This interview is the latest in an Accepted 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 Elyse Love…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Where did you attend med school?
Elyse: I was born and raised in Bessemer, Alabama, which is about 20 minutes south of Birmingham. I went to the University of Alabama for undergrad and I graduated in May 2011 with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. I started medical school at Emory a few weeks later. I graduated from medical school in 2015 and am now completing my intern year back in Birmingham before moving to NYC for my dermatology training.
Accepted: Can you share 3 fun facts about yourself?
1. I tap danced for 12 years.
2. I studied snake metabolism in undergrad.
3. I once was a computer nerd – I studied fortran, C++, C#, and Java in high school/college.
Accepted: Why did you choose Emory University School of Medicine? How many programs had you applied to? How did Emory “win”?
Elyse: It’s kind of a long story how I ended up at Emory. I’ve wanted to leave Alabama for a long time. I couldn’t pass up the scholarship I was offered for undergrad, so I stayed.
For medical school, I had my heart set on New York. Some company makes a book that goes over all of the medical schools in the country. I went through the entire book and settled on 13 programs, which I narrowed down to the 7 programs I applied to. Emory, Alabama, and University of South Alabama were the only Southern schools I applied to. I was accepted to my #1 school, which wasn’t Emory, but Emory continually came up during my medical school second-looks (a time to revisit the schools you’ve been accepted to before making the final decision)! So, I thought to myself “hmm.. I guess I should take a second look at this place.” I’d initially written it off after my interview because everyone appeared to be so happy; I didn’t think it was genuine. Well, I went back for second look and fell in love.
I wrote a post about choosing a medical school on Love and the Sky and it really comes down to where you think you’ll thrive.
For me, Emory’s relaxed and beautiful atmosphere was the best backdrop for such a stressful time in my professional life. Everyone takes medicine seriously, but most people don’t take themselves too seriously. The school itself is gorgeous (renovated in 2011) and the grounds are so pretty. There’s a strong focus on producing ethical physicians, and Grady (the county hospital) allows for some of the best clinical training in the country.
In addition, I knew I wanted to practice dermatology (a very competitive residency specialty) and Emory had matched four people into dermatology at great programs that year, the dermatology program at Emory was highly regarded, and the school guaranteed 5 months of dedicated research time within the 4 year curriculum – while other programs made it clear I would have to take a year off to do substantial research.
Also, Atlanta is a really wonderful city with moderate cost of living and good weather.
Emory is an amazing place, and I will always think of my time there warmly.
Accepted: You graduated in 2015 – what have you been doing this past year?
Elyse: I graduated in May 2015 and started intern year (the first year of residency) in June. I’m doing a transitional year at a community hospital back in Birmingham to be close to my family, particularly my niece and nephews.
Accepted: What are your plans for next year? Why dermatology?
Elyse: Dermatology training includes one year of general intern level work and three years of dedicated dermatology training. The remainder of my residency training will be in NY. Why dermatology is also a long answer which you can read about here.
Accepted: Are you looking forward to life in the Big Apple after all your years down South?
Elyse: It will be an experience, and I am excited. For medical school, New York was the destination and the schools came after. For residency, I wasn’t really looking to go to New York. I applied and interviewed all over the country, but NYU was the best fit for me. It is one of the few programs that can rival Emory’s diversity. I go into detail on how I made my match list here.
Accepted: Can you tell us about the match process? What are your top 3 residency application tips?
Elyse: These are loaded questions. Haha. Yes, I can! Each applicant applies and interviews at residency programs in the same way that’s done for medical school, law school, or pretty much any job interview. After interviews are over, each applicant ranks the programs in the order that they’d like to train at said program and each program ranks the applicants in the order they’d like to train said applicant. Rank lists are submitted towards the end of February. There’s a very smart algorithm that attempts to match each applicant to a program, based off of applicant and program preference.
Match day is in March. At noon on match day, each applicant finds out where they will be training come July and each program finds out who they’ll be training. It’s a crazy, stressful process.
My 3 biggest tips:
1. Apply to enough schools – even traditionally noncompetitive programs have become competitive in recent years; make sure you discuss the number of programs you intend to apply to with your mentor.
2. Have a mentor – my mentor sat me (and the other derm applicants) down and told us everything she knew about each program in the country and gave us a ton of advice for the season in general. This mentor has to be in the specialty you’re applying to because it is crazy how different the process is specialty to specialty. Also, don’t take advice from anyone that’s been in private practice for ten years. Things have changed, a lot. Ideally, you would have a high-level attending mentor and a mentor that’s in residency currently or just out of residency.
3. If you’re applying to derm, don’t expect interview offers before October. Dermatology interview season is the latest interview season. Most of my friends were on their 4th or 5th interview before I got my first interview invite offer.
Residency interviews were the first topic I tackled on my blog, so there are a ton of tips currently posted – including the residency interview series, how the match algorithm works, tips to match a competitive specialty, and writing your own letter of recommendation. There will be more to come in the next few months. (See here and here for more on this.)
Accepted: Any good skincare tips?
Elyse: Don’t waste your time with over the counter products for acne. Find a good dermatologist that you like. I’m a personal fan of weekly exfoliation and masking but it will only make minor improvements in your skin.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? What have you gained from the blogging experience?
Elyse: Love and the Sky is a career and lifestyle blog for medical professionals and medical students. There are advice pieces – such as “how to choose your medical specialty” or “how to choose a medical school” complimented by interviews from current residents and attendings who share their path to and through medicine, including their premedical and medical school training. Our new “staying healthy during residency/medical school” series will be released this spring. The readers really drive the content.
I did a lot of research in undergrad and medical school and blogging has replaced that hole in my life this year. It has allowed me to create something that is under my sole creative control. In contrast, medical training is very rigid and I am absolutely not in control. Blogging has also given me a venue to continue and promote mentorship despite my hectic intern year schedule.
Thanks for the feature! Readers are welcome to contact me with firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or content requests!
You can follow Elyse’s adventures through medicine by checking out her blog here. Thank you Elyse for sharing your story with us!
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