Wife, mom, and medical resident: This week, a show about succeeding in med school and residency while juggling multiple commitments.
Meet Dr. Jasmine Johnson, the blogger at Mrs. Mommy MD and a second year ObGyn resident at UNC Chapel Hill. Her first child was born while she was applying to med school – and she’s been juggling her multiple roles ever since! [0:57]
Dr. Johnson’s path to medicine [1:25]
Growing up with a physician father (a urologist), she was interested in medicine from a young age. As an undergrad at the U of Michigan, she majored in Brain Behavior/Cognitive Science. In her senior year of college, while she was applying to med schools, she gave birth to a baby boy. When she became pregnant, she decided she would still apply that year.
While she had interviews, she didn’t get in anywhere. However, she had the opportunity to enroll in a postbac program at Indiana U. The postbac made a huge difference in terms of strengthening her application for the following year. She was able to raise her MCAT score, and taking the first-year med school curriculum during the postbac program helped boost her GPA (and also gave her added skills and confidence for med school – especially given that she was starting with a young child). The second time she applied, she was accepted to med schools, including IU, where she decided to go.
Did she apply to postbac programs or DO programs alongside MD programs? [5:46]
No, she didn’t apply initially to postbac programs (and didn’t consider osteopathic programs). The opportunity to join the IU postbac came along with their rejection letter from the med school program. But she thinks that applying to postbac programs can be a very smart choice for applicants, especially for people who might need to strengthen one part of their application.
Is the IU postbac program restricted to state residents? [7:43]
No – she had classmates from all over the country and all walks of life, including career changers.
Looking back, what were her challenges in the application process? [9:00]
She was anxious about beefing up her stats (especially the MCAT). But a big concern for her was also how much to disclose about her personal situation as a new mom. She opted to be conservative, since she was worried about how readers might react to issues around working mothers, etc. But in her residency applications, she was much more open about her personal situation. And looking back, she thinks she was over-concerned when applying to med school.
Would she advise applicants with children to be more open than she was? [11:15]
It’s a strength to be able to juggle responsibilities and achieve all that you have – a mark of maturity. And being a parent can also show your ability to relate to patients and be empathetic.
What were the hardest or most memorable interview questions she faced? [13:15]
She was asked to explain a semester when her grades fell – it was a blunt question. This forces you to discuss a weakness straightforwardly in a way that shows growth and maturity.
The other question she found challenging was: “If you didn’t do medicine, what would you do?” Because she had no other real goals. But a question like that forces you to think on your feet.
It’s important to provide context when discussing a low GPA or a bad semester [15:16]
What changed to help her application the second time? [16:20]
Mainly her MCAT score. Taking science courses through the postbac also helped. And the reputation of the program was a boost during interviews. The other important benefit of the postbac program was that it helped prepare her for med school: both in terms of curriculum and in terms of her maturity level and preparation for success.
Why ObGyn? [18:20]
She’d had an interest in women’s health. And then during 3rd year rotations, she jotted down what she liked about each specialty, so that she wouldn’t forget (what you do each day, what you like/don’t like). She took note of the advice she got from an attending: during rotations, everything is new and exciting. You should pick something that you’ll still enjoy when the shine wears off.
She really likes delivering babies, but she also likes the other day-to-day work of the specialty: working with women to help them juggle health concerns, the combination of surgery, outpatient roles, teaching, etc.
She matched at her #1 choice for residency. To what does she attribute this success? [21:45]
She was a competitive applicant: strong STEP scores, diverse extracurriculars that helped her app stand out. She thinks her blog was an asset – she talked about it in her application.
Why does she blog? [23:40]
She and her husband both have extended family in Michigan, but after they had their son, they moved to Indiana for her to start med school. So she first started blogging as a way to share photos and stories with family.
Then it was a way to connect with other people, because she felt a little isolated as a new mother in med school. Looking at mommy blogs, she noticed that most were pretty domestically-oriented, so she wanted to create a blog for moms in professional school. She expanded the scope and drew in other mothers.
One of the most encouraging things is to see someone doing what you’re hoping to do.
How does she balance her commitments? (Mrs, Mom, and MD) [26:50]
Basically, an awesome support system. She and her husband work on communicating and try to set time aside for date night. Her husband (who is a mechanical engineer) generally takes charge of daycare drop-off and pick-up because his work schedule is more regular. And they have supportive family who step in to help (such as helping out during exam week, etc.).
Do her tips also apply to Dr. Daddies? [31:00]
Yes! We tend to assume it’s easier for dads going through this process, but they’re also juggling.
Working smarter, not harder (per a recent interview with Dr. Andrea Tooley). What does this mean? [32:20]
Some tips, for example:
• On Sunday, she does laundry and organizes her son’s clothing for the whole week. It saves time.
• Don’t reinvent the wheel: talk to other parents about what they do for childcare.
• That goes for studying, too: ask your classmates what study methods worked for them.
What’s next for Dr. Johnson? [34:55]
She’s planning to pursue a fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine, to work in high-risk obstetrics (managing women with multiple medical problems/risk factors in pregnancy).
Her advice for medical school and residency applicants [36:10]
Don’t get distracted by what other people are doing – stay encouraged and run your race. Keep your confidence up.
• The Mrs. The Mommy. The M.D. , Dr. Jasmine Johnson’s Blog:
• Dr. Andrea Tooley interviews Dr. Jasmine Johnson
• Interview with Jasmine Johnson (2012)
• The Definitive Guide to Pre-Medical Postbaccalaureate Programs:
• The handbook for career changers and academic record enhancers who want a chance at medical school
• Healthcare Admissions Resource Page
• Residency Admissions Advice
• A Second Chance at Medical School: The A-Z of Applying to Postbac Programs
• All Things Postbac
• Elliptical, Meet Med School: Interview with Andrea Tooley
• MCAT Expertise + Harvard MBA Experience
• The Unbelievable Story of an Orthopedic Surgeon
• Insight from a Successful, Non-Traditional Premed and now M2
• MedHounD Hunts The Right Med School for You
• Overcoming The Odds: A Story of Med School Inspiration