This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com 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 Eleasa…
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What’s your favorite non-school book?
Eleasa: I was born and raised in South Carolina and decided to attend the University of South Carolina (go gamecocks!) for undergrad because they had the #1 international business program in the country. That’s right, I started off as an international business major and had no intentions of going into the medical field. Then, one day I realized that a career in business did not sound very fulfilling to me and that I wanted to work in a job where I could directly see how I was benefitting people. This led me to change my major to public health my sophomore year and shadow people from just about every health profession (nurses, OTs, PTs, researchers, PAs, NPs, physicians, etc.). After I shadowed a family physician, I knew I had found a career that would provide the intellectual stimulation and interpersonal interaction that I was looking for.
I read a ton of physician autobiographies after I decided to go into medicine (just to make sure I knew what I was getting into) and still enjoy reading about those that have conquered medical school and residency before me. One of my favorites is Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs by Michael J. Collins. Dr. Collins chronicles his journey, going from a construction worker in Chicago all the way to an orthopedic surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic. This is definitely inspiring and shows you that med school and a career as a physician are achievable with persistence and hard work.
Accepted: Where do you go to med school and what year are you?
Eleasa: I attend the University of South Carolina School of Medicine – Greenville and am currently a first year student.
Accepted: What is your favorite thing about med school so far? And if you could change one thing, what would it be?
Eleasa: I have really enjoyed my hands-on patient care experience so far. At my school we become certified Emergency Medical Technicians and ride on an ambulance with Greenville County EMS once a month. In addition to this I have gotten to take histories from real patients in the Emergency Department for my Clinical Diagnosis and Reasoning class. Being around patients really motivates me and reminds me what I’m working towards.
My school opened just three years ago, so with such a new school that means that there are occasionally hiccups or kinks to work out regarding our schedules and how they do things. However, they really listen to student feedback, and I feel that we have a great amount of input regarding our education.
Accepted: Congrats on your recent marriage! Looks like you have a lot to get used to all at once — how are you managing during this adjustment period?
Eleasa: A lot of people thought I was crazy for getting married 9 days before starting medical school. It definitely was a rollercoaster having my wedding, going on a honeymoon, and getting back and immediately jumping into schoolwork. However, I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. I didn’t want to plan a wedding during medical school, and I am so glad I got married during the summer when I didn’t have anything else on my plate to worry about.
It has been wonderful having my husband by my side throughout this transition. He is constantly encouraging me and supports all my hard work. I also think that being married has motivated me to study more efficiently. I know the less time I have to spend studying at home, the more time I get to spend with him!
Accepted: Did you go straight from college to med school? Or did you take time off? If you took time off, how did you spend your time?
Eleasa: I took a year off before staring medical school and worked as a dialysis technician during that time. This was by far the most difficult job I have ever had, but I’m so glad that I did it. It taught me to respect those in every position on the healthcare team and gave me great hands-on patient care experience. I know that this clinical experience really set me apart from other applicants because I got asked about it at every single one of my interviews.
Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the med school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?
Eleasa: The MCAT was definitely my nemesis when I was applying for medical school. I barely studied before I took it for the first time, and no surprise, this resulted in a really low score. I realized that I needed to make a detailed study schedule and change up my study methods. This resulted in 10 weeks of intensive studying (4-6 hours a day, even while I was on vacation), making lots of notecards, and doing practice problems and sample tests. Those 10 weeks weren’t always the most fun, but it was so worth it when I got my score back.
Accepted: Do you have any other advice for our med school applicant readers?
Eleasa: I say to get lots of clinical experience before you apply (this will give you lots of great stories to tell and examples to give on your interview day), and keep a running list of all of your volunteer/research/extracurricular activities as you are going throughout school. This will make it so much easier to pull your application together and get it in early.
Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your experience? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?
Eleasa: I decided to blog as a way to keep a “diary” about my medical school experience. You hear so much about the constant studying and burn out, but I want use this blog as a way to reflect on the positive things that are going on both inside and outside of school. I hope others can look at it and see that it is possible to balance medical school, relationships, and a social life, and that medical school can be a really fun 4 years of your life!
You can read more about Eleasa’s med school journey by checking out her blog, Marriage & Med School. Thank you for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your med school story with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.