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 Caitlyn…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what are you currently studying as an undergrad?
Caitlyn: I was born and raised in Corona, CA. But I’ve definitely had my fair share of moving throughout my life. I graduated last year with my bachelors degree, double majoring in English and Biology – weird combo, I know!
Accepted: What step of the medical school application process are you currently in?
Caitlyn: The difficult one – where you send out your application to medical schools across the country and wait (not so very patiently) to find out whether or not you’re a good candidate for them. It’s incredibly daunting! But we all have to go through it, and I hope those of you out there who are in my boat know you’re not alone.
Accepted: What made you want to become a physician?
Caitlyn: Oh my goodness, where do I even begin! I’ll give you the somewhat short and sweet version. It starts with the very clichéd story of the 8 year old girl who dreamed of becoming a physician. When I was a little older, I remember watched marathon episodes of the show ER with my mom. We’d sit on the couch with big bowls of popcorn and I just remember feeling completely awe-struck by this incredible world of medicine, thinking to myself: “wow, I NEED to do this.” Then this passion of mine metastasized into a deeper curiosity as I got into high school. I’d sit in my room with these huge atlas books of human anatomy and physiology, wanting to learn everything I possibly could so I could be prepared for medical school. (Clearly, I’m kind of a nerd). Right before I had my daughter, I had a very traumatic event happen to me (which I won’t go into), but I remember waking up in the hospital the next day with a female physician at my bedside advocating for me, when I felt like I didn’t have a voice, and showing radical empathy during one of the darkest moments of my life. This experience was life changing for me, in ways both good and bad. But I knew in that moment that I wanted to provide that exact same care for my future patients. There is absolutely nothing else in this world I rather be.
Accepted: You recently took the MCAT! How did you prepare for it? Did you feel like the best prepared test taker on exam day?
Caitlyn: I prepared relentlessly for the MCAT. I took a Kaplan course because “that’s what everyone should do.” But I think what helped prepare me the most was the tutor I had through Next Step Test Prep. The biggest advice I can give is this: you have to do what works for YOU. Everyone studies differently. Find a method you connect with and stick with it. Consistency is everything. So make sure you formulate a solid study schedule. And yes, I felt prepared, but I was very nervous. Looking back, I wish I would have gone in with more confidence. Fear will only inhibit you from performing at your very best.
Accepted: You share your journey to medical school, along with health and wellness tips on your Instagram, _twolittlebears. What made you want to start sharing your life with others in the med community?
Caitlyn: Well, as many of my followers know, I love to write. Writing is a vessel for me. I knew my story was weird and unique and different, and I thought that other non-traditional students would be able to connect with my story. Ultimately I just want people to know they’re not alone. There are so many negative forces out there in the premed world that have false information and use it to discourage students from pursuing their goals. I’ve had so many advisors and other people throughout my journey who have told me I would never make it, or that I’m not smart enough or good enough. But when you want something badly enough, you don’t let anything stop you.
Accepted: You’re also a mom! How do you manage to do it all?
Caitlyn: This is the question I get asked the most. Motherhood taught me how to prioritize. My schedule may be jam packed, but I’ve learned to go about the craziness of my day with grace. I’ve always been the type of person who loves keeping busy. My daughter is my number one priority, followed by school, then work. In that order!! My planner is my bible – if it’s not written down, it’s not getting done. Coffee and black tea are required at all times – I drink an abundance of both! Meal prepping is vital – it is a priority for me to buy healthy, whole, organic food for my daughter and me. We make all of our food from scratch and we pack our lunches for school every single day. I will also point out that I am a single mom… and it isn’t as ominous as it seems-in fact, I believe this has allowed me to build a stable, strong, steady home. There is no confusion, no back and fourth, no drama, nothing. It’s been Charlee and me against the world since day one, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Accepted: Lastly, what are your top 3 tips for staying organized throughout the medical school admissions process?
1. Triage the most important documents first. Make sure you ask for your letters of recommendation EARLY. And get that personal statement done!
2. Those secondaries though… It can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’ve applied to multiple schools. Make sure you’re filling out secondaries for the schools you are legitimately interested in. Don’t waste your time and energy if you know it’s not a school you want to attend.
3. Keep all of your documents in a separate file that is well organized and easily accessible. Write down all of your important dates down on your calendar. I recommend writing them in your phone calendar as well.
You can continue following Caitlyn’s story by checking out her blog, Medicine and Minimalism, or following her on Instagram (@_twolittlebears). Thank you Caitlyn for sharing your story with us, we wish you much success!
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Do you want to be featured in Accepted’s blog? If you want to share your med school journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• School-Specific Secondary Application Essay Tips
• Your Past Doesn’t Define You, a podcast episode
• Amy Ho: An ER Resident Who Connects with Patients and Society, a podcast episode