Next up in our series of med school applicants and current students is Ari Shapiro who just completed his second year of med school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Enjoy Ari’s thoughtful answers and use them to help you make your way through the med school admissions process.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, where did you go to school and when did you graduate; and what prior degrees do you hold?
Ari: I was born in Los Angeles and grew up there (through high school). I spent 2 years post-high school studying Jewish studies in Gush Etzion, Israel. I then did my undergraduate degree (over 4 years) at Yeshiva University in Manhattan, graduating in 2010 with a BA in classical/ancient Jewish history. The 2 years since then I have spent at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.
Accepted: How many medical schools did you apply to? How did you decide on Case Western Reserve’s program?
Ari: I applied to 16 medical schools. I decided to go to Case because of the city (I have family there) and because of Case’s unique perspective on medical training (a heavy emphasis on clinical exposure and small group learning during the first 2 years).
Accepted: What are some of your favorite things and least favorite things so far about med school (about med school in general and about Case specifically)?
Ari: I see myself as a lifelong student. I enjoy being in school, which gives me the ability to make learning my full-time priority. A constant struggle, though, in medical school is staying on top of the material; there is a never-ending amount of information one must get through and, to a large degree, know. I like the analogy of trying to drink from a fire-hose which is on full-blast. In terms of Case specifically, I love the fact that we end at noon just about every day; I make sure to brag about this to my friends at other medical schools. On the flipside, Case is big on having us reflect on our own actions and give criticism to our fellow classmates; although I do see the value in this, it has taken me awhile to feel comfortable doing it.
Accepted: How long have you known you wanted to study medicine? Were there any specific courses, experiences or people that motivated you to take this step in your life?
Ari: I have known I wanted to go to medicine since high school, perhaps earlier. A few things come to mind as helping guide me toward medicine. As captain of my high school’s running team, I was the person whom my teammates would go to with questions and complaints about their injuries; I was thus able to try my hand at diagnosing. Also, I myself had a run-in with illness and the healthcare system; this whole episode strengthened my desire to get involved in and try to improve the field of medicine.
Accepted: What is your favorite class so far?
Ari: I don’t like playing favorites, but one course which I thoroughly enjoyed, much more than I had expected to, was hematology/oncology. Consequently, it is on my radar as a possible career choice.
Accepted: Case Western Reserve is ranked in the top 25 of U.S. News’ best medical schools for research. Do you plan on going into medical research? If not, have you chosen a specialty yet?
Ari: At this stage in my training, I don’t have any specific plans to go into research, although I am sure it will factor into my work somehow. I am currently doing research in the field of orthopedics. I am also considering internal medicine for residency (hematology/oncology is a subspecialty within internal medicine).
Accepted: Can you recommend a favorite coffee shop or library that you find particularly well suited for studying?
Ari: I tend to study best in complete silence with nobody around me to distract me, which means that I do a large part of my studying in my apartment/room. My other go-to option is one of the quiet rooms in our medical library on campus. (In terms of coffee shops, I am attempting to resist coffee as long as I can.)
Accepted: Do you have any application advice for our medical school applicants?
Ari: Send your primary application out as close to the opening date as possible. Don’t skimp on the personal statement; put a good deal of time and effort into perfecting it. Come into the interviews enthusiastic and good-natured, armed with a general sense of that particular school and questions for your interviewer about the school and program.
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