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 Aleah Chang…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? When did you graduate?
Aleah: I was raised in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but spent most of my childhood summers in southwestern Michigan! I went to the University of Michigan and earned my bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. I graduated in the spring of 2014.
Accepted: Where are you currently attending med school? What year are you?
Aleah: I am currently attending Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB for short) in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. I am nearing the end of my third-year. I can’t believe I just said that – time flies by!
Accepted: How did you know that Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine was the right “fit” for you?
Aleah: I absolutely fell in love with OUWB on my interview day. The faculty at the school was so incredibly welcoming that I immediately felt at home. I will admit, I was a little bit nervous that this school was “new,” but in the end I went with my gut! Michigan is where my family is and where I’ve spent a lot of my life. I have close friends and an amazing support system here, which I knew I would need to utilize throughout my medical school years. In addition to a great school, the training offered at Beaumont Health System is really quite amazing. It is a huge hospital system that has been educating students and residents for many years. OUWB felt like the whole package to me and in the end that’s how I chose to come here!
Accepted: Did you experience any challenges throughout the application process?
Aleah: One of my main challenges throughout the application process was balancing my time! I was in my senior year of undergrad when I started getting interviews. It was definitely tough to try to balance my heavy course load at U of M and make time to travel to interviews. I had to be very diligent about my priorities during this time. Another challenge for me was to get past the “gossip” about each school. I applied to several new schools in Michigan, in addition to many long-established schools in other states. It was difficult to tune out what other applicants were saying about each school or, perhaps, judging someone who may like the unknowns that come along with applying to a new school. Learning to listen to what my mind was telling me, rather than what everyone else had to say was something I’m glad I was able to learn early on! Lastly, the cost of applications is crazy! That was definitely an obstacle that limited the number of schools I applied to and forced me to pick up more hours at my part-time job.
Accepted: How did you prepare for the MCAT? Did you feel prepared on test day?
Aleah: I took a Kaplan prep course during my junior year of undergrad to prepare for the MCAT. After the course was done I took one full-month of “dedicated time” to study for the MCAT. I was fortunate to feel prepared on my test day even though my testing center experience wasn’t the best!
Accepted: You’re a blogger at Medicine in Michigan. What made you want to start blogging your journey?
Aleah: In college I took a writing class that was honestly one of my favorite courses. I had a professor who gave me free rein on content! For the first time I could really write about what I wanted to write about. After college I did very little writing during my first year of medical school and that was something I wanted to change. I started writing for a medical school journal called the MSPress and submitted pieces to Kevinmd.com. Although I really enjoyed my time writing for the journal, I wanted an outlet that could be more “unfiltered” and show the real me. I use my Instagram account and blog to accomplish these goals. One of my main focuses is advice for medical students (and pre-medical students). At the University of Michigan, I helped start the first pre-medical fraternity on campus and I fell in love with mentoring students. I absolutely love being able to see my peers succeed and enjoy helping them through all of the ups and downs. I was fortunate enough to have a great mentor throughout college and that made all the difference for me! Medicine in Michigan has not only given me a space to mentor others, but also it has provided me with a creative outlet!
Accepted: Lastly, can you share your top three tips for surviving (and thriving) in med school?
1. Believe in yourself. It is SO easy to be mean to yourself and that can really hurt you during medical school. You are going to have failures in medical school, but you can get back up from those failures. Believing in myself is not something that I’ve mastered and it’s something I have to remind myself of often. When I’m down on myself it reflects in every aspect of my life! And alternatively, when I believe I’m the smarty pants, hard-working, kind individual that I am, things tend to fare much better.
2. Remember why you are here. Most of us entered the medical field for our future patients. It is easy to forget this when you are stuck in a lecture hall during first and second year. Try to spend some free time shadowing in the hospital or getting involved in the health field in some way. During first and second year I spent a lot of free time getting myself heavily involved in the American Women’s Medical Association (AMWA) and that was always a great reminder of my core values and why I continued to want to pursue medicine.
3. Value your mental health. There are many times (even years) where I did not value my mental health. I let it take a back seat to all of the other things I needed to get accomplished. This always, eventually backfired on me. Mental health can mean different things to different people. For me it means taking care of my physical well-being by exercising and nourishing my body. It also means taking time to spend with my family and friends. It means finding hobbies outside of medicine and allowing myself to enjoy life thoroughly. One piece of advice I was given is that there is never going to be a “right time” for anything. We can make excuse after excuse for why it’s not the best time for X, Y or Z. When you realize this, you realize that you can’t keep pushing things off! You have to go for it! I’m still in the processes of going for it in many aspects of my life.
You can follow Aleah’s journey by checking out her website Medicine in Michigan, and by following her on Instagram (@medicineinmichigan). Thank you Aleah for sharing your story and advice with our readers – we wish you continued success.
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