Next up in our series of featured med school bloggers is Andrea, third year med student and author of the blog A Doctor in the House: Food, Fitness, and a Splash of Science. Don’t miss Andrea’s excellent advice on what’s important in choosing a medical school and preparing for medical school. Enjoy Andrea’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? What year of med school are you in now?
Andrea: My name is Andrea Wenzel and I am a third year medical student at Indiana University School of Medicine. I grew up in Sarasota, Florida and then moved to a tiny town in Indiana when I was 15. After graduating from high school, I moved up to Indianapolis to go to college at Butler University. I started college as a Biology major but quickly realized I wanted to major in something outside of the science fields. I changed my major to English Literature and switched from Biology to Chemistry because Chemistry was an easier major to double major with (Biology was WAY more demanding at Butler). I graduated in 2010 with a double major in English Lit and Chemistry.
Accepted: Is med school anything like you thought it would be? Are there any surprises?
Andrea: I came into medical school prepared to study 24/7 and hate it. I wanted to expect the worst so that I would feel prepared. I guess it hasn’t been too different from what I expected – I studied 24/7 and hated it my first and second years! I didn’t expect to have as much freedom in my schedule. At IUSM in Indianapolis, attendance isn’t mandatory for most classes, so I spent many days at home studying or in the library studying instead of going to class. You have to be very self motivated!
Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Indiana U’s med school? Least favorite thing?
Andrea: I have 2 favorite things about IUSM. First is the fact that classes aren’t required so you can study on your own schedule if you want. I am someone who doesn’t get much out of class – it’s hard for me to absorb the info right there. I have to read it and re-read it slowly. So not going to class has been a huge help for me.
The second thing I love about IUSM is the fact that there are so many different hospitals in Indianapolis and we get to spend time at each one. One hospital is for a lower income population, one is a veterans hospital, one is a pediatric hospital, and there are still 2 more all in the same area! I love seeing the different dynamics at different hospitals and I appreciate that IUSM lets us do that.
What I like least about IUSM is the fact that classes aren’t required. I know I said it was my favorite thing! It’s a love/hate issue. I dislike the fact that I can stay at home and study for 3 weeks without coming to class because I will literally do that. I won’t change out of pajamas for 3 days because I’m at home studying and I haven’t gone outside yet! When your schedule gets intense and you have a ton to study, it’s hard to go to class because it’s more efficient to stay at home and study. When I don’t go to school, I sometimes feel lonely and disconnected. It’s a challenge to balance the two!
Accepted: I like your scientific (and rational) approach to being health conscious (i.e. not into health crazes). Can you tell us more about your philosophy for healthy living?
Andrea: Thanks! My healthy-living philosophy is all about moderation and doing what makes you feel good. Tons of factors that we can’t control go into our health. You might be the healthiest person ever and still get cancer at age 50. So I’m all about living to make yourself FEEL GOOD!!
For me, fueling my body with healthy foods and being active makes me feel good. Eating ice cream every now and then makes me feel good too! It’s all about balance. If I ate ice cream every day, I probably would feel like a big pile of blah.
I also have a very strong belief in the placebo effect. If you are unfamiliar with this, it’s a principle that when you think something will help you, you experience what you thought you would. So if I give you a pill and tell you it will give you energy, it might be a capsule full of sand but since you think it’s giving you energy, you actually feel more energized!
In the health world, there are TONS of different philosophies about new supplements and new things to do. As a scientist (can I call myself a scientist?) I question the validity behind all those health crazes. But at the end of the day, if it’s not hurting you and it makes you feel better – do it!
Accepted: Do you have any tips for current med school applicants and future med students?
Andrea: For med school applicants, I would advise you to look into the different teaching philosophies at each medical school you apply to. If you like the self-directed learning, find a school that does that. Some schools are problem-based-learning schools. Some schools are straight lecture style 9-5. Find what will fit your personality because med school is hard!!! You want to be comfortable in your learning environment.
For future med students, SHADOW!! You really want to know what the life of a doctor will be. I had NO idea how much time doctors spend doing paper-work for example. If I had shadowed more, I would know that. I think I came into med school thinking I would spend all day talking to patients and helping people and doing surgeries. But in reality, you spend tons of time making phone calls, writing notes in charts, and lots of behind the scenes stuff you don’t think about. Make sure it’s a day-to-day job you will like!
Accepted: Why did you decide to start blogging? What do you hope to gain from the experience and what do you want others to benefit from it?
Andrea: I decided to start blogging for a couple of reasons. First, I read tons of blogs every week and I love them. They inspire me to eat healthy, try new workouts, and enjoy life. I think I would really enjoy writing as a physician, maybe for a health and wellness magazine or website, or maybe as a corresponding physician for a news show (dream big, right?)!
I wanted to take the blogs I love and write one similar, with a splash of science. Hopefully, if someone reads my blog they might feel inspired or enlightened because I have a bit of science education behind what I’m saying.
I also have a huge goal to reach out and meet new people! There is a huge community of health and wellness bloggers that I would love to connect with. I hope people read my blog and laugh with me, try a new recipe, and chat with me in the comments – the readers inspire me! I hope this blog opens new doors for me as a doctor and as a 20-something girl trying to stay healthy!
***You can reach Andrea via her blog or Twitter – @andreaawenzel.***
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