Learn how real students navigate their way through the medical school admissions process and med school itself with our What is Medical School Really Like? series.
Meet Karan, an M2 with an unexpected path to medical school.
Karan, thank you for sharing your story with us!
We’d like to get to know you better! Can you please share 3 unexpected or surprising things about yourself?
- I am the first person in my family to ever go into medicine.
- I have been taking music lessons to learn classical Indian music since 5th grade.
- I am an avid gardener and plant keeper.
What inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?
Karan: Ever since I took Science Research in high school, I knew I wanted a career in science. The fact that there is still so much to learn about the human body and the vast areas of research fascinated me. It wasn’t until I was in college and worked as an EM scribe where I realized that bench research wasn’t for me and that I thrive in a high adrenaline environment working directly with patients. I liked the fact that I would be able to see the change that my work as a physician would have in a person’s life, whereas bench research doesn’t always allow that.
It sounds like working as a scribe during undergrad helped enable you to make informed decisions about your career path. Can you share a bit about what scribes do, and how to become one?
Karan: I worked as a scribe with ScribeAmerica so I can only speak to what their process was, but there are many companies and even some private practices that hire directly, and they may be different. For ScribeAmerica, once you go through the interview process, you are put into a rigorous training process that includes classroom lectures with exams and then clinical training on the floor. For me personally, I did this training while in college and it was hard but the overall gains I had from the position as a scribe and later as a Project Manager with the company were invaluable.
How did you decide which med schools to apply to? Did you experience any bumps along the way?
Karan: I actually have a very unusual application path into medical school. Throughout college, I had quite a few struggles with grades due to my own immaturity with not prioritizing school, and so this hindered me a bit with getting into med school.
After graduating with my BS in Biology and Psychology I knew I had to do a postbac program in order to make myself competitive. I looked specifically at DO schools that offered such a program and found Touro COM. I was able to get admitted into med school through a direct matriculation route that they offer. So, in the end, I actually got into med school without ever submitting a med school application. I never even filled one out!
From what you’ve told me, I’m guessing you attended Touro’s MS Program. What are the requirements for admission to the program? What does the program involve?
Karan: That’s correct! I completed the MS Program at Touro in 2018. When I applied for the program, the admissions requirements were very basic. They required you to submit undergrad GPAs as well as submit an MCAT score; however, they had no minimums listed on the application or site. It was just a requirement to have a bachelor’s with the core med school science classes and have at least taken the MCAT once.
After submitting my application I was interviewed over the phone about the program and my interest, and was accepted the same day.
Overall, I would say the program is great, especially for people who are unsure if they would be able to handle the rigors of med school right after college. My warning is that the program at Touro is especially competitive because they have automatic acceptance into their medical school if you are able to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.45 within the program. This means that you are directly competing against your peers in the class since all the grades are based on a B+ curve. In general, though, I took almost all of the same classes that a first-year medical student would take and took the exact same exams as them as well. It was a great way to prove to myself that I could handle medical school and was a perfect way to show the medical admissions that I can handle the work despite what my MCAT or undergrad transcript showed.
What drew you to osteopathic medicine?
Karan: I have always been interested in the philosophy of osteopathic medicine and its principle to allow the body to heal itself ever since I learned about the two types of practice. Anatomically and evolutionarily our bodies are created to overcome pathological conditions, the manipulation through OMT aids in this and just allows the body to function within its normal structure. I personally would prefer to use nonpharmaceutical treatments if they were available and so osteopathic medicine was a perfect match for me.
What have you enjoyed the most about medical school? What can be improved?
Karan: One of the most enjoyable parts of medical school for me has been getting the privilege to learn about the human body from the numerous donors who have donated their bodies to science for me and my colleagues. Most, if not all, of my learning and forming the connection between my classes have happened in the anatomy lab.
One of the things that I think should be improved is the competitiveness that still exists within the medical school. Understandably, exams are needed, but unlike other medical schools, my school has not switched to pass/fail and continues to rank us based on GPA.
Let’s talk hobbies! How do you love to spend your precious free time, and how do you study smart to ensure you have time to do the things you enjoy?
Karan: Like I mentioned earlier, I am an avid gardener and so I like to destress after exams by tending to my plants.
Time management has always been an issue but I quickly learned that making a mental to-do list worked for me. I normally make a list of everything that I need to do for the day and assign an estimated time to each item so I can see how much I can get done realistically. This is probably the most important thing. Make a to-do list that you can realistically accomplish, otherwise, you’ll end up feeling sad that you couldn’t finish it.
What type of assistance (such as test prep or time off from classes) does Touro COM provide to students studying for Step 1?
Karan: Touro Middletown, which is the campus that I am at, generally gives us 2nd years about 6 weeks of dedicated study time for USMLE-Step 1 and COMLEX- Level1. In addition to this, they hold board-style review sessions before each of our system based module exams throughout the year. In terms of test prep material, we currently get access to COMBank which is a DO specific question bank but many students, like myself, choose to also buy Uworld as an additional resource.
Do you have any study tips that sound crazy but really work?
Karan: When I’m preparing for an exam I like to review my notes in the same order they were taught every single time. I found that I have a better photographic memory when I do this as opposed to studying out of order. The other thing I like to do is actively teach myself the material using a whiteboard.
What rotations are you most looking forward to next year?
Karan: I am really looking forward to my emergency medicine and surgery rotations next year!
Where do you so yourself professionally in 5-7 years?
Karan: Hopefully, within 5-7 years, I will be finished with residency and on my way to becoming an attending. I am hoping to start my career as an attending by doing a mission trip overseas.
If you could send one message to premeds just starting their med school journey, what would it be?
Karan: Listen to what your advisors tell you and try to meet those requirements, but if you find yourself struggling with grades or the MCAT, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of your dream. There’s always a way as long as you are motivated enough to work for it.
Do you have questions for Karan? Questions for us? Do you want to be featured in our next What is Medical School Really Like? post? Know someone else who you’d love to see featured? Are there questions you’d like us to ask our students in this series? LET US KNOW!
You can learn more about Karan by following him on Instagram.
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• The A-Z of Applying to Postbac Programs, a free guide
• What Do Scribes Do – And How to Become One, a podcast episode
• Assess Your Qualifications for Medical School