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 Adam, an MS3, travel-buff, and vlogger.
Adam, thank you for sharing your story with us!
Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?
Adam: My experiences in EMS are really what drove me to pursue medicine. It’s very rewarding to be there for someone on their lowest day at their worst time and be able to help out.
Looking back on your time in EMS, was there a call that was particularly memorable for you?
Adam: I think there are about a hundred memorable calls! Unfortunately I cannot talk about the details of patients, but in general terms, one trauma stands out. I had a man who cut his arm on a saw. There was very heavy arterial bleeding and I will never forget the look on his face. He was terrified that he would lose his arm. Looking back and knowing what I know now, this was unlikely to be an issue, and it was an easy vascular repair. Still, as the junior EMT, I had the job of holding pressure for the 35-minute ride to the trauma center. I did my best to calm him down and talk him through everything, but I remember wanting to know more about how to help him and what would be next.
What sparked your interest in emergency medicine?
Adam: I have always loved the fast pace, high acuity, and diversity that you see in EM. There are tons of procedures which I love but you also get to tap into the medical knowledge and make some diagnoses and rule out the bad stuff!
Did you experience any bumps along the road to medical school admission? How did you identify and deal with the issues?
Adam: Absolutely, the MCAT was a real struggle for me like it is for many students. I studied as best as I could, and on test day, it wasn’t even the science issues that gave me trouble; it ended up being verbal (I took the old test). Luckily, my GPA was very high and I had strong research and extracurriculars so I was still able to secure a lot of interview offers.
How did you prepare for the MCAT? Was there a particular course, book, or website that you found especially helpful? Any tips for those currently preparing for the test?
Adam: For the MCAT I used a Kaplan online course with live instructors. I thought that was really helpful to keep me on a specific schedule. I also used the Examkrackers books and BRS (Berkeley Review Series), if I remember correctly, but we’re going way back there!
Once medical school began, what surprised you most about the experience?
Adam: I think the most surprising thing was how much fun it can be. Sure, you are working a ton and the material is challenging, but you are doing this all with friends who are going through the same thing. Some of the best times I have had with some of my best friends have been in the last four years.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Adam: Now I’m studying for Step 2 so I get up at 4:55am and head to the gym. When I get home, I start my questions and then review them the rest of the morning. The afternoon is saved for content review. The evening is review of all that I have done that day and any other topics I need to touch up on.
Sounds intense! What keeps you motivated?
Adam: Honestly, it can be exhausting. I think by this point, knowing what specialty I want and having a clear goal is helping to keep things in perspective.
How have you found time to travel as a med student?
Adam: You must have seen my Instagram! I have done a ton of travel. I spend my study breaks planning where I want to go next. Most of my trips have occurred during med school breaks such as spring or winter break. I also took one of my bigger trips during the summer between my first and second year. The other big ski trip I took was during my two-week vacation in third-year.
What’s your favorite travel destination?
Adam: So far, probably skiing in the French Alps at Les Arcs! St. Maarten is a close second.
Let’s talk photography! How did you become interested in this hobby, and how have you made time for it as a student?
Adam: I’m so glad you asked! I started shooting the summer of my first year of med school. I actually got a cheap Nikon to start making YouTube videos for my old channel and decided to bring the camera with me to Europe. I shot every day for 28 days straight and when I came back, not only was I technically good, but I had made some really great images and enjoyed doing so.
I think the nice thing about shooting pictures is that you can edit them at your leisure so it fits into the crazy schedule of medical school well.
Also, as people started to see my work, I realized I could probably charge people to do what I enjoyed doing already. That was the beginning and I grew a pretty successful small photography business that helped fund more photo gear and travel through medical school!
How do you recommend students “study smart” in order to have more free time to pursue outside interests?
Adam: I think now more than ever it’s important to disconnect from your phone and social media when you want to study. I think small focused efforts are much more effective than trying to compete in your brain with Instagram and Snapchat for that processing power. In short, limit your distraction and have a clear goal in mind for each study session.
Can you share a bit about your YouTube channel and the interviews viewers can find there? When and why did you start this channel? Any plans for future interviews?
Adam: Absolutely! I think it’s really hard to lump my YouTube into one “type.” I will occasionally post vlog style content, travel videos and tips to get people traveling for less, but then I also have videos on study tips, Step 1, question review, etc.
With my teaching experience, I feel like I have picked up a lot of great pearls that I try to share on YouTube. The interviews are a fun way for me to bring new guests to my audience to answer their questions rather than me talking at them all the time. So I think it’s a medical school schmorgesborg, which is why I went with the name “seethemedlife” for my social media handles.
I really want to give folks a look inside the life of medical school and show that there is so much more than studying all day!
Also, since you brought up YouTube, I have been starting out on Instagram recently and I am blown away by the support over there. I would say people are generally more engaged on Instagram and I have done some really cool Insta-Live session lately!
Definitely stop by and follow me on IG too @seethemedlife!
If you had a 25th hour in your day, how would you spend it?
Adam: I love this question. I think it’s great because one hour isn’t enough to travel the world or invent the cure to cancer, it’s just that little extra something. Personally, I would spend that time with my family and friends. I think a strong support system is key to anyone’s success and I would love extra time in the day to express that appreciation for their support!
Do you have questions for Adam? 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!
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