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 the med school application process. And now, introducing Ashley…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Ashley: I am originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania, currently living in Albany, NY. As an undergraduate, I studied General Science with a concentration in Biology and minor in French at King’s College, a private 4 year college in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Accepted: Can you tell us about the Masters of Public Health program you’re in? Where is it? How far along into it are you?
Ashley: The Master’s program I am currently attending is at the University at Albany School of Public Health in Rensselaer, NY. The School of Public Health offers both full and part-time study as well as an online option for the Master’s program. They also offer a certificate in public health which is 18 credits of study in the program. The school offers concentrations in Biomedical Sciences, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Biostatistics, Health Policy and Management and Social, Behavior and Community Health. I have selected the concentration of Social, Behavior and Community Health. Since I am still working full-time, I am only attending night classes part-time.
After the spring semester, I will have completed 12 credits (4 courses) in the program.
Accepted: When do you plan on applying to med school? And do you have a target school/program in mind?
Ashley: I will be applying to medical school this summer. I do not have a target program or school, but I will be applying to a variety of both MD and DO schools, both in my home state as well as across the country. I would like to attend a school which places an emphasis on preventative medicine and a variety of community outreach programs.
Accepted: What do you plan on doing with your MPH and MD degrees?
Ashley: After obtaining my MPH and MD/DO degree, I would like to continue working to improve both the access to healthcare and quality of care in underserved populations. I have been working with a non-profit initiative as a founding member and some of the goals of the initiative include expanding health care services to these populations. I would also eventually like to work in hospital administration and I believe that the MPH degree will give me the necessary knowledge to obtain such a position. I am not sure what specialty I would like to practice in as a physician, though I do have a few front runners including Anesthesia/Critical Care, Cardiology and Trauma Surgery.
Accepted: How’s the MCAT studying process going so far? Any tips for our readers?
Ashley: After taking the MCAT for the first time 2 years ago, I have been trying to pinpoint my weaknesses and improve on these areas. I initially only used the ExamKracker books, which are great if you are either right out of undergrad/just took the prerequisite courses or have a significant knowledge in these areas and just need a refresher. I unfortunately am 4 years out of undergrad and therefore some of my basic sciences, such as general chemistry, were taken 8 years ago. Therefore, for this round of the MCAT (which I have scheduled for early summer), I am supplementing my studying with both the Princeton Review Books as well as the Princeton Review Hyperlearning Science Workbook. I think that to succeed on the MCAT, you need to objectively evaluate your knowledge in the subjects (practice tests are great for this!) and make a study schedule and stick to it!
Accepted: Do you have any clinical medical experience? How important do you think that experience is to premeds?
Ashley: I do have a significant amount of clinical experience which I think is invaluable for a pre-medical student. I have been a medical scribe for the past 4 years, working at both community hospitals as well as a tertiary care trauma center. During that time, I have observed a variety of patients, seeing everything from splinters, to open fractures of the lower leg, to appendicitis, to cardiac arrests, and gunshot wounds. Having experienced these often high stress situations really gives you some insight to the types of cases you will deal with in medical school while on rotations, during residency and perhaps during your career, but without the responsibility of decision making for the patient. Having been a site manager for 3 of the 4 years of scribing, I have found that being a scribe and being put into these types of situations can be a “make or break” moment in your potential medical career. Many find that medicine is not the career for them after working a few weeks or months in the ER. Others cannot get enough.
I have also spent a lot of time shadowing one-on-one with physicians. I spent about 80 hours with an ENT, 100 hours with a Cardiologist and 10s of hours observing surgeries, such as 2 laparoscopic gallbladder removals, a “tummy tuck,” a hernia repair, a craniotomy (brain surgery) and an aortic valve repair. I have also spent time shadowing a critical care surgeon in the ICU. I have been very lucky to have found some physicians who truly have a passion for teaching.
During my time shadowing, I would listen to the heart and lungs for each patient I saw with the Cardiologist in both clinic and hospital rounds. I was able to check the ears of patients who needed earwax removals, evaluate post-op patients in the office and operate a bronchoscope to observe a patient’s vocal cords when shadowing the ENT. I was treated like a student who was on a rotation, getting “pimped” by my doctor as well as consulting physicians to test the knowledge I had gained while scribing in the ER (I was shadowing in the same hospital I worked).
I think that having that kind of experience can really help you to decide whether or not 1) medicine is for you and 2) if being a Physician is the best choice in medicine (or perhaps Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse, Pharmacist, Respiratory Therapist, etc.) as you will be exposed to many different members of the healthcare team and truly see the demands of the medical profession.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?
Ashley: I started my blog on a whim this winter. I moved to a new town where I did not know anyone and because my significant other is training to be a cardiothoracic surgeon at the local tertiary care center, he is not home very often. I felt like I needed a creative outlet and Bam! on one cold night, my blog, Venti Girl in a Grande World, was born.
My target audience is young women and men such as myself, those who are in graduate or professional school or just starting out in the “real world” and are trying to live on a budget. I showcase both fashion and lifestyle posts, and have highlighted some of my attempts at being a “housewife.” I never learned to cook growing up, so I am trying to learn now since my boyfriend definitely outshines me in the kitchen.
By starting a blog, I have met some really lovely people. I use other bloggers for fashion inspiration, quick and easy recipes to try, and most importantly as motivation. When I read other blogs of pre-medical students, medical students, residents or physicians (or other graduate or professional school students) and I find myself having a lazy day, I am always reminded that while I may be unmotivated today, someone else is studying harder and may get that spot in medical school over me, so I cannot lose focus and this forces me to work harder, too. This summer I plan to post about my pre-medical experience and how to prepare for the MCAT and medical school application process. Hopefully shortly thereafter, I will be able to blog about interview invites and (fingers crossed!) what it feels like to be accepted to medical school.
You can read more about Ashley’s med school admissions journey by checking out her blog, Venti Girl in a Grande World. Thank you Ashley for sharing your story with us!
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