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 Racquel…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Racquel: I was born and raised in sunny Tucson, AZ. Year round sun can be fun when you’re a kid and want to play outside all day, but as an adult I’m looking forward to moving somewhere a bit colder! Growing up in AZ as a minority was also a dynamic experience and it definitely contributed to my sense of social justice.
My decision to stay in Tucson for college and attend the University of Arizona was twofold. I wanted to stay close to my family but I was also fortunate enough to have scholarships. I was in the Honors College and majored in Physiology, Religious Studies, and Spanish & Portuguese. I also minored in Arabic and studied abroad in Lebanon. I think that being the first person in my family to go to college made undergrad both challenging and exciting. Within the first year of college I realized I had a lot of interests, hence all of the majors and the minor! I figured since I only got to go to college once I might as well get the most out of it by approaching learning with an open mind. If I had more hours in the day I definitely would have picked up an English major since I love literature, poetry and prose. The goal of my undergrad experience was to get me into medical school while learning as much as I could along the way. Looking back, I would do it all over again.
My favorite ice cream flavor would have to be French vanilla – Baskin Robbins used to have it when I was a kid but discontinued it. I’ve been searching for a replacement ever since!
Accepted: Where are you in med school? What year?
Racquel: I’m currently a third year medical student, and though I would like to keep the exact location of my med school a bit private, I will say it is in the Southwest.
Accepted: What is your favorite class so far? Favorite clerkship?
Racquel: During the first two years we had a wide variety of “blocks.” I definitely enjoyed our metabolism block the most though. Biochem has been my favorite subject since undergrad and I enjoyed learning pathways in terms of pathology and treatment.
I’m currently on the Internal Medicine clerkship, which is my first clerkship ever. So while I don’t know which has been my favorite clerkship just yet, I will say I’m very excited for pediatrics, OB/GYN and surgery. I have an idea of what my idea medical career would look like but I’m looking forward to finishing more clerkships in order to solidify my vision. Who knows, I might even surprise myself and decide to go into something totally unexpected!
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?)
Racquel: I went straight from college to med school. Though I have many interests, my ultimate goal has always been medicine. With that in mind, undergrad was my opportunity to explore those interests while strengthening my application for medical school. I’m a very goal-oriented person with high expectations of myself so I never planned to take time off between college and med school. It just wasn’t something I saw myself doing. Had I not gotten in the first time around I likely would have spent a year doing research and working.
Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the med school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?
Racquel: The med school admissions process is a really difficult time, both logistically and emotionally. I think that the uncertainty that comes along with constantly waiting for an email that decides your fate can make you question your sanity. The whole process can wreak havoc on your inner peace, but it doesn’t have to. Keeping busy but also having a strong spiritual foundation helped me. At the time I was starting my senior year of college and had 24-unit semesters (thanks to all those majors) on top of working at a dermatology practice in the afternoons. I was busy, but I was still stressed. I turned to prayer and my husband to help keep myself centered. Another important thing to keep in mind during the admissions process is that you’re still a person who is worth more than an interview invite, rejection, etc. Let the process be a learning experience, but don’t let it break you.
Accepted: How did you choose which med school would be the best one for you?
Racquel: When choosing which med school was best for me I had to consider more than just academics. Things like finances, price of living, and what the potential city has to offer all come into play. My husband and I got married during my senior year of college so we chose a school based on the overall quality of life we wanted to have for four years. We chose to go somewhere that would allow us to live comfortably but also be close to family. That being said, had I gotten into my dream school I would have gone there in a heartbeat!
Accepted: Do you have any other advice for our med school applicant readers?
Racquel: Just remember that your hard work will pay off! One way or another you will find a way to get where you want to be, so make the most of the journey.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? When did you start blogging? What have you gained from the experience?
Racquel: I’ve followed many blogs over the years and appreciate the open platform that a blog offers. One day I decided to try it for myself. I first posted in December 2014 as my first semester of MSII came to an end. I had no idea how to start a blog, but my HTML skills from middle school (I attended a science-focused charter school) were finally put to good use. My blog started as a space where I could share some of the challenges I’ve had in my life as well as what medical school is like. I like the idea that my blog will continue to evolve as I do. Writing a blog has allowed me to work through some of my experiences. I have also been able to offer advice to people who write to me, and that is very humbling. My blog has also allowed me to connect with other women in medicine, which is a huge source of motivation for me!
You can follow Racquel’s med school adventure by checking out her blog, Mindful of Medicine. Thank you Racquel for sharing your story with us!
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