This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top medical schools and the med school application process. And now, introducing Anum…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? When did you graduate?
Anum: Hi! I’m from a little bit of everywhere. My family moved a lot when I was a child so I’ve lived in New Jersey, New York, California, Virginia and even Pakistan. Southern California is the first place that’s really felt completely like home since we’ve been here the longest, but as a child of the Pakistani diaspora the “where are you from?” question is a difficult one to answer. I stayed close by for college and majored in biology. I chose biology because our school made it really difficult to take all the premed requirements while having any other major. In a perfect world I would’ve majored in psychology, sociology or something along those lines considering I’m spending the rest of my life studying biology.
Accepted: Where are you currently attending medical school? What year are you?
Anum: I was lucky enough to stay in southern California for medical school and I’m currently in my third year. The first two years of medical school were really difficult for me, and I’m still struggling to get through step one, but being on rotations in the hospital has been absolutely amazing. It’s exactly the reminder I needed at this stage of my journey.
Accepted: How did the application process go for you? Did you experience any hard times? How did you overcome them?
Anum: I actually found the application cycle to be pretty fun and exciting. The most stressful part of the cycle was definitely the waiting and worrying about how I “only” got two interview invitations – but as a writer, I enjoyed talking about my love for medicine, social justice and equity in health care. And as someone who moved almost every year growing up, the idea of having to move almost anywhere in the country wasn’t as stressful as it probably is for most people. I ended up exactly where I was meant to be.
Accepted: How was the MCAT for you? How did you prepare?
Anum: The MCAT was definitely a tough time but not as difficult as I expected it to be. I took a class with Berkeley Review that was mostly on the weekends. I took minimum units so that I had time to study but I stayed with my clinical research. Spending that time in the hospital every week was a reminder of why I was working so hard. My test anxiety didn’t really show up until I started medical school so it wasn’t as difficult as it probably would be for me now.
Accepted: You share about your life, med school journey, and health and wellness advice on your Instagram, A Healer’s Heart. What inspired you to share your journey?
Anum: Failure. The first time I failed an exam in medical school initially completely destroyed my confidence and I felt like I was the only one. When I started to talk to classmates and other friends in medical school, I realized how far that was from the truth. I started sharing on Instagram because I didn’t want others to feel alone too. I never expected my words to resonate with so many people but I’m so grateful for the community we’ve created. It’s gotten me through some of the darkest days.
Accepted: Your husband is also in medical school. How do you two manage a long-distance relationship on top of medical school?
Anum: It’s not an ideal situation to say the least but we do what we can to make it work. We try not to go more than a month without seeing each other, we do video chat study sessions and study hadiths together. We stay connected throughout the day via texts about what we’re up to. While we’re both in really difficult stages in our careers, it’s so wonderful to go through it all together. In some ways I think the distance makes our marriage stronger because we have to consciously make time to connect and can’t rely on falling asleep next to each other or watching TV together.
Accepted: Lastly, can you share 3 tips to medical school success?
1. Be kind and patient with yourself.
2. Never worry about what anyone else in your class is doing.
3. Constantly remind yourself of the “why” and do whatever you need to do to make this happen.
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