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 Dehra McGuire…
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?
Dehra: I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I majored in Microbiology with a minor in Classical Greek at The University of Oklahoma (BOOMER!) and graduated in 2014.
Accepted: Where are you currently attending med school? What year are you?
Dehra: I stayed at OU for medical school and started the fall after I graduated from undergrad. I’m currently an MS3.
Accepted: What drew you to OU? How did you know it was the right “fit” for you?
Dehra: I’m a third generation Sooner. My grandfather and both of my parents went there. I grew up watching OU football and my dad actually played for the football team back in the 80s. It just runs in the family at this point. The 5 year tuition waiver included in the National Merit Scholarship didn’t hurt, either. And because I graduated from undergrad in 4 years and stayed at OU for medical school, the fifth year of the tuition waiver was applied to my first year of med school.
So what drew me to OU was staying close to my family and my support system and knowing I’d graduate with a lot less debt than if I had gone out of state. Plus I still get student priced season football tickets.
Accepted: What have been the biggest challenges that you’ve faced as a med student so far? How have you overcome?
Dehra: I’d say I’ve encountered 2 major challenges in medical school. The first was learning how in the world to study when you’re being thrown so much information when my usual study style through high school and undergrad was cramming. There’s just too much information to get through and be successful if you’re only studying the night before the test. So I’d definitely say trying to find my study groove and the motivation to keep myself studying every day when I’d been successful getting by with minimal studying was a struggle. Not to mention finding the most efficient way of studying for retention. It can be different for everyone and there are so many study resources marketed to medical students. Trying to wade through them to figure out what was going to work best for me was overwhelming at first.
The second biggest struggle, and I think it’s something a lot of medical students struggle with, was not comparing myself to others and beating myself up over not doing the same things other students were doing. A lot of us go into medical school used to being at the top of our classes, graduating with honors, etc… I’m a competitive person by nature, and I had to reconcile myself with the fact that scoring averagely in medical school is still a pretty big accomplishment. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and being accepted into medical school is all about being a better applicant than the thousands of others applying. So learning to compete with myself and not compare myself to my classmates took some time, but I’m definitely better and more healthy mentally for it.
Accepted: Looking back at your application process, how did you prepare for the MCAT? Did you feel ready on test day?
Dehra: Hahaha, trust me. I am not someone you want to emulate when it comes to MCAT studying. I scheduled it for April of my junior year telling myself I’d study during the semester. I was wrong. I ended up cramming with the ExamKrackers books over spring break for 4-5 days, took 2 practice tests over the next week and a half, and then took my test. The physical sciences portion kicked my butt. Luckily my bio science and reading comp score bolstered my score a bit and I didn’t have to retake it. I should have scheduled it for January, crammed over Christmas break, and taken it earlier. I procrastinate too much.
Accepted: You have a blog, Medschool Monarchess! What inspired you to start blogging your med school journey?
Dehra: I do have a blog! I actually started it when I was in undergrad as “Premed-Princess” to document/vent my frustrations and struggles juggling being a sorority girl and premed. I was an exec for my sorority and a lot of people asked me, “How do you have time for this?” and “Do you think this will hurt your chances of getting into medical school?” So I started the blog to fight those stereotypes and help other women who wanted to be active in Greek life and enjoy that sisterhood and mentorship, but were worried about how it might impact their journey to medical school.
From there, it just seemed a natural transition to continue blogging into medical school, though I don’t do it as much as I probably should.
I’ve got a decent following of about 5,000 on Tumblr and my YouTube channel is gaining subscribers, too. I enjoy answering people’s questions and encouraging them. Unfortunately, there weren’t any really good royal titles that started with “M,” but I’ve already got idea for names when I hit residency!
Accepted: Do you have any ideas on a specialty yet? What have been some of your favorite areas of study?
Dehra: I’m like 90% sure I want to do Otolaryngology with a fellowship in Laryngology to focus on treating the professional voice. I’ve been a singer and performer my whole life, so I think it would be really cool to be able to work with that patient population since I’ll be able to relate and empathize with them. Otolaryngology also has a great mix of medicine, surgery, procedures, and diagnosis. I like change and mixing things up, so it’s cool to find a specialty that’s so versatile and constantly changing with technology in respect to robotic surgery and lasers. Other than that, I’ve really enjoyed my neurology and psych rotations! Is anyone seeing a pattern here? I like to work from the shoulders up.
Accepted: Lastly, can you share your top three tips to survive the first year of med school?
1. Have fun. Medical school is an experience unlike any other. You’re surrounded by like minded people who love to learn and who will push you to achieve more than you ever thought you could and learn faster than you thought possible. It’s an amazing process. Enjoy it!
2. Make friends in your class. Go out of your way to do this. They’re some of the only people who will really understand what you’re going through, and studying at 3am isn’t so bad when you’re with people you like. You’ll become this weird little nerdy family, and it’s honestly the best.
3. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. It can be so easy. Get enough sleep. Eat. Work out. Maintain relationships with the people you love who aren’t in medical school. Continue to do things that make you happy. Take breaks. Go on vacation. Don’t study over Christmas. Nothing is worth your mental health, not even med school. If you need help, seek it out. Don’t isolate yourself. I think happier, healthier doctors result in happier, healthier patients.
You can follow Dehra’s journey by checking out her blog Medschool Manarchess or by following her on Twitter (@WebMDehra) and Instagram (@dehramcguire) or subscribe to her YouTube account. Thank you Dehra for sharing your experience with us – we wish you continued success!
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• The 5-Part Framework for a Successful Medical School Application, an on-demand webinar
• What is Med School Really Like?, a podcast episode
• Why Do You Want to Be a Doctor?