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 Dose of Fluff…
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?
Dose of Fluff: I’m from Los Angeles, but I went to college at Northwestern University. I majored in Psychology and Political Science and minored in Global Health Studies and graduated in 2013.
Accepted: Where are you currently going to medical school? What year are you?
Dose of Fluff: I go to medical school in New York and I’m almost a third year! I’m currently studying for the Step 1 exam.
Accepted: You have a Bachelor’s degree and a M.P.H. already… what inspired you to attend medical school? Was that always your plan?
Dose of Fluff: I had always planned on going to medical school. In high school, we had a community service requirement and I chose to do mine at a hospital, and I immediately knew I wanted to be a doctor when I saw how doctors interacted with patients. I went into college as a pre-med and took all my pre-med requirements, but as I said, I chose to do my majors and a minor in subjects that are not commonly pursued by pre-meds because I was genuinely interested in these topics and knew that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to learn about them after college. I became interested in public health when I started to learn more about health policy through both my political science and global health courses. I found out about the M.P.H. degree when I went to a few health policy lectures given by people with M.P.H. degrees, and I began to do some more research about it. I loved that the degree would teach me epidemiology, which I was interested in doing research in, and expose me to community health experiences. I applied to only a few M.P.H. programs because I was selective in what I wanted to gain from the experience, so I only applied to programs that would give me the educational experience I wanted – in epidemiology, community health, and infectious diseases (which I had been interested in through my undergraduate research). I was pleasantly surprised to be accepted to my top choice program at the Yale School of Public Health, and it really turned out perfectly for me because I had always wanted to take 2 years off before medical school anyway. The M.P.H. program really exceeded my expectations and I learned so much that I plan on utilizing in my future career. I gained a lot of clinical knowledge through my epidemiological research, had the opportunity to become involved in the free clinic, learned a lot about community health, and gained a lot of knowledge that I believe will help me become a better doctor.
Because I’ve been getting some DM’s about this, I also want to add that my decision to pursue a M.P.H. before medical school wasn’t for the purposes of being a more competitive applicant and I do not personally think that the degree should be used for that. There are so many other, shorter master’s degree programs that are for the specific purposes of helping you be more competitive and boost your GPA for your medical school application. Most competitive M.P.H. programs don’t even give you a GPA so that wouldn’t help at all – I sincerely only did the M.P.H. because I was truly interested in learning more through the program and wanted to take two years “off” before medical school learning and doing something different but still a little related to the broader field of health. Getting a M.P.H. before medical school is a relatively unique route. Most people who want both a MD and a M.P.H. will go get a M.P.H. between their third and fourth years of medical school or wait until they are later down their careers as MD’s when there are some programs that offer accelerated one year MPH programs for advanced professionals. Also, I don’t think having an M.P.H. is necessary to do public health research in medical school – I just wanted to delve deeper into epidemiology and gain more community health experience and public health management experience before entering medical school.
Accepted: How has medical school treated you thus far? How do you manage your time to still find time for yourself?
Dose of Fluff: I’ve loved medical school so far! It has definitely been busy and challenging at times, especially when I have to make sacrifices to study and knowing that a lot of medicine as a career comes as a delayed gratification process, but every day in medical school has made me feel like this is really exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s hard to find time for yourself because you could really spend every spare minute of your day studying, but I schedule time during the week to do things that make me relaxed and happy. So, for example, Friday nights I would always take off (unless I had a Monday morning exam) and hang out with my non-medical school friends, go get a manicure/pedicure, cook, etc.
Accepted: You’ve been prepping for the USMLE Step 1. How is that going? What are you currently doing to prepare?
Dose of Fluff: Studying for Step 1 is challenging! There is SO much information and I always feel like there’s not enough time. I made a schedule at the beginning of my study period and try to follow it every day. It consists of 3 four-hour blocks. Every day my first block is UWorld, and my second and third blocks are whatever subject I have scheduled for that day, and usually I read the First Aid chapter for that subject, go through Sketchy Notes, Pathoma, and flash cards.
Accepted: You share your medical school journey on your blog, Dose of Fluff. What made you want to share your story with others?
Dose of Fluff: I wanted to share my story because I wanted to show that medical students aren’t this stereotype of serious, stressed students studying all day every day. I wanted to break the stereotype and encourage other students to follow their passions in their free time (my passion, or “fluff” is fashion), which I strongly believe ultimately leads to better mental health and self-care, which are so important in medical school. Medical school is a stressful time and I think we can all do better to take care of ourselves. For me, picking out outfits and sharing my style on Instagram in my free time makes me happy! My life is basically medical school and fashion, so I wanted to share that with everyone and hope that it encourages other medical students, premeds, and doctors to pursue their hobbies as a way of de-stressing.
Accepted: Lastly, what are your 3 tips for staying happy and stress free in medical school?
Dose of Fluff:
My three tips are:
1. Allow yourself to step away from studying from time to time to do something you love
2. Don’t forget to try to stay connected to friends and family outside of medical school
3. Maintain a hobby!
Thank you Dose of Fluff for sharing your journey with us. We wish you continued success!
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