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 Adam…
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?
Adam: I’m from Upstate New York and I went to the University of Albany where I studied Biology. I graduated in 2015.
Accepted: Where are you currently going to med school? What year are you?
Adam: I’m currently a second year osteopathic medical student on the East Coast, not too far from D.C. Unfortunately I’ll have to leave it there to keep some anonymity.
Accepted: How did you know your current med school was “the one”?
Adam: I think “the one” is a bit of a misnomer. I have always felt that way – even with undergrad – so maybe it’s my personality. I think finding a medical school is about finding the best fit. Everyone teaches medicine and everyone has students that go on to be great doctors, so for me it was about finding somewhere I wanted to spend time. When I interviewed here, everyone was so incredibly laid back and friendly that if there was ever an “I knew it” moment, it was probably then. I figure school is what you make of it no matter where you are, but the people around you can make a huge difference. I really like both my classmates, and professors and staff that I interact with on a daily basis, and that makes med school that much more enjoyable.
Accepted: What motivated you to pursue a career in medicine?
Adam: Again, I wish I had a fairy tale answer for you. I just really enjoy medicine, science, and people. I got involved with medicine young, first as a lifeguard, then an EMT. I have always liked helping others but there are many service careers I could have gone into, so I guess for me it is the ability to help others and solve puzzles on a daily basis. I love the challenge of walking into a room not really knowing what you will find, but after 14 minutes (OSCE timing) you have built this nice relationship with your patient and hopefully either know what’s going on, or have a good idea of the tests you will need to figure it out. I think at the end of the day, it’s about getting that person back to normal life. I can’t think of any time when I was happy to be injured or sick, but I can think of many caring and personable doctors and nurses who helped me to get healthy as quickly as possible, so I guess I hope to be that positive doctor image for my patients some day!
Accepted: How were your stats (MCAT & GPA) when you went through the application process? Did you feel competitive? What resources did you use to study for the MCAT?
Adam: My stats were strong, except my MCAT. I am part of the admissions team here at school, and I can tell you combined with questions I get on social media that this is the most common thing I hear. That said, “strong” is different to everyone. For me, my MCAT was weak overall but I had the M.D. average scores on my sciences so it wasn’t a deal breaker. My GPA was just shy of a 3.9, and I had some substantial research experiences in large healthcare settings with a paper and a few posters at medical conferences. I also had worked in a nanobioscience lab which is always a flashy conversation starter. Lastly, I think another competitive edge I had was my clinical experience (over 1000 hours) in EMS and my large depth of shadowing with over 300 hours in numerous fields and sub-specialties. So to answer your question, yes I felt competitive when I applied and the hard work paid off. When it came time after interviews, I had my choosing of where I wanted to go. To answer your last question, I used a range of materials, mainly Kaplan, Berkley Review Series and EC’s. Check out thepre_medlife on Twitter, I think there are some links to videos I had done about what I used and how to study. Just remember your application is more than a score and numbers (or it should be).
Accepted: What did you find most challenging about applying to med school?
Adam: The MCAT. Don’t we all. It’s a monster of a test – but one thing I would say is that it’s important to understand its purpose. It is a test of the first two years of basic science from undergrad. I was weak my first two years and didn’t really get the hang of it until the end of my Sophomore year. Just study hard from the beginning and remember that review programs are not there to teach you the material, but to help you refresh it and gain test taking strategies. If you are weak in a particular area, go back and learn it from a textbook, not a test review book. I also think the motivation is a huge part. There are a lot of hoops to jump through when applying. You will spend HOURS and HOURS of your summer doing paperwork for primaries, secondaries, setting up your travel arrangements etc. It all adds up, but just realize there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Accepted: Do you have any words of wisdom for those currently going through the med school application process?
Adam: Oh man. I wish I could say there was one quick piece but there’s just too much. I think in addition to what I said above, just believe in yourself. It sounds silly, but it really matters. You have to know that you can do this. Many people have done it before you and many will do it after, so just set your goals, put your head down and work for it! I am confident that anyone who truly wants to be a physician can get into medical school, it’s just a matter of timing, hard work, and motivation. If anyone has questions, feel free to reach out on twitter and connect @thepre_medlife. I had some YouTube videos I made during first year that might also help out but unfortunately, second year has taken my video making time. I wish you all the best of luck, and remember to believe… you can do this!
Thank you Adam for sharing your experience and advice – we wish you the best of luck!
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