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 Shanice…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from?
Shanice: I grew up in a small suburban town on Long Island. Trust me, what they say about LI pizza and bagels being the best is true! For undergrad, I went to Cornell University and I received my degree in Biology & Society in 2015.
Accepted: Where are you currently going to med school? What year are you?
Shanice: I’m currently a first year medical student in California!
Accepted: Can you share three fun facts about yourself?
1. I’m a first generation American and both of my parents are from Jamaica.
2. I was always involved in the arts growing up and I still love things like musical theatre, listening to movie scores, and watching competitive drum corps.
3. I found my composition notebook journal from second grade and I always wrote about becoming a “kids doctor” when I grew up.
Accepted: Why did you choose the current school you are in? How did you know it would be a good fit?
Shanice: The program I chose was actually my top choice and I was so excited when I found out that I was accepted! I chose it because I am passionate about social medicine and working with underserved patient populations in my career. This program was created for the community, by the community and I knew it would be a good fit because the program’s mission matches my personal mission. It’s definitely a bonus that I get to study in beautiful, sunny California too!
Accepted: What motivated you to pursue a career in medicine?
Shanice: The idea of becoming a physician started out as a childhood dream and developed into a carefully considered goal and plan as I grew older. My initial interest came about at a young age because my mom is a nurse. Whenever I was asked that “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question, the answer was always that I wanted to be a doctor. At the time, I think I was more interested in the cool stethoscope, but my later experiences are what solidified my decision to pursue this path.
I am passionate about medicine because I believe that health is the most fundamental human necessity and the health disparities that currently exist are unethical and preventable. Health is a fundamental human need because a person cannot physically function, much less pursue the rewards of the human experience if they do not feel well enough to get through the day. I think it’s very unfortunate that the circumstances a person is born into can determine whether or not they live a long, fulfilling, and healthy life. My goals as a physician are to provide individualized, compassionate care to patients of all backgrounds, and to bridge the social and cultural gaps in care that leave patients unequipped to take control of their health and wary of health care professionals.
Accepted: You detailed your med school application journey on your blog, Purely Positivitea. What challenges did you face while applying, and how did you overcome them?
Shanice: I think that the most difficult part of applying was keeping up with everything and staying organized. I applied to 19 programs, so I had a lot of secondary application essays to write and emails to manage – and it got overwhelming very quickly. I wanted to make the best possible impression on each school, but I also wanted to do it in a timely manner. I ended up creating a color coded spreadsheet where I kept with dates that I received and submitted materials, dates of interview invites, and other important information. It helped me to organize myself and to stay on top of scheduling and all of the writing I had to do.
Accepted: The MCAT… How did you prepare for the exam? What tools did you find were a necessity for being ready on exam day?
Shanice: I actually took the MCAT twice, so let me share what I did wrong the first time and right the second time. The first time around, I took a Kaplan summer class, and my first mistake was that I took on way too much. Instead of focusing on studying like I should have, I was also interning in an emergency room 8 hours per week and working a retail job for 12-16 hours per week. I thought I could handle it all, but it was really not my best move. In terms of prep, I was so consumed with content review for the class to keep up that I didn’t take the time to really assess my strengths and work on my weaknesses until the end. Needless to say, I didn’t meet my goals and decided to take the test again almost immediately.
The second time around, I was able to use Kaplan again (they have a great guarantee that allows you to take the class again at no extra charge), except this time, I chose the self-paced option. With this option, the lectures were pre-recorded and there weren’t any classes I had to attend. Since there was more flexibility, I was able to use the program as a supplement to my studying instead of the only thing I was doing, which worked out so much better! Kaplan has a ton of question banks and access to AMCAS materials, so I took a step away from all of the content review and started doing a lot of practice questions, sections, and tests. This way, I got a lot of test taking practice and I was able to use the questions that challenged me to direct my studying. It was really making a switch from passive studying to active studying (plus focusing on the test instead of 10 different responsibilities!) that helped me improve my score and I’m glad I was able to make that switch.
Accepted: Lastly, any words of wisdom/tips for students who are just starting the daunting med school application process?
Shanice: My number one piece of advice is always not to get caught up in the hype! People make up all of these rules about the application process (ex: you need to submit your primary on the day AMCAS opens) that are not real rules and only serve to make things stressful. For more info on this and other tips and tricks, check out my blog post about the medical school application process!
You can follow Shanice’s journey by checking out her blog, Purely Positivitea, or by following her on Twitter (@purepositivitea) and Instagram (@purelypositiitea). Thank you Shanice for sharing your story and advice with our readers – 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.
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