Next up in our series of featured med school bloggers is Allison (@grecoa3), a fourth year med student and author of the blog MD2B. Enjoy Allison’s thoughtful answers and use them to help you make your way through the med school admissions process.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, where did you go to school and when did you graduate; and what prior degrees do you hold?
Allison: I am originally from a small, East-Central Pennsylvania home town. I graduated from the University of Scranton in 2009 with a degree in Biology and a minor in Communications. I matriculated at Jefferson Medical College that same year, and am now in my fourth year.
Accepted: How many med schools did you apply to? Why did you choose the one you’re attending now?
Allison: I applied to quite a few medical schools (I want to say 10-ish?). I chose Jefferson because it has a longstanding, respected reputation. I also liked the surrounding Philadelphia area. Finally, and most importantly, Jefferson has a physician-shortage interest group that I found particularly appealing, given my own rural hometown background.
Accepted: Has the program lived up to your expectations? Have there been any surprises?
Allison: Honestly, I love it here. I feel like I’ve received a great education. As for surprises, I have to say that I surprised myself when I decided not to pursue a career in rural primary care, but instead to apply to residency programs at university hospitals so I can prepare myself for a career teaching clinical medicine.
Accepted: Which has been your favorite year of medical school so far? Which has been the most challenging? Least challenging?
Allison: Fourth year by far is my favorite. I feel like fourth-year students feel more comfortable in the clinical setting, and have the experience to start putting book knowledge and clinical knowledge together. You also get to take elective rotations in the fields that you’re most interested in, which is always more fun than taking required courses in fields that you might not enjoy.
The most challenging years were second year and third year, but for different reasons. In second year, board studying is incredibly taxing. In third year, you are taken out of a classroom and put into a clinic and expected to take care of patients. It’s a huge adjustment, but it’s also super fun getting to all the things you wanted to do when you first decided to become a doctor. As an FYI, I wouldn’t say that first year WASN’T challenging – it was a major adjustment – but I personally feel like it was less stressful than second and third years.
Accepted: Can you talk some more about health care social media and your goals in getting involved in that area?
Allison: I initially got involved out of pure curiosity. Then, as medical school progressed, I started looking for ways to use my communication background in a way that worked with my own schedule and allowed me to pursue my personal interests. As I learn more and more about social media and medical education, I think I’d like to one day use my social media skills in an academic way to help teach. I think there are few academic physicians out there well-versed, let alone comfortable with the idea of social media in medicine, so I’d like to see what I can do to change that. Maybe one day we’ll be using Twitter to teach medical students!
Accepted: Have you begun writing your residency application essays yet? What are you (or will you) write about?
Allison: So you may be surprised to learn that the residency application process isn’t at all like applying to medical school or college. During the process we all apply to the respective programs in the fields that we are interested in. We are invited to interviews and get to see and know a little more about the programs at that time. Later in the year we “rank” the programs we interviewed at in the order that we would like to attend them (first to last choice). The programs also rank applicants from first choice to last choice. There’s a complex algorithm for “matching” applicants to programs based on both of these rank lists. These results are then released for all applicants at noon on a pre-specified Friday in March, called Match Day, which you may have heard about.
As for essays, there are no program-specific requirements like there are in the medical school secondary application. There is only a personal statement. With that said, I wrote my personal statement about how my interest in social media and communications helped me determine that I wanted to match in Internal Medicine.
Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your experience?
Allison: Like I said before, as I’ve discovered more about myself and my career goals, I’ve decided that I love writing, teaching, and medicine. Why not do all things at once by sharing my experiences in medical school with others?!
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