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 Amanda Xi…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What’s your favorite non-school book?
Amanda: I was born and raised in metro-Detroit. During my Sophomore year of high school, I stumbled across an ad for the Acceleration to Excellence Program at Bard College at Simon’s Rock (Great Barrington, MA) and applied for it. By the Spring of that year, I was offered the full-tuition scholarship and made the decision to drop out of high school to attend this college early.
After I completed my Associate’s Degree, I transferred into the Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) where I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
Before starting medical school at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, I worked at Terumo Cardiovascular Systems as an engineer for a few months – it was a great way to confirm that medicine was definitely a better fit for me than engineering.
My favorite book tends to be the one I’m currently reading. Today, that’s Atul Gawande’s new book, Being Mortal. I developed an interest in biomedical ethics over the course of medical school and his book does a great job encouraging medical professionals, caretakers and patients to take a moment to reflect on end-of-life planning.
Accepted: Where are you in med school? What year? What is your favorite thing about that program? Least favorite thing?
Amanda: I’m currently a 4th year medical school student and part of the Charter Class at Oakland University William Beaumont (OUWB) School of Medicine in Rochester, Michigan. My favorite thing about the program is how receptive administration has been over the course of the last 3.5 years in accepting and implementing our feedback.
When I started at OUWB, I knew that I signed up to be a guinea pig and as expected with any new institution, there were definitely bumps along the way (this is my least favorite thing). But this wasn’t a big issue for me because we had supportive faculty and staff working on every issue from the moment it surfaced.
Accepted: Do you know what you’ll be specializing in? Have you had any clerkships that have stood out?
Amanda: I applied to Anesthesiology residency programs this last fall. We had an elective month during our 3rd year; because I had an interest in the field (I later learned that engineers tend to naturally gravitate toward the specialty), I decided to do a clerkship in it. From Day 1, it was clear that the field was a good fit – I enjoyed the intellectual discussion, procedures and environment. Additionally, I felt comfortable working alongside the anesthesiology residents and attendings, which was important to me because I would be spending the rest of my life working with this group of individuals!
Accepted: Can you share some residency application tips with our readers?
Amanda: Be as prepared as you can be. That’s the best advice I can give – the process has a lot of little things to consider (e.g. which programs to apply to, how many, letters of recommendation, when to take Step 2, away rotations, etc), but if you start planning your 4th year during the winter of your 3rd year, nothing will surprise you when you start July 1.
Obviously if you are not sure what specialty you want to apply to, this is a bit more difficult, but you can still plan to do away rotations/sub-internships in the specialties you’re interested in and ask for letters in support of multiple specialties.
If you perceive that certain parts of your resume may hold you back (e.g. Step 1 score), think of ways you can show improvement (like taking Step 2 early). Make sure to ask the students in the year ahead of you about their experience and for specific advice tailored toward your situation.
Accepted: Looking back on the med school application process (if you can remember that long ago!), what would you say was your greatest challenge? What did you do to overcome that challenge?
Amanda: I submitted my primary and secondary applications on the later side, so the greatest challenge for me was trying to stay positive despite having no interviews for many months then later being waitlisted at the first two institutions I interviewed at. I didn’t get my first acceptance until 9 months after I started the process, so it was a tough time for me. I turned to my support system to keep me afloat and in the end, it all worked out.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? When and why did you start blogging?
Amanda: I started amandaxi.com the summer before M1 year as a way to reflect upon the application process and answer any questions about attending a brand new medical school. It evolved into a cathartic outlet for me and the inspiration for my Capstone research project on social media. I slowed down in 3rd and 4th year to free up time for my other commitments, but hope to get back into the swing of writing more regularly when I start residency.
The direction of my entries may end up evolving away from a day-to-day discussion to more scholarly reflections upon current events in healthcare, but we’ll see! I’m also hoping to start a video blog series with advice on applying to medical schools and getting through medical school.
Accepted: Can you recommend a nice coffee shop on or around campus that you recommend for studying or meeting up with friends?
Amanda: I’m a Starbucks fanatic, so just about any one will do for me!
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You can read more about Amanda’s journey by checking out her blog, And thus, it begins. Thank you Amanda for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
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