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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:

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.

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!


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