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 Ally P…
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?
Ally: I was born and raised in Montana, attended undergraduate schooling at Carroll College – a private, Catholic, liberal arts school in Helena, MT– where I graduated with a major in Biology and a minor in Philosophy. I graduated in May 2013.
Accepted: If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Ally: Bubbly, optimistic, determined.
Accepted: What’s one of your favorite inspirational quotes?
Ally: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” – Mother Theresa
Accepted: Where are you currently attending med school? What year are you?
Ally: I am a second year medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Accepted: How did the application process go for you? Did you experience any challenges?
Ally: I didn’t get into medical school my first time around, and at first I was extremely devastated, thinking I was a failure. Yet quickly that guilt turned into an immediate attitude on the very next day of “I am going to show all of you medical schools that you want me.” From here I studied and retook the MCAT, switched Certified Nursing Assistant jobs, and ultimately worked on becoming a more confident applicant. I was working at a women’s health clinic when I was rejected from medical school that first time around, and I quickly decided I wanted to work in the hospital setting. I quickly began working as a Certified Nursing Assistant on the inpatient acute medical and oncology floor at one of our local hospitals. This decision to work as an inpatient CNA was humbling, rewarding, and hands down one of the best decisions I could have ever made about trying to become a better applicant for medical school, and more, as a more versed future provider. The experiences I had were incredible, and I know that throughout interviewing the second time around I had an entire vault of experiences that I could draw on when asked about specific instances of patient care, failure, and physician/patient interactions. I would encourage those applying to spend some time as a nurse’s aide because you learn to appreciate all team members involved in patient care and you also will learn how to become a vital taking master, which will always come in handy.
Accepted: Which resources did you use to prep for the MCAT?
Ally: I used Kaplan the first time around, and I did like that, but I felt as though I needed to try a new approach when studying the second time, so I opted for the Princeton Review! I did scheduled online courses to keep myself accountable, and the teachers I had were absolutely phenomenal. My goal for the second time around was to really boost my verbal reasoning score, and the teacher I had for that section ultimately allowed me to do just that. He was amazing!
Accepted: How has med school been so far for you? Do you have any “survival” tips for others just starting out?
Ally: Medical school has definitely been a roller coaster. Of course there have been many times of stress and feelings of “can I really learn all of this,” but the rewards of building patient relationships, learning how to preform hands on skills like suturing and even helping deliver babies has made every single late night, early morning, and breakdown worth it.
In terms of the testing schedule, having more or less bimonthly tests for last year and a half has meant enduring a cycle of going from relaxed to building stress the weekend before a test, immediately followed by relief after the exam, and the cycle continues. It was difficult to adjust to the amount of information we were expected to learn for each exam, but I can honestly say now as a second year medical student I am able to comfortably handle the content load for exams, with much less stress.
My advice for other students is “you do you, boo.” All medical students have different learning styles, speeds in which they can “grasp” content info, and it is important to remember to find what works for YOU! I remember feeling frustrated in the beginning of school as I struggled to find a learning style that really worked for me, and what worked for other students clearly was not for me. Use your classmates as guidance for ways to study, but do not feel hopeless when the ways other students study simply does not work for you. Eventually I did find my way, through using visual aids and lots of flashcards. And don’t go to a group study session without having gone over the information yourself, or else you really are wasting your time. I learned that one the hard way too.
Accepted: Do you have any other tips you’d like to share with those going through the application process?
Ally: My advice would be don’t give up after being rejected from medical school, and if you are one of the people that gets accepted into school the first time around, I commend you! Do not be afraid to use resources such as medical students you know, professors, physicians, or mentors that can help you along the way! I have friends that are years ahead of me in medical school and residency; I constantly ask them questions about things I am unsure about including clerkships, research, good resources, etc…
AND my last tidbit is when you do get accepted into school, because you can do it, take that backpacking trip you always wanted to go on, quit your job, binge watch every single episode of Grey’s Anatomy and ENJOY your last taste of freedom because you will slowly learn that the time to do absolutely nothing slowly dwindles as you get farther along on this journey. 🙂 Best of luck to everyone applying!
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