Profile Questions and Answers
|Why medicine? What is your story?||Although I was interested in medicine since my early teenage years, I took a circuitous route to arrive at this destination. Being a science major and doing research in college helped prepare me academically, but the later experiences - living in East Africa, doing public health research in Alaska, and working as a social worker for several years - helped solidify my decision and prepared me for what's to come. I'll be 28 when I start school in August 2007, and feel completely ready!||read other replies on this topic|
|Are you in any special circumstances? Anything unique?||Nothing particularly special, except that I'm slightly older than most matriculants; but I believe this has definitely worked to my advantage, at least in the application process.||read other replies on this topic|
|What was the hardest part in preparing for med school?||For me, the hardest part was preparing for the MCAT entirely on my own. Living in such an isolated area, I had no peers to commiserate with or tutors/prep courses in the area; I was also working full-time. It definitely built character, and now I'm used to getting home at night after working for 8-10 hours and hitting the books for an additional 3-4.||read other replies on this topic|
|How much did you work while going through pre-med?||As an undergrad, I generally worked only during the summers. I was very lucky in that respect. I did research in a neurosurgery department at a teaching hospital in Philadelphia, and actually got paid to do it. I also did some teaching assistant gigs during the school year, which weren't particularly time-consuming, so it was pretty cushy.
Since busting into the "real world," I've been breaking my back to make ends meet (social workers make a laughable salary). I've had part-time music gigs that help, however, and teach violin lessons as well. Overall, I'd say I work about 50-60 hours a week.||read other replies on this topic|
|What did you do for MCAT preparation?||I got Kaplan books and parked myself in the library or at my desk after work every day for 3-4 hours. On weekends, it'd be more like 6-8 each day. This went on for about three months total. If there had been a prep course available in my area, I would have taken it. I'm lucky I was able to land so many acceptances with that score, but it just goes to show - there's more to med school admission than the MCAT!||read other replies on this topic|
|How much did you shadow physicians?||I did not technically "shadow" any physicians, but spent a gazillion hours in clinical settings, research labs, and as a patient myself!||read other replies on this topic|
|How much did you volunteer?||I volunteered over 1000 hours in a hospital during my teenage years. In high school and college, I tutored elementary school students and GED candidates. I've been a CPR/First Aid instructor for the Red Cross for several years as well.||read other replies on this topic|
|What clinical exposure did you have?||As a teenager, I worked with geriatric and pediatric patients in the hospital; on the geriatrics ward, I assisted in bathing, feeding, and changing patients. On the peds ward, I coordinated playroom activities.|
While working in a neurosurgery lab in college, I spent many hours in the operating room to observe hippocampectomies and collect tissue for use in our research.
Just after college I landed a public health fellowship with the CDC in Alaska and traveled to several remote villages for clinical research activities.
For the past four years, I've been working with mentally ill children and adults, coordinating social and medical services.
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|What did you do for research?||Every summer during college I worked in a neurosurgery lab, and did a little of everything - including some stem cell research. Very interesting and challenging. I later did an infectious disease research fellowship for the CDC.||read other replies on this topic|
|Do you have any leadership experience?||I've been supervising over 30 mental health direct care workers at a social services agency for the past year; this is probably the most hands-on leadership experience I've had.||read other replies on this topic|
|What suggestions do you have for the personal statement?||Go to your local university's writing workshop, or at least a good writer you know, to have them critique it for grammatical accuracy and basic structure. You don't want a lot of "fluff" in there because you have limited space. You want to grab them in the beginning; don't start out with "I have always wanted to be a doctor." Actually, don't put that in ANYWHERE. They read that sentence all the time. Tell them something different, something unique about you.||read other replies on this topic|
|What suggestions do you have for the secondary applications?||Most schools will ask similar questions on their secondaries: why medicine, why our school, tell us about yourself. Don't re-hash your personal statement; give them something new to chew over. It's your chance to tell them everything about yourself that you think is relevent. Take advantage of that. And get them done as soon as humanly possible!||read other replies on this topic|
|What suggestions do you have for the interview?||It's okay to be nervous, but also try to relax as much as possible. They may ask you some tough questions, but they are trying to see how you think on your feet, not necessarily expecting a perfect answer (because let's face it, there's no real "perfect" answer to anything). Smile. Be gracious. Be approachable and open, and most of all, be honest. I was asked about my physical sciences MCAT score at least 239487 times; my answer? "I've always struggled with Newtonian mechanics. I took too much time on those questions, and didn't end up finishing." It's the simple truth. It's okay to admit your weaknesses! That shows you are humble and realistic about yourself. You also have to be able to admit your strengths, though, and be confident in those.||read other replies on this topic|
|Describe your pre-med schedule, typical day and week||I've been out of school for about six years. But I did take 12 credits last summer (just for kicks?) while I was working full-time and part-time jobs and starting the application process. I'd study a couple hours each night, and revise an essay or two, but always left room for some exercise and quality time with my "family" (fiance and two cats). It's all about balancing your load, or you'll collapse under the weight of it.||read other replies on this topic|
|Did you do any other extracurricular activities?||The main extracurricular activity in my life has been playing the violin and viola (for the past 20 years). I've played in semi-professional symphonies and world music groups, and so a lot of time has been devoted to that, as well as teaching students. I've also been writing for ages and do some freelance work when I can. I did all the typical pre-med activities in college (volunteering, EMT certification, science clubs, etc.) and had a great time with those.||read other replies on this topic|
|How did you choose your med school?||Several factors contributed to my decision to attend school in Arizona:
1) Location: my fiance and I wanted to be in a place where we'd be able to get out and hike or camp once in a blue moon; we love the outdoors. He will also be able to pursue his advanced degree at ASU, right down the street - very convenient.|
2) Clinical rotations: when I'm married, I don't want to have to go to different rotation sites all over the country every 4-8 weeks. I wanted the option to do my rotations in the area (even if I end up choosing not to); I also wanted a diverse patient population, which describes Arizona to a T (and honing my Spanish will be nice).
3) The overall "feel" of the school: I just liked the laid-back atmosphere of AZCOM. I also liked the fact that there are allied health programs affiliated with the school; no doctor is an island, after all.
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|Did you take any extra coursework in preparation for med school?||I took some upper-level science courses as a neuro major, but I doubt these will be particularly helpful in medical school...maybe for the first day or so! I think the most important part of my education in undergrad was learning how to properly study. And that may entirely change when I get to med school - I'm prepared for that.||read other replies on this topic|
|Any open-ended advice?||I think it should be mandatory for pre-meds to take at least two years off after college to start the med school process. That time off in the "real world" was invaluable for me, and certainly for others.||read other replies on this topic|