Learn how real students navigate their way through the medical school admissions process and med school itself with our What is Medical School Really Like? series.
Meet sisters Rose (MS2) and Ada (MS4), who share inspiration and advice for premeds and med students on their Instagram page, @thebiosisters.
Thank you, Ada and Rose, for sharing your story with us!
How has going through medical school at the same time affected your experience?
Biosisters: We have encountered many siblings in healthcare, both at our own school and in the med Instagram community.
Being in medical school together has been a great experience. This is the first time since high school that we’ve been at the same school simultaneously.
Ada: Rose, being my older sister, was very helpful in guiding me during my application process for medical school, and she has always been a role model for me. She’ll give me advice for studying, and the morning of each exam day she’ll send me cute/motivational memes wishing me good luck. We also are able to study together on campus, which is fun. Some of my professors ask me, “Are you Rose’s little sister? You look just alike and you have big shoes to fill!”
How many med schools did you apply to? What do you feel is unique about LSU?
Ada: I’ll answer this since I applied more recently. I actually applied to LSU School of Medicine New Orleans through the Early Decision Program. This means I selected to apply only to LSU NOLA, with the understanding that if I was accepted through Early Decision, I was required to attend. And thankfully I was offered an interview and accepted soon after!
LSU NOLA has been my dream medical school since I was in high school. I attended a premed “Day with the Doctors” event at the medical school, where I was able to tour the campus, meet faculty and students, and learn more about the medical curriculum. Since then I always envisioned myself attending LSU NOLA. Rose and I also love how close it is to our hometown, which allows us to go home and visit family pretty often.
LSU NOLA is so unique. New Orleans is a melting pot of many different cultures, and its rich history is unlike any other. One thing our medical school prides itself on is accepting and embracing diversity – we have students and professionals from all walks of life, providing opportunities for a more enriched educational experience.
Ada, your piece on Instagram about interview day tips is packed with valuable advice! Can you talk about how you prepared for your interview?
Ada: To prepare for my interview, I spent some time thinking about my story, my passions, and how I want to represent myself when asked the common medical school interview questions. The interview is so important because this is the time to show the admissions committee who you are as a person, which is so much more than simply a set of exam scores and grades.
I found it helpful to run through a few mock interviews. After I had been offered an interview slot, I had my college’s premed advisor (whom I got to know pretty well by this time) sit down with me and act as though he was on the admissions committee. This experience allowed me to be more relaxed for the real thing, as it wasn’t the first time giving my responses aloud.
My advisor then gave me feedback after the mock interview, which allowed me to recognize areas of improvement. I highly recommend this, as it’ll give you more confidence on interview day. You could also record the mock interview session and replay it afterward, so that you can listen back to your responses and think about how you might modify them if they sounded incomplete or awkward.
Your Instagram account contains inspirational quotes as well as a wealth of practical advice for premed and med students. HOW and WHY do you make time to maintain this resource?
Ada: Thank you! We love sharing positive quotes and advice as much as possible. In our Instagram bio, we quoted “aspire to inspire,” as it is one of our main goals to help the future generations of premed students succeed. There is enough discouragement in the world already – we, rather, want to spread kindness and use our platform to lift each other up.
When we were high school and college students, we turned to some premed blogs and YouTube channels for inspiration and advice. For example, Ada loved watching Dr. Andrea Tooley’s study tip videos, as well as Dr. Jamie (@thestrivetofit) and her “study with me” videos. They both were very encouraging about the premed journey, reminding us that the road is difficult, but achieving your dreams is very possible.
In terms of how we make time for the page, it surely helps having both of us run the page. However, when we each get busy with exams, projects, and working, we do get behind on keeping up with posts, stories, and direct messages. I’m sure everyone can relate to this. But we love interacting with fellow medical students as well as aspiring premeds and students in other areas of healthcare – the acquaintances we’ve made on Instagram make the work of maintaining our account SO worth it. When we started @thebiosisters, we never would have guessed we’d meet so many great people and keep close interactions with them!
Aside from blogging, are there other self-care or extracurricular activities that you prioritize?
Biosisters: We both like to go for walks, spend time with classmates, do Zumba workouts on YouTube, and whenever possible, catch up on sleep, of course. We also go to church together every Sunday. When we get the chance, we drive home and visit our parents and our sweet dog, Bella. Making time for enjoyable things other than medical school is SO important.
What are your top tips for studying effectively? Have you found that you use the same study routines you used during undergrad, or have you developed new ones?
Biosisters: The key to being efficient is to limit distractions while studying. This applies to not only your phone and notifications, but anything that is on your mind OTHER than schoolwork. We keep our phones on silent and try to only check them when taking a break. As far as mental distractions, it helps to write out what’s on your mind on a sticky note so you can take care of it later and not have to worry about it.
Quiz yourself (practice active recall)… studying actively as opposed to passively helps you integrate information faster and better. Many students like using Anki to repeatedly review facts in a question-and-answer or fill-in-the-blank format. Studies have shown this is very effective! Spaced repetition helps with long-term retention.
Find out your optimal learning style (audio, visual, kinesthetic). Also, this may change from topic to topic – for example, anatomy is a very visual class, so drawing out your own version of relationships between structures will help you better visualize what’s going on. With biochemistry, I used to practice drawing out the metabolic pathways and quiz myself by writing in the various enzymes and substrates in different colors, which was a very kinesthetic/active (also visual) way to memorize information.
College sets a good foundation for identifying our learning styles, but medical school requires much more study time and memorization. The workload of medical school challenges you to find more efficient ways to comb through information and connect main ideas while still keeping in mind where all the small details fit in.
How has COVID-19 affected your med school experience?
Rose: After a significant amount of cases started to come to our hospitals, we were pulled from our in-person rotations. For about two months, we did only telemedicine visits and online lectures. After that time, we were able to resume our in-person rotations and finished out the year. Additionally, there have been a lot of changes to the application cycle for residency. Away rotations are canceled, all of our residency interviews will be virtual, Step 2 CK dates are moving around, and Step 2 CS has been suspended.
Ada: Our lectures were transitioned to 100% online/remote learning. Our exams were proctored by faculty members via a webcam. Thankfully, we were able to finish the semester mostly as planned, since we usually take our exams on our laptops (although on campus with in-person proctoring), and all lectures are usually recorded and posted to our course websites for later reviewing. However, some of our summer clinical opportunities were canceled due to COVID precautions.
Rose, congratulations on becoming a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society! Can you share a bit about this special society and its goals?
Rose: Thank you – it is an honor to have been chosen!
The GHHS recognizes students, residents, and faculty who are exemplars of compassionate patient care and who serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine. GHHS members are peer-nominated and are the ones that others say they want taking care of their own family.
The Society emphasizes empathy, service, altruism, compassion, respect, and integrity as key characteristics of healthcare professionals. It is their vision that healthcare will be dramatically improved by placing human interests, values, and dignity at the core of teaching and practice.
What medical specialty do you hope to practice? How do you prepare for residency during med school?
Rose: I’ll answer this question first since I’ll soon be applying for residency programs.
My best advice is to connect with a faculty mentor. Every specialty has different requirements and expectations. A mentor can help you navigate those requirements and help you make connections in the department.
I’m really interested in psychiatry. I loved all of my clinical experiences in inpatient, outpatient, forensic, and emergency psychiatry. I enjoyed spending time listening to patients and hearing their stories. And I am fascinated by how the mind works and the various diagnoses.
Ada: As a first year, I haven’t had much exposure to the different specialties yet. In college I shadowed a dermatologist and enjoyed it. I liked the idea of being able to identify the problem visually and fix it rather quickly. Also, I know I’ll want to pick a specialty where I can have continued contact with my patients. So I’m hoping once I get to my rotations in a couple of years I’ll find something that fits my personality.
If you could send one message to this year’s medical school applicants what would it be?
Biosisters: Do not compare yourself (or your journey) to other students (or their paths). Be proud of your accomplishments, stay confident in your abilities, and don’t let others discourage you from attaining your goals, both short- and long-term!
Other good lessons:
- Instead of creating a culture of competition, we found that having a community of teamwork and sharing has made all the difference. For instance, it’s easy to get caught up in comparing your grades to those of your classmates. But remember that everyone’s journey is different and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. A flower doesn’t think of comparing itself to the flower next to it – it just blooms. Having a strong support system through this premed and medical school process is crucial. Thankfully our medical school classmates are very supportive and helpful. We share notes and help explain concepts to others if needed.
- We really like to focus on the positive to get through the difficult challenges of the premed and med school journeys. There’s no doubt that the process of becoming a doctor is hard. Otherwise everyone would do it. It is definitely a calling. But it is so worth it. And think of all of those who have gone before you and succeeded – it is possible. A big piece of advice that we’d like to focus on: make sure you take care of yourself. Burnout is real and has been experienced by us. You cannot pour from an empty cup. The only way to do your personal best is to make sure that you are in the best health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take breaks for yourself. Spend time with your family (they are sacrificing, too) while you can. Do something that brings you joy in your free time. Pace yourself – the books will still be there for you while you’re taking a break.
- Remember: It will require work, but consistency yields results. Don’t stop, keep moving forward, and remind yourself that you are capable!
Do you have questions for Rose or Ada? Questions for us? Do you want to be featured in our next What is Medical School Really Like? post? Know someone else who you’d love to see featured? Are there questions you’d like us to ask our students in this series? LET US KNOW!
You can learn more about Ada and Rose by following them on Instagram.
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