Get ready to read about Erik Reinertsen, an MD/PhD student in Atlanta who is on the road to a future that combines his passions of medicine, engineering, helping people, and innovation. You can read about Erik’s MD/PhD journey in our interview below, as well as on his website/blog. Thank you Erik for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
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?
Erik: I was born in Korea, and grew up in Redondo Beach, CA. I studied Bioengineering with an option in Chemical Engineering at UCLA. My favorite non-school book is the Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which describes a method of shortening product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and a concept called “validated learning.”
Accepted: Where are you currently in school and what are studying?
Erik: I am currently in the MD/PhD program at Emory University School of Medicine and Georgia Institute of Technology. My PhD will be in biomedical engineering with a focus on quantitative neuroscience and devices.
Accepted: What do you like best about Emory?
Erik: I like our medical school building, it is fairly new and absolutely beautiful. Our faculty is also very friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to mentor us students.
Accepted: If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?
Erik: If I could change one thing about the MSTP, I would replace the large multidisciplinary journal club with topic-specific conferences that focus more on clinical and translational work in an area we are actually interested in.
Accepted: What do you plan on doing with your joint degree?
Erik: With my joint degree, I would like to be a faculty member in both departments of a medical school and an engineering school. Of course, I want to take care of patients, and perform research that is motivated by their unmet clinical needs. I also want to teach engineering to future clinicians, and teach medicine to engineers.
Finally, I am passionate about entrepreneurship. I believe many physicians have amazing ideas that will never become a reality because of constraints like academic hierarchy and an institutional mistrust of financial systems. I hope to rise to a position of leadership that will enable me to foster a culture of innovation and business management rigor at a major academic medical center.
Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging phase of the application process so far? What steps did you take to overcome that challenge?
Erik: The most challenging phase of the application process was dealing with the incredibly poor design of the AMCAS primary application. Entering coursework one item at a time is inefficient, and I hope future students can use a Google logon and import all coursework with a single click.
But in all seriousness, writing three different essays for MD/PhD apps is difficult because you have to cover a lot of ground, craft a compelling story, and not make them all sound the same. I overcame this challenge with extensive editing and input from trusted mentors and friends.
Accepted: Can you recommend a cozy spot to study on or near campus?
Erik: I have moved in to the health science library because it is close to the parking lot and Rollins School of Public Health which has good food, but the main campus library is decent. I find the Starbucks too crowded and noisy to study.
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