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 Clare…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Clare: I am from St. Louis, Missouri and I have a BBA in marketing and graphic design from the University of Notre Dame. After college I worked in marketing and advertising in both St. Louis and Dallas before deciding to go back to school to pursue medicine.
Accepted: Can you share 3 fun facts about yourself?
1. I play the Irish harp and placed 3rd in worlds when I was in high school.
2. I adore yoga and am hoping to become a certified yoga teacher this coming summer.
3. My favorite candy ever is M&Ms – all kinds.
Accepted: Can you walk us through your decision to become a doctor? What sparked the change from business to medicine?
Clare: So the decision to pursue medicine was a long one. To try to be concise, I recovered from Anorexia Nervosa during college, and a lot of what helped me recover was learning the physiological consequences of my disease. I then became increasingly interested in health and wellness, but at this point I was a senior in college with a job in marketing lined up.
During my first year of work I decided to become a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, just to learn more and see if it would pacify my desire for more health related work. I began to coach young women part time – mostly girls that were struggling with eating disorders – and I adored the pseudo “practitioner-patient” relationship. However, I was frustrated that I so often had to refer them to their physicians for blood work and other testing, since I wasn’t qualified to do any medical work. At the same time, I was feeling uninspired by my marketing career and didn’t see myself being passionate about it going forward.
Since I was happiest spending all my free time researching and learning about medicine and wellness, I decided to make the change!
Accepted: We have a lot of applicants interested in postbac programs. Can you talk about how you chose the best program for you and the benefits of attending a postbac program?
Clare: I didn’t know much about postbac programs when I first applied, so I did lots of research. I mostly applied to programs at schools and in cities I was interested in living in, as well as programs like Bryn Mawr and Goucher because they were the most well known. I wanted to do a program that was one year long, had a lot of support and advising, provided lots of shadowing and volunteer experience, and had a great acceptance rate into medical school.
I was accepted to a few that fit that bill, and ultimately my decision was based on where I felt the most comfortable. At UVA I got the sense that the professors and advisors were always helping out, that the students all worked together and were very close, and that I would love living in Charlottesville. Luckily I was right and cannot say enough great things about the postbac program at UVA.
Accepted: Where are you currently in med school? What year?
Clare: I am currently a first year medical student at St. Louis University and, while my anatomy course is a bit overwhelming, I couldn’t be happier!
Accepted: How many med schools did you apply to? How did you choose your current program?
Clare: I applied to 19 medical schools which, in retrospect, is an absurd amount. The average is about 15, but I hadn’t received my MCAT score when I applied so I didn’t have a good sense of what types of schools would be reasonable for me versus which would be reaches. I interviewed at five schools and was accepted to four.
I chose St. Louis University for a few reasons. First, St. Louis is home for me and after many years away I was excited to be back near family and friends. Secondly, SLU has a great focus on medical student wellness. Wellness and mental health is a big interest of mine, so I was excited to be at a place that was leading the way nationally in helping students prevent depression and anxiety. Lastly, a lot of my friends had gone to SLU med and loved it. All the student I talked to seemed very happy here.
Accepted: What are your top 3 med school application tips?
Clare: I would say my number one tip is to have a clear, well-articulated reason for wanting to become a doctor, especially as someone switching careers. Have a ton of people read over your essay – a medical school admissions advisor if possible – and make sure you express your unique interests, experiences, and desires as a physician.
Secondly, make sure you are aware of what it’s like to be a doctor these days. Educate yourself on the current politics of healthcare and issues plaguing physicians and hospitals. Admissions committees like to know that you know what you’re getting yourself into and that you can speak intelligently about the healthcare scene.
Lastly, be friendly and outgoing! Admissions committees will already see that you’re well-equipped academically through your application, but show them that your personality is well suited to working with people and that you will be an active, engaged part of their medical school community.
I have lots of posts on these topics on my blog, fitting-it-all-in.com, for readers that would like to learn more! Go to the blog and search for what you’re looking for!
You can follow Clare’s med school adventure by checking out her blog, fitting-it-all-in.com. Thank you Clare for sharing your story with us!
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