This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com 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 our anonymous blogger Med State of Mind…
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite flavor ice cream?
Med State of Mind: I am from the Midwest, and I went to a state school for undergrad. I have a B.S. in microbiology. In undergrad I did a bunch of research.
My favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla soft serve with Reese’s peanut butter cups mixed in.
Accepted: Where are you in med school? What year? (If you are keeping this info private, can you please just give us some hints — like that it’s a DO school and maybe the region of the world/country?)
Med State of Mind: I am currently a first year medical student at an osteopathic medical school in the Midwest.
Accepted: Why did you choose a DO school?
Med State of Mind: I only applied to MD schools my first application cycle. That didn’t work out that year, and in deciding if I should even reapply to medical school, I looked more into DO programs. I didn’t really know much about DO besides that it existed at that point.
I shadowed a DO and did a ton of research on it, and I found out that it actually fit better with how I want to treat my patients in the future. I like that we are taught to look at more than just the patient’s numbers, and we also learn Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT). I like that as a doctor, I will have extra tools in my tool box to help treat my patients better, including non-pharmaceutical methods. Not that MDs can’t practice like that, but it is definitely emphasized in our training!
Accepted: Did you go straight from college to med school? Or did you take time off? If you took time off, how did you spend your time?
Med State of Mind: I only planned on taking one year off, but ended up taking two. My first application cycle didn’t go well, but I applied to more programs including DO in my 2nd application cycle, and finally got accepted!
Initially I just volunteered at the hospital and shadowed during my time off, but I figured out I could get my CNA and get work experience in a clinical setting. I worked at a hospital for about a year. I also continued to volunteer and shadow during my time off.
I think my first time applying, I wasn’t showing enough interest in healthcare during my time off, so I think it definitely helped once I was able to work in a healthcare setting.
Accepted: What are your thoughts on the importance of clinical experience? How would you advise our pre-med readers on this subject?
Med State of Mind: I think it is one of the most important things you can do! Medicine is not an easy path to take, so I think it is critical that everyone has a clear understanding of what they will be getting themselves into. Shadowing is definitely great to see what doctors do, but I think it is important to also do other activities like volunteering. Shadowing doesn’t necessarily show your work ethic, but being involved with volunteering and other activities does. I would recommend at least 50 hours shadowing, and make sure to include some with a primary care doctor.
Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first-year students, to help make their adjustment to med school easier? What do you wish you would have known before you started school?
Med State of Mind: Make sure you take some time before school starts to do absolutely nothing! I took about 2 months off and just went on vacations and did things I enjoyed. Once school starts, you don’t get much time to do things like that. The summer before school starts is a great time to check some things off your bucket list.
It also helps to talk to 2nd years in your program. They know what to expect, what books to buy, how different professors do things, all that good stuff. At my school we are matched with a 2nd year who mentors us, and I definitely go to her whenever I have a question about something!
I wish I would have known it isn’t quite as bad as I was expecting. The long hours of studying suck when you’re stuck in a room by yourself for 14 hours, but I’ve shown to myself that I CAN do it. I had pretty low expectations for myself going in, but I didn’t need to be so hard on myself. Yes, you have to study a lot, but it’s definitely possible to have some sort of a life outside of school and do okay in your classes. You just have to take it all one day at a time, and make sure you take the time to get away from school. I don’t think I would survive if I didn’t take the time to work out, hang out with friends, and be involved with activities outside of school.
It also helps I feel like I’m learning more relevant things to my career most of the time. Medical school can be fun sometimes!
Accepted: Can you talk about your experience as a reapplicant? What do you think went wrong during your first cycle of applications? What did you change the second time around that helped you get accepted?
Med State of Mind: I think I already covered this in another answer, but basically I did not have nearly enough clinical experience applying the first time around. I think schools doubted that I knew what I was getting into. I also don’t think I sold the clinical experience I did have enough. How you word things can definitely make a difference. I’m not saying you should lie or embellish (definitely don’t do that!), but make sure someone who knows nothing about the activity can clearly see what you were doing and what you got out of the experience. So if while you were volunteering at the hospital, you also got to interact with doctors a lot – say it! Don’t just assume the people reading your application will know what you did.
Accepted: Why did you decide to tweet about your experience? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?
Med State of Mind: I started my Twitter because I found some pre-med accounts and liked the community of pre-meds and medical professionals on Twitter. It was a great support system and a way to stay motivated when I got rejected from medical school the first time around. There are so many people on Twitter that are willing to help and give advice! I don’t know if I would have reapplied if I wouldn’t have started my Twitter, to be honest. It was hard getting rejected, but I was able to see other people applying and going through the same thing, and it kept me going! It especially helped me since I was out of school at that point and didn’t get to interact with other pre-meds very often.
I hope that people can learn from my mistakes and that I can help people get through the tough process that is getting into medical school. It is definitely a tough journey, but so far I am so glad I did it. Now I can share my experience in medical school with my followers, as well!
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You can read more about Med State of Mind’s journey by following him on Twitter @med_stateofmind. Thank you for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
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