Super Star Blogs!

Post-Bac Journey: Success through the lens of a non-traditional student

  Success in the future is attainable, no matter what your academic past may look like. I am a second year graduate student at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in the Master of Arts (MA) in Biomedicine program. Despite my own academic highs and lows, my passion for pursuing a career in medicine and global health has not faded. It has kept me grounded through times of uncertainty. When trying to prove yourself beyond your academic history, it can be difficult to find a program that fosters personal growth in work and study habits, as well as academic achievement. I am fortunate to have found the “right fit” with EMU’s MA in Biomedicine program. Regardless of a student’s background, I believe that those who have the desire to excel and the tenacity to pursue their goals will benefit from the small, collaborative environment found within this program.

While many post-bac programs in the biomedical sciences exist nationwide, it is vital to choose a program that works with you, as a student, to help achieve your academic goals; a program that holds students to high academic standards while also providing opportunities to flourish in the basic sciences through the support of faculty and staff. At EMU, I have been able to tailor my curriculum to incorporate my own specific interests and needs. Additionally, faculty and staff welcome student feedback about the program, which greatly enhances the quality of instruction and education that my peers and I receive. Excellent instruction demands academic excellence from the students as well. However, the faculty and staff provide the necessary support in order for students to meet, and even exceed, those expectations.

In addition to academic rigor and faculty/staff support, there are other important qualities to consider when choosing a post-bac medical program. Things to look for are a small student-to-faculty ratio, a program that emphasizes collaborative approaches to teaching/learning, passionate professors who give priority to teaching, and a program with a thesis/research component. While it may be rare to find all of these qualities in a single program, I am fortunate to have found them within EMU’s MA in Biomedicine program.

A multidisciplinary approach to healthcare focuses on the mind, body, and soul. I have had the opportunity to apply this integrated perspective to health in a variety of leadership roles, including serving as an ambassador for a healthcare organization, shadowing and engaging with patients through my practicum experience, and performing research for my thesis. The program also incorporates a cross-cultural component, which enables students to gain exposure to international health and volunteer opportunities abroad. I chose to participate in ISL’s Global Health program in Nicaragua, allowing me to volunteer and serve medically underserved populations. All of these opportunities have enriched my academic experience, teaching me things that cannot be learned in a classroom.

As you consider your own academic future, I leave you with one final consideration: if you have the will and the desire to succeed, don’t sell yourself short! It does not matter how old you are or what circumstances you face. “You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending” (Sherman, 1982, p.45). EMU can help shape your new future by instilling the confidence that is necessary to excel and attain your goals.

The Art of Believing

The word, “believe”, is magical and powerful.  Say it with confidence and internalize the word. In psychology, belief is defined as what you deem to be true. With the exception of being delusional, believing in something– in your abilities, in your actions, in your statements, and in your stance– changes your perspective positively.

Believing means internalizing that the impossible is possible. Imagine countless stories of patients who have been told that they have less than two months to live or that they would never be able to speak fluently after a procedure. Such patients are those who refuse to let those predicted uncertainties suppress their strong will of belief. Their positive outcomes and mind-boggling stories are, in part, as a result of believing.

Believing means being in the dark and choosing to be the light. We have certainly all being in a negative environment, surrounded by pessimistic friends, or placed in a glass ceiling house (this is your limit, remain within it). These situations hamper our ability to think clearly, create self-doubt, reduce our vision and productivity and most importantly, stomps on our ability to believe. Simply, step back, take a deep breath, say with affirmation that this is what you want, this is what you will do, and this is the impact you plan to make. Then, insert I believe in all of those statements and internalize them. I guarantee you that you will become unstoppable. Sometimes, it could seem like the negativities are pushing you further down the scale. But with constant renewal of your beliefs in your abilities and in your goals, you will eventually create your path, illuminated with light and filled with like-minded positive individuals who are willing to help you on your journey.

Believing means elimination of doubts and uncertainties. This is a bit difficult because there are healthy doubts protects us and ensures good decision-making. However, when doubts become prevalent, it leads to learned helplessness and low self-efficacy. This impedes one’s growth mentally and emotionally. The fact that you doubt passing the MCAT or getting accepted into medical school does not mean that you should BELIEVE that you will not pass the MCAT or get accepted into medical school. See the difference? The gap that lies between those two statements is your volition, your tenacity, your work ethic, your dedication, and your internalization of your goals. I second guess myself every single time. I remember telling my mentor that I doubt that I am going to pass this physics class and he replied I believe you are going to pass it. That single word resonated with me and I started putting in more effort to realize his statement. As they say, “you want it, GO for it.” Discard every itty-bitty doubt that does not align with what you believe you can do and Enrich your mind with thoughts that sprout your beliefs. You always have to believe because that is the one thing that would keep you on your journey to reach your goals and that would provide you with the strength to realize your dreams.

I believe that we would all get that great GPA, attain that high score on the MCAT, excel at that medical school interview, receive those medical school acceptance letters, get that residency of our choice, and become the best and exemplary physicians we deserve to be. It all starts with believing….

Land the Plane 

The MCAT can be a touchy subject. While it cannot be taken too lightly, it should not be looked at as a burden. The pre-medical culture has turned the MCAT into this stress inducing word- “he who should not be named” so to speak. Being in the midst of preparing for it now, has made me reorient the way in which I think about things. While I recommend this mental practice to all those preparing for the MCAT, I think it can also be applied to many areas of life.

First, appreciate the position you are in. You have made it this far in your pre-med journey- not all people can say that. You have been given the opportunity to pursue your passion of medicine, and have kept with it this far! Congrats! Think of all of the classes you’ve taken, all of the opportunities you’ve had to learn, and the breadth and depth of the knowledge you’ve gained. That is an accomplishment in itself. When you take the MCAT, or should I say prepare for the MCAT, all of this information comes together. It’s given me the unique perspective to look at how the things I’ve learned in physics apply to concepts learned in physiology- the two really cannot go without one another. The education you’ve received thus far is a gift. Acknowledge that. It will make you grateful for all that you’ve received. 

Secondly, allow that ceiling you’ve built, that limitation, you’ve constructed to break. By this I mean putting labels and constraints on yourself. Telling yourself that there is no possible way you can get [insert MCAT score here]. By telling yourself that, you are subconsciously ruling that option out. Now, I’d like to counter this to say that you cannot expect to study a week ahead of the exam and get a perfect MCAT score. The chances of that are slim. You must be realistic and attribute a good deal of preparation into the MCAT. But do so with a happy heart. Stay hopeful and know that you are going to do great! If you let this spirit of hope flow, it automatically puts you in a better disposition during your preparation. And, what is the harm of staying positive? Opportunity looks to take hold of positivity. 

Lastly, stay in the present. I am notorious for catching myself outside of this one. While reading my prep books, I will often find my mind wandering to the worries of if I will get accepted into medical school or not. I like to call this concept “tunneling.” So for a brief second let me show you what I mean by giving you my train of thought during “tunneling.” Here is the context: *I am reading my physiology book about how ADH affects the renal system* “Ok, so the ADH release causes water reabsorption, is released by the posterior pituitary, then…. hmm.. I wonder if this will be tested on the MCAT. Am I spending my time right studying this? I sort of already know it, but do I know it well enough? What if I don’t score well? This has been my life long dream and all that is separating me from med school is this test. Jeez. No pressure or anything…. Do I have a back up plan? What would I even do with my life…?” Ok, STOP. Really quick, let’s examine my tunneling. I went from about 0 to 1000 in the period of about six sentences. I went from ADH to questioning my life path. HALT. And did you notice the self-doubt? If there is one tip I can give you during this process it is that self doubt will not serve you well. Let’s imagine for a second that you are 5 years older than you are now (already in your residency) and your younger sibling is preparing for the MCAT. In a frenzy, they FaceTime you and you can hear and see the distress they have on their face. They’ve just experienced tunneling. Recalling your past journey through the pre-med process, you tell them that it will all be alright. Everything will workout. Calm your mind, and believe in what you CAN do. Not what you CANNOT do. Would you give your sibling poor advice? “Ya know, you might as well give up now. You probably can’t do it…” NO! Because you know that’s not true, they have every capability of doing it. They just have to keep going. Just as you wouldn’t give your sibling bad advice, don’t give yourself bad advice. Know you’re doing your best and keep pressing forward. The positivity will only push you to go further. Negativity puts roadblocks in the pathway to success.

I would like to end this with one example of how peace of the mind can truly lead to success. His name is Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. If you’ve never heard of him before, search his name. He also has a book, website, and movie devoted to him. To put it shortly, he landed a failing plane on the Hudson River, saving 155 people. There were very few injuries and no deaths. As both engines began to fail from flying through a flock of birds, he decided that the best plan was to land in the river. “Prepare for impact,” he said. Both the crew and passengers remained calm. He has since been recognized as a national hero. His calm, determined mind allowed him to save 155 people. That in itself is testimony to the power of a calm mind. And is this not symbolic of what you will be doing one day? Whether you become a high-pressure ER doc, or a family physician, keeping a calm mind will benefit you in all regards.

So as you continue through this pre-medical journey, step back for a minute. See how far you’ve come. Know that the present moment is the only moment you have- so keep pressing on. Keep doing your thing. Trust the journey you are on, the path that God has for your life. Keep your mind calm because you can and will land this plane.


155 people safe and sound.


Here is the man himself, Captain Sully. If I were ever to be able to have lunch with one person, it would be him. 

More Than a Premed! Get Outside The Box!

I HATE the Box!  I absolutely HATE it!

You know…the Box! That thing everyone tries to put you inside. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. You’re a pre-medical student, you’re supposed to study, become a doctor, and do nothing else. Yep, that’s the entire extent of your life, premed to medical student, medical student to doctor, then you’re done! That makes me sick!

Two years ago, I was invited to present at a national conference and was excited because I’d meet some leaders who were doing things that interested me. Towards the end of the conference, I sat down with a few relatively prestigious doctors and took the opportunity to pick their brains. After all, they had been doing this a lot longer than I had so I was sure they’d provide great insight on my endeavors. After explaining to them how I wanted to give everything I had to help develop premedical students and provide resources for them to matriculate into medical school via platforms such as PreMed StAR, I was laughed at. “Dale,” I was told, “You’re a doctor! That’s your brand, we’re not business people. Master your craft in medicine and stick to it.” Do you think I took that advice? No!

Sometime after that, I was walking the hospital hallways with a senior physician. It had been a long day and I told him I still had a long night ahead because we had some company tasks to finish. “You have a business,” he said sarcastically. “Yes I do,” I didn’t think too much of it. “For me, it’s always been more about giving everything I can to develop premeds than a business. It’s my calling and the right thing to do.” He looked at me, then walked away laughing.

I’ve been told no, laughed at, and ignored too many times to remember. But the whole way through, I’ve followed my calling faithfully. Why take the torture? First and foremost, because others benefit from the work, and that’s more than worth the beatdown. Second, because I hate the ‘Box’ and nobody’s going to put me in it. When people tell you that you can’t do something, always remember that means they can’t do it. One of my favorite quotes is, “The man who says it cannot be done should not stand in the way of the man who is doing it.” Another of my favorites is, “My mother said to me, if you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.” Just be you! Nobody else; just you!

As a premedical student, you are MORE than a premed. You don’t have to sit in that dreadful box. Your God given gifts are to be used for the betterment of society, not to be hoarded for waste. I want you to forget what everybody else has said you can’t do, and instead remember that I am telling you YES, you can do it! Why not? If you don’t, someone else will.

So don’t think outside of the box. Get outside of the box! If I can do it, so can you!

Carpe Diem!

Take a moment to look around you. Slow down and smell the roses. Soak in the majestic sunset. Listen to the blue birds sing. Take a trip to a foreign land. Smile at your neighbor.

Let’s be serious. You are probably reading this blog in a busy library or while taking a break from your studies. Who has time to do those things anyway? Actually, we all do if we choose to make it a priority. Too often the premed tunnel vision causes us to miss out on the beauty around us. We fail to take a stroll in the park which would relieve stress and help with our physical health. We aren’t there for our loved ones when they are in need or during special moments in life. In fact, that stranger sitting next to you has an interesting story and may be someone who can forever change your life if only you take a second to smile and introduce yourself to them.

Create Time: The medical journey is a long and arduous one. As a premed, you are embarking on a path that if travelled correctly can be very enjoyable and worthwhile. You will likely develop lifelong friendships and possibly find a spouse and/or start a family while chasing your dream of becoming a doctor. You will no doubt spend many sleepless nights, shed tears, and experience failure and success. Being a premed can be draining but the truth is it only gets more demanding mentally and physically while time becomes more of a rare commodity but you will somehow adapt. If you can’t find time to call your mom for Mother’s Day, take part in that hobby you love, or go to the gym now as a premed student, the chances you will find that time as a medical student, resident or fellow are slim to none. You need to make time to do the little things that matter in life. Start practicing now as a premed to devote a block of time to make that phone call to those who mean something to you because you never know how long they will be there.

Fall in Love with the Process: Some of us are so infatuated with the title (whether it be “wife/husband”, “mommy/daddy”, or “doctor”) that we miss out on the process of getting there. It is the falling in love while dating that makes one confident about marrying their partner. It is 9 months of pregnancy that makes a newborn and his or her mother inseparable. Earning money at that job and saving it to buy that first car made you very protective of it. The wins and losses on the court during the regular season makes the championship trophy so much more special. Likewise, the sleepless nights studying, running from one meeting to the next, and watching webinars are part of the process. Till this day, I still laugh with my two former premed buddies about our all-nighter fail since we were completely delirious and ended up falling asleep during the test that morning. In 10 years, these premed moments will be mere memories. Memories that you still have time to mold into pleasant ones. Loving the process will make the goal much more meaningful and worth the struggle. Soak it in and embrace.

Keep a Smile Going: I recall being a 3rd year medical student waking up at 2am to a pager reading “22yo male with gunshot wound, Trauma Rm 3, ETA 8 min.” It wasn’t easy getting up from the bed at first but it never took me long to put a smile on my face and hurry out of the call room. The reason behind my smile was because I had the privilege to be breathing and doing what I truly loved. Many others, including the patients we were caring for weren’t quite as fortunate to be where they chose to be. There are many pessimistic, “woe is me” students out there who make the room a shade grayer every time they enter it. Don’t be that student. Never, fall into the trap of thinking your buddies who graduated and went straight into the workforce have it so much better than you do as a premed. Well, maybe a few have it better but I can tell you from personal experience, you will be just fine in the end. Just sit back, smile and enjoy the ride.

Live Life to the Fullest:  In the New York Time’s best seller “When Breath Becomes Air,” Dr. Paul Kalanithi, a resident Neurosurgeon at Stanford, chronicled his last few months after being diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer. He was a new father at age 36 with a promising future. As much as I hate to conclude this blog on a more melancholic note, I feel this is the realest way to illustrate just how important it is to appreciate. On this earth, we can achieve many degrees, attend the most prestigious schools, earn a lot of money, but in the end, it is the relationships we build with one another that will matter the most. Being a doctor is such an awesome privilege. We sometimes have the opportunity to share in the joy of the birth of life, impact its course, and witness its end. We have front row seats observing and interacting with this precious thing called life. Why not cherish it and make the most of every day even while studying? What are you waiting for? Carpe diem!


Written By: Dr. Daniel

Congratulations to Dee! Premed of the Week! – May 8th 2017

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  My name is Danusha Sanchez but many of my friends and colleagues know me as “Dee” for short. I am a trilingual Polominican who is passionate about obstacle course racing. (AROO!) I graduated college with a dual undergraduate degree in Chemical Biology and Literature and a Masters in Healthcare Informatics. I’m a certified Project manager, EMT, Scrum Master and CPR instructor. I have been working for many years in Healthcare IT growing from a Strategic Clinical Consultant to now a Lead Project Manager who is responsible for ensuring the successful implementation of electronic health records at major hospitals across the country.

2.  Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? My favorite professor would be my advisor for Literature, Dr. Sinnreich-Levi. Being that I attended an engineering school, humanities were usually not the most popular coursework to take. Despite that, Dr Sinnreich–Levi made every effort to ensure that every student was a well-rounded scientist/engineer and very well equipped to succeed in the workforce. I didn’t realize the impact she had on me until I was in the workforce. On the first day of my job, I was assigned to a Live Event with no training, guidance, nor direction. I was petrified, stressed, and worried that this was a test placed to see if hiring me was the right choice. The first thing that saved me during this time was thinking back on the research techniques she taught me on how to finish my published literary thesis. She taught me that magic formula for success is to: establish a question, research it, and chunk the work due. Using the methodology that was taught in the semester I was able to weed through the erroneous information and highlight useful information to compile an informative summary to help me survive the Go Live event. Even to this day, I continue to be “saved” by the skills that the Humanities have taught me.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  I have always wanted to be a doctor my entire life; however, many circumstances have thwarted that dream. My first calling towards medicine was around 3-4 years old. My mother, immigrated to America in order to be able to provide a better life for me. In order to give me that opportunity as a single mother, she worked double shifts at the hospital. Therefore, there were many days that my mother had to ask either her friends or grandparents to babysit me. One day, she had asked a family friend to stay at home to make sure I was alright. Because I am a very curious and adventurous person, I started to play with my stuffed teddy bear in an adjacent room. As I analyzed this teddy bear I began to question, “why don’t I hear a heartbeat in the teddy bear like I hear in me?” I figured there must have been something defective with the teddy bear. So, I decided to “fix” the teddy bear. Being very observant of people’s actions, I knew where my mom had hidden the scissors; however, that didn’t stop clever me. I took the scissors gently cut the bear open and did my first “surgery”. During my analysis, I learned that the teddy bear had no heart and that’s why I couldn’t hear a heartbeat! I found amid my toys a small stuffed heart that made a heartbeat sound when you squeeze it and put it into the teddy bear; but the stuffing was still coming out! So, I decided to use a use a shoe lace and Band-Aids to tie up the opening. I was so excited with my successful “surgery”, I excitingly ran to the babysitter to share my new success. Ironically, I was so excited I ended up myself running straight into the door and getting a small laceration my head. Luckily it was only superficial but both me and the teddy fully recuperated together.

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

5.  What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  “Medic Up!” Those two words caused my hands to become sweaty, my breathing to become heavy, and my mind to race. August 9th through 13th I was in tactical medic school. These classes teach an EMT how to do his or her duty in unsafe situations such as part of the S.W.A.T. or military. The program was both mentally fatiguing, and physically and emotionally stressful. I loved every second of it. What drove my passion was the knowledge that 20% of tactical deaths are prevented owing to the presence of a tactical medic. It was exhilarating to know that just by being present with my medical training, I personally could be responsible for saving a team member’s life. This particular experience is important to me because it tested my limits and showed me my talents as well as my weaknesses under stress. During tactical medic school the experience which had the biggest impact was the final mission. The mission was to willingly enter a tear gas chamber, remove our masks, and be drilled with questions. I feared the unknown. The other team members had experienced some sort of chemical warfare; I had not. As the line for the chamber grew shorter and I came closer to the door my body trembled uncontrollably; my breathing became harder, and my eyes started to water. I thought to myself, “I must be insane if I willingly am entering a building knowing the effects of tear gas.” The line became shorter and I was next. Then the door opened and it was my turn to enter. Lub dub, lub dub, lub…….dub. The sounds of my heart seemed to be getting louder. My surroundings seemed to have slowed down exponentially as I watched the drill instructor slowly pull the pin from the canister and the gas encompass the entire room. “I still can leave,” I began to think, but I did not move; something inside compelled me to fight my fear. The pain of the gas was pretty unbearable but when I walked out of that chamber I got a new perspective on life. I realized that sometimes it is necessary to face one’s fears in order to grow and that my weaknesses do not define who I am, rather, what I choose to do with those weaknesses make me who I am.

6. What is your favorite book?  Being that I’m a passionate obstacle course racer, my favorite book is Spartan Up!. Spartan Up! is a very inspiring book that teaches you how to conquer your greatest obstacle—your will, embrace your greatest friend—discipline, and achieve the ultimate—obstacle immunity. The book taught me how to “handle the obstacles of everyday life”. Since life will present you with obstacles, “obstacle immunity”, meaning “an ability to move past, around, through, or over what life places in [your] path” is mindset that is most efficient. When I eternalized this mindset, goals which seemed so out of reach in the past became new realities. For example, just recently I’ve achieved my own personal goal of acquiring 30 finisher medals from obstacle course races including a Triple Trifecta Spartan medal and a Tough Mudder finisher headband. If you told me I could even finish ONE of these races, I would have called you crazy; but this book really inspires a person to look beyond their life obstacles and all the excuses a person gives to prevent them from reaching and accomplishing their goals.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  One of the biggest reasons I didn’t go to medical school immediately after graduation because I had a bucket list of life experiences I wanted to achieve which would not have been possible if I had started medical school immediately after graduating. For example, I’ve always wanted to run my own business. So, I experimented with my own self-startup called Deeoptimal Consulting. I started the company because I really wanted to help new college graduates transition from their healthcare informatics education into healthcare IT consulting. I realized that there was fairly big a gap between academic knowledge and the workforce knowledge. Therefore, my company was a venue by which to provide education and oversight while working with real projects. We worked with many clients and a handful of well-known fortune 500 clients such as Accenture so I was very fortunate to have been able to achieve this experience since it allowed me to mark complete another item off my bucket life.

Premed G.R.I.N.D.

Anybody who knows me knows the high value which I place on hard work.  I am a firm believer that if you want something in life, you should never expect anybody to give it to you, and you should grind to get it.  Grind!  It’s such an excellent word isn’t it.  As a matter of fact, it’s one of my favorites.  When I’m invited to speak at various events, you’ll often hear me use it somewhere in my presentation.  There’s just something about that word that carries an immense amount of power.  But my question to you is, do you grind?  If so how?  Let me tell you how I G.R.I.N.D.

G stands Goals.  I set a lot of these and write them down so I can’t run away from them.  On this very laptop that I am writing this blog, I have a document of goals.  The first step in accomplishing something  is to have something to accomplish.  Set your goals, write them down, and tell a friend.  As a premed, a simple goal might be, get a GPA higher than the average medical school matriculant.  Or, get 20 shadowing hours this summer.

R stands for Resolve.  This is where the power of positive thinking comes in to play.  There is absolutely no point in setting goals if you don’t resolve to achieve them.  You must believe in yourself and commit to resilience.  You’ll get knocked down multiple times along the way, but once you resolved to make it happen, only you can choose to stop.

 I stands for Information.  We live in an age of information.  Never before have we had such ease of access to knowledge.  The old excuse, “I didn’t know” doesn’t work anymore.  Once you set your goal and resolve to accomplish it, you need to gather the necessary information to make it happen.  So you want to publish a research paper huh?  Well, do you know how to conduct the research?  Do you know what journal to submit your manuscript to?  Get the knowledge.

N stands for Network.  Nothing great happens without a team effort.  Michael Jordan didn’t win a championship, the Chicago Bulls organization did.  Show me your five best friends and I’ll tell you how successful you’ll be.  To accomplish your goals, you must have people in your network you can help you along the journey.  You want to be a doctor?  Are you surrounded by doctors, or future doctors?  You’ll only go as far as your network takes you.

D stands for Discipline.   Goals, Resolve, Information, and Network…none of these mean a thing if you aren’t disciplined enough to do what you are supposed to do.  Premedical students often ask me how they can know if they are smart enough to become a doctor.  My response is typically, “That’s the wrong question to ask.”  Most of us are smart enough, the real question is, are you disciplined enough.  The greatest in life are the most disciplined.

This is how I G.R.I.N.D.  everyday.  It is my basic approach to success which I am now sharing with you and pray you implement in your life.  I’ve chatted with enough of the PreMed StAR students to understand your doubts and frustrations about the premedical journey.  It’s a tough road and can get really ugly along the way.  But just know that you’ve got a strong network of future doctors alongside you.  Support one another.  Share resources, ask questions, and do it together.  Through this Premed G.R.I.N.D., you’ll become a better person and in the end, there’ll be a white coat with your name on it.

Congratulations to Haley! Premed of the Week! – May 1st 2017

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  I am a college freshman majoring in Chemistry with a Pre-Med focus. I want to follow in the footsteps of my great grand mother, grand mother and mother and pursue a career in medicine. Like my mother, I would like to eventually become an Emergency Medicine physician. I am the national ambassador for Artemis Medical Society’s National Pre-Med Club initiative. I believe that for our generation one of the major civil rights issue of our time is in healthcare and that is the fight to end disparities in care.

In addition to medicine, I am interested in music and spoken word. I play the harp and enjoy writing and performing my original pieces. I also enjoy fencing.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  I was homeschooled throughout my high school years. My mother helped teach me my STEM courses and oversaw my entire education program. Because of this she is my favorite educator. Having my mother serve as my teacher and school administrator was an amazing opportunity to see how much she truly cared for me. To see how much time and energy she put into my education made it easy to realize how important my education should be to me. She inspires me.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  I come from a very long history of strong women who have worked in the healthcare field. My great grand mother left Texas for California to escape the racism of Jim Crow and pursue a career as an LVN. She worked hard to ensure my grandmother would have the opportunity to pursue greater dreams. My grandmother would go on to earn her bachelors degree in nursing and receive her MPH from UCLA. My grandmother used that education to provide a foundation for my mother to take the next step and become a physician.

My mother would go on to attend Xavier University of Louisiana and graduate with honors with a degree in Chemistry. She attended USC Keck School of Medicine and would become the first woman chief resident of her Emergency Medicine residency program. My mom is truly inspirational. She has worked hard to give back and even found time to create Artemis Medical Society. She has organized a national tour with Disney known as the We Are Doc McStuffins campaign and was honored by Disney with the naming of Doc’s mother character as Myiesha McStuffins. I was very fortunate that I did not have to look far to find the role model I needed to help me find my way to medicine.

I want to join my mother, grand mother and great grandmother in helping make a difference in our world. We will never end health disparities if we dont get more students interested in medicine and have them become the diverse physicians our society deserves.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? I am interested in Emergency Medicine, Oncology and Neonatology. I want to be in a specialty where I can make a difference in people’s lives. I strongly believe we need more diversity in these type of specialties to help end disparities in care.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  The coolest part of my premedical journey has been working with my mother through Artemis Medical Society to advocate for greater physician diversity. I have had the opportunity to serve as the national ambassador for the pre-med club initiative, give presentations and help encourage more students of color in my generation to become physicians.

6. What is your favorite book?  My chemistry book. Its a love hate relationship. LOL

Actually my favorite book right now is Who Stole My Cheese?

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  The one thing most people dont know about me in my current academic setting is that I am a 14 year old college freshman. Sometimes one classmate will ask me if I am 17, but most people seem to believe I am 18 years old. I appreciate that because it allows me to feel like a normal college student and I can focus on studying and getting ready for the MCAT and applying to medical school. Now where did I leave my Chemistry book?

Doctor Yourself!

Premedical students, medical students, residents, physicians… None are immune to medical disease. We are actually at an increased risk for some of these diseases yet they are not talked about nearly enough. In fact, sometimes medical conditions are hidden or ignored in order to avoid the stigma they may hold. In the end, we are all human beings and we also suffer from the same diseases the general population suffers from. As leaders and future leaders in the medical field, we ought to set good examples and practice what we preach when it comes to those conditions we can prevent and manage.

For most premeds, college is the first time they have lived away from their parents for a prolonged period of time. This results in liberation and new responsibilities. College is well known for parties and peer pressure is very prevalent. If one is not careful, very bad habits may form that will only get worse in the future. These certainly include alcohol, drug and tobacco abuse. According to one national survey involving college students age 18-22, 60% of those asked had drank alcohol in the past month and almost 2 out of 3 engaged in binge drinking during this time­1. This is especially important since physicians suffer from substance abuse disorder at a slightly higher rate than the rest of the U.S. population. Between 10-15% of physicians suffer from one of these disorders2. Maybe House M.D. isn’t so far-fetched after all. The best thing to do is to avoid habits such as binge drinking, smoking and use of illicit agents. Friends that are heavily involved in these are leading you down a dangerous path.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are most commonly diagnosed in young adults. According to the CDC, half of the 20 million new STD cases are diagnosed in people aged 15-24 and 26% of all new HIV infections are seen in a similar age cohort. In 2015, the CDC found that the cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis in the US had reached an all-time high. Given the close living quarters and classroom exposures, many students are at risk for other infectious diseases. It is important to stay up to date with vaccinations including the meningococcal conjugated vaccine, Tdap, HPV, and influenza.

A number of chronic conditions may arise in the premedical student. Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid diseases, type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease tend to affect the young. Asthma, seizure disorders, sickle cell, and other disabling conditions affect many students. Some of these may be exacerbated by the stress of school and illnesses making it difficult to study and focus as a student at times. These are very serious conditions that often times motivate the premed student to pursue medicine but must be managed well in order not to greatly affect their chances of matriculating. It is important that students with chronic medical conditions not place their studies or anything else over their health. Find time to see a physician at least annually even if you feel you are perfectly healthy. Furthermore, mental health is a topic that is being more and more discussed. It is true that premedical students, medical students and physicians all have a higher rate of depression than their counterparts3. The rigorous training environment faced during training can negatively impact depression and other mental disorders. Developing healthy habits now will prepare you for the potential challenges ahead. These habits include partaking in extracurricular activities that allow you to interact with other students, getting enough sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and learning to reach out for help when needed.

The obesity epidemic often takes a backseat to other high risk behaviors on campus but it is a very serious and growing concern. There is a great neglect for addressing obesity on many campuses but some are catching on.  With growing use of social media, high stress environments, and the eat-on-the-go diet (vending machines and fast foods) premeds can easily fall into an unhealthy cycle and begin putting on weight. Eating disorders are often seen in this age group and can be very difficult to address without counseling. It is important that students begin developing healthy habits of eating a well-balanced meal and get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to physical aerobic exercise. It would be best to establish this now because during medical school these things will likely become even tougher to accomplish. One study, actually showed patients had a negative bias towards providers they perceived as being overweight or obese4. Patients were less likely to follow provider’s instructions and tended to change providers more when they felt they were overweight or obese.

As future leaders in the health field it is important that you set good examples for others. It is also important that you take care of yourself and seek help if needed. You only have one body, so you are the only one responsible for making it last.

Congratulations to Kavisha! Premed of The Week! – April 24th, 2017

Join us in Congratulating Kavisha! 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  I am currently a junior at the University of Connecticut (UConn), pursuing a dual degree in Physiology and Neurobiology and Accounting. Usually, this statement raises a few eyebrows, but I believe that the business aspect of my education will allow me to successfully reach my aspirations of becoming a physician who serves her community through ethical healthcare, while working to reduce the health disparities, provide education on preventative methods, and continue to develop an integrative and holistic approach to better serve patients. Having grown up in Newington, CT as a first generation student, I have developed accountability and compassion as two of my strongest personal virtues. As an extrovert, I thrive off of the energy of others and crave social experiences. This coupled with my innate curiosity have allowed me to partake in a wide range of activities. My interests are immensely varied, and I am genuinely passionate about many things, especially education and learning; I will be graduating UConn with 200 credits. I have a particular interest in service, and strive to contribute as much time as possible to campus and community organizations. In my spare time, I am fond of cooking and improving my photography skills, and have recently begun pursuing painting.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teacher in school was Mr. James Kravontka, the history teacher at Newington High School. He not only made history interesting, but also encouraged students to lead meaningful lives. From him I learned to always know the why behind anything I do. Having kept this advice in mind has allowed me to be conscious and mindful of my actions on a daily basis. By continuously asking myself ourselves why I am doing something, I am able to find the things in life that align with my ore beliefs and values. Most importantly, following his rule of why has allowed me to grow as a person, and develop a broader perspective.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? I first decided that I wanted to become a doctor in high school, after shadowing Dr. Elizabeth Simmons, an Ophthalmologist at UConn Health. Each interaction with a patient made me realize that treating and healing patients through medicine is what I wished to do as well. She was an excellent physician, and her work was impeccable. What struck me the most were the relationships she had with her patients and her staff. These interpersonal relationships and the collaboration between the professionals had really drawn me to the career, because I genuinely enjoy spending my day with others and working with a team. Since then I have continued to enrich in various health related activities, but have also tested the waters in other areas of study, and these experiences have further affirmed my decision to pursue a career as a physician.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? It’s okay if you don’t know yet. As of right now I do not know which area of medicine I wish to pursue. After having shadowed doctors in multiple specialties, I’ve become interested in many of them, and am keeping all options open for the time being.

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 premedical journey was the UConn Health Disparities Clinical Summer Research Fellowship Program. While the program included conducting research at the National Alliance for Mental Illness and shadowing doctors, the most fascinating and eye opening part of the experience were the trips to Hartford, CT. I was exposed to parts of Hartford that I had never known existed despite having lived five miles away – parts where there isn’t a grocery store for miles, HIV runs rampant from the use of unclean needles, and homelessness has no shock factor. I felt like I was contestant on a reality TV show who was placed in a remote location without the tools necessary to navigate my way back. This was the beginning of a new journey for me; a journey to gather the tools and knowledge necessary to help alter the health-care ecosystem for disadvantaged patients.

6. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is The Road To Character by David Brooks.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. Something that most people don’t know is that I’ve travelled to 57 countries. Everyone travels for different reasons, and my urge to travel comes from wanting to be exposed to different cultures, and to understand the values and beliefs of people in different countries. The best part of all these experiences was talking to locals to understand their views of the world, learning about the experiences of their lives, and becoming immersed in cultures so different from my own.Traveling has furthered developed my sense of curiosity and continual learning. Through these experiences I have come to value differences, challenge my own assumptions and those of people around me, and become more culturally aware. The experiences I have had, and the discoveries I have made have allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of my own place in the world, and has solidified my personal values and ambitions.


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