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Find Out Which Cities Made Our List for the Best Places to Attend Medical School


10 Last-Minute MCAT Prep Tips Quick & simple tips to help improve your performance on the most important test yet


Finding the Right Post Baccalaurate Premed Program

Former Program Director Gives Advice On What to Look for

Going Deep

How Premeds Can Get Past “I’m Good At Science”

Brown Introduces Brand New Premed Courses p.8 | Debt Is Not Facotr In Student’s Specialty Choice p.10

After graduation, take a stand against poverty by joining AmeriCorps VISTA— Volunteers in Service to America. You’ll put your passion to work to help those in need, and you’ll gain experience you can’t find in other kinds of entry-level jobs. You’ll also receive:


Living allowance $4,725 for tuition or student loans Health care Moving expenses

37 million Americans live in poverty. Take a stand. Join AmeriCorps VISTA.


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premedlife|may/june 2013 “If you’re an individual who purports “I like everything , and I don’t know what to do” then you and I have something in common” p. 38

Here are some things to look for if you’re considering a post-bac premed program




FINDING THE RIGHT POST-BACC PREMED PROGRAM A former post-baccalaureate pre-medical program director shares advice on how to choose the best post-bac pre-med program




A STUDENT’S CHOICE BETWEEN MEDICINE AND RESEARCH A graduate student's perception on selfdiscovery, scientific pursuit, and opportunity


GOING DEEP: GETTING PAST "I'M GOOD AT SCIENCE AND I WANT TO HELP PEOPLE 5 kinds of questions that can help develop a more fully realized claim on the path you are choosing

Our second annual Best Cities list we once again listen to medical students who told us what their ideal place to live during school would be. No surprise again high on the wish list were affordability and quality of life. Check out this years list to see if your top pick made the list.

May/June 2013 | PreMedLife Magazine | 3


premedlife|may/june 2013

“This summer is your chance to turn your summer experience into a meaningful experience.” p. 36

IN THIS ISSUE 10 Last-Minute MCAT Prep Tips | 25 If your MCAT is coming up, here are some last-minute tips to help you improve your performance come test day Make It Count: How to Make Your Summer Internship AMCAS-Worthy | 36 Landed a summer internship? Great. Now take advantage of this chance to make your experience meaningful enough to add to your medical school application

DEPARTMENTS Newsbites| 8 Relevant news & information for students applying to medical school

How to discover the authentic sense of purpose required for the difficult journey of becoming a physician.

School Spotlight: Emory University | 43 With over 6,000 applicants last year, Emory University School of Medicine’s flexible curriculum and supportive environment have made it an attractive choice for medical school


The Goods| 44 Gadgets & gizmos to keep you entertained. Check out our picks for this issue In The Stacks|47 Books to inspire you or provide you with advice along your journey to medical school Better Life, Better You| 48 Advice & tips for taking care of yourself to make it through your hectic pre-med life

A few relatively simple last-minute ways to prep for the MCAT


4 | PreMedLife Magazine | May/June 2013



PML print edition

a lifestyle magazine for



PRE MED LIFE pre-medical students


print. digital. social.

Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc. Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.


And so, here we are, approaching the homestretch toward the school year's end - a time when some of you are just getting started on your journey to becoming a doctor, others are a few weeks away from beginning medical school and the rest of you who are somewhere in between. Regardless of what stage you're at summertime is approaching and some of your most meaningful experiences as a premed are about to happen. The chunk of time between your academic year gives you the freedom to do whatever the heck your premed heart desires - completing research, studying abroad, shadowing a physician - or what your NON-premed heart desires - vacationing with family, working a summer gig, or taking college courses. As a premed, you may feel pressure to use your summer break to find an internship or participate in a research program even if you really just want to chill at home or go on vacation. Be it a premed or non-premed experience, the summer can be a valuable time to dibble and dabble and explore your interests, both personal and academic. No matter how you choose to spend your summer, what you should be most focused on is doing something that you are genuinely interested in, be successful at doing it and learn something from whatever you do - even if learn that you need to take a pause for the cause from time to time.


Sheema Prince


PREMEDLIFE the lifestyle magazine for premedical students Publisher/CEO | Sheema Prince Executive Director/COO | Jonathan Pearson EVP, Operations | Monique Terc Managing Editor | Monica Lee Contributing Editor | Njeri McKenzie Digital Editor | Donald Gibbons Contributing Writers Jessica Deutsch Liza Thompson Production Coordinator | Shawn Klein Social Media Manager | Tammy Li Find us on Twitter @premedlife Find us on Here’s How To Reach Us: Kisho Media, LLC P.O. Box 7049 New York, NY 10116 Main Office (347) 231 - 6429 Have a Story Idea? Email us at Want To Subscribe? Log onto and sign-up to receive an email when the latest issue is available Interested in Partnering With Us? Email us at Advertising Questions? Email us at PreMedLife magazine is published six times per year by Kisho Media, LLC. and copies are provided to select colleges and universities free of charge. The information in PreMedLife magazine is believed to be accurate, but in some instances, may represent opinion or judgment. Consult your pre-med advisor with any questions you may have about the medical school admissions process and related topics. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs, artwork, and images may not be duplicated or reprinted without express written permission from Kisho Media, LLC. PreMedLife magazine and Kisho Media, LLC. are not liable for typographical or production errors or the accuracy of information provided by advertisers. PreMedLife Magazine reserves the right to refuse any advertising. All inquires may be sent to: Kisho Media, LLC. P.O. Box 7049 New York, NY 10116 To reach us by phone call (347) 231-6429 or email us at

6 | PreMedLife Magazine | May/June 2013

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publisher from the

PreMedLife Magazine

Subscribe Today For more information about PreMedLife Magazine, visit us online at


Medical student debt is not the determining factor in decisions related to which specialty a student pursues, according to a report published by the AAMC. {PAGE 10}

Recent news & information relevant for students applying to medical school

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School (UMDNJ) has settled a lawsuit that accused it of excluding medical school applicants with Hepatitis B. It is the first time the United States Department of Justice has reached such a decision for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on behalf of people with hepatitis B, according to a news release issued by the department.

Brown Introduces New Premed Courses The Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) at Brown University has announced that beginning in Fall 2014, it will launch two

The suit was filed after two applicants applied and were accepted to UMDNJ School of Osteopathic Medicine, and one of them was also accepted to the UMDNJ School of Medicine. According to the press release announcing the unprecedented decision, the schools later revoked the acceptances after learning that the applicants had hepatitis B. Turns out that the schools had no lawful basis for their decision to renege on their

new interdisciplinary courses for undergraduates. School administrators said that the courses are designed to approach medical education from an integrative, case-based angle - a move that could put the school at the forefront of innovations in pre-medical education. Associate Dean of Medicine Julianne Ip said that the two courses will provide the foundational knowledge for a PLME senior

8 | PreMedLife Magazine | May/June 2013

initial admission offer because the students were not required to perform invasive surgical procedures, and the exclusion of the applicants contradicted the Centers' for Disease Control and Prevention's guideline on the issue. The CDC's 2012 guidelines which specifically addresses the medical student population and others working in health care, states that no transmission of the virus has been reported in the country from primary care providers, clinicians, medical or dental students, residents, nurses, or other health care providers to patients in over two decades. The release quotes Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division "Excluding people from higher education based on unfounded fears or incorrect scientific information is unacceptable. We applaud the UMDNJ for working cooperatively with the Justice Department to resolve these matters in a fair manner." "It is especially important that a public institution of higher learning - especially one with a mission to prepare future generations of medical professionals - strictly follow the laws Congress has enacted to protect from discrimination those people who have health issues," U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul Fishman was quoted as saying in the department's release. "The remedies to which the school has agreed should ensure this does not happen again." As part of the agreement reached between the UMDNJ and the Justice Department, UMDNJ must adopt a policy that is based on the CDC's Hepatitis B recommendation, permitting the applicants to enroll in the schools, provide ADA training to their employees and provide the applicants with a total of $75,000 in competition and tuition credits. „

seminar that is a case-based, interdisciplinary course. The courses will combine biology, chemistry, physics and math by presenting the components of those areas that can be applied to medicine. Ip and Associate Dean for Medical Education Philip Gruppuso both said the new interdisciplinary courses were created to establish a curriculum based on pre-med competencies. „

Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by srqpix

Applicants with Hepatitis B Win Lawsuit Against Med School

Emily Tommolino Clinical Student

REASON #9: IN 2012, OUR GRADUATES ATTAINED RESIDENCIES IN 17 SPECIALTIES ACROSS THE US AND CANADA. The prospect of attaining a competitive residency is just one of the many reasons students choose American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) to fulfill their dream of becoming a doctor. AUC OFFERS STUDENTS: • Hands-on experience early in the curriculum. • A supportive environment with faculty who are committed to teaching and student success. • Clinical rotations at US and UK teaching hospitals. Additionally, AUC is eligible to participate in the US Federal Direct Loan Program and financial aid is available to those who qualify.



For comprehensive consumer information visit © 2012 Global Education International. All rights reserved.

New York, NY — January 12 Boston, MA — January 19 San Francisco, CA — January 26 Detroit, MI — February 2 Los Angeles, CA — February 9

Chicago, IL — February 9 Atlanta, GA — February 16 Washington, DC — February 23 Irvine, CA — February 23


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Despite New Regulations No Sleep, Depression Remain Among Residents

Debt Is Not A Major Factor In Student's Specialty Choice Medical student debt is not the determining factor in decisions related to which specialty a student pursues, according to a report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The report titled Physician Education Debt and the Cost to Attend Medical School shows that medical students rank "personality fit" as the most important factor and education debt as least important when it comes to choosing their future area of medicine. Furthermore, the level of patient care involved in a given field, the work/life balance offered, and a student's future family plans are also important factors in the decision-making process. According to the AAMC, the median level of student debt in 2012 increased 5 percent over


the previous year to $170,000. Over the last 20 years, medical student debt levels and the cost of attending medical school have increased faster than inflation. "Cuts to state and federal support for higher education will continue to put upward pressure on student tuition and debt levels. If these trends continue, we are very concerned about the impact rising student debt levels will have on our ability to recruit a diverse physician workforce and ensure that we have enough physicians to care for our growing and aging population, as well as the poorest and most vulnerable among us," said Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., AAMC president and CEO. „

Medical residents had no change in their sleep duration or symptoms of depression amid the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's new rule to limit work hours for firstyear medical residents. According to one of two studies published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers found no change in sleep and symptoms of depression when they worked fewer hours after implementation of the shift length restriction in 2011. Moreover, researchers also revealed that there was an increase in self-reported medical errors among interns. The second study, led by Sanjay V. Desai, MD, from Johns Hopkins University, found "unintended consequences" of the new duty hour regulations. "Concerns have been raised about the competency achievable with less hospital experience during any fixed duration of training," the authors wrote. "Opportunities were reduced with restricted shifts, many of which occur solely during evening hours, precluding participation in traditional core educational components of medicine residency programs, such as noontime conference and morning rounds." The new studies "provide valuable insight into certain dimensions of the ongoing discussion within and outside the profession related to resident education, sleep, well-being, and patient care delivery," ACGME Chief Executive Officer Thomas Nasca, MD, MACP, told Reuters. "They do not, however, address other relevant questions, such as supervision by faculty and senior residents, actual clinical outcomes, preparedness of entering Interns for the duties assigned, and other dimensions of the learning environment that are relevant to the complex interactions inherent in the teaching and learning environment." „

Percent of MCAT examinees who achieved a total score of 40 or higher for tests administered in 2012, according to the latest data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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Marriage Research Shows That Most Physician Spouses Are Happy

MD-Entrepreneurs Play Big Role in Medical Innovation Physician-founded start-up companies are an important source of medical device innovation, according to a study published in the journal Medical Care. The study, led by Sheryl Winston Smith, PhD, and Andrew Sfekas, PhD, of the Fox School of Business at Temple University, looked at 170 premarket approval (PMA) applications filed by 4 large medical device companies between 1978 and 2007. In addition, researchers also analyzed data on patent applications from

be a dominant factor associated with relationship satisfaction, overshadowing specific professional characteristics of the physicians' practices, including specialty area, practice setting, and work hours," the authors concluded. "This

information may be useful to physicians seeking to nurture their relationships and may be informative to medical students and residents considering the potential implications of specialty choice on their relationships."„

118 startup companies that received investment funds from these companies. The study found that on average, startup companies founded by physician entrepreneurs account for 11% of the information in PMAs, compared with 4% from nonphysician-founded companies. Moreover, the results also showed that the companies were significantly more likely to cite physician-founded companies' patents and to incorporate them into new devices. "Physicians are an important source of medical device innovation," the authors wrote. "The results suggest that restrictions on financial relationships between providers and industry, while potentially improving patients' trust, may result in reduced medical innovation if physicians found few startups or if incumbent firms reduce investments in physician-founded startups." „

Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by BASF - The Chemical Company

The next time you worry about how being a doctor might affect your relationship, you might want to remember this research. In the study, "The Medical Marriage: A National Survey of Spouses/Partners of US Physicians", published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers found that the majority of physicians' spouses and partners say they are happy with their relationships. The researchers conducted a national study of spouses/partners of US physicians from August 2011 through September 2011 and gathered information on demographic characteristics, their own work life, and the work life of their physician partners. Spouses/partners also rated relationship satisfaction and the effect of the work life of their physician partner on the relationship. The results of the study revealed that most spouses/partners (86.8%) reported that they were satisfied with their relationship with their physician partner. Moreover, satisfaction strongly related to the amount of time spent awake with their physician partners each day. Unfortunately, however, spouses/partners reported their physician partners frequently came home irritable, too tired to engage in home activities, or preoccupied with work. "The mean daily amount of time spent together with their physician partner appears to

Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by blunchk2

According to the results of a survey published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the majority of physicians’ spouses and partners say they are happy with their relationships.

May/June 2013 | PreMedLife Magazine | 11


the anti-freshman 15

ir ca’s

BestCitiesfor e m A




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So, what makes a city great for medical school students? When determining our 2nd annual list of the Best Cities to Live for Medical Students, PreMedLife searched for all the data we could find to compile our list of places that offer the best overall quality of life for students. We found that the best places to attend medical school share many similarities - affordability, free events and activities, and an overall low cost-of-living. We started our search by looking at cities across the country which offered the lowest cost-of-living for its residents. Then, to narrow our search, we began considering factors of interest to the medical student population like rent affordability, access to public transportation, and the number of activities and events that cost little to nothing. Lastly, we realize the importance of life outside of medical school and looked for cities which support a balanced life and encourages and fosters opportunities for social, personal and emotional well-being. After analyzing these factors, we think these are the best cities when it comes to the medical student population. You told us your ideal city to attend medical school is affordable, intellectually and culturally vibrant. Here are the cities we think will offer you the best overall experience outside of the classroom and make their four years of medical school as enjoyable as possible. >>>



hile there are undoubtedly many important factors to consider when choosing which medical school to apply to, one factor often overlooked, but quite significant, is location. For the most part, prospective medical students figure that the location is not much of a factor and have the "I'll fit in, where I get in" mentality. The fact of the matter is, your medical school experience is about more than simply getting your degree. The city where your medical school is located is also important and should very much be taken into consideration when deciding on where to apply to. Each year, rankings of the best medical schools in the country are released, but what they fail to take into account are some rather important factors - location being one. It is important that, in addition to what your top medical school can offer, you seriously think about where you will be living. The place where you attend medical school may not make a difference, but for others it may be the key to success and happiness during the medical school years. Actually, according to one survey, when choosing the medical school students attend or plan to attend, most students say that the geographic location of a medical school is a key positive factor weighed in their decision.


and learn lessons in courage. The pride you’ll feel in being a doctor increases dramatically when you care for our Soldiers and their families. Courage is contagious. Our Health Professions Scholarship Program helps you reach your goal by providing full tuition, money towards books and lab fees, a $20,000 sign-on bonus, plus a monthly stipend of more than $2,000. To learn more about the U.S. Army health care team, call 866-213-2077 or visit

Š2013. Paid for by the United States Army. All rights reserved.

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BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA If you've ever thought you couldn't have the best of both worlds - a great medical school experience inside the classroom and a personal and social life outside the classroom - think again. As one of the most livable cities in the country, Birmingham is a fast-growing metropolis that is quickly gaining popularity among recent graduates. According to

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the city's web site "Birmingham has transformed itself into a medical research, banking and servicebased economy, making it one of the nation's most livable cities with a vibrant downtown, a burgeoning loft community, a world-class culinary scene and more green space per capita than any other city in the nation."

Cost-of-living: 87(national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $729/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KUniversity of Alabama School of Medicine




Voted "The Coolest City in the US" in 2011, the Houston area has "medical student" written all over it. And settling down for the next four years in the city with one of the world’s largest concentration of health care and research institutions doesn’t sound so bad either. As an added bonus, the city is vibrant and rich in diversity, offering "a dynamic mix of imagination, talent and first-class attractions that makes it a world-class city." Cost-of-living: 91 (national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $935/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KBaylor College of Medicine KUniversity of Texas Medical School at Houston

Photo by by Hequals2henry from Wikimeida Commons


May/June 2013 | PreMedLife Magazine | 17

Photo by by Patrick Hawks from Wikimeida Commons



With its affordable lifestyle, free activities, and a great arts and culture scene, Omaha offers medical students an option that is nothing short of awesomeness. It has also earned a reputation as one of the nation's best cities to live, work and play, according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.

OMAHA, NEBRASKA 18 | PreMedLife Magazine | May/June 2013

Cost-of-living: 89(national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $935/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KCreighton University School of Medicine KUniversity of Nebraska College of Medicine




It should be no surprise that Nashville made the cut. Although it is best known for its music, Nashville is also a known top player on the health care scene boasting with more than 350 health care companies. Students desiring the feel of a vibrant and booming city, without the added costs, may find that Nashville is just want the doctor ordered (no pun intended). Thanks to the reasonable living costs and great amenities, the city has a lot to offer outside of its impressive health care scene.

Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by Jim Nix Nomadic Pursuits

Cost-of-living: 90 (national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $832/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KMeharry Medical College KVanderbilt University School of Medicine

May/June 2013 | PreMedLife Magazine | 19



When you think of choice locations for recent graduates, Oklahoma City may not be the first city that comes to mind, but as it turns out, this place has far more to offer than its big-league attractions and western cowboy culture. The city offers a great environment for medical students, including a growing downtown scene and interesting things to do. But beyond that, the city's community spirit and high volunteerism rates just screams future doctor. And if that's not enough, for all of the medical students fresh out of undergrad, Oklahoma City ranks in the top among the best places for young adults and best communities for young people. Cost-of-living: 91(national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $955/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KUniversity of Oklahoma College of Medicine

get published. write for us

If you consider yourself a good writer and would like a chance to have your article published in an issue of PreMedLife Magazine, we’re looking for student writers to submit articles. From your personal experiences as a pre-med student to living everyday life as a college student, we want to share your story with our readers. Or if you need an idea to write about - we’ve got tons of them. For more information about writing for PreMedLife Magazine, visit our Web site at or email us at

Photo by by katsrcool from Wikimeida Commons


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As a major center for health sciences and services, Saint Louis is a great place for students to begin their career in medicine, and let's not forget to the bonus of being able to visit the City Museum, a unique playground for all ages filled with caves, slides and climbing apparatus. But seriously, this city is great for any type of student and according to the city's website, it’s "becoming a magnet for smart, entrepreneurial and wonderfully upbeat young professionals.” With one of the lowest cost of living among that nation's 20 largest metro areas, the city is also considered the best city for those on a budget and recent college graduates. What’s more,

for New Yorkers who brag about Central Park, the city's Forest Park is 500 acres larger, providing students with more outdoor space than they would probably know what to do with. Cost-of-living: 91.5(national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $659/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KSaint Louis University School of Medicine KWashington University School of Medicine

May/June 2013 | PreMedLife Magazine | 21



Memphis is home to an emerging medical and bioscience hub - what more could you want in a place to start your future as a doctor? The city has offers quick commutes, affordable events and attractions, and it has one of the lowest urban cost-of-living expenses in the country. It has all of the big-city amenities minus the big-city price tag. If you're having some doubt that the city might not be able to offer you the experience you're looking for, it was just recently ranked by Forbes and as one of the Happiest Cities for Job-Seeking College Grads. Once you get there, you'll soon find that Memphis is a city where, there's something for everyone. If you're looking for more reasons to choose this city, check out, a great resource for you to learn about what Memphians say is the best about living in their hometown.

Photo by Hellohowareyoudoing from Wikimeida Commons


Cost-of-living: 89 (national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $526/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KUniversity of Tennessee College of Medicine


With the cost-of-living below the national average, plenty of places that offer free events and activities, and affordable access to a variety of cultural opportunities, Columbus is an ideal place for medical students to bring a great deal of balance to their lives outside of the classroom. And it's a nobrainer that we mention that when it comes to health care systems and programs, the city is consistently recognized as one of the best in the nation. Cost-of-living: 91(national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $670/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KOhio State University College of Medicine

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Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by Howard TJ




For the second year in a row the "Horse Capital of the World" is once again one of the best cities to attend medical school. In the past, the city has been ranked among the top ten as one of the most educated cities in the country. The small, yet busy city is home to several museums, fairs and events, a professional theatre, and more. The Colt Trolleys are a free service that has a route which runs to and from the University of Kentucky.

Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by roblef



EL PASO, TEXAS Not only is El Paso one of the country's "Best-Performing Cities" and one of the "Happiest Cities to Work", it is also a great place to live. For all of you lovers of the great outdoors, the city sees more than 300 days of sunshine a year. From outdoor music concerts, hiking and biking to recreation activities and cultural events, medical students will love to call the city "home". With affordable housing and an overall low cost of living, the city will provide a high quality of life for its medical student residents.

Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by Gris M

Cost-of-living: 92(national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $579/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KUniversity of Kentucky College of Medicine

Cost-of-living: 92(national average 100) Avg 1br rental: $649/month Public transportation: 9 Free activities/events: 9 Medical schools located in this city: KTexas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine

May/June 2013 | PreMedLife Magazine | 23


Family Medicine Resident

DECISIVE. RESILIENT. COMPASSIONATE. THE DEFINITION OF A ROSS GRADUATE. Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) provides clinical rotations at teaching hospitals across the US.

Register at or scan the QR code.

IRVINE, CA : March 2 NEW YORK, NY : March 9 Speak with alumni and our admissions staff. Bring your family and friends who are helping you make this important decision; refreshments will be provided.

Our graduates have attained more US residencies than those of any other medical school in the last five years. RUSM is eligible to participate in the US Federal Direct Loan Program; financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify.

For comprehensive consumer information visit 2013 Global Education International. All rights reserved.

RUSM-Print 2013-PreMedLife-8.5w.11h.indd 1

2/1/13 4:55 PM

"Regardless of your beliefs, come MCAT time you may certainly be inclined to pray. But while there is no prayer that can change a wrong answer to the right one, there are things you can do help you relax.�



Last-Minute Tips to Prepare for the MCAT

Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by o b s k u r a

Advice and tips for becoming the most successful candidate for medical schools admissions

Simple tips you can use to help improve your performance on the MCAT

More than 75,000 students take it each year. After months of preparing, it's arguably still the single most important test you have taken up to this point and it is now just a few days away. It is the MCAT. And whether you feel very ready, sorta kinda ready, or maybe even not at all ready, the day you knew was coming is finally here! And just think - once the day has come and gone, you may never have to worry about the MCAT another day in your life. So, to make sure that your performance on this MCAT is everything you've hoped and prepared for, you will need to be smart about how you spend your last few days. For the last three months, most of you have SLEEP MORE. A countless number of studies have demonstrated that lack of sleep been prepared to live, breathe, and eat anything you get leading up to the MCAT could very well be the negatively affects many of the major factors and everything that had to do with studying for you’ll need to perform well on the MCAT, one thing to make or break your score. the MCAT. But let's be honest - you look forward including but not limited to cognition, You probably set up an airtight study schedule to help knowledge retention, and awareness. to closing this chapter of your pre-med life. You'll prepare for the big day but what about your sleep schedarrive at your chosen test site a few hours after ule - yes, sleep schedule? As your test date approaches, sunrise (8 am) or around the perfect time for an you should go to bed at wake up at the same time each afternoon nap (1 or 2 pm), not to re-emerge until approximately five hours day to develop a regular sleep cycle. While some may believe that the amount later. Will everything you've done to prepare pay off? Will your meticulous of sleep has little to no affect on test performance, this belief is untrue. In MCAT study plan prove effective? Is there anything more you could have done some cases, experts say that for improved test performance, an extra hour of to prepare for this day? Well, just to be sure, here are a few useful last minute sleep may actually be more important than an extra hour of studying. A countMCAT preparation tips to help you make the most of your remaining time less number of studies have shown that lack of sleep negatively affects many before test day. of the major factors you'll need to perform well on the MCAT - cognition, knowledge retention, and awareness. You've worked so hard to prepare for this TIP #1: SLEEP LIKE YOUR (PREMED) LIFE DEPENDS ON IT test and whether or not you truly believe that the amount of sleep you get will Because it does. Sleep may be one of the most important factors for MCAT have an affect on your performance, do you really want to take a chance? How success. While you may not have a lot of time left to study, the amount of sleep bad would it be if your lack of sleep caught up with you at the worst possible

May/June 2013 | PreMedLife Magazine | 25

6 Last-Minute Tips to Prepare for the MCAT

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TIP #2: TAKE A TEST DRIVE FOR TEST DAY. To help you feel more at ease and make your testing experience as stress-free as possible, we recommended that you actually visit your testing site before your actual scheduled date. While Prometric, the company that administers the MCAT, offers a Test Run where test takers have the opportunity to take a 30-minute "dry run" of the test center experience prior to their exam, the program is not available to MCAT test-takers. While you may not be able to take advantage of full test run experience, you can create your own "test drive" by "going through the motions" as you would on the day of your actual test. By taking a trip to the testing center in advance, you have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with actually traveling to the site and the location of your testing suite. And while it may seem like a minor factor within the bigger scope of your experience, visiting your testing site (and familiarizing yourself with its rules and requirements) is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety before test day. Just do it! Just think how much more ready and calm you will be on test day than someone else who after having trouble finding the site or underestimating their travel time, anxiously arrives in a less than ideal state to take their test. Bonus Tip: It is also a good idea to make sure that your ID is valid and good to use come test day. For more information about test day admission and identification, visit

TIP #3: EAT, PRAY, LOVE. You're probably wondering what Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" mantra has to do with taking the MCAT, but hear us out. As soon-to-be test-takers filled probably filled with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and no magic pill to help guarantee a great score, it is important to "sweat the small stuff." What you EAT has a huge effect on your mental performance and to help ensure peak performance, you will need to give your brain what it needs to get your smart juices flowing. You heard it before and when it comes to the day of your exam, breakfast will truly be the most important meal of the day. Experts say that your ideal breakfast should consist of whole-grain carbohydrates (for energy boost) and lean protein (for recall performance). Taking the MCAT in the afternoon? There's food for that and it's peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread! The staple among those under 12 years old is also one of the best things an afternoon test-taker could eat, thanks to the perfect combination of carbohydrates, healthy fats (to enrich memory power), and whole-grain fiber (to boost brain power). Regardless of your beliefs, come MCAT time you may certainly be inclined to PRAY. But while there is no prayer that can guarantee your perfect score on the MCAT and no prayer that can change a wrong answer to the right one, there are ways to help you feel a sense of ease and relaxation at exam time. Relaxation is key on test day and one way to help ease your nerves on test day is to keep your outlook about the test in check. While the importance of the

Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by CollegeDegrees360

moment - test day? What you think you may gain from your extra time studying will not make up for the level of alertness and loss of your ability to concentrate due to lack of sleep. If you think you may have trouble getting to sleep at a reasonable time, especially the night before the MCAT, here are a few tricks you can use to get some good shut-eye: Figure out what time you need to wake up on the day of your MCAT and start getting up at that time every day until the day of the exam arrives - even on Saturday and Sunday. Ideally, you should try to begin this routine at least a month prior to your test date. This will help "anchor" your body clock to the time you'll need to wake up on test day and avoid feeling groggy or out-of-sync come test day. While this tip may seem quite trivial, the effects are quite beneficial to developing a stable circadian rhythm. Bonus Tip: Set two alarm clocks. Add a 10-minute exercise routine to your day and you’ll significantly improve your chances of getting a good night's sleep. Aside from having many other benefits, studies have shown that exercise release endorphins in the body and will help you sleep and leave you feeling more energetic in the morning. According to another, more recent report, individuals who were identified as exercisers reported better sleep than those who considered themselves non-exercisers. For busy premeds, the good news about these new findings is that it wasn't how many minutes were spent active or how hard the workout was, but simply whether or not there was any type of physical activity at all. "Our poll data certainly find strong relationships between good sleep and exercise," explained Max Hirshkowitz, PhD, NSF poll task force chair. "While cause and effect can be tricky, I don't think having good sleep necessarily compels us to exercise. I think it is much more likely that exercising improves sleep. And good sleep is fundamental for good health, productivity, and happiness." Reduce the amount of sugar and caffeine you consume and avoid eating large meals before going to bed. Instead, why not try eating a snack that can help you sleep better. While there is quite a long list of various foods that can help you get a good night's sleep, here are a few that we think you may actually enjoy and will be easier to come by than pumpkin seed powder or dandelion greens: Oatmeal. When consumed before going to sleep, this popular breakfast food can signal your brain to release sleep-inducing chemicals. If this is your snack of choice for the night, have a sugar-free bowl a few minutes before laying down for the night. Cherries. These are a great natural source of melatonin, which as a premed student already knows is chemical that helps control the body's internal clock. An hour or two before bedtime, try eating a handful or two. Milk. Having a glass of warm milk before bedtime is no longer just for kids anymore. There is some evidence that because of the tryptophan it contains, milk releases serotonin to trigger a relaxing effect within the body.

6 Last-Minute Tips to Prepare for the MCAT MCAT cannot be understated, it is very important remember that at the end of the day - it is only a test! What's the worst thing that could happen? You have to take it again - so what, you won't be the first and you definitely won't be the last. Here's another piece of advice - just breathe. Take a deep breath and concentrate on the air from your lungs going in and out. Repeat this two or three more times before you start your test. So, as the saying goes keep calm and carry on. Find someone you LOVE and hug them. Seriously, researchers have found that hugging and kissing can measurably reduce a person's stress levels. You have a life beyond the MCAT and while studying and preparing for the big day may have come with a bit of stress and anxiety, it is not the only part of your life that can cause stress. That is why it is quite important to maintain the positive relationships in your life. Whether it be with family, friends, or any other significant person in your life, it is in your best interest, and the interest of your MCAT score, that you maintain healthy and positive relationships with those around you. Simply put, relationship stress is the last thing you need to be worrying about come test day. If you have stress in your personal life, make it your business to patch things up.

TIP #4: AVOID PRE-TEST CHATTER. On test day, stay far, far away from fellow test-takers who are panicky or who want to talk to you about the test. While talking to your fellow testtakers before the test can actually be a good way to calm your nerves, it can have a negative affect on you if the conversation moves to discussing the MCAT. After chatting with another person about the MCAT, you can either gain a false sense of security or end up feeling completely insecure about your ability to perform well. The best thing to do is to stay focus and protect your psyche from anything that might jeopardize your level of confidence going into the exam. Don't feel the need to entertain conversations that will not leave you with a positive attitude when starting your test. Bonus Tip: While waiting before your test

warm up your brain by completing a few crossword or Sudoku puzzles.

TIP #5: SCORES AREN’T ANYTHING BUT NUMBERS. Well, when it comes to your practice tests that is. During the single remaining week before the MCAT many students sit down to take one last practice test and that's all well and good. Unfortunately, however, some students may begin to doubt their readiness after learning that their score has gone down slightly. If you decide to take a practice test during the week preceding the actual test date, don't be thrown off by the results. Don't drive yourself crazy by spending your final days obsessing about your scores. Stay on top of your mental game. If you take a practice test during the week of the actual MCAT, and there's a variance in your score from previous tests, don't freak out. It might be difficult to come back from the beating you put on yourself and you may not be able to pull yourself together in time for the big day. So, if you want to complete one or two practice tests go ahead, but don't lose sight of the bigger picture.

TIP #6: CLEAR YOUR CALENDAR - IT’S MCAT TIME. Make sure that your personal, academic, and professional affairs are in order (aka everything comes second to MCAT test day) so that you can clear your mind of possible worries, leaving you free to focus all of your attention on the MCAT. If you're worried about making it to work on time after agreeing to a late shift or finishing your part of a group assignment that's due on Monday, your affairs are not in order! What the heck were you thinking accepting a work shift right after your test or leaving your schoolwork until the last minute? Between checking in and verifying your identification to sitting for the multiple sections of the MCAT, you've got to know that your day will be long - there's no way around it. Either your entire morning/afternoon or afternoon/evening will be dedicated to the very lovely MCAT. The day will already be very stressful as it is - do yourself a favor and promise to do nothing but take the MCAT. „

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Former post-baccalaurate pre-medical program director Liza Thompson shares the most important elements to seek out when considering different programs, based on her experience directing two different programs and guiding students through the medical school admission process for the past 20 years BY LIZA THOMPSON


here are several kinds of postbac programs designed to serve the needs of premed students. Some programs aim to enhance students' previous college records while others are for those who did not focus on science at the undergraduate level. There are also programs designed for groups underrepresented in the medical profession, and programs for those who are economically or educationally disadvantaged. In recent years, postbac programs have proliferated across the country. In the database of postbac programs maintained by the Association of American Medical Colleges (, a total of 143 programs are indexed: 88 are record-enhancing; 84 are career-changing; 46 are designed for underrepresented individuals; and 30 are for the disadvantaged. Clearly, there is some overlap between programs; some serve a dual purpose. As a result of the various kinds of programs and the overlap between some, it can be confusing for prospective postbac students to figure out what is most important to look for in a program to help narrow down their options. It is vital to ensure that the program you are considering offers real benefits, no matter the kind of postbac program that is appropriate for your needs. Here are the most important elements to seek out when considering different programs, based on my experience directing two different postbac programs and guiding students through the medical school admission process for the past 20 years. GOOD ACADEMICS AND MCAT PREPARATION = SUCCESS RATES The academic preparation you receive is by far the most important element of any program. Whether you will be enrolling in basic, introductory science classes-as in the career-changer programs-or in upper-level courses-offered by the record-enhancing programs-you should make sure that the courses you take would not only prepare you for medical school but also equip you to do well on the MCAT. For all of these programs, no matter the type, the end goal for students is medical school

admission. To get into medical school you need to perform well in your courses and do well on the MCAT. The classes should do double duty; they should give you the content you need and also give you the opportunity to prove yourself and perform well. The program should also offer MCAT preparation since it is a key component of the med school admission process. The program's track record of getting people into medical school is, of course, enormously important. You want the postbac program in which you enroll to help you achieve the result you want: med school admission. The program's success rate is a good measure of students' capability of performing well in the classes and on the MCAT, resulting in med school admission. If the program's track record is not published, ask specifically about its success rate in getting students into medical school. CLASS FORMAT: MIXED WITH UNDERGRADUATES OR SEPARATE Postbac programs offer classes in two formats: classes mixed with undergraduates or classes exclusively for postbac students. By default, the classes with undergraduates are larger, with usually a majority of undergrads. These courses are often graded on a curve. Classes for postbac students are often smaller; the grading scale can vary depending on the institution and the professor teaching the class. There are pros and cons to each format, depending on your learning style and goals. Do you want to prove yourself by taking regular premed classes with undergraduates? Or would you prefer to be in a smaller setting among only postbac students, all with a similar focus? Determine your learning style and what kind of grading scheme suits you, and you will be able to select the format which you prefer. Find out whether the classes offered in the programs you are considering are mixed with undergraduates or only for postbac students. When you visit various programs ask the students about the class format and whether it is productive and conducive to learning.

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ACADEMIC SUPPORT It is important to assess the academic support services in place at the programs you are considering. The postbac year is challenging and students often encounter difficulty in their coursework at some point or another. It is in your best interest to know if there is a safety net in place if you run into academic challenges. Does the program itself offer free tutoring services, in either group or individual formats? Or is tutoring provided through the undergraduate academic advising office? If so, is tutoring readily available or on a first-come, first-serve basis? These are important questions to ask. Ensure that your chance of success is maximized by the programmatic structure and sources of academic support that buttress students. ADVISING Getting through the medical school application process is complicated. When looking at various programs, make sure that the program director and advising staff have ample experience with the medical school admission process. While a proven track record for the program speaks for itself, along with testaments from former students, you should be given ample opportunity to interact with current and former students in order to ask questions about the advising process directly from those who are receiving it. Bear in mind that current students haven't yet gone through the med school application process; the most salient information about the advising services in any program comes from alumni who have completed the med school application process. Former students will share with you detailed information about the advising offered and whether it helped them both navigate the medical school application process and get into medical school. You should also consider the student: advisor ratio in programs you are considering. Is the program small enough that you will get personalized advising and guidance? Remember that the program director will be your greatest advocate in the medical school application process. It is important that she or he has enough advising time to understand you and your goals, and be able to advocate for you with validity. Is the advising structure formal, with one or two structured individual sessions per semester? Or is advising dispensed on a more informal, drop-in basis, as needed? Does the program offer special events featuring medical school admissions deans with whom you can interact and learn about various schools? To help you understand some of the challenges and rewards of the medical profession, are there topics of interest covered in meetings designed specifically for postbac students? These are important questions to ask to ensure that you know what to expect after enrollment. Be sure to get a good sense of the advising opportunities each program provides, in addition to the basic elements of the academic requirements you need, along with MCAT preparation. MEDICAL EXPERIENCE It's likely that you will have some medical experience prior to enrolling in a postbac program. After

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all, you need clinical experience to test out and confirm your impulse to pursue a career in medicine. It is vital to keep engaged with the medical profession as you go through your postbac courses. You need to prove to the med schools your continuing commitment, and being engaged in clinical care helps keep you focused on your end goal amidst the stress of a heavy load of courses. Postbac programs should help hook you into the medical community in the area. They should have formal arrangements with local clinics or hospitals that allow you to immediately engage in clinical work. Some programs will also offer opportunities to conduct research. Is there a mechanism in place whereby you can assess the opportunities in the area and connect with practitioners? Do these practitioners have enough prior experience guiding students that they provide good mentoring? Does the program provide ways for you to gauge one experience vs. another to see which might be the best fit for you? Talking with current and former students is an excellent way to figure out how the program connects you to clinical or research opportunities in the region. Program staff should be an excellent source to direct you to the best sites for your needs. Program directors should also have a comprehensive understanding of the various medical sites in order to properly guide students to the best setting to expand their view of the medical profession.

accuracy of the letters that will be written on your behalf.

LETTERS The letters written on your behalf when you apply to medical school are enormously important. These letters attest to your work ethic, academic capabilities, character, and personality traits, among other elements. They round you out as an applicant, fleshing you into a "real" person; they help the med schools picture you as a viable candidate. As such, the letters can help you progress from the applicant stage to the interview and acceptance stages in the med school admission process. It is important to assess the letter process in place at the programs you are considering. Usually the program director will write the premed letter but in some programs the faculty will take precedence. Prior to enrollment you should know who will be in charge of your premed letter. Whether it's the program director or a faculty member, you should assess the kinds of opportunities the letter writers will have to get to know you. Will they, in the end, know you well enough to paint an accurate picture of you with their words? In addition to the letter from the program director or faculty chair, you will also need additional letters from science faculty. Are the classes small enough that the faculty will be able to differentiate you from other students? Will they get a sense of you through individual meetings or office hours? Or will you have more interactions with teaching assistants than with professors? Again, you should ask current and former students about the opportunities they have to distinguish themselves in both the advising and academic arenas at the programs you're considering; doing so will help you assess the strength and

FINALLY, ASK STUDENTS! While program directors can provide useful information, there is no greater source of information than the students themselves. Students will provide valuable information as to the caliber of the classes and professors, the difficulty level, the nature of the environment, and whether they are satisfied with the program as a whole. Students will also tell you if professors are more focused on their research than on teaching premed classes, and if the classes are too large for meaningful interactions. Students will answer your questions about the academics, advising, letters, MCAT preparation, medical opportunities, and community. They will help you determine whether a particular postbac program is a good fit for you and your needs. While there are many factors to consider when choosing a postbac program, these are the most important. Other factors may come into play depending on your circumstances. But these are the starting points for weighing one program against another and ultimately choosing the one that will help you reach your goal of getting into medical school and becoming a physician. „

Community Going through a postbac program can be enormously challenging. For career-changer students the courses are compressed into a short time frame and students are generally encountering science for the first time. It takes a great deal of stamina and energy to complete all of the premed courses in a year, especially when the material is new and difficult. Having a strong community to help you persevere is helpful. Relying on your peers for moral and social support is beneficial and often helps students weather difficult phases. The same is true for recordenhancing and other programs: having peers to rely on and turn to when the going gets rough is vital. Having supportive fellow students to help one another, sharing study skills and tips, is vital. Ask current and former students about the sense of community at the programs you are considering. What do the director and program staff members do to help build community and create a supportive environment? In the end, though, no matter the efforts of the program, its students build the community. Asking students about the atmosphere will help you assess whether students are competitive with one another or supportive, thereby fostering and celebrating one another's successes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Liza Thompson is the former director of both the Johns Hopkins and Goucher Postbaccalaureate Premedical Programs. She now provides medical school and post-bac program admissions consulting to clients through Thompson Advising, at She can be reached at

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THE CHOICE BETWEEN MEDICINE & RESEARCH a graduate student's perception on self-discovery, scientific pursuit, and opportunity

Before I begin, I just want to say that what you will read is a first-hand account, and I believe it will be helpful to paint a picture of my own experiences for those trying to determine what kind of career to pursue - especially in the sciences and/or healthcare. I go into more detail about my research experiences, but I do have a medical background as well - I've worked in hospitals and worked and talked along-side doctors in and out of the clinic, so I don't want people to think that some of the comments I make are based on assumptions. However, I do make some general assumptions throughout this paper about medicine and research without going into detail simply because I have to abide by a word limit, and I'm critical about both professions because I don't want to give people false impressions or give either profession a nice sugarcoating. I don't like to sugarcoat things, but retrospectively thinking, I believe that's how a lot of information was presented to me. I want to provide people with information, and you can choose to do with it what you wish. I'll start by talking about my initial motivations for pursuing medicine then move into my reasons for pursuing graduate research studies despite having been a pre-medical student. I'll continue by explaining how my graduate studies influenced my decision to pursue medicine versus research and then conclude with some remarks about medicine and research as a whole. In the time it takes for you to read this post I will have hopefully portrayed to you an accurate enough description as to why I have chosen to pursue medicine over research and give you more information about either career. Now with that out of the way, grab a coffee or drink of choice and read along - it's a long one.

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If you're an individual who purports "I like everything, and I don't know what to do" then you and I have something in common. The only difference is that I've figured out what I want to do now, and you may be struggling with that particular facet of your life. If you name an extracurricular activity, I've probably done it because I enjoy it and because I see the value in learning about new things and taking advantage of opportunity. I played sports, and I acted in high school. In college I played intramurals, and I took up a music minor along with my biochemistry major. I ride my bike, I've been rock climbing since I was eight, and I participate in competitive diving. I like reading fiction and non-fiction alike, and I peruse medical journals like The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine regularly. I like everything, especially learning, so how is it possible to stay focused and realize what it is you're truly passionate about when you're inherently a multifarious individual? Fortunately, my diverse personality has generally never gotten in the way of pursuing the things I am passionate about. Unfortunately, when it does, my life seems to take a bizarre tangent that leaves people to equally question my rationale or encourage me to take advantage of the opportunity. The most recent of these spontaneous manifestations resulted in my discovery for why I truly want to pursue medicine over research. I knew I was destined for a career in something science because I enjoyed learning the empirical, qualitative facts about the world, but I found most of my interests were concentrated on disease pathology and pathway medicine. I was fascinated with the complexity of the underlying biological pathways of the human body and the simultaneous resilience and fragility. When I first studied biology, I begin to realize the sheer complexity of the underlying physiology behind cells, tissues, and organs, and I begin to ask myself "all of that is happening in me at this very moment?!" When even one little thing goes wrong - say a frameshift mutation from a single DNA nucleotide - the effects can be detrimental ranging from a reduced quality of life to even death. Studying biology even helped me change my lifestyle. As I became more educated, I began to eat healthier and exercise regularly because I began to understand the implications of doing otherwise. The causal nexus of gaining knowledge and translating it into lifestyle changes was one of my principle reasons for choosing to become a premedical student, but I drooled at the opportunity for scientific discovery. It was this acquisition of knowledge that drove me to pursue research projects in my first year of college. Unfortunately, I was involved in research that I soon discovered I was never fully passionate about, so I ended up discouraged and frustrated that my research did not live up to my initial expectations. I eventually succumbed to my premedical studies - putting in hours of studying to make sure my grades never faltered - and I "resigned" to a career as a physician. If I had to assign a numerical component to it, I'd say I

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“The causal nexus of gaining knowledge and translating it into lifestyle changes was one of my principle reasons for choosing to become a pre-medical student, but I drooled at the opportunity for scientific discovery.� was 80% certain I'd become a doctor one day. But what about the other 20%? It was only during the last semester of my final year of university when I had the luxury of "extra time," and my interests rekindled themselves as I began reading and exploring more. I realized that the only way to discover whether or not research was truly the path I had always expected it to be - that other 20% - was to pursue it full time. The four years at university that people proclaimed to me were the hallmark years of freedom and self-discovery was simply not enough time to discover my other interests. Increasingly, I had attended a small, private institution that wasn't a hugely funded research institution, so I felt like I wasn't in the correct environment to accurately judge my interests. I researched graduate programs, but I didn't like most of the structures of the programs in the United States. The programs were structured with classes, TAing, and lab time. This wasn't appealing to me because I wanted to work on a research project full-time. Plus, I'm a very motivated individual who enjoys self-directed learning, so I didn't want to "waste" my time in a lecture hall taking required classes and grading undergraduate multiple-choice exams (maybe I'm a bit too critical) when I could be reading the information and performing the research that interested me. After all, I'd already learned about cellular biology three other times in my past, so I didn't see the point of learning basic science again when I could be learning about advanced topics in biology. This is basically what I saw as a problem with most of the programs I looked at - the goals of the programs simply didn't meet my goals as an individual. I do not seek to denigrate the scientific education in the United States. I just want to reaffirm that the programs in the U.S. did not meet my extremely specific goals. We do have some of the best schools in the world - Stanford, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and the University of Chicago to name a few. It was then that I turned to look for programs abroad. This was actually hugely advantageous for me because the programs that I looked at did not require entrance exams like the GRE whereas most graduate programs in the United States require applications with the GRE to be submitted before the end of the previous year. On the plus side, the programs were still accepting applications in the spring for entrance in the fall. Increasingly, the programs are a full year with greater emphasis on developing the skills required of a researcher without taking structured courses. I was accepted to the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland for a Master's by research in the biomedical sci-

ences. I quickly accepted, and I soon found myself in a lab researching away. Research at the graduate level, in the UK especially, can be a challenge for some because the curriculum is different, and it is more self-directed. If an individual is not motivated to learn, then these types of programs can produce more harm than benefit. For the past few years I had been training myself to pursue a medical career and not a career in research. The transition was much more difficult than I thought - especially in the writing process, as I had been equipped with skills to write one way whereas now I was being taught to conform to scientific standards. I thought with all the previous research experience I had had that I would be provided with the knowledge to carry out a full research project at the level of a graduate Master's student. I was convinced my undergraduate studies had prepared me. They had - but less than I realized. I worked incredibly hard to ameliorate the deficiencies in my writing, and I would rewrite papers completely half a dozen times at the minimum. Now it just so happened that the lab I was working in had a trained pediatric surgeon who was studying to obtain his PhD. I had opportunities to talk to him regularly, and he proved to be an excellent source of information when it came to discovering interests. One of the more enlightening pieces of information that I received from him is summarized as such - "as you begin your career, those that have a passion for learning begin to realize that they have other interests, and you learn to incorporate other aspects of your education into your true passions." As a pediatric surgeon, he is expected to be an expert in pediatric surgery (obvious yes?). Thus, who best to carry out pediatric surgery research than a pediatric surgeon himself ? In the spirit of education, he chose to pursue a PhD because he wanted to become a physician-scientist to help better the profession of pediatric surgery. This is the direction of medicine. To become the best physician you can possibly be, you must have research experience. You don't need to have a Master's or a PhD - you need exposure. Physicians of the past, present, and future are tasked with lifelong learning, and they are required to read scientific literature and learn to question others' logic and spot flaws. As a clinician - regardless of where you practice - you may be approached by researchers who need your patients for research studies.1,2 Physicians are involved in research one way or another, and it is only through research that clinical practice will get better. How is it that practice is improved by new knowledge? Simple - by

in the world, and I was surrounded by some of the brightest and most intelligent individuals I'd ever met. It was intimidating, but this was my catalyst because I was influenced by those who encouraged me to seek out the opportunities available in both professions. I went to a university to learn how to become a researcher, but I was introduced to more opportunities that encouraged me to study medicine or integrate the lifestyles of both a researcher and a medical professional. I'm not studying to become a researcher; I'm still studying to become a physician a better physician nonetheless. Medicine has had an alluring effect on me. The more I think about the last few years of my life the more I come to compare it to the event horizon of a black hole - there's a point of no return. I can't get out no matter what opportunities come my way. It's impossible. Despite what other interests I have, I've been influenced too heavily throughout my life to pursue anything but medicine. I live a great life in research - I make my own schedule, I have an excellent social life, and the money in research is great (should I decide to pursue it as a full-time career, which is unlikely). Amidst the articles that I read about the deteriorating state of the American healthcare system, the stress and anxiety of malpractice lawsuits, the time, money, and effort required for a medical education, the insufferable erosion of the doctor-patient relationship, the venal relationship between some pharma companies and physicians, the controversy of DTC drug marketing, the increasing bureaucracy - you get the idea - I still want to pursue medicine amidst doctors encouraging me against this lifestyle choice. Hardly anything about healthcare seems positive! Why do it? -- because someone has to do it. There's someone out there crazy enough to give people back their lifestyle under the constant stress of this facepaced and ever-changing profession. That person is myself and possibly the one reading this. The job description of a physician - not the sugarcoated one on the HR website but the one told to you directly by an actual physician - is very attractive to me. I personally like working long hours, and I take pride in my work - I always have. It's who I've always been, and it's who I was raised to be. Thirty years from now when I look back on my life, I can say that I have no regrets about exploring opportunity and discovering my interests. I can say that I explored the other 20% and better yet, synthesized what I have learned and incorporated it all into my dream profession. Sure, medicine is an immense challenge and a long haul, but I don't think I could be happier with my decision to pursue it, especially if I'm pursuing it for the right reasons. „

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Facebook ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anonymous is a Master's student at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland performing research in developmental biology and viral infectious disease. He intends to go to medical school within the next couple of years.

1. Bloomrosen M, Detmer DE. Informatics, evidence-based care, and research; implications for national policy: a report of an American Medical Informatics Association health policy conference. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA. 17(2):115-23. 2. Manca D, Maher P, Gallant R. Ethical concerns in community practice research. Canadian Family Physician. 2006;52(3):288-289.


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learning to question. Research exposes you to how science is performed, and an educated person will be able to spot flaws or even identify falsified data! You don't have to have a PhD to call yourself a researcher; You can have a medical degree and perform research. However, as far as I see it, research is learning how to question in order to improve the quality of care. Being a physician versus being a researcher are two different paths for advancing the quality of healthcare not only in the United States, but also internationally. I think one of the biggest - but general - differences between a career in research and a career in medicine is summarized as such: research teaches you how to ask the right questions whereas medicine teaches you the answers to the questions. Think about it - a patient comes in with certain symptoms and you, as the physician, are equipped with knowledge about the signs and symptoms of diseases. You recognize that patient A has ailment XYZ, and you diagnose the patient based on the signs and symptoms. Also, many medical specialties are highly repetitive, and some physicians even complain that their careers are boring. In research, you are equipped with a hypothesis, and you carry out experiments to prove or attempt to disprove the hypothesis. Somewhere along the lines, something you didn't expect happens, and now you are tasked with investigating the cause behind something else. Research is also an incredibly serendipitous discipline, and that's how many major scientific discoveries have revolutionized the world - penicillin for example. You also get to work on different projects in your discipline, so there's always variety. People claim research is a social atmosphere, but it is extremely isolating at times. The majority of the work is done in a lab concentrating on data analysis, and each person is busy working on his/her own experiments. I imagine someone somewhere is reading this thinking, "so all physicians are just dumb then?" no, but I will say that most doctor's aren't as smart as the public is led to believe. Doctors are glorified and assumed to be the know-it-alls when it comes to health, but that's not the case at all. Doctors do not know everything but neither do researchers. Don't get me wrong, I think you need a certain amount of smarts when it comes to medicine, but the thinking abilities required by each profession are different. However, if you do variable Google searches for "smartest people in the world" I guarantee there's not one physician on the list. The majority are scientists and mathematicians, and when I think of scientists I think of Albert Einstein, Louis Pasteur, Michiu Kaku, and Brian Cox. From personal experience, some of the best conversations and lectures I've had are with people who have at least a PhD - just saying. I acknowledge that the paths people take in life are different and that some ways are better for others to discover themselves. I had a chance to study at what is considered to be one of the best universities

GETTINGIN Advice and tips for becoming the most successful candidate for medical schools admissions

In the next few weeks, hundreds, maybe even thousands of premed students will start a summer internship or research program. You scored an opportunity that may provide you with realworld experience or exposure in your field of interest and maybe your future career. The possible significance of this summer opportunity cannot be overstated. This experience may very well be "The One" that will help medical schools notice you. The time to stand out among other prospective applicants has arrived. Now it's time to show medical schools who you are and what you have to offer outside of what you can do academically. The experiences that you gain over the summer are great for adding to the AMCAS work/activities section, but even more importantly; this will help you gain valuable insight into a specific field or medicine or research and help you discover more about your interest in pursuing a career in medicine. While you will not be able to tell whether or not an experience will be meaningful to you or not beforehand, at some point you will identify the meaning (or lack thereof) gained from the experience. So is this the summer experience that will be "meaningful" to you? While many internships or research opportunities may look the same when entered into AMCAS at first, it's the additional 1325 characters that will catch the attention of the medical schools you apply to. This summer is your chance to turn your summer opportunity into a meaningful experience and here are five tips to help you make that happen:

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Š Mathis

How to Turn Your Summer Internship Into An AMCASWorthy Experience

X Find a mentor

There are a number of different factors that when combined together create a meaningful experience - one being a mentor. If the program you participate in does not assign a mentor to you, it is your job to find one. A mentor can be your guide as you navigate through the internship or program you are involved in. They can unload tons of information, their own experiences and knowledge, and may give you a new outlook and new ways of thinking as you develop your career goals. Who knows one of your most meaningful experiences may come after an encounter with a mentor who provides a supportive platform to reflect on things in a whole new way. Mentors can be very beneficial to an internship and can also heighten your knowledge about your area of interest or even an area you never were exposed to.

Y Strive for personal growth

What good would it be if you start an internship program and at the end of the duration come out the same person you went it? One of the purposes of participating in an internship program or summer premed activity is to grow, learn, and gain experiences. While medical schools like qualified applicants who stand out through their work experience, extracurricular activities, awards, honors, or publications, personal growth is perhaps one of the most important aspects of an experience that can help bring attention to an application. Your internship can be a powerful trigger for personal growth, a hallmark overcoming new challenges.

[ Initiate a project

Depending on the type of program you participate in, you may have the opportunity to take on a self-initiated or independent project. Individuals who are allowed to either work independently on a project or bring their ideas to the table have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to take the word "meaningful" to a whole new level. This is your chance to create an experience that has an absolute personal element to it. The AAMC suggest that when writing about your most meaningful experiences that you "consider the transformative nature of the experience, the impact you made while engaging in the activity, and the personal growth you experience as a result of your participation." As you start your internship or summer activity, it is important that you begin with the end in mind, being mindful of the AAMC's suggestions as you move forward in your experience.

\ Keep a journal.


Ask questions

If you are participating in an internship or some other activity this summer, you're going to want to keep a journal. When it comes time to complete the work/activities section of the AMCAS and you need to reflect on the most meaningful experiences you have had up until that point, how great would it be if you could pull out your internship journal and read entries you made months or even years earlier? Keeping a journal and not keeping one could mean the difference between an AMCAS response with little to no detail about your experience and an AMCAS response with vivid details and feelings about your work. Keeping a journal does not have to be tedious but should be an account of your general thoughts and feelings during your time. It can also be used to record any outstanding experiences that you may have as well. If maintained, your journals will be helpful as you move closer to applying to medical school and are able to identify connections between your experiences. Moreover, the practice of keeping a journal will come in handy during interviews when you may be asked to talk about the meaningful experiences that you recorded in AMCAS.

One of the best ways to show your interest is to ask questions. Be open and willing to learn something new by picking the brains of those around you. This will not only demonstrate your determination and motivation to perform at or above what is expected of you, it may also help you gain a clearer picture and greater insight into what you're actually getting yourself into. The point of this summer experience and others you will participate in over the duration of your premed years is not to just stand back and watch. The purpose of these kinds of opportunities is to make every single experience and learning experience. It is quite okay to ask questions when you are presented with something that is unfamiliar to you.

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Going Deep Getting past“I’m good at science and I want to help people” 5 kinds of questions to help you develop a more fully realized claim for pursuing a life in medicine


By Jessica Deutsch, EdM, MSW

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"WHY DO YOU WANT TO GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL?" This question is the logical starting point for a basic conversation between a pre-med student and his or her advisor; or a medical school admissions interview. In my own five years as a pre-med advisor, I must have posed the question a thousand times. Yet, the responses I got only rarely varied from what seemed to be a script. More often, I received the following response, verbatim: "I've always loved science and I want to help people." I believe the elements of the response were generally spoken with sincerity, but the sentiment only scratched the surface of the much more interesting stories I knew were underneath. I am the daughter of a physician who practiced internal medicine in a small town for nearly forty years. Like him, I always wanted to help people, but unlike him, I am squeamish. I became a counselor and social worker. Eventually, I found my way to pre-med advising, where I could apply my skills and experience to help young people aspiring to a kind of life I knew well. After all, I grew up observing and admiring the practice of medicine. My father impressed upon me the importance of careful diagnosis. He taught me that the good medicine was and always would be dependent upon the taking of a good history, and conducting a methodical, thoughtful exam. The most important tools at a physician's disposal were his or her hands, laid carefully where needed, and ears, listening attentively to the person in the room or in the bed. In my advising office, I came to see that the metaphor of the doctor-patient relationship held just about true to the relationship between advisors and their students. To the extent that I could listen, I could help. In the spirit of diagnosing the problem before offering a treatment, I think it is important to hypothesize why so many pre-meds cite an axiom (being 'good at science and wanting to help others' as the reason to become a doctor) as if it is a revelation. In my opinion, the pat nature of the oft-stated rationale derives from one or more of the following: 1.) The idea took shape early in childhood, 2.) The image is usually inspired by a role model caring physician; 3.) The notion was reinforced by cultural or familial expectations; 4.) The plan was not questioned, and provided a definable path in an uncertain world; 5.) The formula coincided with an incident of illness in one's family or community, generating a general desire to "fix it." Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with aspirations cultivated in childhood. There is much to be gained from having heroes who inspire us. Family and cultural traditions can be a source of pride and continuity. The desire for stability is understandable. And personal experience can be a great motivator. But when these are long-ago planted seeds; or seeds planted by someone else; or when the soil hasn't been tilled; the blossoms that follow will be less robust than

they could be. They will fall short of reflecting the depth and complexities of the college student who is his or her own person, on the brink of applying to medical school. Genuinely motivated pre-med students can and must clarify for themselves and for eventual interviewers why, according to all available current data, they are heading down the arduous path to medical school. So, how can you develop a more fully realized claim on the path you are choosing? The Rx is relatively straightforward. With a little bit of further introspection and/or some probing by trusted advisors, most pre-med students actually can and do go deeper. I believe that by asking and being asked pointed questions, you can discover the authentic sense of purpose required for the supremely difficult journey of becoming a physician. Here are five kinds of questions that I believe can help you identify and articulate for yourself-and for anyone else who asks-a more nuanced and authentic raison d'etre for pursuing a life in medicine: HAVE YOU EXPOSED YOURSELF TO OTHER OPTIONS AND CONSIDERED OTHER PATHS? Students who open themselves to the possibility of other directions my affirm their medical intentions, or they may discover roads less travelled. Either way, undergraduate summers and breaks can be the perfect opportunities to test the waters. Pre-med students often operate with the misconception that every waking hour should be sent in a medical setting. To the contrary, time spent comparing other options is time well spent in the interest of clarity and self-awareness. And realizing sooner than later if one has a different calling is only for the good, too. Occasionally I had a student come in to apologize to me that he had an internship in finance or a job in government that he loved, and did I think it was ok if he left the pre-med fold. There are no apologies necessary. Ask yourself what other paths you could follow. HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED OBSTACLES THAT CHALLENGED YOUR RESOLVE BUT YET YOU PERSEVERED? A physician's life will inevitably be punctuated by failure and loss. While the magnitude of a doctor's responsibilities cannot be approximated, a pre-med student can and probably should have some experience with disappointment and adversity, and some demonstrated capacity to rebound. While you may assume academic perfection is the gold standard for pre-meds, resilience is arguably the currency of greater value. I generally didn't worry about the motivated student who stumbled on a C in Orgo but showed up in my office to >>>

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strategize about a game plan in response. I worried a lot about the student who got a B for the first time in her life and thought she would have to become a lawyer instead. And in some ways I worried more about the students whose lives were untouched by pain than those who fought a range of demons to find themselves in my office. Ask yourself how you have confronted your own vulnerabilities and what you know about your capacity to rebound. CAN YOU DISTINGUISH BETWEEN YOUR OWN DESIRES AND THE EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS? I often wondered, "Whose dream is this anyway?". Many brilliant and capable students are also accustomed to pleasing their families and fulfilling perceived expectations. It is critical to be choosing the path of medicine intentionally and not merely obediently. I often received phone calls from parents who clung tightly and lovingly to the goal of having their children gain acceptance at a top medical school and become a physician. Sometimes it was about following in the family footsteps, and sometimes it was about blazing a new trail. Either way, these parents had all kinds of questions for me. In some cases, I had never, and would never meet their children. Happily, college students can vote with their feet and if the pre-med dream belonged to mom or dad alone, then I consider it a victory that the child went his or her own way. It was harder when students who had not yet differentiated their parents wishes from their own. That is work that needs to be done long before an AMCAS application is in the works. Ask yourself whose dream it is.

HAVE YOU HAD RECENT EXPOSURE TO THE REALITIES OF CLINICAL PRACTICE AND/OR RESEARCH? Many students overlook the need to gain practical experience with clinical and research environments as an undergraduate. Spending long days and nights in the trenches with sick children is a whole different enterprise than just "loving kids." The tedium and precision of the lab may or may not be tolerable to every self-professed lover of science. A casual exposure in high school does not provide sufficient data for a decision about the rest of one's life. Whether you volunteer stacking band-aids in a hospital or you get a formal job in a clinic, it matters what you see and how it makes you feel, not so much what you do. If you are considering a life in medicine, you just have to find a way to spend some time up close and personal, in more than one setting, before you commit. Ask yourself if you can envision yourself as the doctors you are observing. ARE YOU DEVELOPING PASSIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS THAT WILL PROVIDE BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE ? Students often asked me whether or not it was a good idea to keep doing activities they loved that fell outside the formal requirements of preparing for medical school. Athletics, arts, study abroad, and humanities coursework fell into this category of, "Is it okay if I…?" My answer was almost always that not only was it okay, it was actually essential to have creative outlets that would allow expression seemingly unrelated to medicine. When alumni physicians came back to our campus to

share their journeys with current students, I always asked, "What would you do differently if you could do your undergraduate years again?" What I heard was, "I would take more art classes… I would not have traded being on the football team... I would have studied abroad…" Medical school and life beyond it will place all kinds of demands on your time and energies. Ask yourself if you are cultivating the habits of mind, heart, and being that will replenish and sustain you for the long haul. The choice to become a doctor can be a choice to dare greatly. There is nothing wrong with being good at science and wanting to help people. Of course you are, and of course you do. But if you dig deeper, you will likely find much richer story lines - and your most compelling truths. Hard questions are the best medicine. Most importantly, deep inquiry will increase your self-awareness and self-confidence as a pre-med student. Possible side effects include being much more memorable on your interview days. „

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jess Deutsch, EdM,MSW was a pre-health advisor at Princeton University from 2008-2012. She is now an education consultant in private practice, advising students and parents on a wide range of topics in secondary and higher education, with an emphasis on authenticity and balance. Her services to pre-med students and parents are intended to augment campus resources for academic planning, interviews and AMCAS personal statements. Students and parents may contact her at

get published. write for us

If you consider yourself a good writer and would like a chance to have your article published in an issue of PreMedLife Magazine, we’re looking for student writers to submit articles. From your personal experiences as a pre-med student to living everyday life as a college student, we want to share your story with our readers. Or if you need an idea to write about - we’ve got tons of them. For more information about writing for PreMedLife Magazine, visit our Web site at or email us at

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ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE 4-year MD Program • Courses designed to acquire Residency and Licensure in the USA & abroad • Consists of 4-semester Basic Science program in St. Lucia • Fifth semester completed at a U.S. teaching hospital • Fifth semester includes a live USMLE board review • Basic Science tuition $3,800.00 per semester • 72-week Clinical Study program in the U.S. at teaching hospitals • Clinical Science tuition $7,900.00 per semester For an application, call toll-free (516) 368-1700 Or write to: Atlantic University School of Medicine Admissions Office 367 Long Beach Rd. # 456 Island Park, NY 11558 or email us at Visit our website at

SCHOOLSPOTLITE Get a glimpse into what one medical school in the U.S. has to offer prospective students


quick facts

Atlanta, Georgia | Consistently ranked among the top medical schools in the country, Emory University School of Medicine is committed to medical education and becoming a 21st century model for training the very best physicians. Effective small-group learning models, increased interaction with faculty and supportive curriculum have helped attract some of the best and brightest students to Emory University School of Medicine. In keeping with Emory's desired qualities, attributes, and characteristics of their graduates, the school designed their curriculum so students are immersed in clinical experience from the very beginning of their education. Features of the school's curriculum include but are not limited to: 1.) an 'in-depth' discovery phase designed to enhance creativity, curiosity, and the development of leadership skills (this component is supported the opportunity for students to elect a tuitionfree year of study), 2.) reduction in lecture time and less focus on rote memorization with the creation of more opportunities for active learning; and 3.) increased student mentoring throughout the four years of medical school and increased exposure to master clinicians at all Emory clinical sites. Under Emory's curriculum, students are

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The James B. Williams Medical Education Building gave Emory University SOM its first on-campus home

able to take USMLE Step 1 earlier, care for patients earlier, in many clinical settings, and develop supportive relationships with Small Group classmates, spanning the entire four years of medical school. At Emory University School of Medicine, not graduating on time is a good thing. The school's mandatory five-month "discovery" phase, which allows time for clinical or bench research, international experience, or other academic inquiry, tends to pique their students' curiosity. Because of this "discovery" phase, almost a fourth of the 138 students in the class of 2012 were delayed in receiving their MD degree because they paused their medical studies to complete a master of public health degree. According to the school’s website, "several completed a master's of science in clinical research, two studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and two coordinated a clinical trial for flu vaccine and helped start an evidence-based medical course for physicians in Mali, West Africa. „ For more information about Emory University School of Medicine visit











TUITION $45,000

INTERESTING FACT Over 40% of last year's class had taken a year or more "off" after college. Some took full-time jobs, some did overseas volunteer work, other pursued their interest outside of medicine.

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Our pick of items that will add some flair to your pre-medical life and perhaps put a smile on your face





Be Inspirational Paperweight Placed on your desk or countertop, this thought-provoking paperweight from designer Tamara Hensick provides a constant reminder to be your best self.



Notable Adventures Message Globe Featuring a spherical writing surface that rotates on a sleek black stand, this accessory is an essential tool in your informed planning process.

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Cube Laser Virtual Keyboard This tiny device laser-projects a keyboard on any flat surface - you can then type away accompanied by simulated key click sounds. With 63 keys and and full size QWERTY layout the Laser Virtual Keyboard can approach typing speeds of a standard a size a little larger than a matchbook.

The Where, The Why, and The How In this hardbound collaboration between creative visual artists, smart scientists, inquisitive philosophers, and clever characters, a series of 75 classically curious questions are explained and illustrated with great imagination.



Trompe l'Aundry Hamper Assembled with plastic rods that reinforce the white, fabric walls, this clothing container features embroidered knob details and a see-through plastic window that create a picture-perfect stand-in when the wash is still days from being done.

Elemensus: Periodic Table Spelling Board Game


This board game plays like other word construction games, but instead of just letters, you're using element symbols. Each tile has the name of the element, the element's symbol, and the atomic number (which is how many points you'll snag if you use it).

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UC DAVIS DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY Pre-Medical Surgical Internship & Mentorship Program

The UC Davis Department of Surgery Pre-Medical Surgical Internship & Mentorship Program is a unique opportunity for pre-medical students to work with and be mentored by surgeons and physicians in the nationally recognized medical center. This program is not volunteering, but the ability to experience what surgeons do everyday. You will be with the physicians every step of their day when they are working and treating patients in the clinic, by the bedside, in the intensive care unit, Emergency Department, and right next to them in the operating room. This program is open to all pre-medical students regardless of school attended or grade level (graduates and returning students are welcome as well). This program seeks to foster a relationship between physicians and pre-medical students. There will be 3 cycles throughout the academic year that you can apply and participate.

For more information about the program:

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INTHESTACKS Books we think that those aspiring to become doctors might be interested in reading ADVENTURES OF A SURGICAL RESIDENT by Philip B. Dobrin M.D. In his memoir, Dr. Dobrin gives an inside look into the days of his residency training at Loyola University Medical Center. While sharing the struggles and the challenges that came during those times, In addition to what he learned about diagnosing and treating patients, Dr. Dobrin shares accounts of his hands-on surgical experience. He is also quite candid about many of the not-sonice aspects of a doctor in training, including but not limited to being sleep deprived, spending a lot of time completing paperwork, and having a lack of time to enjoy personal interest. This book is great for those looking for another account of what goes on behind the scene during medical training. BRAIN RULES: 12 PRINCIPLES FOR SURVIVING AND THRIVING AT WORK, HOME, AND SCHOOL by John Medina, PhD Molecular biologist Dr. John Medina unveils some of the latest research on cognition to give readers a better understanding of how the brain works. Filled with tons of insight and related stories, Dr. Medina’s book may leave many readers reconsidering the things they do in everyday life like taking an afternoon nap and the affect of a lack of sleep to the effectiveness of multitasking and the power of exercise on your ability to think better. Premed students, future medical students, and residents in training can benefit from many chapters in this book, including but not limited to the following: Exercise, Attention, Short-Term Memory, Long-Term Memory, Sleep, and Stress. LIVING AND DYING IN BRICK CITY: AN E.R. DOCTOR RETURNS HOME by Sampson Davis and Lisa Frazier Page Best known from his book The Pact, Dr. Sampson Davis reintroduces his personal story to tell another story of the healthcare crisis of inner city communities like the one he grew up in. With quite a personal connection to the story he tells, Dr. Davis shares with readers what it is like for him to work as an emergency care physician in the community he once lived. His book brings attention to the health crises in America’s inner cities and is an informative book that is certainly a must-read for anyone interested in practicing medicine - regardless of where the will will eventually practice or what they will be their final specialty choice. THE YEAR THEY TRIED TO KILL ME: SURVIVING A SURGICAL INTERNSHIP...EVEN IF THE PATIENTS DON'T by Salvatore Iaquinta, MD An informative, but humor-filled read, Dr. Salvatore Iaquinta offers many interesting points on what it is like to be a first-year medical resident. In the book Dr. Iaquinta opens up and shares a lot of personal moments and shares with readers a glimpse of his life outside of medicine as well.

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BETTERLIFEBETTERYOU Latest news and information on taking care of yourself as a busy student living the pre-med life

Researchers Say Video Gaming May Improve Cognition Playing action video games enhances several cognitive and perceptual abilities, according to a study conducted by researchers from Nanyang Technological University According to background information provided in the paper, two previous studies found evidence of improved mental rotation skills in young children trained in the game Tetris in addition to certain enhanced abilities in older adults. The study, published in the March 2013 issue of the journal PLOS ONE, was conducted to extend

Study Shows Hearing Sounds During Sleep Helps Memory Hearing certain sounds while you sleep may improve your memory, according to findings published in the journal Cell. Led by researchers from the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology in German, the study involved participants who were asked to learn word associations right before they went to bed. While they were sleeping, the researchers played short clips of a hissing noise similar to white noise called pink noise. These noises were timed to

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Findings show that playing action video games can be used to train cognitionand perceptual skills.

previous findings related to action video games and improvements in cognition. Included in the study were 75 undergraduate students who were recruited and required to complete the study for course credits and a small compensation fee. The results of the study added to the growing body of evidence that playing action video games can be used to train cognition and perceptual skills. Moreover, researchers found that despite much smaller screen sizes than desktop or laptop computer screens, participants demonstrated video game-related enhancements to cognition levels. “Overall, our results were consistent with many previous studies that showed that action video games led to the most varied transfer,” the study author’s wrote. “Hence, it is also plausible that action-video games trained overall high level general processes like attention or learning mechanisms, and this general level of learning then transferred to allow improvement each task that recruited these general processes.

play at the same time as the participant’s “slow-wave” brain oscillations. The following day, the participants word association memory was tested. The findings revealed that when the participants received the pink noise as it was synchronized to their slow-waves, they were able to remember twice as many word associations than without the stimulation. In addition, when the experiment was repeated with the pink noise out-of-sync to the slow-waves, there was no significant improvement in memory. “The beauty lies in the simplicity to apply auditory stimulation at low intensities,” Jan Born, of the University of Tübingen and coauthor of the study, said in a press release. “An approach that is both practical and ethical, if compared for example with electrical stimulation.”

cc licensed flickr photo by Steven Andrew Photography

Health | Wellness | Fitness | Nutrition | Mind & Body

cc licensed flickr photo by thedz_


For fitness tips, motivation, healthy eating, and workouts visit

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Students Who Workout On Campus Get Better Grades

Helicopter Parenting Makes Students Depressed

According to data from Purdue University, college students who work out at their campus gym are more likely to receive better grades than students who visit less often or not at all. Students who worked out at Purdue’s gym at least once a week were more likely to earn a higher grade point average than students who visited less or not at all,” said Tricia Zelaya, assistant director for student development and assessment at Purdue’s Division of Recreational Sports. “Going to the gym is so much more than going to the gym. Students who are motivated by fitness and wellness ten to have better time management skills, and research shows that being fit is good for the mind. It all ties together.”

Using data tracked by students checking in at the school’s recreational sports center, data showed that those who visited at least 16 times a month earned a GPA of 3.10 or higher. Students who used the gym at least seven times a month had an average GPA of 3.06. "Student success research shows that engaged students do better academically, and we see that when they come here with their friends as well as classmates or study groups," Zelaya said. "This is a place where students learn to use physical activity to cope with stress. Being fit also is about getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and that is key to doing well in school. Our goals for success go beyond the classroom and are aimed at helping young people develop healthy habits for life."

Purdue University photo / Mark Simons

College students with overprotective parents are more likely to feel depressed, according to a study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies. A practice more commonly known as “helicopter parenting”, parents who are more involved multiple aspects of their child’s life are doing their kids more harm than good. The study, led by Holly Schiffrin, a researcher from the University of Mary Washington, examined the responses of 297 undergraduates students who complete an online survey about their mothers’ parenting behavior and their own feelings of competency. The study found that students with “helicopter” parents were more likely to report feelings of depression and being less satisfied with their lives. “Our data suggest that an inappropriate level of parental behavioral control is associated with negative child outcomes,” the study author’s wrote. “Specifically, we found that helicopter parenting behaviors were related to higher levels of depression and decreased satisfaction with life.” The researchers suggested that despite their intentions to be supportive, their actions could actually be taken the wrong way by their children who in turn feel that they are being controlled and undermined. “Parents might be aided by keeping in mind how developmentally appropriate their involvement is and to adjust it when their children feel that the parent is hovering too closely,” the authors concluded.

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cc licensed flickr photo by twicepix

cc licensed flickr photo by Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Some final thoughts on getting through your days as a college student

You probably have a lot planned for the summer but for Pete’s sake take a break! As a premed and future medical student, it will never be the right time for you to take a vacation because you are always going to have something to do. There will always be something you have to read, something you have to write, something you have to “take care of ”. There are those who find it very easy to come up with an excuse as to why they cannot take time off from a busy schedule to enjoy oneself and put academics on hold. Don’t be one of these people! Take a break

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from your everyday routine and feel guilt-free as you spend a few days away from your premed obligations. When you return from your time off, you’ll not only feel renewed but return to your responsibilities with more energy and a new spirit, ready to take the world by storm. You may be shocked at how much that vacation was necessary to clear your head and take a break. In the end, taking time for yourself outside of your schoolwork and extracurricular activities will make you a stronger, well-balanced student.

Premed / Pre-Health / Post Bacc Electives & Study Abroad in Africa


Our program offers the following: Ø Opportunity for early exposure to medicine Ø A unique way to demonstrate intent and interest in medical school application Ø See healthcare delivery in a different setting Ø Cultural exchange and an appreciation of other cultures, including a Safari to famous Maasai Mara if placed in Kenya

Elective Africa's Premed / Pre-Health / Post Bacc program offers well structured and well supervised placements for Premed / Pre-Health / Post Bacc students seeking to study abroad, get independent study and be involved in experiential learning or volunteer programs in Africa.

Medical Programs

Safari to Masai Mara

Ø Student electives ð Surgery, Pediatrics, General Medicine, Obstetrics

& Gynecology, Emergency & Critical Care, Dentistry Ø Premed programs Ø Public health research Ø Medical camps Ø Nursing Ø Midwifery Ø Physician Assistant

“Doing a medical elective in Kenya was an eye opening experience. I got to see the developing world health system and range of tropical diseases not normally prevalent in Australia. It was a really hands on experience. I got to learn and perform skills like administering injections, catheters and suturing patients. I was also able to take part in the examining, differentials, diagnosing and formulating treatment plans. The highlight for me would have to be the amazing new friends I have made and the motivation I have taken back home. I would recommend this program to anyone considering it.” Cassanne Eccleston Charles Sturt University Australia, August 2010

Student Innovators Program | Summer 2013 US University Students: June 10 to August 2, 2013 Non-US University Students & US High School Students: June 17 to August 9, 2013 Are you interested in medicine and in biomedical innovation? Would you like to observe surgeries or shadow physicians while at the same time working on an exciting research project in one of the best children’s hospitals in the United States? If so, the unique 8-week Student Innovators Summer Program may be for you!

• Learn about the theory and practice of innovation • Join a group of 15-20 students from around the world • Discover the world of pediatric medicine The Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center invites all interested graduate, medical, undergraduate, and advanced high school students to apply.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. FINAL DEADLINE FOR SUMMER 2013: January 31, 2013

Hear from past Student Innovators....

Even though I was not directly involved with laboratory research, the project I worked on benefited me in more ways than I can express. I have walked away with more from my time at SZI than I had ever thought possible. Thank you! – Grace, MBA, Howard University PhD Student This program definitely gave me more than I would have gotten at an institution such as NIH, a popular choice for students at my school. I didn’t learn just about doing the lab work and writing the report, but also how to choose the best ideas, how to get a patent, sharing my work with other researchers and even how to get my final paper published. – Charmi, Montgomery Blair HS Senior Shadowing physicians and observing surgeries, along with my research project, were definitely a very educational and incredible experience that made me more determined to pursue a medical degree after my graduation. – Noura, Khalifa University Senior (UAE)


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May/June 2013  

PreMed Life is a national magazine for prospective medical school applicants. Featuring original articles, relevant news, personal stories,...

May/June 2013  

PreMed Life is a national magazine for prospective medical school applicants. Featuring original articles, relevant news, personal stories,...