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 Daniella…
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?
Daniella: Hello! I’m from Mexico and I grew up in a city called Ciudad Juarez. When I graduated from High School in El Paso, TX it was very important to me to stay close to my family, so I decided to study Biomedical Sciences at The University of Texas at El Paso, which is a city in Texas (UTEP) right across the border. I graduated in 2014.
Accepted: Where are you currently going to medical school? What year are you?
Daniella: I’m a third year student at Boston University School of Medicine, currently in my psychiatry rotation.
Accepted: You were a part of the early admissions program at Boston University. Would you suggest this route for others wanting to go to med school?
Daniella: I was involved with the pre-med organization at my undergrad institution where we met every Wednesday. One day, a representative from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) came to talk to us about their Early Medical School Selection Program (EMSSP), which is a program dedicated to closing the gap between the number of minority physicians and minority patients.
On a whim, I was like, “hey why not?” and I decided to apply. I got an interview and to my surprise I was accepted! This meant that I was going to get a scholarship to spend my sophomore and junior summers taking seminars and preparing for the MCAT at BU, and my whole senior year at BUSM taking a mix of upper level biology and masters level classes. Then, depending on my performance and my MCAT, I would be granted a seat at the medical school. Senior year was very difficult academically and it was difficult to be away from my friends and family, but I think in the long run it made me more resilient and a better student. EMSSP is a big commitment, because you have to be present for two summers and the whole senior year, but I would recommend it to anyone. I think the EMSSP creates an environment where we support each other from undergrad and through medical school and I’m definitely very thankful for the opportunities and support they have given me.
Accepted: Who are some of the people or what are some of the experiences that inspired you to follow your chosen career path?
Daniella: I can’t remember a moment where I didn’t want to be a scientist. That’s just what I wanted. I was always that kid messing around with the fish bowl cleaning materials, mixing them to see which one makes the solution change color, making ant farms, playing doctor every time my one of my parents got sick or one of my little brother’s toys broke and “needed surgery.”
As I grew up and considered medicine more seriously, I started shadowing an ophthalmologist. I remember there was one patient, who got some sort of pro-bono procedure. He was a former truck driver who lost his job due to failing eye sight and was now here for his post-operative visit with his daughter and grandbaby. When the ophthalmologist came in the patient was so grateful and felt that his intervention had given him his life back and he was now able to see his grandbaby clearly for the first time. Right then and there I was like, “yep, I’m going to medical school for sure.” Ever since, it’s been different experiences with patients that reaffirm my career choice.
Accepted: You have a website called Coffee Mugger, MD! Why did you want to start chronicling your med school experience?
Daniella: I actually started as a premed. At the time it was more about recounting stressful situations in a funny way to help me cope with the stress, but over time, it has become a place for me to reflect on my experiences throughout medical school and to help other premeds and medical students in any way I can.
Accepted: Let’s talk about the MCAT… How did you prepare for it? How did you do? Did you take it more than once?
Daniella: I took the MCAT twice. The first time I used the Princeton Review class, which was provided for us by the EMSSP. It involved a lot of attending class, reading, and answering questions. The materials were helpful, but I had difficulty engaging with the classes and in the end it wasn’t really the right method for me. The second time I read the Exam Crackers books, which are really short, and then focused on doing questions exclusively. I completed all the 1001Q series by EK as well as the Princeton Review Science Workbook. This was a much better study method for me, and I was able to get the score I needed.
Accepted: Do you have any idea of what specialty you’d like to go into? What has been your favorite so far?
Daniella: I’m going into neurology! I did neurology research during my first and second year and I absolutely loved the rotation. I love how the same physical exam can tell you so much about completely different pathologies, I love the imaging, the pathophysiology, and the variety within the field. It’s absolutely the right field for me.
Accepted: Lastly, what is your greatest piece of advice for those students who just donned their white coats?
Daniella: If there is one thing that I wish I had known as a first year is that MS1 can be so intimidating, especially at the beginning. You are put in an intimidating place with 150 other extremely qualified people. It’s so easy to feel like everyone is doing so well and adjusting so well and you are not. It’s so easy to feel like an impostor or that somehow you didn’t really earn your spot and it was all a mistake. Know that everyone is struggling and that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s for academic, emotional, or any kind of problem. You school is full of people who believe in you and want you to succeed. Here’s a video I made with other advice about starting first year.
Be sure to check out Daniella’s website, Coffee Mugger, MD, and follow Daniella on Twitter (@coffeemuggermd). Thank you Daniella for sharing your advice, we wish you the best of luck!
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Do you want to be featured in Accepted’s blog? If you want to share your med school journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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