Next up in our series of featured med school bloggers is Jasmine Johnson, author of the blog The Mrs. The Mommy, The M.D., mother, wife, and last but not least, future doctor/med student. Enjoy Jasmine’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?
Jasmine: I am from Long Beach, Indiana (a SMALL town about an hour outside of Chicago and less than 15 minutes from Michigan), I graduated from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2009 with my Bachelors in Brain, Behavior, & Cognitive Science. I also did a year of a Masters program post-undergrad, but I did not complete all the classes for my Masters because I started medical school the following year.
Accepted: Is med school anything like you had expected it to be?
Jasmine: Yes and no. Sometimes it is extremely overwhelming – you get to a point where you feel like you couldn’t possibly learn/memorize anything else, but you can and you do! You study so much that you begin to dream about studying. You go through periods of time where you haven’t watched any TV, haven’t talked to any of your closest friends, and even study while working out and driving places (thanks to recorded lectures and QBank apps). But then there are those times when you are able to balance. You are able to cook healthy dinners, catch up with friends, shop, veg out on DVR, read a magazine, take a bubble bath, clean your house, and in my case take your son somewhere new and fun to make great memories.
In a lot of ways medical school is even harder than what I expected it to be, but it also surprises me because my classmates and I are able to find balance and sanity in our everyday lives as well. Which is such a blessing!
Accepted: How many medical schools did you apply to? How did you decide on your chosen program?
Jasmine: Initially I applied to 15 schools. My MCAT score was average (25S) and my overall application was decent but nothing spectacular. But it was late in the cycle so I wasn’t picky about where I applied, because wanted to increase my possibility of an interview as much as I could. I got two interviews, but no acceptances.
After not getting accepted into a school, I matriculated into the Masters of Science in Medical Science program. The MSMS program is a two-year Masters program that was developed to better prepare students for admission to medical school. The curriculum consists of one that mimics the first and second years of medical school at IUSM. In addition, there is a 10-week MCAT prep to help you increase your score so that your application is more competitive. Some students apply straight to the program and other students are recommended for the program because they are not accepted into the medical school – like me. Students can either complete the two years of the program for their Masters or they can leave the program after the first year and enter medical school if they are accepted (and students have gotten into school all over the country, not just IUSM).
My second application cycle I felt like I was a more competitive applicant, and more equipped to tell admissions committees why I was now ready to succeed in medical school.
Also, the second time around, I was more strategic. It was earlier in the cycle when I submitted primaries (August), my overall MCAT score was higher (30R), and I was going into a Master’s program whose goal was to strengthening my application all around for medical school. I ultimately was accepted to Indiana University School of Medicine and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. I loved both schools for different reasons because they were both very different in student body size, hospital exposure, and location, but IUSM offered me a four-year full tuition scholarship, so that sweetened and sealed the deal.
As stated before, the first time my application overall was average and I submitted my primaries on their deadline dates (which in medical school application terms is considered late). I think that no matter where you fall on the distribution of MCAT scores, GPA, etc., getting your application in earlier is ALWAYS better. There are more spots available at that time so there is a greater chance that you would secure an interview then, instead of the late push to fill the last spots in the class.
Accepted: What courses or experiences or people motivated you to go into medicine?
Jasmine: My dad is a surgeon, so he was definitely responsible for exposing me to medicine at an early age. He never pushed my three younger brothers or I to follow in his footsteps, but when we wanted to spend time with our dad, a lot of it was tagging along with him to the hospital. When I was 14, I started helping out at his office (i.e. filing charts) and that is when I got to actually see his interaction with patients. When I got older, he allowed me to sit in on a few surgeries. I thought everything was so fascinating. It was awesome how he is able to help so many people and change lives every day. I kept an open mind and pursued many interests, but there was an early hunch that medicine would be the profession for me.
Accepted: What is your favorite class so far?
Jasmine: Gross Anatomy has been my favorite class hands down! Our professors were passionate about what they were teaching and kept it very interesting. You could also tell that they cared about us as people and not just as students. One of my teachers still asks me about my son and husband when we see each other in the halls. It was one of our most challenging classes, and the sheer volume of information memorized alone is enough to make your head spin, but the things I learned in anatomy have definitely carried over into a lot of my other classes.
Accepted: What are you looking forward to most in your upcoming clerkships?
Jasmine: I am looking forward to the patients! I think that one of my strengths is interacting and connecting with people, so I cannot wait to actually be responsible for developing a relationship with my patients and caring for them. The didactic years were interesting and I definitely learned a lot, but my classmates and I are all ready to dive in and really learn how to apply what we learned as practicing clinicians.
Accepted: Finally, which is harder — being a mom or being a med student?
Jasmine: HA! Definitely being a mom. Motherhood is one thing you cannot turn off – not that I would ever want to. You can be a medical student at school and disconnect a bit at home, but when I walk in the door at home, my son expects me to be there for him as his mom regardless of how things went at school that day – regardless of how late I stayed up after he was asleep. And I want to be there for him – my body may be in the library but my heart is at home with him and it makes it really tough to stay away. There is no doubt that medical school has been very challenging, but as I watch my son grow, it just emphasizes the fact that the rigor of medical school is only temporary, but my little boy will always be my son and what I put into parenting and loving him now will determine the direction of our relationship for years to come.
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