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 Brad…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? When did you graduate?
Brad: I’m from Rochester, NY, and currently live in Buffalo, NY. I attended the State University of New York at Oswego for undergraduate where I majored in Biology (Bachelor of Science), and where I obtained two minors (one in chemistry and one in public health science). I graduated in May of 2013. I also took a gap year and worked as a Scrub Technician at Rochester General Hospital for a year between undergraduate and medical school.
Accepted: Where are you currently attending medical school? What year are you?
Brad: I am currently attending medical school in New York at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. I am in my third year (MS-3)!
Accepted: How did application season go for you? What was one of the biggest challenges that you faced? How did you overcome it?
Brad: The application season went alright for me. One of my biggest regrets was the amount of pressure I placed on myself, because that I took my MCAT late, and I kind of put all my eggs in one basket. I submitted my application without my MCAT score (so that it would be at the designated schools when my scores came in). I took the MCAT in August after graduating from undergraduate and this basically only allowed me to take it once. Although the exam went alright for me, it was definitely risky and caused me a lot of stress and unneeded pressure. I would definitely suggest taking it as early as possible, preferably after your sophomore or junior year when finishing the prerequisite material that is on the exam. Another challenge that I faced was the difficult decision to decide between becoming a physician vs a physician assistant. I actually applied to both programs and was ultimately accepted to both. My job as a surgical scrub technician definitely helped me pick which role I liked better, and what ultimately helped me decide to pursue medical school over PA school. If you have any questions about getting into MD or PA school, feel free to contact me for advice on my Instagram account!
Accepted: How did you prepare for the MCAT? Did you feel prepared?
Brad: I prepared for the MCAT for about two and a half months after graduating. I used examkrackers, Kaplan review course, and a ton of practice tests from various resources. In my opinion, a person never really feels ready for these types of exams. There is so much information and a lot of it is based on passages. I highly suggest to take a deep breath, set a date, and try not to deviate from it. Pick one review course and stick with it. Resource overload is definitely a huge problem – try to avoid it at all costs.
Accepted: How did you prepare for your medical school interviews?
1. For PA and Med school, I basically only used Student Doctor Network, and the book “The Ultimate Guide to Getting Into Physician Assistant School” by Andrew Rodican. This book had all of the secrets of the interview process and sample questions for both (just change PA school to med school in the prompts).
2. My best advice is to be yourself and be calm. They aren’t interrogating you, they just want to get a feel for if you’re a normal person. So try to think of it like that and be relaxed. If you made it to the interview they want you at their school, so walk in there confident!
3. Always know about the program, and why you want to specifically go there. They always ask this. I always researched the program (at least the night before) and had questions to ask about it.
4. Be up to date on current events in healthcare. I had a couple interviewers ask me about what current events I thought were interesting and to discuss them.
Accepted: Why medical school? What inspired you to go on this career path?
Brad: When I was about ten years old, I remember father being diagnosed with an adrenal tumor, and that it was suspected to be cancerous based on its presentation. I remember the initial feeling that I had the first time that I had ever stepped into a hospital, while accompanying my father to one of his pre-surgical appointments. I remember being scared, and lost in this seemingly unfriendly place. This all changed when I met the physician that took care of him. He was a genuine, charismatic person who was a great communicator, very friendly, and passionate about his career. Additionally, he also made every effort to try and comfort my family as best as he could during this difficult time by answering our questions, giving us statistics, and through describing every step of the procedure. My whole experience with my father being ill was what really sparked my interest in medicine. So, I started to research what courses and steps I would have to take to get there.
My pathway to pursuing my career in medicine was definitely not traditional and was very self-driven. Although my parents were very supportive of my endeavors, they didn’t really understand the process of getting into medical school. Thankfully, I was in the generation that grew up with the internet, and was able to research the steps that it would take to become a doctor. This is what ultimately helped me decide on what major and where to apply for my undergraduate education. SUNY Oswego had a great biological sciences program in addition to offering me a scholarship, and that is what ultimately lead me to pursuing my pre-medical education there. Making this decision to pursue my undergraduate degree at SUNY Oswego, is the reason I am in medical school today. I was able to meet and make connections that eventually lead to my matriculation. In addition to my undergraduate experiences, I was extremely eager to make sure that pursuing medicine was the correct choice for me, and that is why I worked as a patient care technician at Rochester General Hospital, and also took a gap year in between graduating undergraduate and starting the postbac program to pursue being a scrub technician at Rochester General Hospital.
Accepted: Can you share a favorite memory of med school thus far with us? What has been one of your biggest challenges?
Brad: I am very eager to work in an underserved area, and these experiences are my favorite memories during medical school. During my first two years of medical school almost all of my leadership and volunteer experiences have been with medically underserved populations. I was on the Student National Medical Association executive board, and we held many events that were targeted at underserved populations. We held events such as a dodgeball tournament, and the SNMA taste of culture to raise money for our program called Rx for Success. Rx for Success is a yearly program which is a community service mentor/ workshop program held by UB medical students and faculty to give students that come from an underprivileged or underrepresented background in medicine a chance to get advice and inquire about the medical school admissions process, tour the medical school, and experience the life of a medical student. As the president of the Dermatology Interest Group, I helped run and plan the first Annual SPOTme Skin Cancer Screening for Melanoma Awareness Month. This was a free skin cancer screening for underserved and uninsured populations of the Buffalo Community. Furthermore, I helped plan and run a week-long event called “Camp Cardiac,” that focuses on teaching high school students about the medical field with an emphasis on cardiology. I also regularly volunteered at our student run clinic called Lighthouse, which was a drop-in clinic, where we provide free, routine health care and preventive services to underserved and uninsured patients of Buffalo. I actively sought after or planned these events because of my dedication to giving back to underserved communities. These have also further solidified my interest, commitment and ultimate goal of being a physician in an underserved area.
One of the biggest challenges thus far has been balancing the amount of information in the courses with extracurricular activities, sleeping, exercising, eating healthy, family, work, relationships, friendships, etc. However, you eventually figure out a balance to make it all work!
Accepted: Lastly, can you share your top three tips for med school success?
1. Balance is key! You cannot study all the time. Make time for your family and friends. Also, you need to make sure you take a break and watch your favorite show for an hour a day. When you are studying, you need to turn your cell phone OFF. I always leave mine at home or in the car when I’m in “study mode” to minimize distractions. I also use the app “self-control” on my computer to block websites like Facebook and to get rid of other distractions on the internet (like Amazon and etc.). I highly suggest you do both or find what works for you to minimize distractions!
2. Eat healthy! I cannot emphasize how important this is. You cannot retain information if you are living on sugar or not eating at all. I’ve seen this way too often and made this mistake my first semester. You can take a break to eat, and make sure you are making your own healthy meals! It will save you money and is usually healthier. Prep the night before.
3. Exercise! I wouldn’t have made it this far into my medical education without endorphins. I exercise at least five times a week for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Medical school is stressful and you must find an outlet to relieve that stress. Exercise is the perfect way to do so!
You can continue following Brad’s story on Instagram (@_doctor.brad). You can also check out this great advice Brad received live on “The Doctors” TV show. Thank you Brad for sharing your story with us, we wish you much success!
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