Super Star Blogs!

Congratulations to Jamelah! Premed of the Week

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  As a non-traditional student my mantra continues to be ” A dream deferred is not dead!”. As long as I continue to accomplish at least one thing per day to propel me on my pre-med journey to medical school, I will succeed in my goal. I love learning and I’m a big fan of MOOCs. I complete at least one MOOC per month to help expanding and retain my knowledge. I currently hold a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Science and a Master of Public Health degree. I graduated from my undergraduate institution with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. I also love volunteering at my church where I have the opportunity to interact with diverse populations. I recently completed training as a Behavioral Health Lay Counselor. In addition to my academic and volunteering activities, I’m also a wife to my college sweetheart and a mother to our children. My family is my biggest support system and they have kept me encouraged on my pre-med journey.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teacher is my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Ruffin. She was very strict. I didn’t appreciate it at the time but the manner in which she taught and interacted with her students proved her desire to see her students reach their full academic potential.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  I first decided I wanted to become a doctor after being hospitalized as a child. The way in which my pediatrician interacted with me and seeing them working in that setting stuck with me.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  I am interested in practicing Family Medicine.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  The coolest experience I’ve had so far on my pre-med journey was observing cadaver preparations for incoming medical students. It was so surreal to see inside the human body.

6. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is also my life manual, the Holy Bible. It keeps me encourage and grounded to live a life of significance and service to my community.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  Most people don’t know that I can sing and I love to dance. I was a part of a dance group when I was younger. I love music and you can find every genre of music in my music library.

Preparing For Your First Year of Medical School

You’ve put in the work, went through a tedious application cycle, received an acceptance, and now you’re finally about to start your first year of medical school. Congrats!  It’s completely natural to be a bit anxious about embarking on a new step on your journey to becoming a physician, and it’s pretty common to be confused about where to start. Just know that you are not alone, and eventually everything will become second nature. It never hurts to have a little guidance along the way though, so here are a few tips to help maximize your transition from pre-medical student to medical student.

The Summer Before Medical School: The summer before medical school is pretty much the last time you’ll have to truly relax without worrying about studying or other stresses involved with medical school, so take advantage of it. Travel, catch up on sleep, try new foods, visit local places you’ve never had time for, etc. Once the first year “fire hose” hits you, you’ll definitely wish you had taken the time to relax. Some students also think pre-studying will help them, but to be honest, it will only help for maybe the first two weeks of classes. The information presented will not be an issue, but rather the massive amounts of information presented will be hard for some to adjust to. It won’t matter if you already have a PhD or you’re fresh out of college, everyone will have to adjust to medical school, so no need to stress out about it before it even starts.

Start getting organized: Making it through the first year of medical school involves developing good organizational and time management skills. It never hurts to invest in a large white board, and having some type of scheduler, whether it be a planner or an electronic resource can help as well. This will help make sure you always stay on top of things. It also might help to write down a list of goals for the year along with some motivational phrases to help get you through the rough times.

Wait Before Making Large Purchases: It can be tempting to go out and buy all the medical equipment or books listed on the syllabus, but it’s best to wait it out. The class above you might already have a drive that has all the books you need in electronic form, or you might find out later on that you didn’t actually need that one piece of equipment you spent $700 on. It’s best to just wait on the advice from the upperclassmen. There is no such thing as too many highlighters, pens, pencils, etc., so feel free to go crazy on the small stuff.

Go to Orientation events: Most schools have off-campus orientation events the week before classes start, and this will give you a chance to interact with your new classmates informally and have some fun. If you’re new to the area and don’t know anyone, this can be a great way to make some new friends. And even if you’re not the most social person, it is still a good idea to attend at least one or two orientation events so that you can get an idea of who you’ll be spending at least the next two years of your life with sitting in a classroom all day.

Keep an open mind: Your first year of medical school will definitely be an experience unlike any other you’ve had in your life, so the best advice for getting ready is to keep an open mind. As with anything in life, your education will be what you make of it, so stay positive, enjoy the ride, and take it all one day at a time.



Written By: Danielle Ward

Read More of Danielle’s blogs at:

How I Got Straight As My Last 2 Years of University

I have met many fellow premeds on my journey through classes, extracurricular activities, and various online networks. Just the other day, I was introduced to a girl who is nervous to begin her junior year this fall. She expressed her deep concern about “only having a 3.5 GPA,” feeing uncertain that she could bring it up before application time. Her worries resonated with me as I remember having a nearly identical uneasiness in the middle of my own undergraduate education.

As premeds, we all too often have the destructive tendency to base our chances with medical schools too heavily on our GPAs. Luckily for many, these applications are holistic processes- your GPA alone does not define how well you’ll do in medical school or how successful a physician you’ll be. An impressive GPA alone does not guarantee admittance, but it is still an important component of an application. A GPA below the cut is enough to keep certain opportunities out of reach. For these reasons, I thought I’d share with you how I was able to get straight As my last two and a half years of college.     

Preparation is Key

This one is a lot easier said than done. Go into lecture prepared. Don’t let lecture be the first time you’re seeing the material. If your professor assigns pre-lecture reading, strive to complete all of it before going to class. At the very least, read through the lecture slides if they’re posted ahead of time. Make it a priority. Between a full course load, extracurricular activities, and other commitments, I know just how difficult it is to find the time to prepare for class work that hasn’t even been covered by your professor yet. But trust me, investing a little bit of time every day will pay off come test day. By thinking ahead and preparing for what’s to come, you’ll understand and retain more of the material covered in class. Once I learned to be more efficient and effective in managing my pre-lecture study time, I saw a huge payoff in my grades. As odd as it sounds, I no longer had to study for exams. Instead of cramming for hours before tests to teach myself the material, all I had to do was review and practice. The bulk of my efforts had already been done. A little bit of prep can go a long way in improving your performance and comprehension, while lowering your overall stress.     

Why > What 

General chemistry was easily the subject I struggled with most in undergrad. I remember getting so frustrated while studying. I focused most of my attention on finding patterns on which equations to use for which question types. Oh boy, don’t even ask me about some of my quiz/midterm grades. I don’t think I realized what a superficial way that was to approach “learning” until I began peer tutoring for other subjects. Higher education courses put much more emphasis on how to get to an answer rather than whether or not you know it. Don’t get me wrong, knowing details is important, but the more challenging and significant understanding comes from knowing how fundamental concepts interconnect. I’m talking inference and application, rather than factual recall alone. When you review, think critically about the material. I grew a lot throughout my undergraduate education, but I think my most memorable lessons came from learning how to think rather than what to think.

Get involved  

Learning is an active process so the way you study and review should be too. I can’t tell you how many times I used to lay in bed rereading my notes to prepare for an upcoming quiz or exam. We tend to think that if it was printed on a powerpoint slide then it must be fair game…everything else is irrelevant for getting a good grade. Wrong. I learned that knowing all of the details front to back is not sufficient to master the material. Engage with it. Try to get away from rereading your textbook or watching a lecture podcast a second time- those are passive ways of reviewing the information. Instead, switch up your routine with some more creative study methods. About halfway through college I ditched the lined paper, left my computer at home, and took all of my notes on blank printer paper. I was able to manipulate the material to be more understandable and memorable to me. Start with a blank slate and build from there. Personalize your notes to be organized in a way that makes sense to you: draw concept maps, make diagrams, color code.

My last piece of advice is don’t just think, talk. Start up a discussion with some of your classmates. Be the type of student who actively participates in office hours. If you’re doing office hours right, you should already have reviewed your notes and identified which concepts you need a little extra help with. Most importantly, show up with specific questions. It’s okay not to know all of the answers, after all, you are taking the course to learn something new. Nothing is more exciting to tutors and professors than seeing students who want to work towards the answers rather than just being handed them.     

I hope this advice finds you well if you’re looking for ways to give your academic performance a boost. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to guarantee you’ll get that A you want. These are just the three major changes I made that led to significant improvement in my education and performance. Keep working hard and your efforts will begin to pay off. Please feel free to leave comments below sharing your own strategies towards achieving academic success.   

Congratulations to Deniko! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  I am a biology, pre-medical undergraduate at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since I have been enrolled at Jackson State University, I had the privilege to be part of the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society where I serve as Mr. Chi Alpha Epsilon for the upcoming school year, and I am also part of Jackson State University Sports Medicine Team or in other words I have the benefit of working and learning from the training staff at school.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teacher is my Biology Professor, Dr. Anita K. Patlolla. From the beginning you could see how much she love and passion she has for teaching the next generation of science/health professionals. I loved her personality and teaching style so much I took her twice for General Biology I & II. I can honestly say there are not many professors out there that want to see you accomplish your goals in life but she does and that’s why she is hard on me and the rest of her students because she knows that we can do the work, we just have to be willing to put in the work. As for me, she continues to be there for me. For example, I can come to her office at any time to ask her questions or simply have a conversation with her about life in general. I can ask her if she could write me a recommendation letter at anytime. Dr. Anita K. Patlolla is a great professor, mentor, and human being.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? The day I lost my grandfather to cancer was the day I devoted myself to become a doctor, specifically a surgeon because I will have the opportunity to cure or manage diseases. A surgeon save lives and this is what I hope to do for people. As my career progresses, I would like to open my own free medical clinics, which will be named after my grandfather, “John Montgomery Memorial Clinic” in Jackson, Tennessee and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In addition, being a doctor will not only allow me to change my patients lives but impact the lives in my community. Born and raised in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I grew up with gun violence, single parent homes, and children with no ambition or dreams in life. I would like to use my career as a platform to connect with at risk youth and help them to have a healthy positive relationships with successful men. I want to serve as a role model to young African Americans, particularly males, to show them how to advocate for themselves and not be a part of the system.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  Since I decided to go down the medical route I knew from the start that I was interested in surgery. Therefore I would like to become either a cardiovascular surgeon, neurosurgeon, or plastic surgeon.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  The coolest experience I had so far in my premedical journey is being part of the Summer Health Profession Education Program at Howard University this past summer which I had the opportunity to meet and greet with a wide range of healthcare professionals such as the staff from Howard University School of Medicine and Dentistry. Furthermore, I had the priviledge to meet with people from the The Association of American Medical Colleges and National Institute of Health. In addition, I had the opportunity to conduct research in the W. Montague Cobb Research Lab which allowed me to write a Biohistory by using human remains. However, the best part of being part of this program was being surrounded by likeminded people who shares the same passion and dream as me for wanting to become a doctor and help serve the underserved communities.

6. What is your favorite book?  My favorite book has to be “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine” by Dr. Damon Tweedy.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.   I love to write short stories and poetry from time to time. Also, I love to lip sing.

Congratulations to Caitland! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  My name is Caitland and I am a junior in college. I am majoring in public health with an emphasis on health promotion and minoring in communication disorders with a pre-med focus. I come from a family of healthcare professionals and have always had an innate love for medicine, innovation and science.

Outside of medicine, I am your typical girly-girl. I love all things beauty and fashion related which I hope one day, I can take those passions and implement them into my practice as a physician. I recently created my own personal blog that details a variety of things from lifestyle, beauty, fashion, travel and of course, my journey towards medical school.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  I met my favorite teacher during my freshmen year of college. Dr. Alicia Battle has hands down been one of the most incredible and influential people that I have ever met. She has helped me in ways that goes way beyond a classroom. Dr. Battle has allowed me to explore my interests in medicine and to major in something that I am actually interested in learning about. She has welcomed me with open arms and has given me so many different opportunities. Her passion for what she does is infectious and radiates onto those around her.

Although not a typical “teacher”, I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Ned Laff. I consider him to be my own personal teacher when it comes to my medical school journey. Dr. Laff has impacted my life probably more than any other teacher I’ve had, alongside Dr. Battle. Coincidentally, I met Dr. Laff through Dr. Battle last fall and I could not be more thankful for that first meeting. He has taught me so much when it comes to the medical school application process or the “game” as he calls it. He has also given me so many great opportunities that helped solidify my dream to become a doctor. I am grateful to have two of the best mentors in the entire world.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  For me, it wasn’t a clear “ah ha” moment that made me decide to be a doctor. It was an accumulation of different things that has occurred during my lifetime that solidified my decision to become a physician.

I grew up in a family of medical professionals and that is where my initial interest in science/medicine came from. Growing up my mom worked in the hospital as a rehab nurse but has since then become the director of nursing for an assisted living community. My dad worked in the emergency room for most of my childhood but he is also a part of a forward surgical team in the US Army that has deployed to Afghanistan twice and traveled all over the world. He also works for Flight for Life as a flight nurse. I grew up hearing stories that can’t be heard anywhere else and it really stuck with me throughout the years.

I also dealt with a lot of different injuries from being a gymnast my entire life and then moving onto cheerleading in high school. I was seen by different doctors for injuries and it was amazing how they could “fix” me. I’ve also had the opportunity to volunteer at a community health clinic that provides healthcare to low income, uninsured individuals and families at no cost. That experience really opened my eyes to a side of healthcare that I did not know existed.

That final moment that really solidified my dreams to become a physician happened not too long ago. I started working in the emergency room as a medical scribe which allows me to work alongside physicians. I am able to be in the room with the doctor when he/she goes to see a patient. It has allowed me to see things that I have only heard in stories and it is so different when you see these things for yourself. That first day working in the emergency room is an experience that I can’t even describe. I don’t think there is just one reason for wanting to become a doctor. For me, It is for every reason.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  As of now, I am really interested in reconstruction/plastic surgery, trauma surgery and dermatology. I know this may change as I go into medical school so I am keeping an open mind. I believe that no matter what specialty I get into that I will still be making a difference in people’s lives.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  Thus far my coolest experience on my premedical journey has to be working in the emergency room as a medical scribe. I get to work alongside physicians almost everyday in a clinical setting and see that patient-physician interaction. I also get to complete physicians charting which allows me to get familiar with different terminology, medications, orders and diagnosis. I’m able to see why the physician made the decision that they made and how it is going to help the patient. It is also cool because I’m learning so much outside of what my job entails. Just by listening to the physicians and nurses talk has taught me so much outside of the cases that we see. It has hands down been one of the best experiences in my entire life.

6. What is your favorite book?  My favorite book is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  I love giving back and helping those that are in need. Through volunteering, donating blood or even just spreading my knowledge on things I have learned- I love it all. Outside of becoming a doctor, I hope to complete as many medical mission trips that I can. I think it is so important to provide access to healthcare in underserved communities around the world. Helping to provide health, wellness and quality of life with those populations that are in need. 

A Day in The Life of an Intensivist

The very first day of my problem based course in medical school, our Dean of Medical Education went around the table and guessed what each of us would end up doing for the remainder of our medical careers. When he got to me, he said, “Dale, you’ll be a critical care intensivist.” I smiled in agreement although I had absolutely no idea what that was. 11 years later, as a practicing Pulmonary & Critical Care Intensivist, I know exactly what that is. Dr. Hosakawa was right.

During my residency training, I was determined to focus my career on things pertaining to business and entrepreneurship within medicine. I had applied to and was accepted into a Health Service Research Fellowship and was one step away from matriculating into one of the nation’s best MBA programs. Then I did my ICU rotation. Where I trained, the ICU was a beast to deal with. Q3 call (i.e. every 3rd night we stayed in the ICU for a 30 hour shift) with some of the world’s most complicated medical patients. The loud beeps, oddly shaped machines, and unconscious patients were enough to give me nightmares. But the rush of the code, the gratification of revival, and the smile on a patient’s face were more than enough to give me pleasant dreams. After seven straight weeks of q3 call in the ICU, the decision had been made. I’d go on to do my pulmonary & critical care fellowship while at the same time, working to bring my entrepreneurial visions to fruition (but that’s a story for another time).

When my doctor hat is on, my greatest joy comes from being in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). There’s an understanding that the “buck stops here.” When everyone else has done what they can for the patient, if things aren’t going well, that patient will likely end up in the ICU. Everyone looks to you, and if you and your team can’t figure it out….

My typical ICU day begins at 6am. That’s when I wake up 😉 (not when I get to work). By 6:50am I’m on the road and at work around 7:30am. Some people would say that’s a long car ride, but it’s just time for personal growth as I listen to tons of audiobooks in attempt to be my very best. From 7:30am to 8am, I do a cursory review of the patients in the ICU to make sure there were no major issues overnight or anything that needs to be handled immediately (e.g. actively dying patient). Then at 8am, the games begin.

One of the things I love most about my job is I get to teach residents, fellows, and medical students. I also allow premeds to shadow (so if you’re in the Dallas area send me a message on PreMed StAR). Mornings rounds begin at 8am as the team gathers around a large table. Typically, the post-call resident (the one who worked overnight taking care of patients) then presents their patients. We get all sorts of things in the ICU. Heart attacks, ILD flares (somebody look that up and post a comment/reply to this blog explaining what it is to everyone), pulmonary embolisms, septic shock, etc. It’s really exciting to sit down at that table and have no idea what the resident is going to tell me. It’s almost like playing detective.

We typically do our sit-down rounds from 8am to around 9am. This is when we hear the case presentations of the new patients, look at labs, EKG, X-Rays, and all other supporting data that helps of take care of our patients. It’s an ideal time to do short lectures/chalk talks to teach the new physicians various pearls in caring for critical patients. Often times we teach in the form of “pimping”. No we’re not putting them out on a corner. Pimping is a method of teaching in which we choose a trainee and ask them question after question after question. When intense enough it’ll make anyone sweat. Personally, I’m not much of a “pimp” myself because I remember the anxiety that comes along with the string of questions, but it is an effective way to teach. Trust me, when you’re pimped in front of your peers, you’ll remember the answers to the questions you missed and read up ahead of time to make sure you’re ready for the next session. However, there are plenty of other effective methods that can be used to teach.

From 9am to about 11am, we do our walk rounds. During this time, we get up and walk through the ICU. Before we enter each patient’s room, the resident presents the events that occurred overnight. We then look over vital signs, consultant notes and ask the nursing staff if there are things they need us to know or orders we need to write for them. Next, we enter the patient room to examine them, look over the various life support machines (e.g. ventilator, dialysis machine, etc.), and ensure the IV medications are appropriate. Once walk rounds are over, the trainees usually do any procedures we need done and if they need any extra assistance, I’m there to help. The rest of the day is spent putting out fires (e.g. code blues, respiratory codes), writing notes, and doing more teaching.

There are few things I enjoy more than serving critically ill patients. The life of a physician is wonderful and once you find the perfect field for you, there is plenty of joy to be found. Perhaps next time I’ll share my passion for entrepreneurship in a blog.

My question to you this week is; What field of medicine are you interested in and why? Post your comments below so others can learn more about you!  

Congratulations to Jonathan! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.   I am entering my senior year as a full time student at the University of St. Thomas where I will be receiving a degree in Biology under the pre-medical program. Like myself, everyone who pursues a career in medicine has a unique story about how they achieved their dream. The hardships and the lows are what motivate me in this competitive field. From having teachers laugh in front of me when discussing my goals, to not being given a chance due to my speech impediment when I was younger or because of my background. This causes the release of adrenaline to prove many wrong and is one of my motivations to not quit on this enduring journey to becoming a physician.

In addition to the educational side, I am an avid photographer and heavily involved in fitness. I love to lift weights, play basketball while training and educating friends and clients about living a healthier life, without entirely giving up all the delicious food and desserts.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teacher would have to be a tie because they both have helped my so much in my pre-medical journey. They are Dr. Amin and Dr. Ribes. They both have the heart to elevate students to their potential and assist the student in accomplishing their goals. Dr. Amin would be harsh and criticize you to the point where you are depressed and want to drop out of the university and find another career path. But when he is done he will make a plan for the student can improve and grow as an individual. For Dr. Ribes, he also helped with making a plan for the student to succeed and will give advice that is best for the student, not from the eyes of the professor, but as a father and someone who has witnessed the same pre-med to medical school journey time and time again.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?   Becoming a physician was just a thought in high school because I was always fascinated with how the body works. While I lift weights and especially when I do powerlifting, I think about what is causing the lactic acid buildup the next day after a workout? Or how much rest is really necessary between sets for my muscles to get sufficient oxygen to have peak performance? While in college, my reasoning changed a bit. Seeing that my culture is underrepresented in the medical field, I want to be a role model, and more importantly a voice for the younger generation, to end the cycle of hispanics dropping out of high school and working jobs that cannot maintain a healthy family.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  Since I currently work in the emergency department as a scribe, it is a toss up between emergency medicine and family medicine. But I do plan on undergoing a fellowship in sports medicine to work with athletes and sports related injuries and prevention.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  Besides the random and crazy stories from my time in the emergency department, the coolest, or most eye-opening experience as a pre-medical student was when I volunteered at HOPE Clinic. This non-profit clinic is run on volunteers and is huge on nondiscrimination, making people of all shapes and color welcome; they offer around 15 different languages as all the employees speak at least 2 languages and many translators on site. With the increasing cost of healthcare, people cannot afford to be sick. At HOPE Clinic, they worry about treating the patient instead of the dollar signs. They offer payment plans, reduced plans, or even free visits and prescriptions depending on the patient’s income and situation. This showed me that in medicine, one must have heart and compassion and goes beyond the general and overly used, “I want to be a doctor because I like to help people” motto.

6. What is your favorite book?  At the moment, Kaplan’s 7 book MCAT review since I have the exam coming up pretty soon.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  I am very interested in movie production. On how the music such as that of Frank Sinatra and how it blends into a particular scene and how the use of technology changed the way movies are made. Which is one reason why there are so many reboots being made to make the scenes more realistic.

That’s a Dumb Question!

You’ve heard it over and over again. “There is no such thing as a dumb question.” But is this true?

I am guessing most of us do not believe this to be true. We’ve all heard someone ask that question that makes us drop our jaw in awe. “Did they just really ask that?!?” “What did they mean by that question?” The type of questions one asks tend to speak volumes about them. Anyone can look up an answer but what they ask reveals their innermost thoughts. The “no such thing as a dumb question” statement is really intended to encourage engagement and question asking but I am not sure many people truly believe this. Even if there were no such thing as a dumb question, there is such a thing as an inappropriate question. That is usually evident by the receiver’s reaction. As premeds, med students, interns, residents and even attendings, you ask questions on a daily basis. Questions are very necessary for growth and understanding. Here are some question types we sometimes use that may leave an unintended negative judgement from the hearer of the question.

1. The Lazy Question: I’ll be the first to admit that I myself am guilty of this once in a while. We sometimes ask a basic question although the answer is sitting right in front of us. For example, after a long work week I will sometimes go to a restaurant. Instead of simply reading the menu, I sometimes ask the server to tell me what’s on there. Not cool. As a premed, if a professor has provided you with instructions on a project, it is best to read what he or she has given you before asking questions they have already answered. It is always appropriate to ask a question to clarify your understanding but unwise to ask something you have easy access to resolving on your own.

Quick Tip: Try to ask informed questions. These often open with, “You wrote that …” or “I see in your instructions …” or “In my reading, I noticed…”. This lets that person know you have done your research ahead of time.

2. Wrong Person Question: You probably shouldn’t ask a mechanic about the newest fashion trends or your grandmother about the newest rap group unless they are into those things. Although usually subtler, asking questions to the wrong person is very commonly done. As an attending, I am now more conscious of this but I am certain I was guilty of this one as well during my training. This is something you may also want to avoid when on the interview trail. You will have the opportunity to ask a ton of questions on each interview. You should not be asking your interviewer about fun things to do around campus or what books to buy. Reserve these types of questions for the students you meet.

Quick Tip: On the interview trail, make sure to categorize your questions based on who is best suitable to answer that question. Learn a little about that person and what they do if you want to impress them.

3. Poor Timing Question: Kids always say it, “Are we there yet?” This question can be rather annoying unless it is asked at the right time (when you really are almost there). If an instructor informs the audience that a particular area will be covered later in the lecture then questions on that topic should be reserved for that time otherwise that instructor will be doing a whole lot of repeating. This may bring frustration to the instructor who may be pressed for time as well as others around you.

Quick Tip: Patience is the key here. You may have a good question in mind but if it will likely be covered later then reserve it till then or ask it at the end. If you are not sure if they will cover it start the question by saying “You may cover this later…” or “Will you be discussing…”. Be respectful of that person’s time.

4. He/She Just Asked That Question: Pay attention. I always felt bad for students who repeated a question that was just asked in class because it made me think either (1) they were not listening in class or (2) they showed up late to class and missed the question. I suspect the professor was also thinking the same thing as was the person who asked the original question. It is completely understandable if this occurs once, but if a student consistently does this it’ll eventually hurt them.

Quick Tip: Simply pay attention. If you show up late for class or meeting and are not sure if your question was already asked, you may want to reserve it to the end or (if in the appropriate setting) ask your neighbor if it was already discussed.

5. I Don’t Want to Be Here Question: Be prepared, because throughout your training there will be plenty of places you do not want to be. Sometimes it will be because you are bored or sometimes it is because you would rather be elsewhere (like studying). You may be doing research, shadowing, or volunteering in something that does not interest you in the slightest bit. Your only way out sometimes seems to be by asking a question. I have watched so many of my colleagues get bad grades and evaluations because they appeared so disinterested in the rotation and solidified this by the type of questions they asked. “How long will this next case be?” “Do I need to be here the whole time?” Don’t get me wrong, if you really need to be elsewhere and are able to craft a good question that is fine but be wise about this because some people are more sensitive to this than others.

Quick Tip: Fake it till you make it. Many premeds give it away that they really don’t want to be there. This is part of life. Some of my best learning has taken place attending mandatory events or activities I really did not want to be at. You may be surprised that some of your thoughts were misconceptions. If your time will be better served elsewhere, be real with that person and tell them exactly why you need to be dismissed rather than being sly with a “I don’t want to be here”-type question.

And finally, just for laughs check this out:

Written By Dr. Daniel

Image Credit Pixabay

Congratulations to Will! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.   I’m a nontraditional full time student. I’m also a full time 911 paramedic. I’ve been a paramedic for over 15 years. I work in NYC, but I attend school and live in PA. So my commute is approximately 1100 miles per week between school, work and home. Personally, I’m proudly raising my daughter Hannah, who is 4 years old and I compete in MMA/boxing.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teacher is my Calculus Professor, Dr. Noblet. Taking this course during the summer has been more than challenging for me, but she had been very helpful and encouraging. She has a true passion for teaching, and it shows whenever she is in front of the classroom. She expects nothing less than 110% effort in all of her students. And to have someone believe in me that much gives me even more motivation to succeed. Dr Noblet is a wonderful person and professor.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  Becoming a doctor wasn’t something that I decided on. Cliche aside, its something that I was meant too be. My greatest joy and passion comes from treating and helping the sick. My mother told me that from since is was able to walk, whenever someone got hurt or was crying, I would look for ways to take care of their boo-boo. As I got older, I had many operations performed on me. But regardless of what was going on with me physically, I always wanted to help to person beside me. I would ask the doctors 1000 questions a day about treatments. why this and why that. I’ve always had a love for the science of helping people. Learning how to care for people. And the practical application of treating people. I believe that physicians are literally the hands and instruments of God. The impact that a Doctor can have on a patient is profound. I experience that on a smaller scale as a Paramedic. I desire to care for a patient from the time they walk into the hospital to the time they walk out.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  Because of my work background, I have an inclination towards emergency medicine. But I like to work with my hands building things. So I find myself very much interested in Orthopedic Surgery.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  My coolest moment occurred outside of the classroom. I was sent to an ob-comp inside an apartment building during the winter. When my partner and I got to the patient, she was in a unlit apartment laying on the floor. Her water has already broken and she was in labor. As we were preparing to deliver the child, I saw that the child was breached. The child’s left foot was out and we noticed that the child showed signs of poor circulation. Further examination showed that the umbilical chord was wrapped around the child’s neck. The Fire department arrived and all the firefighters shined their lights upon us. My partner went to stabilize the mother as I delivered the baby. Once delivered, the child was in respiratory arrest, so we began resuscitation efforts. Thankly, both the child and the mother were both fine. A week later, I received a letter at my job, written by the patient. She thanked me and said that she named her child after me. I was so humbled and honored.

6. What is your favorite book?  I have so many, but my absolute favorite is the Alchemist.

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

A Guide To Completing Secondary Applications

By Josten Overall and Nick Arlas | July 21, 2017

It seems like all of the pre-meds we run into these days are all in full-on secondary mode, and if you’re reading this you might be too. If you haven’t received secondaries yet, don’t panic! It’s just a matter of time before these apps start showing up in your inbox!  It can be a stressful time, as the onslaught of additional apps seems to come all at once post-verification by AAMC. At first it’s exciting, then a bit unsettling, and finally it can be overwhelming. Remember, the secondary application is a critically important part of every medical school application. This is your opportunity to sell yourself on why you’re a great fit for each school that invites you to fill out a secondary. While your primary app is your introduction to medical school programs by highlighting your metrics, work and volunteer experience, the secondary application is your opportunity to persuade each program why you are a candidate whom they should interview. Here is our list of top tips for writing strong, powerful secondary essays!

1. Know the school:

As a medical school applicant, it can be challenging to remember key details about each school to which you apply; however, it is important to understand the school’s mission statement and other unique aspects about the program or curriculum. Having a good understanding of the school and being able to identify why you specifically applied to that school, will help you answer questions that ask about “fit,” “how you identify with the mission statement,” and “how will you contribute to the class and community once accepted.” To do this, visit the school’s homepage and spend some time clicking around. We strongly recommend that you do your research before diving into a secondary app. You may find a specific opportunity that you are excited about, such as a student-run free clinic, a research institute, or a volunteer opportunity. These are things you should mention in your essay, and it shows the school that you actually want to go there and that you know what you’re talking about.

2. Take breaks!

If you ever find yourself hitting a mental roadblock while writing secondaries, remember that it’s more than okay and often necessary to take breaks! Leaving the mental and physical space in which you write your secondary essays, will allow you to recharge and return to your writing space with an open mind and new-and-improved ideas. Taking a break to grab a snack, go on a quick walk, or do something else that you love, will allow you to make productive use of your time, and not become too overwhelmed by the writing process.

3. Provide concrete examples:

Many secondary essay questions will ask you to describe a previous experience or role how that applies to your interest in medicine or to your future success as a medical school student. While you may describe the general details of why that experience was significant, describing a specific example and how that impacted you will may your message even more powerful. For example, you may detail some of the work that you did on a medical mission abroad; however, describing a specific scenario of a significant interaction you had with a patient, colleague or community member, will paint a more vivid picture of what you contributed to and learned from that unique experience. Many applying students will share similar volunteer, work, research and outreach experiences, so using a personal narrative or example will allow your essay to shine!

4. Have others review your work:

Just as when you were writing your personal statement for your primary application, receiving feedback is an important part of writing your secondary essays. You may have also learned that having multiple peers, mentors, or academic faculty review your personal statement can be overwhelming. Each person who reads your essays will have different perspectives on what works well and what doesn’t; you must take any suggestions with a grain of salt. If there was someone who helped you put your best self forward in your personal statement, they are a good person to consult for your secondary apps as well. Reach out to reviewers who can help you make sure every word counts, and that you are conveying exactly what you mean. Over time, you may find that you have become quite adept at secondary essays, and feel that you no longer need to reach out for support. If so, know that you now have the confidence and skill to write some great secondaries!

5. Recycle, but with caution:

A classic mistake that you’ve probably heard is that someone copy/pastes an essay and forgets to change the school name. One of the authors (cough Nick cough) accidently repeated two sentences in separate questions for the same school by doing this. With so many of the prompts overlapping or asking the exact same question, it is important to recycle your responses but to do so carefully. Done right this will save you time, but it can lead to rushing the process which makes you more likely to make the copy/paste mistake. To avoid this, read all of your essays carefully, and customize each one. For example, you will come across an essay about what your experiences are for the upcoming year, and this one is ripe for recycling. However, each school will ask it slightly differently, and have different character requirements. Use the framework from earlier essays, and build out a custom response for each subsequent secondary that asks the same or a similar question.

6. Response time is important:

Secondary season is a rough time for everyone going through the app cycle, but this is a time to really push yourself. It will be a true test of your endurance, especially if you are balancing other commitments like work or school. Set yourself up with a scheduled time each day to work on your secondaries, and push yourself to have a quick turn around time. Interviews are granted on a rolling basis and it is in your interest to have your application in as early as possible. Prioritize the schools that you are most interested in and work your way down the list. Celebrate the victory of each submission and know that they will get easier as you complete more of them and can draw on material that you’ve already created (see tip #5).

7. Use forums for specific information, but do not dwell:

Much like a surgeon you want to know exactly what you looking for when spending time on SDN. Navigate for the school specific thread and use Control-F to search key terms related to your inquiry. Do not get sucked in to whether people have heard back about interview invites, as it does not help you and can be an added source of anxiety during an already stressful time.

8. You can still add schools to your application:

You are still able to add schools to your primary application, and those of you that have applied to a small number of schools might consider increasing your chances by adding some more schools. It’s still relatively early in the cycle, so take a look at the MSAR and apply to as many schools as you can afford. Note: you should only apply to schools that you would actually go to if you were accepted.

9. Money stuff and when to ignore a secondary:

You may find that you applied to a school that you actually are not interested in, and know that it is OK to ignore a secondary invitation and decide not to apply to a school after all. At nearly $100 dollars a pop, knowing that it’s all right to let a few go can help you save for airfare and interview travel expenses. You should feel comfortable ignoring a secondary if you are no longer interested in the school.

10. Remember you are running your own race, and it’s a marathon!

By now you’re probably getting a play-by-play from all your premed friends about how the app cycle and secondaries are progressing. Ignore the noise and focus on your applications. It is crucial that you stay disciplined, work on them every day, and take comfort in knowing that this challenging time is not going to last forever. If you keep your blinders on and run your own race, you will be in a better spot than if you spend time worrying about what other people are doing.

Best of luck to all of you!


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