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 Toni J.…
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? If you’re not currently in school, how are you spending your time?
Toni: I am a first-generation American. My parents migrated from Jamaica, West Indies. I am from Queens, NY. I attended CUNY Brooklyn College, where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. My journey is a bit untraditional. I’ve worked in allied healthcare since I was seventeen years old (pediatric, geriatric and rehabilitation). I wasn’t born wanting to become a physician. It was my patient interactions that motivated and inspired me. Having just graduated and in a gap year, I decided to seek meaningful employment that would allow me to learn and grow professionally. Having no prior experience with dermatology and blessed with the opportunity of working with some of the top cosmetic dermatologist in the world, I knew that this would be a great introduction to the dermatological specialty.
Accepted: What stage of the med school application process are you up to? What has been the most challenging step and how did you work to overcome it?
Toni: I have filled out/sent in my primary AMCAS application and received/sent in my secondary applications. I received two rejections, a hold and I am currently in review at five other medical schools. The most challenging part is being patient. It takes so much, for me not to check my e-mail repeatedly throughout the day, in hopes it’s an interview invitation from the remaining schools. I haven’t been able to rid myself completely of the anxiety associated with waiting, but I have calmed myself by devising a plan B. A post bacc program that would allow me to be more competitive and strengthen my chances of medical school acceptance.
Accepted: You describe yourself as a “nontraditional” med school applicant. Can you elaborate? Can you tell us more about your postbac plan? What sort of advantage do you think this will give you long-term?
Toni: I am a “nontraditional” med school applicant in the sense that I wasn’t prepared to hit the ground running after graduating high school. I was a late bloomer in many respects, emotionally and academically. This in conjunction with a physically demanding job was a recipe for disaster. I divulge quite a bit, about this, in my verified post on my blog.
I applied and was accepted to one college my senior year of HS, CUNY College of Staten Island. The distance proved to be the biggest hindrance, spending four hours commuting (two hours to and from work, home and school) left little time for studying and sleeping (FYI: the reason I transferred to Brooklyn College).
Having gone through that experience, I encourage those, who are in similar shoes, to take some time to evaluate their situation. With honest self-introspection, I believe anyone can prevent making the same mistakes in the future.
After seeking guidance from my mentors (professors, premed advisors, club mates and medical school faculty) and after careful thought, I made the decision to attend a post-baccalaureate program, if I am not able to get into medical school on my first attempt. Post-baccalaureate programs will not only strengthen me academically, it will strengthen me professionally thus make me a competitive applicant.
Accepted: It looks like you offer some good advice for underrepresented minority applicants. Can you share some of your advice here with our readers?
Toni: Being an underrepresented minority, I found getting accurate information, tailored to my specific needs somewhat challenging. My college premed department had limited information regarding the opportunities available to underrepresented minorities. Most of the information I know and provide on my blog, I learned through my own research and through the Minority association of pre-health students (MAPS), my college club (affiliated with the Student National Medical Association – SNMA).
I advise students to join a pre-heath club, devoted to the mission of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine, because I believe that this will make all the difference in the strategy used to construct a competitive medical school application.
Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your experience? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?
Toni: Helping people, whether it be assisting patients, tutoring underclassmen or even by providing useful information I learned along the way (will hopefully prevent others from making the mistakes I’ve made) is quite emotionally rewarding. Blogging allows for a cathartic release, a form of therapy in many respects, that gives my past mistakes purpose.
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You can read more about Toni’s journey by checking out her blog, KeepCalmGoToMedicalSchool. Thank you for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
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