This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current med school students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at med school life and admissions. And now, introducing…Sam.
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Sam: I’m originally from Atlanta, GA. We moved to Ohio when I was five, and have been trying to escape ever since. It’s the snow. I can’t handle the snow, or the cold. I went to Kent State University in Ohio, and studied biological chemistry. I regret not going for the straight chemistry degree. Biochemistry in undergrad is completely overrated.
Accepted: Where are you in med school? What year are you?
Sam: I’m a third year student at an allopathic medical school in Northern Ohio. Only a year and half left!
Accepted: When applying to med school, what were some of your top criteria for choosing the best program for you? Can you walk us through that process?
Sam: As far as choosing the right program, I think the most important part in choosing is having a program choose you. Things don’t always work out the way you plan them or envision them. They didn’t for me, even though my application was very strong. Beyond that, it’s just about your preferences and what’s important to you. I’m at a school with a high level of camaraderie, supportive administration, and terrific teachers. Those are things I heard from students during tours, and I repeat them now as a member of the student body.
Accepted: Now that you’re well into your medical school studies, would you say that you chose the right program? What’s your favorite thing about your program? Least favorite?
Sam: I didn’t have much choice in choosing the program. I came to the one that chose me. I was living in Africa when I got the email and had to high tail it back at the end of my internship to get my white coat. Fortunately for me though, I am at a program that fits me very well. At this level of education the idea of having a student body that didn’t root for each other or was cliquey didn’t really appeal to me, which is why I love my school so much. I feel comfortable having a casual conversation with my peers, even the ones I rarely see and I’m an intense introvert.
My least favorite part, our pseudo pass/fail grading system. What the heck does “high pass” even mean? It’s just an annoyance.
Accepted: Did you go straight from college to med school or did you take off time in between? Going back even further, what about between high school and college? If you took of time, how did you spend that time? In either case, what would you say are the pros and cons of either path?
Sam: I had some unplanned time off between med school and college. What I did between the two was enough to write a book about, so I did. In Over My Head is in the editing stages now and will be published in the next couple months, to stay in the loop and subscribe to my email list on my website!
The short answer is that I looked for work, couldn’t find much and ended up having a series of fortunate events that landed me roles as a missions leader, youth pastor, chemist, and moving to Africa. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Unlike many of my peers, I had the chance to be sure that medicine was what I wanted to do. I had a chance to do other things and I am positive that there is no place I’d rather be. I had an extra year to decide what was important to me, which is paying massive dividends in medical school because I don’t have to wonder the questions “Do I really want to do this?” or “What if I did this instead?” Sure, I could be a year further in my medical education, and it was incredibly stressful to have to sit and wait, but I gained much more than I lost by waiting a year.
I went straight to college after high school. It was never really an option in our family. It was more of a where, than if question if you know what I mean. I didn’t escape undergrad debt free, but I did come out with very little compared to many of my peers because my parents were able to help with a lot of it. I realize that isn’t the situation for a lot of people and an education costs a lot of money, but there seems to be a pervasive notion out there that if you just do what you love the cost is always worth it. It’s a bit short sighted. Not many people get to do what they love for a career, and many people who look for the perfect job spend a fortune paying for the degree they think will bring their dreams true. Don’t lose track of your future chasing a pipe dream. Be realistic.
Accepted: Can you talk about what “life on a mission” is like and how studying medicine plays into it?
Sam: I’m also a blogger, and a soon-to-be-author. My first book, In Over My Head is set to publish here in a few months. Over the last eight years, I’ve stumbled my way through a number of mission trips and experiences and have become captivated by what it means to live with that sort of intentionality and purpose in my day-to-day life. Most people who have been on mission trips can relate to the feelings of satisfaction and reward of feeling like you’ve helped someone, but to live ‘on mission’ in everyday life is pretty different from a mission trip. It’s a lot less about cramming as much experience and work into a day as possible, and a lot more about showing up day after day after day working with people towards goals and being persistent when things aren’t easy. It requires a selfless attitude, a long term vision, a persistence to not give up, and being present in the situation around you. To borrow a phrase from Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission, “The victims of injustice in our world do not need our spasms of passion; they need our long obedience in the same direction – our legs and lungs of endurance; and we need sturdy stores of joy.”
Accepted: What would you say are your top three tips for med school applicants?
Sam: 1. Be yourself. 2. Make sure you not only want to be a doctor, but that you also want to learn how to be a doctor. There’s a lot to learn, and it doesn’t come easy, or cheap. 3. Don’t be discouraged.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?
Sam: My blog is where I go to share experiences, thoughts and encouragement. Its target audience…I don’t know. I’m told I’m supposed to have one of those, but I don’t like that rule. I’ve been told by many different types of people that my writing resonates with them. I’ve definitely benefited from blogging though. It’s been challenging, and encouraging, like most memorable things.
You can read more about Sam’s med school journey by checking out his blog, i am sam scott: exploring what it means to live life On Mission. Thank you Sam for sharing your story with us!
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