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 Ryan Matthews…
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Ryan: I was born and raised in Indiana, other than a couple years I spent in Georgia when I was around 7-8 years old. I am happily married and have a 9 month old baby girl. We also have 2 dogs, 1 guinea pig, and 3 aquariums. As you might be able to tell, our family loves animals.
My time as an undergraduate student was somewhat atypical. I started off studying biology and psychology at Indiana University, but during my sophomore year decided to transfer to a smaller school. It wasn’t that I didn’t love IU, but I wanted a smaller, more personal learning environment. As a result, I transferred to University of Indianapolis where most classes were 20 students or less and I even had one class with only 8 people. It was there that I decided to major in biology and chemistry, but I’d already taken so much psychology that I received a completed a minor in it as well.
Accepted: Where do you attend medical school? What year are you in?
Ryan: I attend medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine and am currently entering my 2nd year.
Accepted: How did you choose which the best program was for you?
Ryan: Since I’ve spent most of my life in Indiana, going to IUSM was always my preferred program. I also got married before even applying to medical school so it was easier for my wife’s career to stay near home as well. Add in the fact that we had my baby girl during my first semester of school, and it’s a real blessing that we are close to home where family is able to help us out.
Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to med school easier? What do you wish you would’ve known before you started school?
Ryan: The biggest adjustment in my opinion is time management. You have to be really disciplined about studying, which might seem obvious, but it does take some extra effort. I hear most incoming medical students admit they’re nervous about the workload and although it is challenging, it isn’t overbearing as long as you’re disciplined. I recommend a to-do list and a calendar. Personally, I use apps on my phone to keep track of everything I’m involved in and wouldn’t be able to function without them. That being said, there is still plenty of time in medical school to do things you love and take part in extracurriculars. It’s all about time management!
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?
Ryan: I took 1 year off between undergrad and medical school, which allowed me to work as a biochemist and store up some money. More importantly, I used the time to take things easy and enjoy being with my wife. We got married 1 month after I graduated, so I was able to spend over a year with her without the stresses of medical school on my shoulders.
Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the med school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?
Ryan: Easily the most challenging aspect of medical school admissions for me was “the waiting game.” It seems like all you do is submit something and then wait a few months for an answer, and unfortunately, I’m a very impatient person. I don’t even like waiting in line at restaurants or the movie theater so waiting for something that would determine my future was definitely not ideal. However, time actually went pretty quickly when I focused on enjoying my time away from school.
Thus, my biggest advice for applicants is to try and stay busy doing things you enjoy. All the years of putting in the hard work for your application are over and everyone needs a break once in a while. Use the application processing time (as well as the summer before 1st year) to enjoy life!
Accepted: Do you have any other advice for our med school applicant readers?
Ryan: Here are a few tips off the top of my head:
1) Work hard and stay positive! This may seem pretty obvious, but trust me when I say that most people are way more capable than they even realize.
2) Apply as early as possible. I was actually a late applicant, and it doesn’t seem like a big deal until you see other people posting online about their acceptances. Do yourself a favor and apply as early as possible.
3) Like I said before, really cherish the time before you start medical school. Yes, you still have a life in school, but your extra time is substantially limited in comparison.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your podcast?
Ryan: I drive a lot to/from school, so I listen to podcasts all the time. I’d always been on the lookout for audio materials that I could use for studying on the go, but couldn’t ever find anything that fit my needs. This sparked the idea of publishing my own podcast, and as they say, the rest is history.
Since I’d already started my blog, I used it as a platform to start “Medical Minded Podcast.” My goal was to create something that other students could use to further their own education, and in doing so, compiling the podcast material would serve as an additional study method for me. I’ve been a little busier than I expected this summer, so I admit I’ve been slacking on uploading new episodes. However, I encourage everyone to check it out and promise I’ll upload more in the near future.
You can read more about Ryan’s med school journey by checking out his blog, Medical Minded, and his podcast. Thank you Ryan for sharing your story with us!
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