form to thoughts and ideas balances my attention to detail with a broader perspective. I enjoy sharing my creative works with those who can appreciate different aspects of me. As it is important to me to give of myself to others, my artwork is a meaningful venue to make that happen.
Similarly, cooking also allows me to share my creative side with others. Coupled with a love for food, my creativity permeates into the kitchen through culinary treats such as Apple Roses (apple slices formed and baked into a rose) and Cake Pops decorated for special occasions.

8. What do you like most about PreMed STAR?  My favorite thing about PreMed STAR surrounds the camaraderie among students. Everyone is very supportive, and as a result, I have formed many new valuable relationships by socializing and networking through PreMed STAR. Also, I really enjoy reading the blog posts, which offer insight and advice regarding ways to better prepare myself for a future in medicine.

Confidence and Preparation

You wake up to find yourself in the surgical operating room.  The surgeon approaches you and catches you up to speed on how you got there.  Apparently, you were in a 3 motor vehicle collision, lost consciousness, and were then brought in to the nearest trauma center.  You are paralyzed from the waist down and need emergent spinal cord decompression or you’ll never walk again.  You look to the person in the white coat and ask, “Do you think you can fix me Doc?”  The surgeon replies, “Well, I’m not sure.  I’m not a very confident person, but I’ll give it a try.”  You reply “GET OUT OF HERE!!!”

Now change the scenario.  You are a premedical student taking various tests, preparing for the MCAT, and looking for leadership roles in various organizations.  Times get tough, but not as tough as an emergent spinal cord decompression.  You doubt yourself.  You question whether or not Medicine is for you.  Pause and take a moment to answer the question, “Can you do this doc?”

The nemesis to many premedical students is confidence.  Too often we fail to believe in ourselves and then become upset when others don’t believe in us either.  We walk into test rooms with our heads down and submit our Medical School applications as if we just bought a lottery ticket.  This issue is rampant in the premed community and before it can be rectified, it must be recognized.

Perhaps the most important concept in Medicine is to “Treat the underlying problem”.  There is little use in giving only Tylenol to a patient with fever and a horrible bacterial pneumonia.  The pneumonia is the true problem that needs to be addressed.  So what is the underlying problem in lack of confidence?  It is lack of preparation!  You can’t, or at least you shouldn’t  walk into a test without having studied and feeling confident.  That’s just silly.  Confidence is based in preparation!  The reason Michael Jordan could take the game winning shots is because he prepared himself via practice.  The reason Dr. Ben Carson is confident when he performs Brain surgery is because he has done thousands in preparation for the next one.

So, I urge premeds to think in a positive light and be confident!  In other words, I urge you to prepare for every task.  Confidence and Preparation; Go together like a horse and carriage (for all the 1990s and 2000s babies, that is a reference to the TV show Married With Children).  Preparation begets confidence!  It is the remedy for this rampant problem in our community.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Congratulations to Ananna! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  I was born in Bangladesh. I came to America in 2011. I graduated from SUNY Binghamton this year with a major in Integrative Neuroscience. I am passionate about education, teaching and physical and mental health. When I was in college, I was greatly involved in many extracurricular activities, including research, teaching and tutoring, internships, leadership activities and volunteering. I love mentoring. As a pre-health peer advisor, I mentored many students about classes, research and volunteering opportunities and career planning. Some of these students kept in touch with me even after my graduation and, I continue to help them with their questions.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? My favorite teacher in school was Dr. Morrissey. I took General Psychology, Statistical Analysis and Design and Research Methods with him. Dr. Morrissey taught me everything about psychology, from Pavlov’s dogs to attachment theory. In class, I would always think, “how does he know everything?” I would often go to his office for advice related to my family and friends. He encouraged me to apply for research and study hard for my MCAT. He also provided me emotional support when I needed it and wrote me 10+ letters of recommendation for various programs and scholarships.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  My interest in medicine sparked from dealing with an illness in my family when I was a kid. Since then, I realized how a person’s home and community can affect their health. When I came to the US, I explored my medical interest in this new country by immersing myself in medical related activities. I was selected as one of five volunteers at the NYU Langone Medical Center where I greeted patients and showed them directions to the hospital buildings. I also worked at the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center that summer. My hospital experiences showed me how I love working with the underserved population. The amount of time and energy that is needed to provide the best healthcare plan for this population is something I am excited to invest myself in. I have heard many stories from my patients about the various socio-economic factors that led them to health issues, such as substance abuse and becoming an alcoholic. I would like to serve as a resource for these types of people. As a future physician, I will implement health programs in underserved communities to promote awareness of physical and mental health in those communities. I will also focus on the preventive aspect of medicine in my practice. Finally, I want to build a free hospital in Bangladesh when I am able to do so.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? I have recently been accepted to medical school and since then, I have been watching many Youtube videos of medical students to learn about their experiences in medical school. I am open to explore my interests and strengths in all the specialties. However, currently, I am interested in psychiatry and neurology along with nephrology which I researched for two years in college.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? My coolest experience so far on my premedical journey is my research on kidney disease. I was a fellow for the Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) program and I performed my research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. As a fellow, I was able to use my knowledge from the classroom to discover a biomarker for acute kidney injury. I learned lab techniques, such as immunohistochemistry, western blot and PCR, shadowed my mentor at the Montefiore Children’s Hospital, attended classes where she taught medical students, went to lab meetings and participated in various conferences. After my research, I presented my oral and poster presentations at Einstein, the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Maryland and Experimental Biology Conferences 2016 and 2017 in San Diego and Chicago respectively. My research abstract was published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) journal. This year, I was part of this fellowship for the second time and performed my research on preeclampsia with the same researcher. I was able to have the same “cool” experience once again and presented my new research at Einstein and the NIH.

6. What is your favorite book?  My favorite book is Brick Lane by Monica Ali. This book is about a Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen who gets married off to a much older man in Brick Lane, London. One aspect of the book focuses on how Nazneen does not have any independence in her household because all the family decisions are made by her husband. In the end, Nazneen regains her independence by starting her own sowing business.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. One thing about me that most people do not know is how cultural I am. When I am at home, I always listen to Bengali music, watch Bengali movies and shows and sometimes, read Bengali blogs and articles. My family and I attend lunch or dinner parties with my relatives almost every month. We celebrate Eid, Bengali new year, mother’s day, birthdays, etc.

8. What do you like most about PreMed STAR? I like the supportive environment of PreMed STAR the most. Whenever someone needs help with personal statements, understanding a concept or applying to a program, there is always someone who is there to help him or her. When I applied to medical school, I made a post asking for help to review my personal statement. One student reached out to me and gave me tips on improving it. Support like this will keep this pre-med community move forward and help us achieve our dreams!

Top 10 Things to Calm Your Nerves Before Exams

1. Plan Ahead: The worst thing you can possibly do is to not show up for your exam or getting there late. Make sure you have exams penciled into your calendar from the first day you get your syllabus. Being premed you probably have a busy schedule so you don’t want any unexpected conflicts or lapses in memory to disrupt your exams.

2. Speak with Your Professor: Take advantage of office hours. Your professors will direct you in the right path. Of course you don’t want to bug your professor so make sure you go there with specific questions in mind.

3. Get Active: Physical activity is just as good for the mind as it is the body. Put away the books and audio recordings and go for a walk or nice game of tennis or basketball. Don’t let the studying turn you into a stiff robot… get up and move.

4. Eat Well: Healthy eating will give your body the proper nutrients and energy to keep it going and keep you from getting sick. Most students don’t find the time to cook during midterms but remember, this is the best time to use the “mama I’m starving over here” pity card. There is nothing like good home cooked meals or care package to prepare you for an exam. Just don’t experiment with foods before the big exam or else you may have a rough test.

5. Jam Out: Relax your mind and let the music move you. Music is very useful in that it ingrains memories into your head. Certain songs remind us of specific moments in our lives whether the memories are wanted or unwanted. Some can listen to soft music in the background (instrumentals or classical) and some need total silence. Regardless, taking a break to jam out is always a good thing.

6. Laugh Out Loud: Give yourself 10 minutes for a little laugh session but don’t get too carried away. Read some jokes or make some jokes about what you have been studying. Youtube clips are great escapes but very easy to get addicted to.

7. Hang Out with Friends: It may be a great escape if you spend some time with others who are not in the same classes but be careful as they may keep you away from your books too long. It’s good to spend some time with other premeds in your classes as well so you can share study experiences briefly before having fun. Again, time yourself.

8. Catch Some ZZZZs: Sleep well. There is no need in studying when you are sleep deprived and not retaining the material. It is all about the quality of your studies rather than the quantity. You will not get a reward or pity for studying 20 hours a day if you don’t make the grade. Sleep well and be efficient with the remaining 16hrs of the day.

9. Get Help: A wise person seeks counseling when needed. Don’t play superman or superwoman, otherwise the exam will be your kryptonite. If you are struggling with your studies speak to your professor, a mentor, or a school counselor early. It is better that your weaknesses are addressed or noted prior to the exam.

10. Pray: Publically, meditation is promoted but I am a personal fan of prayer. Prayer has become taboo in classes and many public places but from my personal experience a faithful prayer (specifically for God’s will and strength in my studies) along with hard work goes a long way.

Congratulations to Ilemona! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. My name is Ilemona Ameadaji, I am a junior at UC Berkeley double-majoring Integrative biology and Anthropology. I am also an international student – I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to Berkeley for college. Although this change was a little daunting at first, I am really glad that I got to experience it, as I have learned a lot about myself in the process. I came to college planning to learn only science and nothing else, and now I am so glad that did not happen. Science is what I have always been most passionate about, but now I know that I also love music, theatre, culture history, social justice and literature (and yes, I do read for fun!). Most of all, I have learned that I just love learning, and I hope that throughout my life’s journey, I never stop learning.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? I am currently taking a medical ethnobotany class taught by Dr. Thomas Carlson. His research combines allopathic medicine and plant biology with cultural anthropology and ethnography to highlight how different cultures around the world interact with and sustain their local flora in order to preserve and promote health. His work not only spotlights safer, effective and more affordable ethnobotanical treatments but it also debunks the belief that societies of color around the world have no civilization, science or technology that is indigenous to them.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? I never pictured myself as a doctor until my senior year of high school. I had thought that I would be a lab scientist and stick to research because I didn’t think I had the compassion or bedside manner to be a doctor. That year, I lost a family member who I loved dearly and I started to think about all of the reasons why I wanted to be a scientist. I thought I could solve the world’s problems – that if I was on the cutting edge of research I could cure the incurable diseases and provide answers to the questions that had plagued the world for centuries. All of this is good, and it is all still true, but it all came down to wanting to take away pain. It turns out, I’m actually a total softy. I want to be a doctor because I want to take care of people, I want to help make them well, whole and happy.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? I am currently focusing on skeletal biology. My main interests are osteology, orthopedics, genetics and neonatal medicine, however I am also interested in public health and medical anthropology.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? This semester, I started working as a theme program assistant for the Women in Science and Engineering theme program at Berkeley. So far, it has already been my most exciting and rewarding experience yet. The opportunity to mentor young women who are pre-meds and STEM majors as they navigate through their first year of college has been amazing. I feel that I have gained from them, twice as much as I have given. Everyday I learn something new about their cultures, backgrounds and the influences that shaped them into the strong, intelligent and passionate women that they are today. As a community, we teach and learn from one another, support one another, and inspire one another. Being around them gives me hope and reminds me that I am not alone – we are all working together, each one of us, to become someone who makes a difference in other peoples lives.

6. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The book describes the lives of a young Nigerian couple as they take different paths in search of a better future and explores how their intersecting identities play out in both Nigerian and Western societies.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. One thing about me that most people don’t know is that I love art. Drawing and painting have always been my outlet, the way that I find peace and feel centered. In the first two years of college I neglected this part of myself because I felt that I was too busy for it, but recently I learned the importance of self-care. This summer, I rediscovered my love for art and started working on a portfolio. I realized that my paintings are reflections of who I am and hopefully someday I’ll get to share them with others.

8. What do you like most about PreMed StAR? I love that it brings together a very diverse group of people from different backgrounds and communities who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to meet and learn from each other.

My Journey As a Re-Applicant

After 3 application cycles, I cannot stress enough how good it feels to finally have an acceptance into medical school! I first applied in 2008, and you can definitely see the growth in my applications from then and now. The first time I applied, I could not afford to apply to many schools, and I was lucky enough to receive an AACOMAS fee waiver. This allows for an individual to apply to three osteopathic schools for free, so I picked my three very carefully and hoped for the best. I have no idea what I was thinking applying at the time though because there was nothing notable about my application. While I did have shadowing experience and a letter of recommendation from an osteopathic physician, I had very little extracurricular activities, research, or volunteering experiences mentioned in my application. I think I may have even mentioned job experiences and extracurricular activities from high school. On top of that, my MCAT score was only a 21 and I had a GPA that was below a 2.5. I received rejections from all three schools around May of that year, but due to not passing a biochemistry class that was only offered once a year and having to extend my graduation date, I would not have been able to attend anyway. Needless to say, I was still very upset and not quite sure about my future.

After graduating in the fall of 2009, I took a job working full-time in a somewhat medically-related research field and I also worked on building my resume. By the time 2011 came around, I felt that I was ready to re-apply to medical school. This time, I applied to three allopathic schools and they were all HBCUs. I also re-took the MCAT, but my score literally only increased by one point. I think the only noteworthy thing about my application was that I included all of my experiences, and I completely re-vamped my personal statement to really reflect me. Unfortunately, I was also rejected this cycle without any interviews. Looking back, I can say that my main problems that cycle were that: I did not apply broadly, I took the August MCAT, I applied somewhat late, and I still had not proved to the schools that I could handle a heavy course load and succeed.

Fast-forward to 2013, and this time I was going all in. On top of all the extracurricular activities noted from my previous years, I also upped my shadowing experiences, started volunteering every week at my local hospital, and now had research publications under my belt. By the grace of God I was accepted into a graduate program in the summer of 2012, and I was doing better than I had ever done in my academic career. This was a risk in itself because sometimes graduate courses are not considered in the same fashion as post baccalaureate classes, but I wanted an extra degree to fall back on just in case this application cycle did not work out as well. My graduate classes were not easy either and I think taking classes like chemical thermodynamics, pharmacology, and toxicology really raised some heads. I re-took the MCAT twice this year (yes, that makes a total of four times), but my scores still remain low with a 20 and then a 21. I also applied very broadly within two weeks of the application cycle opening, and I submitted all of my secondary applications within two weeks of receiving them. This cycle, I have applied to 26 schools total, and these include both allopathic and osteopathic schools. As of today, I have 1 acceptance, 2 holds, 13 rejections (plus 2 never sent a secondary), I withdrew from two, and I am complete at the others and waiting. I interviewed and was accepted to my first choice school, so I can say confidently and happily that the application cycle is over for me. I have chosen not to withdraw from the other schools that I am still waiting to hear from because I would like to see where this goes.

I am living proof that anything is possible despite any shortcomings that you may think you have, and my advice to any re-applicants is to not give up and keep pushing for what you want. If you cannot see yourself doing anything else in life, then don’t be afraid to take risks and go for it. You’ll be happy you did.


Written By Danielle Ward

Read more of Danielle’s blogs at Aspiring Minority Doctor

Image Credit: Pixabay

Congratulations to Monica! Premed of the Week!

1.Tell us a little bit about yourself.  I’m 22 years old and pursing a career in medicine, hoping to serve as a physician in areas with underserved populations. I’m currently a Master’s student at Eastern Mennonite University, completing a Master’s in Biomedicine program.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? My favorite teacher in school had to be my high school AP bio teacher. This teacher was always delighted when we asked questions in class. She would direct us to news articles that dealt with things we were learning in class. It showed just how alive and vibrant biology is. She was always willing to stay behind after school to have discussions about a variety of things, from research implications to healthcare policies.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  Growing up in Egypt, I was able to see firsthand the negative impact a lack of access to healthcare had on certain populations. Even something as simple as a cold, without access to medical guidance, could lead to a severe fever that then became fatal. Seeing these kinds of easily preventable cases occur stirred within me a passion to make a difference. Years later, I still have this zeal to become a physician, serving populations such as the one I observed in Egypt, where medical access is lacking.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? My interests in medicine are still very varied. I love serving children skewing me towards pediatric medicine. However I also am drawn to the fast paced nature of Emergency medicine, and the wide-ranging cases of patients that an ED doctor is able to serve.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? One of the coolest experiences I’ve had was while volunteering at a transitional care hospital. During this time, I would often go into patients rooms and talk with them about different things, from how they were feeling that day to the World Series. One patient, Jeffery, had been in the hospital for a few months. He was always ready to talk and share with me his life experiences. We ended up forming a genuine friendship and till this day check in with each other. Being able to see how his day always became just a little bit brighter through some conversation is still one of the coolest experiences I look back on. It reminds me constantly why I want to be a physician, connecting with and helping people in their most vulnerable times.

6. What is your favorite book? This changes from season to season as I read more and more. Right now my favorite book is “The Way Of The Pilgrim”

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  I love writing. As I’m studying I often like to take breaks and work on different pieces of writing that I’ve started. I hope to one day publish a novel.

8. What do you like most about PreMed STAR?  I value that PreMed STAR offers a platform for premeds to encourage each other and most-importantly build a network. For me, not only does networking build a door through which opportunities may come, but it also becomes a learning tool where we as pre-meds may share guidance, study tips, and other relevant information with one another.


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