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 Alexa Mieses…
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?
Alexa: I was born and raised in Queens, New York. I attended public school throughout life including the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. I graduated from the City College of New York, magna cum laude, with a B.S. in Biology, minor study in Psychology. Apart from my hard core science courses, I also took a lot classes in English Language Arts, and studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. When I am not studying, I enjoy reading non-fiction books. But my favorite author is Brett Easton Ellis. He writes wonderfully complex and provocative fiction that makes you question reality and the human condition.
Accepted: Where are you in med school and what year?
Alexa: I am in the joint MD/MPH program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. I am currently a third-year student and will graduate in 2016.
Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Icahn School of Medicine so far?
Alexa: I have really enjoyed the flexibility of the curriculum. As a pre-clinical student in years one and two, I was able to skip lecture and either study on my own or watch the lectures online. This allowed me to attend my MPH classes in the evening without being exhausted, and participate in extracurricular activities, like mentoring, which are very meaningful to me. I think the school emphasizes adult learning and allows each student to learn how he or she learns best (which may not include hours of lecture each day).
Accepted: Can you tell us a bit about your interest in Public Health, and how you plan to integrate that into your work as a physician?
Alexa: As a child, I witnessed health disparities in my neighborhood, which drew me to medicine in the first place. It wasn’t until undergraduate school when I became a member and then President of the Minority Association of Premedical Students that I actually learned the term “health disparities.” I became determined to make a difference in society and saw medicine as my tool to do so. Also in college, I completed a public policy internship with Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an HIV/AIDS advocacy organization, and I discovered the impact an MPH could have on my education and career.
I plan to become a family medicine physician and will incorporate public health research and leadership roles in advocacy to influence health beyond the confines of an exam room. I will continue to work with underserved populations similar to my own in an effort to ameliorate health disparities.
Accepted: You’ve blogged about diversity in the medical field (or the lack thereof). Do you have specific advice for underrepresented students?
Alexa: Be yourself, not what you think people want you to be. You don’t need to prove yourself to others but you must work hard in order to learn to be the best physician you can be for your patients. We need underrepresented minorities in all fields of medicine so don’t be afraid to follow your passion, even if it is not primary care. Seek out mentorship and get to know your colleagues in order to develop a professional network.
Accepted: You’ve written a book for aspiring med students about the application process. What inspired you to undertake that project?
Alexa: I have worked with an organization called Mentoring in Medicine for over seven years. MIM serves underrepresented minority students interested in the health professions. I started as a program participant but then became a mentor to younger students. I spend a lot of my free time mentoring underrepresented minority students in an effort to eliminate the racial disparity that exists in medical education. Back in 2013, MIM happened to host a “write your book in 30 days” challenge, and I decided to participate in order to mentor students on a larger scale. I wrote and published a medical school admissions guide in just thirty days and through the book, have been able to provide mentorship on a national scale.
Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to med school easier? What do you wish you would’ve known when you were starting out?
Alexa: First year is all about adjusting to medical school and figuring out how to be successful. That is not to say the information you learn in first year is not important, but I promise that you will see the important stuff over and over again throughout medical school. Focus on learning how to be successful during the first year so that you can hit the ground running in second and third year, when you are actually providing care to patients. I wish someone told me that before because I think I spent too much time feeling anxious about whether or not I was mastering the material presented to me rather than learning to actually master it. Eventually everything came together just fine but I wish someone would have given me that advice sooner!
Accepted: What are your top 3 tips for med school applicants?
1. Spend a lot of time on your personal statement–it really matters! Also, proofread your entire application over and over… then proofread it again.
2. Stay organized in order to keep track of primary and secondary application deadlines, fees, interview dates and acceptances (or rejections) from each school to which you apply.
3. Be yourself during the interview and don’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments.
You can read Alexa’s blog at http://alexamieses.com. Thank you Alexa for sharing your story with us – we wish you best of luck.