This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com 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 Amanda Miarecki…
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?
Amanda: Hello! I am originally from Michigan but currently living in Boulder, Colorado. I studied at Michigan State University and graduated with a degree in Political Science – Pre-Law. I actually moved to Boulder to attend University of Colorado Law School. My dream job was working abroad with an organization like Amnesty International or UNICEF supporting human rights legislation.
After spending some time working wilderness medicine in the Rockies, I fell in love. I immediately scrapped my plans for Law School and started taking pre-med courses. My love for medicine was further solidified after I spent time abroad in Cambodia on a medical mission trip in 2012 (where I got to deliver a baby!). I traveled abroad again to Thailand in 2013 as a medical supervisor for a gap year program. Both of these experiences made me realize my passion was truly hands-on care. I love medicine, I love people, and I love travel. My dream had evolved into working as a Global Health Physician.
My absolute favorite non-school book is Eat, Pray, Love. I think the story is a fantastic combination of travel, personal growth, and following your dreams (certainly something I can relate to).
Accepted: Can you tell us about your website/company? When did you start Toned & Fit Balanced Brunette? What was your motivation behind starting it? What services do you offer?
Amanda: I officially launched Balanced Brunette (formerly Toned & Fit) in 2012. I had been posting my favorite new foods and workouts on my personal Facebook page and my friends kept asking for my recipes and tips. After answering the same questions multiple times I decided to store all that information in one place and Balanced Brunette was born. Shortly after, I had an opportunity to get a Health Coach certification and I took it. I felt like it was the perfect complement to my new healthy lifestyle and would benefit me as a doctor later on. We all know nutritional counseling and education is lacking in a doctor’s training and I want to be as well-rounded as possible.
My blog offers free articles and advice for women. I also offer personalized coaching for women with more specific health goals. I focus on overall health and wellness. I don’t promote macro counting, calorie counting, or any other method of food tracking. Counting can very quickly lead to eating disorders in women and I truly want every woman to be as healthy and happy as possible! It’s all about balance. I focus exclusively on clean eating (80/20 split), portion control, and enjoying treats in moderation. (I have a serious froyo addiction.)
Accepted: How has this experience led you to want to go to med school?
Amanda: All of my experiences over the past 4 years since graduating from MSU have shaped my decision to go to medical school. Health Coaching and providing nutritional advice through Balanced Brunette is how I plan to round out my medical education. Doctors are really great at diagnosing disease but don’t normally get formal training in nutrition. I was lucky enough to acquire that training and I want to put it to use.
Helping women is also something that is consistent across all aspects of my life. My blog is tailored towards women and I find myself drawn towards women’s health professionally. Through my blog, many women approach me with personal health related questions. I want the credentials to be able to answer their questions instead of responding with “Please ask your doctor.”
Accepted: What stage of the application process are you up to so far?
Amanda: In January, I will be starting my Masters in Public Health. That will take me through 2015 and into the 2016 medical school fall admissions. Because the MCAT is changing in January 2015, I must wait until 2016 to enroll (which was a factor in my decision to “fill my time” with my MPH). I am tying up loose ends with a few remaining prerequisites, focusing on rounding out my education with my MPH, studying for the new MCAT, and beginning my medical school applications.
Accepted: What has been the most challenging aspect of med school admissions so far? What steps have you taken to overcome that challenge? What advice can you share with others who are experiencing the same obstacles?
Amanda: The most challenging part of admissions is keeping track of each program, what types of prerequisites each requires, and when their deadlines are. I highly recommend making an Excel spreadsheet in order to track programs and requirements.
Regarding the new MCAT, I really don’t know what to expect! I have been using the brand new Kaplan 2015 MCAT study material which includes the test prep books (all 7!) and the MCAT flashcards + app. I am excited that the MCAT is changing. The new MCAT seems well rounded and applicable to what medical students are actually learning in school.
I am also very invested in my lifestyle. While medical school will certainly keep me busy, I am determined to stay active in my free time. My top choice is the University of Washington. The program is fantastic and the geographic location offers mountains and ocean, which is very important to me. Definitely choose a place that offers a lifestyle you want.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your experience as a medical assistant? How do you think these experiences will help you along the way as you apply to med school and eventually become a physician?
Amanda: I have been working in health care (in multiple capacities) since 2011. I started in Wilderness Medicine as a WFR (wilderness first responder). Rural or emergency medicine is definitely an adrenaline rush. You have to be able to think and act quickly. I moved into a hospital setting to experience another side of health care. I spent about a year in an outpatient lab. Never underestimate the lab! I learned so much about disease, laboratory tests, chemistry, hematology, cytology, and pathology. I am also an expert phlebotomist, which has been extremely useful as I progress through my professional life.
After the lab, I started at a Women’s Clinic (my absolute favorite!) and, after about 7 months there, moved on to Planned Parenthood. These two experiences really shaped who I think I will be as a provider. I have no problem discussing very personal or sensitive issues with patients. I learned how to remove personal bias and really focus on patient care. One of the top complaints I see from medical students is being uncomfortable taking a sexual history on a patient. My experiences will ensure I won’t be uncomfortable when it comes to clinicals in medical school.
I left Planned Parenthood to join two physicians who were starting a private primary care practice. I was able to set up the clinic from scratch. Everything from ordering initial supplies, to stocking rooms, to developing protocol and procedure guidelines, training new medical assistants, and setting the standard for the practice. This was an invaluable experience and I am grateful I was part of the start up. The only downfall was that I was more in a manager/administrative position as opposed to patient care. I recently left the practice to re-join the hospital in the ICU. I could not be more excited for the next chapter of my professional life.
Real-world experience is crucial for medical students. In a world where everyone can get good grades and pass a test, you absolutely must set yourself apart. Volunteer, shadow a physician, go on a medical mission trip, or get yourself certified as a paramedic. These experiences will ensure you have an amazing admissions essay that is guaranteed to draw attention.
Accepted: Can you share your top 3 clean eating tips with us?
Amanda: My top 3 clean eating tips
1. Eat 5-6 smaller meals per day. Smaller meals are great because you can really focus on proper serving sizes. They also ensure stable glucose levels throughout the day and keep your metabolism fired up!
2. Drink 2-3 liters of water per day. The average person walks around mildly dehydrated which can cause fatigue, dry skin, sluggish muscles, and food cravings. Not into plain water? Try NUUN tablets, coconut water, fruit infused water, or Mio Liquid Enhancer.
3. Increase your protein! Many women are falling painfully short of this important macronutrient. Research has proven that high protein diets increase weight loss and lean muscle building. Incorporate lean meats, legumes, beans, quinoa, fish, eggs, and dairy into each meal. I personally snack on turkey jerky, hard-boiled eggs, steamed edamame, and (if I’m super busy) a quick chocolate protein shake. (Try this amazing Coconut Mocha Protein Shake.)
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You can read more about Amanda’s journey by checking out her blog, Balanced Brunette. Thank you Amanda for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
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