“But then again, all good things must come to an end.”
-Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation [7.25]
I’m heading off to medical school!
With the transition from premed to medical student occurring over the next few weeks, I have decided to move my blogging away from PracticalPremed to a brand spanking new website, WhiteCoatDO!
The new site will document my musing on medical school as well as product reviews, medical case features, and articles on admissions. I’ll also be revamping and revising popular PracticalPremed posts such as the 80/20 Rule for Students and My Interview Preparation Plan.
Consequently, this will be the last ever post on PracticalPremed. The site will still be running and operational, with the main changes being a shift over to a static homepage and some formatting changes to make the site easier to navigate. A huge thank you to every one who has read, commented, emailed, tweeted, or shared this blog over the past two years. Without you, this blog is just (and still maybe) the ramblings of a crazy premed.
For other pre-med and medical school info, here are some great resources:
Thanks for reading!
In search of insight into the mysterious world of operating rooms, I recently dove into Confessions Of A Surgeon by Dr. Paul Guggieri. Chief of surgery at a large community hospital, Dr. Guggieri writes the text as a career memoir. In the book, he covers an array of topics ranging from the innocence of medical school to the struggles of 100+ hour weeks as a resident to the unforgettable stories of patients and concludes with some final thoughts on the future of surgery.
With little surgical exposure as a premed, I was especially interested in reading Dr. Ruggieri’s journey from medical school to surgical residency. Ruggieri writes, “I can describe, with one word, the driving force behind my five years of surgical training: fear.” Ruggieri goes on to describe the old guard nature prevalent in surgical residencies and asserts that the new work restrictions on residency hours may actually be detrimental to patients in the long run. These early chapters were an interesting read into how medical students become surgeons, but I was left wishing Ruggieri would have devoted more content towards these pivotal developing years. Read more »
The Short List is a monthly series featuring the best recent posts from premeds and medical students in the blogosphere. Some pretty inspiring future physicians, these writers will undoubtly be making some noise in the medical world in the not too distant future. As this is the first post in The Short List series, some of these featured links maybe a few months old, but still make for must-reads.
The Little Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was Set Loose on the Wards via MD2B. While finishing up her third-year rotations, Allison (@grecoa3) reflects on making the transition from classroom to hospital and lessons she learned along the way. A small gem from the post: “I found that if I was able to know a little about every patient on our service, I could offer help with paperwork or calling consults. These are the types of things the residents really appreciate, and that will get everyone finished a little bit earlier at the end of the day.”
Clinic Tales via MDJourney. Steve is one of the best medical student writers around and this short post shows why. From the post, “For whatever reason I had in my mind the idea that specialists spend less time with patients and don’t really get to know them outside of their disease. I realize now what a ridiculous assumption this is, especially because even in a specialty social and family factors are always going to play a role and a good physician should be generally aware of what is going on.”
How the Affordable Care Act Changes Pre-Medical Education via TheBiopsy. Raheet (@TheBiopsy) prefaces this post with the warning, “Beware, this a massive post,” but this post provides an excellent opinion piece on the future of healthcare in the wake of the ACA. Well-thought out and researched, this post provides a thorough outlook on the coming changes in pre-medical education.
I’m In! via Phenomenemily. Wonder what it feels like to be accepted to one of the best medical schools in the world? Emily (@phenomenemily) describes the pure joy that is being accepted to a first choice.
Improving Your MCAT VR Score via TheHeroComplex. By scoring a 13 on his VR, @theHero_Complex scored in the top 1.1% percentile of all test-takers. Needless to say, the man knows a thing or two about getting a good MCAT score. The whole series is four posts in all, with my favorite being part one- Misconceptions about Verbal Reasoning.
I’m sure I’m missing some other great posts out there, have you found any must-read posts in the past few months?
A graduate of UCLA medical school, Dr. Mike Frazier is somewhat of a certified medical school superstar. In addition to absolutely crushing his Step 1 with a 257, he also found time to run a website geared towards helping premeds and other medical students, Medical School Insider. As a former member of the admissions committee at UCLA, Mike knows exactly what goes on behind the mysterious doors of admissions offices and he’s somehow found time to compile everything he’s learned into an eBook. I recently had a chance to ask Mike some questions and review his eBook, which you can check out at his website.
Q and A with the Author, Dr. Mike Frazier
What inspired you to write this eBook?
I wanted to make the admissions process more transparent. When I was applying, I didn’t really know what happened to my application. Who looked at it, etc. I also didn’t really know what committees were looking for, which activities were important, or how important each step was in the process. I wrote the book to try to help premed students see the application process from the other side so they can prepare themselves best to get accepted. Read more »
Books to Read Before You Interview: Health Care Reform, What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works
On June 28th, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the Affordable Care Act, a law with vast implications for the future of healthcare. This huge decision, coupled with the presidential election in the upcoming November, virtually guarantee that healthcare policy should be a major talking point in interviews for this year’s batch of applicants. And while interviewers usually don’t expect premeds to be expert on the intricacies of healthcare law, having a working knowledge of the ACA and the landscape of healthcare reform will only prove beneficial throughout the interview season. Knowing a little bit about healthcare policy should also help out with that thing called your future career as well. Hoping to get a grasp of the ACA, I recently picked up Health Care Reform, What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How it Works by Jonathan Gruber.
A Review of Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How it Works.
Presented as a graphic novel, the book is incredibly easy to read and tackles the difficult task of explaining the ACA. As the title states, the book dives into the gaps in the current healthcare landscape and how the ACA plans to reform some of these weak points. Gruber uses four hypothetical characters with varying levels of healthcare coverage to demonstrate how the healthcare system current works for them and how the ACA would affect each of them. Additionally, Gruber goes to great lengths to confront some of the myths and worries associated with the law. Perhaps most importantly, the book makes a convincing argument that everyone has to pay for healthcare in one way or another. Hospital and ER visits from the uninsured, Gruber argues, affect everyone, from the hospital to the insurance companies to even the patients with insurance. The book goes on to explain additional components of the bill and gives examples of how a similar effort in Massachusetts (under Mitt Romney, no less) worked out. A relatively short read, this book obviously doesn’t cover the deeper complexities of the bill, but it offers an excellent starting point for those with only a vague understanding of healthcare policy.
Here is part 2 of the Med School Applicant Q and A series featuring some of the best and brightest online future/current medical students. Part one was a roaring success due to the high-quality answers from A, Theresa, and Kristina and the free Interfolio accounts didn’t hurt either. This post will feature Emily from the great blog Phenomenemily, a current MD/PhD student, and myself. Without further adieu, here is a little more about our remaining panel members…
The Panel Members
Undergrad: Loyola Marymount University
Twitter handle: @Potato_Chip
Applied to: 3 MD and 11 MD/PhD
App process in one word: Expensive.
Currently Attending: MSTP program in southern US
App process in one word: Expensive
Name: Ryan Nguyen
Undergrad: University of CA, Santa Barbara
Applied to: 30 MD and DO
App Process in one word: Long
On to the questions and answers! Read more »
For the past few months, I’ve been asking some of the best and brightest online pre-meds and medical students about their experiences applying to medical school. With the next wave of applications coming up, I knew this feedback would provide upcoming applicants with a unique look into the minds of students who just went through the process. In total, this project spanned six different recent applicants from all over the country who applied to a variety of programs (MD/PhD, MD, DO). To consolidate on space, the huge post have been split into two with three of the members in this post. Part two, with the other three members of the roundtable, will be in an upcoming post.
Now on to the giveaway: Practicalpremed has teamed up with Interfolio, and I will be giving away a limited number of free Interfolio accounts to readers. To enter the drawing, all you have to do is post an application-related question (sign in with your facebook/twitter/livefyre account) in the comments section. For those unfamiliar, Interfolio is a service that manages letters of recommendation. I had a fantastic experience with the service through the application process and the customer service is top-notch.
Winners will be randomly selected on June 1st, 2012. Good luck!
The Roundtable Members
Undergrad: Dartmouth College
Applied to: 20ish MD
Currently attending: Albany Medical College, co 2014
Undergrad: a UC (University of California)
Applied to: 20 MD/DO
Will be attending: East Coast Osteopathic Medical School
Application process in one word: Stressful
On to the questions and answers! Read more »
With the new wave of medical school applicants scrambling to get their applications in, one of the inevitable issues that arises is the hoopla surrounding letters of recommendation.
What if the writer says no? Who should I ask? What should I give them?
I pondered all these questions while I was putting my application together just under a year ago. Thankfully, I was able to get all my letters in on time, and I’ve even had some interviewers inform me that my writers wrote some pretty glowing insights (hopefully something better than, “HE STUDIES A LOT”). And while I attribute having built relationships with (most) of my letter writers, I think the resources that I gave to my writers really allowed them to write focused and targeted letters. So without further ado, I present to you…
How To Prepare A “PracticalPremed-Style” Letter Of Recommendation Folder Packet.
When I approached writers to ask for a recommendation I came prepared with a folder that contained everything they needed to write an effective letter. Organized by their functions, the documents in this packet gave my writers all the tools they needed to (ideally) write a great letter of recommendation. Read more »
Applying to medical school will test your patience.
Last March, as I was struggling to wait for my MCAT scores to be released, a friend who had just finished the application process chimed in with some words of wisdom, “Get used to waiting. You think waiting for your MCAT scores is bad? The application process is a year-long waiting game from June to June.” Looking back, she couldn’t have hit the nail anymore on the head. The admissions process has been a roller-coaster of ups and downs, and I’ve (reluctantly) come to accept waiting as just part of the process. Right after submitting my secondaries, I would check the status pages of each of my schools multiple times a day. It became an exercise in futility as my statuses rarely changed within the first few weeks. For some weird reason, constantly checking status pages doesn’t seem to advance your application in any way. Over time, I’ve found that the best way to curb this kind of behavior is to stay busy and stick to the things that kept me motivated. School, work, and volunteering have all preoccupied my mind, freeing me from borderline unhealthy habit of rabid status checking.
Ultimately, the applicant is responsible for his or her file at each medical school.
While I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid major mishaps with my application (as far as I know), I’ve talked to enough applicants, medical students, and former admissions committee members to know that managing upwards of 4k-10k applications can be a logistics nightmare. Attachments can be lost, files can be stuck at the bottom of piles, and applications can be sent to the wrong office. From a medical student who got into her top choice late in the application season a year ago, “Send updates letters if the school allows it. Sometimes, the real value of an update letter is that it forces the committee to pull up your file to attach the letter.” After talking to her, I sent update letters to schools I was still interested in and received an interview invite from one of them just two weeks later.
One of the best part about interviews is meeting other applicants.
Having been to a few different interviews in varying areas of the country, I can honestly say that meeting other applicants has been one of the parts of the application process. As most of the other premeds I know are applying next year, it’s refreshing to meet other applicants going through the same application process. So often, it’s been easy to just forget that each of the tens of thousands of other applicants has their own story, their own motivations, their own ambitions. Meeting these other aspiring doctors and listening to their achievements has me incredibly excited to work with them in the future.
You’ve got to work to maintain your friendships with your “non-applicant” friends.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve oftentimes found myself so wrapped up in the “bubble” of being a medical school applicant that it’s been hard to identify with my friends who are doing other things. Thankfully, I’ve been lucky to have friends who realize it’s just me being a neurotic premed, and I still make it a priority to hang out with them when I can. Sometime, just getting lunch of coffee to catch up with someone else can make all the difference in maintaining a friendship. My friends have helped me forget rejections and celebrate acceptances, and have been invaluable throughout the application process.
The first acceptance makes everything worth it.
Whether it’s tearing open an envelop to read the words “Congratulations…”, a phone call from a medical school Dean, or an email with the subject line “Accepted-…”, the first acceptance to medical school is rush of emotion. Within seconds of receiving an acceptance, it all hit me: every 5-hour practice MCAT, every late night doing “just a few more practice problems”, and every caffeine-fueled study session. They were all worth it, every single moment. It is one of the most incredible feelings in the world, and one I hope that each of you can experience it one day.
As someone who is right in the middle of the application process, I can tell you firsthand that the act of compiling application materials is a tremendous task. From the seemingly never-ending edits of personal statements, to figuring out how to solicit required letters of recommendation, to constructing a list of schools to apply to, the process can be a bit overwhelming. A current group of medical students, all too familiar with the headaches of application season, brainstormed solutions to this dilemma, and out of this PREMED.me was born.
What is PREMED.me?
From one of the developers, “Premed.me is a utility intended to relieve the headaches that we noticed ourselves and other premeds having when we were applying to and interviewing at schools across the US. It’s made by medical students, for aspiring doctors.” Read more »