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A Pre-Med’s Guide to Back-To-School Advice and tips for getting started on the

right path if you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior pre-medical student

Rekindle Your Premed Motivation Give yourself some reminders of why you wanted to pursue a career in medicine in the first place

Benefits of Rural Medicine Advice to pre-medical students

on why they should not discount practice medicine in rural areas

New Tool Designed to Help Premeds Launches p. 10 | Medical School Creates Six New Scholarships p.12

M I NOS CAN ACH IEVE ANYTHING. We make sure they get to college. Federal Student Aid provides more than $150 billion each year in grants, loans, and work-study funds to make college possible for anyone with the mind to get there. Learn more about money for college at

Federal Student Aid



contents| | | | |

premedlife | september/october2014 “Premeds are smart individuals who will go through years of schooling to practice medicine” p.18


the back-to-school edition VERY IMPORTANT THINGS I 18 5WOULD TELL MY FRESHMAN SELF Here are some of the things current medical students wish they’d known when they were freshmans

p.28 COVER STORY #MEDSCHOOL: WHY GOING IS STILL WORTH IT If you’re like most premed students, the dream of being a physician is something that you’ve held in your heart for a good period of time. Perhaps you’ve been inspired by a physician role model in your life. Perhaps you’re fascinated by the expanding world of medicine - a career filed that is consistently being updated with new and exciting discoveries.


For most pre-meds, sophomore year was the hardest our of all four years of college. We ask a groups of successful premeds what they did during this make it or break it year.


Let’s face it. This year will be one of the most challenging times for you. Here are 10 quotes to help you make it to the end.


Here are five things every prospective medical student should learn how to manage before stepping foot into anyone’s medical school.

September/October 2014 | PreMedLife Magazine |3

contents/departments 20


It’s important to give yourself some solid reminders of why you wanted to pursue your MD degree in the very first place.


The host of the Medical School HQ Podcast interviews Dr. Norma Wagoner, faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine


It’s no surprise that many MCAT students prefer to “go it alone” given certain types of experiences in college. However, the MCAT is a very different animal than college tests or projects.


Don’t discount rural medicine! This is one medical student’s advice to all pre-med students.



Relevant news and information for students applying to medical school and pursuing medicine.


Gadgets, gizmos, and other unique things to keep you entertained. Check out our picks for this issue including the Anywhere Travel Guide and the book Science Ink.

THE GOODS Here We Go Organ Pillow


4 | PreMedLife Magazine | September/October 2014




PRE MED LIFE a lifestyle magazine for




& print edition

pre-medical students


print. digital. social.

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


from the

YOU ARE AMAZING! anyone who has decided to dedicate their life to the practice of medicine is amazing. Anyone who has decided to dedicate

their life to the practice of medicine is amazing. Whenever I see motivated, superfocused pre-medical students who still have the same energy they did when they first decided to pursue medicine, I smile. There’s something about the way this group of future physicians is taking on challenges, making their mark, and getting the job done that makes me so proud. I love their energy, their dedication, their persistence, and their willpower. It comes together oh so well to create a strong presence in the premedical community and an encouraging promise for the future of health care. I know that you are strong, intelligent, and so much more but I wanted to take this time to let you know that it’s okay to ask for help. The pre-med years are when you are both incredibly excited about your future as a doctor and at the same time worried about whether it’s really going to come together in the end. There are mentors out there - professors, medical students, practicing physicians, advisors - to be your personal cheerleader and to remind you that you can do what it is you’ve set out to do, that you too, can reach you goal of becoming a doctor. They want you to reach out to them, to learn from them - what they did right and where they may have gone wrong. They want you to know what’s to come as you embark on your journey, how they got passed obstacles, how they moved forward with getting into medical school. They want you to know how they learned to pick themselves back up after stumbling, how they found the strength to stay motivated through hours and hours of studying. They want to tell you about how they studied for the MCAT, juggled their courses, prepared for the medical school interview, wrote the personal statement. They actually want to you come to them and know that you have a support system. With that in mind, here are 7 things I want to say to our pre-med readers: 1.) Ask yourself, is medicine your passion? Remember “your passion is what you would do even if you won the lottery.” 2.) Set a goal and work towards it. You can make adjustments as you go along. 3.) You don’t have to do it by yourself. Seek help. Ask questions. Get advice. 4.) Take a break. You’re no good to yourself and your future self if you’re burnt out. 5.) Don’t listen to the naysayers. If they have something to say, tell them if they don’t have anything constructive to say, don’t say it at all. 6.) If there’s a will, there’s a way. 7.) Be aware of the negative people who may try to discourage you. Reject them. Hit me up on Facebook and let me know what keeps you motivated and how you plan to stay motivated.


Sheema Prince Publisher

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PREMEDLIFE the lifestyle magazine for premedical students

Founder & Publisher | Sheema Prince Executive Director| Jonathan Pearson Executive Vice President | Monique Terc Contributing Editor | Njeri McKenzie Online Marketing Consultant | Portia Chu Contributing Writers Marilyn Chau, Ryan Gray, MD, Joseph Johnson, Bryan Schnedeker 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) 857-7491 Have a Story Idea? Email us at Want to Subscribe? Visit and sign-up to our mailing list to receive an email when the latest issue is available online Want to Join Forces? (a.k.a. Partner With Us) Email us at Advertising Inquiries? Email 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 judgement. Consult your premedical/pre-health advisor with any questions you may have about the medical school admissions process and related topics. Unless otherwise noted, all articles, 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) 857-7491 or email us at

ONLINE 3 Things Premeds Can Learn From Beyonce

Pre-med life isn’t the easiest. Surprisingly, Beyonce’s music (and life) can offer a bit of inspiration for premeds. Here are a few lessons you can learn.

What’s on 8 Pieces of Information Every Premed Should Know For their 31st podcast, the host of the Medical School HQ podcast talk about 8 key pieces of info every student going through the pre-med process should know.

Random Thoughts You May Have While Taking the MCAT Taking standardized tests is never any fun, but taking standardized test that seem like they hold your future within their results can be completely terrifying.

Introverted? 3 Quick Tips to Help Nail Your Medical School Interview

The medical school interview process is an intimidating prospect for most premeds. It’s even more intimidating for introverts.

Call for Pitches We are officially opening up the submission process for upcoming issues of the magazine and our website. If you have an idea (or an essay that you think might work for the magazine or website, contact us via email (, pitch something on our Guest Post page. If it’s something we can use, we’ll be in touch in the very near future - and you could see your piece published!

8 | PreMedLife Magazine | September/October 2014

Math Shortcuts to Save Time on the MCAT

As a pre-med student, you will be required to earn a decent score on your MCAT. Instead of wasting time working through complex equations by hand, apply these shorts to cut time.

Jobs & Internships Check out to view the latest jobs and internship opportunities in your area.

July/August 2014 | PreMedLife Magazine |9


Medical school graduates in Missouri can now practice in underserved areas as ‘Assistant Physicians’ under new legislation that was recently signed into law. {PAGE 13}

Recent news & information relevant to students applying to medical school

123rf/ Jean-Marie Guyon

New Tool Tracks Career From Pre-Med Through Med School

The makers of the MCAT have announced the launch of a powerful new online, tool to help users manage their career from pre-medical studies through clinical practice. In July, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) unveiled the new platform, called Pivio, calling it a single, secure resource designed to store, retrieve , and share important information and records. More significantly, for pre-meds, the Pivio system is designed to ease the medical school application process, provide guidance about which records and documents are most important to keep, and provide help with staying on track with

important tasks and activities. “The Pivio system not only will provide the ability to organize and manage a career portfolio, but will provide a foundation in the future for individuals to better understand the characteristics of their personal learning continuum that will help them achieve their professional goals,” said NBME President and CEO Donald E. Melnick, M.D., in the press release announcing the launch. “The AAMC and NBME anticipate that this service will enable individuals to gain new insights into the factors to target for future success, strengthening an evidence-based approach to guiding individual career development.

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The current features of Pivio allow pre-meds to access several functions and gives them the ability to: access a checklist and timeline of important activities and resources necessary to apply to medical school, access and store of MCAT scores and other academic records, upload documents and notes on volunteer and extracurricular activities, and maintain contact information for future letters of recommendation, among other features. Initially, Pivio is being offered to students as an annual paid subscription service. For more information visit¡


Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program

Apply by July 1st for Fall 2014

Your First Steps to your Dream Medical Career. Let us help you reach your goal. - Our main campus features UVM’s top-ranked Medical School - Level-I Trauma center at the Fletcher Allen Healthcare Facility - 90% acceptance rate

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School of Medicine Announces Six New Scholarships

For prospective students looking to apply to the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in West Virginia, the school has announced the creation of several new opportunities to aid students with tuition. The six new scholarships include: The Sean K. and Beth L. Hammers Scholarship which will be awarded to an entering medical student and is renewable for three years pending academic progress. The Huntington Clinical Foundation MUJCESOM Expendable Scholarship, which is a onetime, $10,000 scholarship to be awarded annually for three years to an entering first-year student. The Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Class of 2013 Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to a first-year medical student, and is renewable for three additional years pending normal academic progress.

Plans Move Forward For New Medical School In Las Vegas

Plans for a new medical school at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) are moving forward, according to an update on the school’s progress given in August. Dr. Barbara Atkinson, UNLV School of Medicine planning dean, announced that the school formally submitted its application to start the accreditation process. “Starting the accreditation process is a very important step as it further signifies UNLV’s commitment to creating a top medical school that will meet the health care needs of Southern Nevadans,” said UNLV President Donald Snyder. “Creating a UNLV School of Medicine is a top priority

for UNLV, and I’m encouraged by the energy and support of our board of regents and chancellor, our campus and the area medical community.” The new medical school aims to teach a diverse group of doctors which they hope will stay in Nevada and practice in the state. In all, according to the schools website: the UNLV School of Medicine will integrate public undergraduate medical education and graduate medical education - or residencies - to cultivate more doctors staying to serve Southern Nevada. The school hopes to welcome its inaugural entering class in Fall 2017. ¡

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The Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Class of 2014 Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to a first-year medical student, and is renewable for three additional years pending normal academic progress. The Mr. and Mrs. Guy C. Nangle Scholarship Fund scholarship will be awarded to a Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine medical student and is renewable pending normal academic progress. The Radiology Graduates’ Scholarship will be awarded to a deserving medical student who will be selected by the Scholarship Committee of the School of Medicine. The award is renewable. “These awards are designed to help students defray some of the costs associated with obtaining a medical education,” said Linda Holmes, director of development and alumni affairs. “Our donors understand the financial burden that many of our students incur and we are forever grateful that they are helping ease that burden.” ¡


New Law Allows Med School Grads to Work as ‘Assistant Physicians’

wikipedia/ BotMultichillT

Medical school graduates who have yet to complete their residency training are now being allowed to practice medicine in medically underserved rural or urban areas in Missouri under newly passed legislation.

Medical school graduates who have not completed their residency training will be allowed to practice medicine thanks to a bill that was signed into law in Missouri in July. The new law, which did not come without opposition, will give students who have not yet passed the final exam needed to gain their credential the opportunity to treat patients as Assistant Physicians in underserved primary-care settings. In the role, Assistant Physicians will work in medically underserved rural or urban areas of the state or in any pilot project areas and only be allowed to provide primary-care services. The new legislation comes in an effort to east the physician shortage in underserved areas where residents have limited access to care. Last year, the federal government listed Missouri as one of the ten most medically undeserved states in the country. Considering that this new category of licensure would make Missouri unique

among states and would embark upon uncharted waters in providing health for Missourians, it is imperative that there be comprehensive and rigorous oversight and regulation of such ‘assistant physician,” wrote Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. According to one press release, “these doctors would be supervised on site by a collaborative physician for 30 days. After that, they could treat patients without direct supervision in settings 50 miles away and will be able to prescribe Schedule III, IV, and V drugs. In June, the American medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates resolved to “oppose special licensing pathways for physicians who are not currently enrolled in an Accredited Council for Graduate Medical Education or American Osteopathic Association training program, and have not completed at least 1 year of accredited postgraduate U.S. medical education.”

Despite tons of strong opposition, members of the Missouri State Medical Association strongly disagree. “The opposition puzzles me. The physician shortage in Missouri is so bad that communities with 2,000 to 5,000 people barely have access to a doctor one day a week. And they share that doctor with 2 or 3 communities. The new rules are no different than those for older doctors who didn’t have to go through a residency program. They just graduated from medical school and began treating patients,” Jeffrey Howell, the MSMA’s general counsel and government relations director. ““It says a lot about the medical establishment that they think people who graduate medical school are incapable of caring for patients while they’re being supervised in a collaborative relationship,” Howell said. “We have 6 medical schools in Missouri. Even if 5 or 6 doctors didn’t get a residency match, that’s 25-30 providers who can help.” ¡

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Texas University Named Best Medical School for Hispanic Students When it comes to the top medical school for Hispanics to attend, the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio comes out on top. That’s according to Hispanic Business magazine’s Annual Diversity Report: Best Schools for Diversity Practices: Best Medical School. For the survey, several significant factors were considered, including the number of Hispanics enrolled, retention rate, percentage of students receiving financial aid, degrees awarded, number of Hispanic full-time medical school faculty, and extent of programs that recruit and mentor Hispanic medical students. Numbers for the School of Medicine during the 2012-2013 academic year showed that there were 176 Hispanic students enrolled and 48 degrees award to Hispanic students last year. Furthermore, with nearly 150 fulltime faculty members, the Health Science

Center has one of the biggest concentrations of Hispanic faculty in the nation. The School of Medicine also participates in several recruitment and mentoring programs. In the end, nearly 20 percent of students in the School of Medicine are Hispanic, compared to the U.S. medical school average of 9 percent. “More than ever before, we are striving to connect with Hispanic students in San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley and throughout the state,” said Francisco GonzálezScarano, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the Health Science Center. “Patients tend to relate better to physicians who are sensitive to their culture. For this reason, our School of Medicine places priority on graduating a diverse class that matches the demographics of Texas.”¡

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Wikipedia/ Bigtimepeace

Wikipedia/ AMAPO

MDs Who Want to Serve Poor Areas Attend Community College

A new study finds that medical students who previously attended community college are more likely to practice in underserved communities or work with minority populations. The study, led by researchers from UCLA, UC San Francisco and San Jose City College, used data from the 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges matriculant and applicant files and the AAMC’s Matriculating Student Questionnaire to determine whether there was a link between a students’ participation in a community college pathway, their admission to medical school, and their intention to practice medicine in underserved communities or work with minority populations. The findings revealed that among students who apply to and attend medical school, those from underrepresented minority backgrounds are more likely than white and Asian students to have attended a community college at some point. Moreover, community college students who were accepted to medical school were also more likely that those students who never attended a community college to commit to working with underserved populations. According to a release issued by UCLA, “the authors recommend that medical school and four-year university recruitment, outreach and admissions practices be more inclusive of community college students.” The study was published in the journal Academic Medicine. ¡

we know you love us why don’t you ‘LIKE US’?

Flickr/ Maarten

several calls to various clinics, but in the end your search will probably be fruitful.


While shadowing is a great way to boost your motivation and connect with current doctors, volunteering is often a better way to “get your hands dirty” within the medical community. Of course, the tasks that you can personally do will probably be pretty limited; after all, you most likely currently lack official medical training. However, that shouldn’t prevent you from helping out at local non profit community clinics. Such clinics run on volunteer manpower, and your service doing anything from acting as a runner between doctors to checking in patients will be greatly appreciated. Overseas medical missions trips are also another option for many premed students, and fundraising can make these pricey trips financially possible.


How to Rekindle Your PreMed Motivation Whether it’s a particularly poor grade on a test or a day of feeling overwhelmed by student loan paperwork, feelings of discouragement as a premed are pretty common. In those times it’s important to give yourself some solid reminders of why you wanted to pursue your MD in the first place.


f you’ve decided to pursue a career in medicine, there’s probably a pretty good chance that you’ve had to face some questions from peers and family members alike. Normally, you’ve probably also rehearsed your answers to all these inquiries and more, assuring nay-sayers that you really have thought through your desired career path. However, if you’re like most other pre-med students, there’s also a pretty good chance that sometimes you find yourself questioning your own decision. Whether it’s a particularly poor grade on a test or a day of feeling overwhelmed by student loan paperwork, feelings of discouragement as a premed are pretty common. In those times it’s important to give yourself some solid re-

minders of why you wanted to pursue your MD in the first place.


Perhaps one of the most recommended activities for premeds, shadowing can be a great way to boost both your med school applications and your motivation to even go to med school at the same time. Contacting any family friends/connections that are physicians who might be willing to let you shadow them is an excellent place to start for this, but not knowing any doctors is definitely not a factor that should prevent you from getting day-to-day exposure to the medical field. Contact your local clinic and inquire about any physicians who would be willing to let you shadow them; it may take

Finally, one of the simplest but often overlooked ways to rekindle your premed motivation is to actively connect with possible mentors for you within the medical community. There are an impressive number of medical student and physician bloggers who regularly post updates, and many of these bloggers are not “too big” to respond to your questions about the profession. Seek them out and motivate yourself to follow your own medical dreams by finding inspiration in their stories. Reading medical memoirs of physicians can also be a great way to motivate yourself, even though this option doesn’t usually offer you the possibility of an active, two-way connection with the author. Overall, the most important way to feed your premed motivation is to put yourself into environments and situations where you cannot help but constantly be reminded of why you want to pursue a career in medicine. Being around patients and doctors, giving your time to help the ill of your community, and staying inspired through correspondence with current physicians are all great ways to achieve this. While none of these activities is a sure-fire way of preventing your motivation from sliding away, they’re all great ways of helping yourself stay on track even on days when you are facing your doubts. >>> What do you do to rekindle your premed motivation? Share your thoughts on

September/October 2014 | PreMedLife Magazine |17






tudents will begin their first day of col-lege over the next few weeks, beginning the uncompromising path to becoming a doctor. We spoke with cal students whomedifelt it was their duty to impart current their “wisdom” and knowledge on those who stand where they once stood. Throughout their pre-medical years, they have experienced a lot, learned so much, and could not be happier with how things turned out. Here are some of the things they wish they’d known when they were freshmen and what they think freshman pre-meds should do: Determine your learning style and get past your weaknesses Pre-meds are smart individuals who will go through years of schooling to practice medicine, absorbing an overwhelming amount of

arekmalang / 123 rf


information to one day enter one of the most respected professions. That is the general consensus at least. There are times when these students may feel discouraged, study harder instead of smarter and generally fear the challenges ahead. The truth is, understanding and acknowledging your learning style is one of the most effective ways to see success during your pre-med years. You must understand that there is a big difference between studying hard and studying smart. For many students, being premed means spending hours in the library day after day to complete assignments and study for exams. All too often, students arrive at test memorizing more information than they even understand, feeling underprepared and overanxious. What it comes down it is this - begin able to study smarter comes from knowing more about the type of learner you are. The

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tricks your classmate uses to remember equations for General Chemistry may not work for you. The best thing you can do is learn about different learning styles, design your study strategy around what fits you best, and hone in one what will work best for you. Being able to gain some insight early on about how you learn best will ultimately have a significant impact on not only your success during your freshman year, but your experiences moving along the path to medical school admissions. Non-traditional is the new traditional, so take non-premed courses Do what you love, the medical school acceptance will follow. Well, with a lot of work and determination of course. The fact is, medical schools consider and accept students from all different majors and as a greater number of

medical schools seek to create a more diverse study body, the tides are turning when it comes to which majors medical school admissions committees are “looking for.” It’s quite simple. If you are really passionate about a non-science subject, take courses in the darn subject, major in it why don’t you. Choosing to take courses outside of those required for medical school can even help you standout among your pre-med competition and can possibly be an advantage. Stating what is of course the obvious, the path to medical school involves whole lot of science, so who can blame you if you choose a major you’re actually interested in? If you enjoy the subject of the major like you say you do, the odds of you doing well academically will be high, you won’t be a miserable grump of a pre-med, and you’ll be on your way. Forget About the MCAT (For Now) If you’re a freshman, don’t you even think about starting to study for the MCAT. And while thinking about what will probably be the most important test of your pre-med career, stop with all of the questions about if you should or shouldn’t buy the prep books now or when you should start studying. Of course there will be those who say it is never too early to begin studying for the MCAT. Wait until your sophomore year is finished to start stressing yourself out about the MCAT. The best thing you could do to prepare for the MCAT is to go to class. And oh yeah, the second best thing you could do is start saving up for an MCAT prep class (just in case you decide to take one…have you seen the price for those things lately?) Until then, try your hardest not to think about it. And if it’s really a challenge for you to not prepare for the MCAT, get into the habit of reading materials (other than your textbooks) that focus on a variety of topics so you can, if anything, work on your ability to comprehend and analyze complex material you might find in The New Scientist, Time, or Scientific American. Let your freshman year, be your freshman year. Let it be a time for self-reflection, intellectual exploration, making a plan, and knowing what you need to reach those goals.

Don’t Worry About What Others Are Doing Stop comparing yourself to other and if you’re not doing it don’t start. We know it’s much easier than it sounds. But the truth is, everyone starts out from a different place and is headed on his or her own pre-medical journey. You have no clue where another pre-med’s path might take them on, you’ll be wasting your time and causing yourself a whole lot of heartache if you begin drawing comparisons between yourself and them. And yes, while it is impossible to turn off the switch that controls your reactions to what others are doing and accomplishing, you have to learn how to NOT compare yourself. This way, no matter what other pre-meds are doing, no matter what scores they getting on tests, your sense of worth and accomplishment will come for what you are doing. Strive to become a better medical school applicant. Instead of drawing comparisons between yourself and the next pre-med, differentiate. And as cliche as it may sound, the only person you need to worry about being better than is the person you were the day before. Whenever you compare yourself to other pre-meds, you risk losing who you are as a pre-med, what makes you different, what will make you standout among other pre-meds, and further minimize your value as a successful medical school candidate. Ask For Help While the advice to seek help might seem obvious, it remains very relevant for pre-medical students, who often, like to go it alone. The problem of not seeking help in a time of need is that an individual may begin to doubt themselves and question their ability to successfully gain admission to medical school and ultimately have second thoughts about pursuing medicine overall. The simple action of asking for help - whether it’s finding a mentor, going to office hours, getting tutoring - can go a long way toward reaching your goal of getting into medical school. Never be too proud to ask for help. The ability to admit your mistakes or admit when you need help is huge. If you mess up, find yourself struggling, ask for help, and if you want this thing you call you dream of becoming a doctor as bad as you say you do - get help, and keep it moving.

September/October 2014 | PreMedLife Magazine |19

tasia12 / 123RF Stock Photo



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what remarkably successful

premeds do sophomore year


f you will be a college sophomore this semester, the idea of applying to medical school is starting to become more real. And while all of your pre-med years are important, the most successful pre-meds do certain things in their second year of college. We are fortunate to know a number of remarkable successful pre-meds. Here are a number of their habits: They do the work For most pre-meds, sophomore year was the hardest out of all four years of college. They could have made it through with a little effort, but instead they put in a little more effort than others do. With sophomore year comes tougher courses, busier schedules, more commitments but you cannot be successful unless you put in a great deal of effort. Talk to medical students who have gain admission into medical school and you’ll find someone who was once a premed student who put tons of hours of effort into getting to where they are. This will be the year that is all about putting in the work, seeing how hard you can work and how bad you want it. Sophomore year is when those who are successful step up, figure out how to organize their time, study smarter not harder, and be tough. Getting into medical school is no walk in the park. There is no easy way out. Everyone has heard of the 80-20 rule but no student follows it…except for remarkably successful pre-meds. So if you’re not already hip to the “hard work game,” stop wasting time and handle your business. If you are struggling through Orgo, work harder! Do more problems…heck, do all of the problems! Whatever it is, whatever it might be, work hard knowing that it is all for something and that something is worth working hard for. They focus on their goals For pre-med students who from Day 1 are being told that in order to get into medical school, things need to be done a certain way, this is going to require thinking differently. This is because, during their sophomore year, pre-med

students know that it is not the plan that everyone says you should follow but the goal that you have set. By thinking this way, the objective of these students doesn’t change, but they understand and accept the fact that how they get to medical school and the road they take might. In the pre-med worlds, students are told what to do and when to do it. It is all about planning. Getting good grades. Making it to the finish line with as few mistakes as possible. That’s understandable. Before they move forward along their pre-med path they usually spend time figuring out what is going to take place and once they get there it is all about getting everything to fall into place. So, not surprisingly, pre-meds get discouraged when something unexpected happens. However, in the minds of successful pre-meds, any missteps or obstacles that may occur during Sophomore year should be exploited to the fullest. They see this as a chance to write their own story and chart their own individual paths to becoming a doctor. Sophomores who are successful in moving forward in a positive direction, ultimately gaining admission into medical school, learn not only to work with the factor of the unexpected, but also to use it to their advantage to reach their goal. They show maturity under pressure When the going gets tough (and it certainly will during Sophomore year), highly successful sop mores take action. They understand that in order to move forward and get through tough situations, they need to asses the situation, make a decision, and find a way to reassure themselves that “what won’t kill them, will only make them stronger.” It is easy to smile when everything in your pre-med life is going well, but it is how these students react to stressful situations that ultimately sets them apart from their peers. What separates a good sophomore year from an extraordinary sophomore year is often a students ability to handle the pressure that comes along with the “make it or break it” year. The smartest students isn’t good to anyone if they can’t perform when the going gets

tough. And as an aspiring medical student, the times when things will get tough will be more than less. Successful students are able to thrive during their sophomore year because they are self-confident and are focus on their success. They go to the gym Yes, that’s right - they go to the gym. And it all makes sense because successful pre-meds (current medical students) know that the pre-medical curriculum and more so the medical school curriculum can be quite challenging. They not only pushed themselves mentally, but pushed themselves physically. Beginning in their Sophomore year, many of the medical students we spoke to turned to exercise. And whether or not they knew it or not, we don’t blame them because researchers have found that regular aerobic exercise gives the part of the brain involved in memory and learning a boost. When you take a second to think about the brain, we weren’t surprised that regular physical activity and being successful as a pre-med went hand in hand. They want to learn They read a lot and ask tons of questions — they are always watching and listening, trying to understand everything that is being thrown their way. They leave class wondering, asking questions, doing their own research about something they learned in class. And they understand that the profession that they chose to purse will be a space that is always changing and always growing, and the learning will never stop. They knew that even after they got accepted into medical school and finished, the learning will continue. The general consensus among this group was that during their Sophomore year, their commitment to lifelong learning was solidified. As they continued to learn, they realized that the more knowledge they gained, they could apply their knowledge to other areas, academically or non-academically.

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“Going through difficult times and figuring out what does and does not work are ultimately the success.” 22 | PreMedLife Magazine | September/October 2014

yuliang11 / 123RF Stock Photo

reasons for


Junior Year as a Pre-Med Let’s face it. This year will be one of the most challenging times for you. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your schedule and caught up with everything that you have going on.


nd while some pre-meds move through this time with ease, not thinking much about what it takes to make it, most of them do not. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because with a little self-confidence and motivational cues, this time of you life can be a little less stressful than you would imagine it could be. To remind you that you already have what it takes to successfully make it to the next stage of gaining admission to medical school — and push you to become even better than you even know you are — here are 10 quotes:

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“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.” -Thomas J. Watson Lesson: This year may bring a lot of ups and downs, but despite any downfalls that may come along, it is important to stay positive and push through the tough times.


“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” -Steve Jobs Lesson: There are many paths to becoming a doctor. If your true desire is to practice medicine, trust that your passion will take you in the direction you need to go, regardless of if you understand the path it is taking you on at that moment. Getting into to medical school, becoming a doctor - trust and believe that it will happen.


“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” -Charles F. Kettering Lesson: Don’t ever give up on yourself or your dreams of becoming a doctor. You may stumble, you may fall, but what matters in the end is that you get your butt back up and keep it moving.


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain Lesson: If you’re going into medicine and pursuing a career as a doctor, and it’s for all the right reasons - don’t turn back on your dreams. If this is want you want to spend

your life doing, you’ll be happier doing it than not doing it. Explore your options. Dream big dreams. And discover what makes you happiest in the end.


“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” -Tony Robbins Lesson: With your junior year upon you, there will be an endless number of things you’ll need to do. You may feel drained — physically, mentally, emotionally — but it is very important that you keep an upward momentum. Yes it will be difficult at times, but it’s necessary. This is the path in life you have chosen and what comes with the territory is what comes.


“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.” -Corrie ten Boom Lesson: Don’t be a worrywart! If you worry about things you’ll be wasting your mental energy on things that might happen instead of channeling that same energy to make something happen. If you find yourself worrying, make a real effort to take a step back, look at what lessons could be learned from a situation (a different approach, a different reaction) and learn from a situation that didn’t go as planned and change any negative things you are tell yourself.


“Going through difficult times and figuring out what does and does not work are ultimately the reasons for success.” -Steve Dabrow Lesson: How you make it to medical school and how some other pre-med gets to medi-

People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed the more they want to succeed...


“A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.” -Vince Lombardi Lesson: You must believe in yourself as a pre-med before any medical school will ever believe that medicine is where you want to be. And even if you experience self-doubt, you can teach yourself to believe. When fear of the unknown, fear of difficult situations, fear of a mistake begin to make you doubt yourself, turn it into a way to motivate yourself instead of letting it rain on your medical school parade.

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cal school will be different. Your stories will be different, your challenges will be different, your obstacles will be different - it will all be different. Forget about how others are doing it and figure out what will ultimately work best for your. Forget everybody else. Write your own story and create your own way. Once you are able to figure out what works and what doesn’t you’ll be that much closer to getting into medical school.


“Every adversity, every failure,

every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”- Napoleon Hill Lesson: Anything that happens to you will make you a better person, better medical school applicant, and better doctor in the long run. In this case the adage about what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger is true.




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4 Things You Should Learn How to Manage Before Starting Medical School


ou may learn how to solve problems in organic chemistry, produce a well-written personal statement, or rack up hours volunteering at the hospital, but there are a few important skills that your undergraduate experience won’t teach you directly. While finishing college is a requirement for medical school admissions, there are a few non-academic factors that will help you out big time, when it comes to succeeding as a medical school and ultimately in the medical field. Here are four things every prospective medical student should learn how to manage before they step foot into anyone’s medical school:

Time. When you start medical school, there

will never seem to be enough time. So, as much as you may have resisted it over the years, one of the most important things you must do in medical school (and even before that if you’re down for it), is to figure out how to manage your time. The truth is, you’ll have more on your plate than you ever imagine possible. They secret is to not think about time as if it is the enemy but tell yourself that time is on your side. As the saying goes, you have the same 24 hours in a day as the most successful individuals you’ve heard of or even look up to. You have to learn how to prioritize to complete the things you need to do. To make it through, you may need to develop new ways to handle the great demands that medical school will place on you. And of course, research agrees. One study found that not only did they perform better in their coursework, but also reported that they were less stressed and felt less “overloaded.” There are some individuals who were born to manage time and if you’re one of these people you’ve got one up on the rest of us. These are the people who manage to get in a meal before their 8 am class, who manage to get their class assignments done - ahead of time, who have enough time left in the day to actually go to

the gym. But for all of you who struggle in this department, figuring out how to manage your time will require a bit of work. The simplest way to get started with managing your time better is being accountable. Hold yourself accountable for reaching the goals you set. Period.

Finances. You are about to make a very real investment in yourself. What this means for most students entering medical school is that they’ll have to take out student loans and make a few sacrifices along the way to keep things under control. About 60 percent of all medical school students plan to finance their medical school education via loans. Your job is to gain a clear understanding of how to successfully manage your finances and deal with the inevitable debt that comes with getting your medical school degree. You need to take a look at your current finances, get a grasp of the expenses that come with obtaining your medical degree, and consider the resources that you’ll need to tap to move forward and make it through successfully. So how can you prepare? For one month, keep track of all of your expense, even the littlest ones and at the end of this 30-day period, you should have a better sense of our current finances. Figure out the costs associated with your MD degree, your living expenses, then write out a budget to determine your current ability to cover everything and how much money you should be saving or taking out in loans. Your final budget should give you an overall picture and include all regular monthly bills. The important thing to remember is that your budget should reflect a realistic picture of how you operate on a day-to-day basis. Putting an unrealistic budget in front of you will make it challenging for you to succeed. And don’t forget to prepare yourself mentally to stick to the plan. Life. Being in medical school shouldn’t mean

that you don’t have a life. As hard as it will be,

medical school will require that you be proactive about taking some time out for yourself. Many medical students find themselves multitasking, fixing dinner with an open textbook nearby, which is truly reflective of a poor use of time. Close the books, put away your computer, and take some time to step away for a bit to nourish your body with a meal, catch up with your roommate or spouse, and give your body and mind the break it needs. In the end you will find that the benefits of taking such a pause will outweigh the cons in the long run. Sure, you’ll be in medical school soon, but that doesn’t mean that for the next few years, while you’re preparing to obtain your degree of medicine, you’re a slave to a schedule that has you studying like a maniac. You have the same amount of time in a day as President Barack Obama, who, while running the nation, finds time to shoot some hoops and watch an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. So don’t tell yourself that you’re too busy to have a social life. It’s not true. Make sure you “get a life!”


Going to medical school can be hazardous for your health. The highly demanding experience will take a huge toll on your overall well-being and you have no idea what you are about to get yourself into and the life you’ve signed up for. When you begin medical school, your health will probably be the first things that goes. What student has time to go to the gym three times a week and eat healthy meals? You do. Circling back to how you manage your time, by making some easy changes to your schedule, you can pencil in time to focus on your health. And as a matter of fact, not only do you have the time and ability to keep your health - mental and physical - it is your obligation. Your future depends on it. Take care of yourself. Before you step foot into medical school, make a promise to yourself that you will take care of yourself.

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Wichai Leesawatwong / 123RF Stock Photo

cover story

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If you’re like most premed students, the dream of being a physician is something that you’ve held in your heart for a good period of time. Perhaps you’ve been inspired by a physician role model in your life. Perhaps you’re fascinated by the expanding world of medicine—a career field that is constantly being updated with new and exciting discoveries. Or perhaps you fall under the category of “Premeds Inspired by Medical-Related TV Shows…”


Why going to medical school is still worth both the time and money

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hatever the reason for your inspiration to pursue a career in medicine, you probably also are aware of the many perks to the profession. Generally speaking, physicians are respected. They enjoy financially stable careers, and they can take satisfaction in knowing that their work is contributing positively toward society’s betterment. However, the life of a physician is definitely not all roses, and the downsides to the path to an MD are also hard to ignore. These cons understandably lead many premeds to question the value of a medical school degree, to wonder if it’s all really worth it. Arguably the greatest overarching “con” to a medical school degree is the initial financial burden. While in-state tuition at public medical schools is relatively affordable for many students, premeds typically can’t be too picky about where they end up attending med school. If they are only accepted to an out-of-state school or a private institution, they will most likely end up paying at least $50,000 per year in tuition alone. This cost (which is often even higher, depending on the school) does not cover living expenses, books, or enrollment and loan fees. Receiving scholarships for medical school is much more difficult than receiving them for undergraduate programs, and the government currently does not offer any subsidized loans for grad school either. Unless they have managed to save up a hefty sum of money prior to starting school or are fortunate enough to have family sponsors, med students attending non-state schools can easily find themselves graduating with well over $200,00 of debt. This sum will also have been accruing interest and may prove to be understandably financially stressful for any freshly graduated physician (particularly for those who have undergraduate loans also). Additionally, while the current future of the healthcare system in the United States is a hot topic for debates, it’s also a bit of a predicament for future doctors. The Affordable Care Act largely changes the way that the entire medical system’s structure will operate, and physicians and other healthcare workers will undoubtedly be affected in some way or another. However, exactly how the new regulations set to slowly roll into action through the Affordable Care Act will affect doctors’ remains largely a mystery. While many have spent hours speculating over the future of the healthcare industry in America, the fact remains that we simply don’t know… yet. We don’t know how changes to the current (and arguably somewhat flawed system) will affect physicians’ payrolls. We don’t know how the changes will affect doctors’ working hours. We don’t even know if/how long it will take before changes become fully implemented into the system, and we definitely don’t know how long those changes will last for. With this many unknowns hanging over the future of the medical careers in America, it’s easy to see why many premeds are growing unsure of the wisdom in pursuing their dreams of one day earning their MDs.


If the uncertainty regarding the particulars of the future of the medical industry in the United States wasn’t enough uncertainty to deal with, premeds and medical students today are also faced with

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the uncertainty of being able to successfully be “matched” to their desired residencies. In fact, medical students are starting to have to worry about whether or not they will even be “matched” at all—favorite residency or least desired residency included. This uncertainty has arisen due to the increasing number of MD programs in the United States (such as the newly opened University of California, Riverside School of Medicine), along with an increasing number of DO schools as well. The number of available residency spots, however, has not increased in proportion to the number of graduating medical students per year. Traditionally, unmatched fourth year medical students would be given the opportunity to participate in the “Scramble,” a process that would allow them to “scramble” to apply/be accepted to any remaining residency spots across the nation, regardless of whether or not they were for residencies to which they had initially applied. However, with the increasing number of medical students applying for the limited number of residency spots each year, it has been predicted that in several years the opportunity to participate in the “Scramble” will no longer be an option, as all spots will have already been filled. Without completing a residency program, a MD degree is practically useless.


On top of the already mentioned uncertainties, the fairly everpresent stress within the life of a medical student today can easily be considered reason enough to choose another career path. The speed at which med school instructors expect their student to learn has been compared to trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. While each medical school’s curriculum varies, the same basic topics must all be covered within the first two years of instruction, and the amount of material covered within each or these two years is significantly higher and more detailed than that of the classes covered in any years of undergraduate education. Studying to learn this amount of material is obviously stressful in and of itself, and most medical students are used to being at the top of their classes. Finding themselves struggling to even pass a course is often a new and terrifying experience, and when many of them experience failure on tests for the first times in their lives, the stress can seem overwhelming. The toll that medical school life takes on students has not gone unnoticed; various studies have been conducted to quantify the rate of depression among medical students, and while the numbers vary between studies (from around 12-20%), all of these studies conclude that the rate of depression among medical students is significantly higher than that of the general population. Finally, even though the life of a physician is often seen as one of ease by those viewing from the outside in, this illusion is sometimes far from the truth. Physicians, like many others, can be plagued by financial worries. Malpractice insurance is anything but cheap, and with legislation in on ballots to remove the caps for malpractice costs in some states (such as California), the cost may only skyrocket in future years. Additionally, even though their average salaries are higher than those of the general population, so is their average accumulated debt. The salary of physicians in residency has not increased proportionately to the rising cost of medical school tuition. This means that despite their best efforts, most physicians will still be paying off medical school loans long after they have completed their residencies. Doctors also typically work long hours—many of which may go unpaid due to difficulties with billing processes with insurance companies. Furthermore, the stress of the burden of being

enormous sums of loan money is possible and will most likely remain possible, regardless of how the future of healthcare plays out in America. Obviously, successfully paying off these loans in as little time as possible will require careful budgeting on the part of the borrower, but learning to be wise with a budget is never a bad quality to work on anyways. Furthermore, there are several different governmentsponsored medical school tuition (re) payment plans, including options to work in certain specialties in rural areas or in military branches. While these programs all require committing to a certain number of years of service in their specific areas in return for complete payment of all medical school loans, many students consider these options preferable to having to worry about making loan payments on their own for many years. Also, even though the logistics of healthcare in the United States will probably change within the very near future, the constant need for dedicated medical professionals will undoubtedly remain. If job security is determined by the demand for a service, then physicians will always have a secure field to practice in. Advancements will (hopefully) continue to be made in medicine, but these advancements will never be able to fully eradicate the sicknesses, diseases, and injuries that constantly plague society.

The costs vs. the dream

held responsible for the lives of patients can definitely take a toll on an individual’s mental health as well. These career stresses often spill over into a physician’s personal life, causing further undesirable difficulties.

Wichai Leesawatwong / 123RF Stock Photo

Is an MD really worth it?

With all these negatives aspects, it’s easy to see why premeds might find themselves questioning whether earning their MDs are really worth it or not. However, as just about any actual medical students and physicians will readily tell you, the perks of the profession still arguably far outweigh the cons. Many people search their whole lives for a career that brings them fulfillment and a sense of purpose in life. A career in medicine is one relatively sure way to find that purpose, particularly for individuals already passionate about blending science with care for humanity. Additionally, even though the looming loan repayment plans may seem extremely intimidating, premeds should realize that repaying

If your dream in life is to serve society as a physician, fears of the real costs of a medical school degree—fears of the costs both monetarily and mentally—should not be allowed to determine your future. Although these fears are legitimate, ways to overcome these issues still remain. If money is your main fear, then consider one of the previously mentioned loan repayment programs. If securing a residency spot worries you, then find peace in knowing that taking a year between graduation and residency to build your resume through paid research work is usually a back-up possibility. If you fear the toll of mental stress during medical school, then comfort yourself in knowing that many medical schools provide free counseling services to their students. Overall, even though the cost of a medical school degree may seem overwhelming at times, the benefits of successfully fulfilling your dreams for earning your MD degree are far greater. After all, you don’t want to someday look back on your life and think, “I wish I would have followed my dream to become a doctor…” Choosing to take the steps towards your MD now can help prevent those moments of regret later on.

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Shao-Chun Wang / 123RF Stock Photo

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“You want somebody who has knowledge about themselves.� Dr. Norma Wagoner is on the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine talks with Dr. Ryan Gray, host of the Medical School HQ Podcast to discuss the medical school admissions process, the interview, and what committees are actually looking for. September/October 2014 | PreMedLife Magazine |33

Dr. Norma Wagoner is on the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She has almost 30 years of experience in the admissions process. She graduate with a Ph.D. from Washington University School of Medicine and Anatomy and too her first job at Rush Medical College in Chicago. She has been the Dean of Admissions for multiple medical schools. She has a phenomenal breadth of knowledge about the application process, the interview process, and what medical schools are looking for on an application to get an interview and what the admissions committees are actually looking for during the interview process. Dr. Ryan Gray, host of the Medical School HQ Podcast had the chance to sit down and interview Dr. Wagoner for the nineteenth episode of the podcast. On the admissions process and what admissions committee members look for in an application: Committees are looking for candidates who have good critical thinking skills, they are excellent in quantitative reasoning, they like scientific inquiry. If an institution has a big research component or students are asked to do a mentored scholarly activity, you want them to have that capability. Communication skills. You want somebody who has got a knowledge of themselves and others; cultural competence in the last 4, or 5, or 7 years has become a really important aspect of what medical schools do. You want teamwork because that’s the direction medicine is heading. Obviously, ethical responsibilities, and you want people that can cope well and adapt and are reliable in what they have chosen to do. So, those are sort of a bunch of criteria that you put together. When I was the Dean of Admissions, we posted all the criteria we use online so applicants could see it. We handed out the interview form, because again, my goal always has been in demystifying this process. It’s challenging enough for students. They don’t need to be lacking in knowledge of what the school is trying to do coming into this process.

On whether “demystifying the process” helps the applicant before they come to an interview: Of course as an anatomist, I always look to see whether the pupils are dilated and how cold the hands are and sweaty. So, that gives me an instant message about the confidence of the student. I always see it as my goal to make that student as comfortable as they can be and allow them to do their best. I feel that’s a role and a responsibility of faculty interviewers because this is a high-stakes process for them, they spent time and money and a lot of energy to get where they are. That’s just a goal I have but certainly you like to feel that the more information you give out, the more comfortable students feel.

David Davies / Flickr

On whether GPA is better at determining a good medical student or MCAT is better at determining a good medical student: You used to look at predictors of success because that’s always been something that institutions are looking at. And the GPA, the undergraduate GPA, and aspects of the MCAT, although collectively they look at the combined number, gives indication of how well a student might do in the first two years and how they might do on Step 1. There is nothing that really predicts the third year. In the third year, the two areas that they know that they want information on are knowledge and professionalism, and those seem to be the factors that in the third year, if you’re passing information on to the residencies. If you can tell them about a student’s knowledge base, i.e., their critical thinking skills and all off the

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things that surround that and you can tell them about their professionalism, you are going to hit half of their competencies. And so that’s where they are seeing students who come with high values in those areas; they then can count on a greater degree of success.

There isn’t anything in the grades and the MCATs that says, “This is the end-all, be-all, and this will tell you who is going to be a great physician.” If you look at the applicant pool, for instance, the 2012 applicant pool, there were 45,266 applicants. Now, on average, students are going to submit about 14 applications and that’s been going up for the last several years. Now, when you have 14 applications from this number of total applicants, you are well over half a million applications in this process. But if you said, “Okay, how many people are actually matriculating to medical school?”, it’s just under 20,000

schools have the responsibility to narrow that group. Out of that 137, I think there are 54 medical schools that get between 5000 and 15,000 applications. So, how do you narrow that group of applications? Well, the initial weight goes to the grades and the MCATs, because that’s the only standard measure across the board for all applicants. Now, that’s where students wind up feeling that only the grades and the MCATs count. Admissions is a competitive process. There are no two ways about it. When you have close to 19,000 students or close to 20,000 students entering medical school, that means roughly half of the pool is going to be interviewed and the other half won’t. And so you begin sort of looking at the highest grades and the highest MCATs and as you review the application in total, you try to pick – because you’re doing a holistic admissions process – you’re trying to invite those top students first because all the schools are going to go after those students, and then you work your way down the process. So, when I am counseling students, I always say to them, “Look, if you got a 3.4 and a 30 in your combined MCATs, you are not going to be the first off the block they’re going to invite to interview. You are probably looking at January or February in an application year.” So, you try to give them some assurance that there is opportunity out there, but there are certainly a lot of students with high GPAs and high MCATs. Now, one of the things we do know about the GPA is that there is tremendous grade inflation and that’s been going on across the board. So, it sort of shifted the weight in some respects to the MCAT. Now, the MCAT does show success on those who can pass the step 1 and of course that’s a critical piece for students in being able to really get into residency anymore. I mean, that’s sort of the bottom line – they must pass that step 1 and they need to do it on the 1st time. On discussing poor grades or a poor MCAT score on the personal statement:

right now, but going to go up over the next couple of years with all the new medical schools. Right now in 2012 there are 137 medical schools. So, roughly 2.3 applications per position. So, medical

Applicants should not do that because they may be coming to an interview where it isn’t an open interview and you are just disclosing information and if asked about a grade or an MCAT, you want to be able yourself to practice that in advance, you want to present that to somebody, you want them to hear what you say so that it doesn’t come off as complaining, whining, blaming, or any of the above. I always say to students that there are circumstances that prevail and you have to be forthright and honest and you give out that information, but I think writing about it in your application, unless it were something... for instance, let’s say there was a tragedy in the family, but you might write about the tragedy in the family, the impact on you as a person, and allow the reader to deduce what happened academically. And if it’s sort of a singular time in the application and the student winds up doing better at the end, again, if they have access to the application, they may ask it. I think you introduce in the personal statement those things that you definitely want somebody to talk to you about but it’s very tricky to write those, very tricky. So, I always encourage students if there are circumstances that came up that enabled growth or change or challenges, it’s okay to write about those but leave the reviewer some opportunity to say “Oh, gee, that must have been terrible. There are things that must have happened during that time,” and you can say “Yes, it had a great impact on my grades,” or whatever. There are ways to bring it up but it’s subtle and it isn’t direct because writing about that is very tough.

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In my decade of working with MCAT students, the two biggest factors I’ve seen that lead to MCAT success are a good study buddy and a good attitude. So if working with a partner is essential, how do get the most out of the experience?

Don’t be afraid to “break up” if things aren’t going well. You’re not married to your study partner. If things aren’t working well for you, address the issue immediately and directly (but politely!!) Simply tell the other person, “I think our learning styles aren’t really meshing that well and I’d really prefer to study on my own. Good luck with your prep!” Your MCAT prep timeline will end up being pretty tight, and you don’t have time to waste with a partner that isn’t clicking well with you.

Give each other homework. The whole


MCAT Study Buddies The Best Way to Prep is Free, But Does Take Work By BRYAN SCHNEDEKER


e’ve all had that experience in college: the professor says “you’ll be doing this project in a group,” and you feel an inward moan. You just know you’ll spend the next three weeks dealing with lazy slackers. And in the end, you’ll have to do all the work yourself anyway. It’s no surprise that many MCAT students prefer to “go it alone” given those types of experiences in college. However, the MCAT is a very different animal than college tests or projects. Having a good MCAT study group or study buddy is essential to your success.

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point of a study buddy (or workout buddy, etc.) is to create accountability to someone other than yourself. At the end of every review session with your study partner, discuss what homework you’re going to be doing over the next several days. Some assignments should be set for both of you, “Okay so we’ll both take AAMC MCAT Test #5 before we meet on Friday” but then other assignments should be divided between you: “It’ll be my job to review this physics chapter on circuits and your job to review the biology chapter on the nephron.” After you’ve split up the homework, at the subsequent session, teach each other what you’ve reviewed. Any educator will tell you that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. One of the main reasons to have a study buddy is to have someone that you can teach material to. Which brings us to…

Teach each other the material.

One of the goals in finding a study partner should be to find someone who has different strengths and weaknesses than you. So if you’re a biology master but are terrible at general chemistry, you should try to find a partner who’s good at chem but weak a biology. The goal is not to have your partner teach you chemistry, but rather for you to teach him biology. It’s that act of teaching that will turn biology from a strength into something you’ve totally mastered. And finally, stay positive! Sure, there’s academic benefits of having a partner who can help you understand the material. But having a good study buddy also helps tremendously with the emotional support needed to get through such a huge challenge. Celebrate each others’ successes and commiserate over difficulties. Rely on your study partner to provide a sympathetic ear, and offer her one in return. In the end, success on the MCAT depends primarily on attitude and motivation. And attitude and motivation are best found with a good study partner or study group. Bryan Schnedeker is the National MCAT Director at Next Step Test Preparation, a company that specializes in 1-on-1 tutoring for the MCAT. Bryan has taught the MCAT for over a decade and has scored a 44 on the test himself.

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on’t discount rural medicine! This is my advice to all pre-med students out there. Let me explain why I feel this way. I was raised in a rural town in Georgia. However, I was of the same mindset that many small-town teenagers are. I would frequently think to myself, “as soon as I get the chance to leave, I’m going to a bigger city to make a good living for myself.” However, by the time I was ready to apply for medical school, a lot had changed. I had already worked in a factory for three years, had a wife, a child, and was very involved in the community from past service projects. I had now

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sunsurfr / flickr

By Joey Johnson

developed a deep love, respect, and appreciation for the small town atmosphere. Being that I was a non-traditional student, I had previous experience out in the school of hard knocks that really drove in the old cliché that “money isn’t everything.” I had experienced firsthand how people of rural areas are lacking for access to even basic medical care. It truly is a vastly different world in the rural area when it comes to accessibility. For this reason, I decided on practicing rural medicine. I was familiar with the people, their lifestyles, and the medical issues to which another physician unfamiliar with the area might not be keen. However, money was always an issue for me in college. Right I was beginning to have doubts about financing medical school because of the massive debt, I found out about a rural scholarship program. In short, I signed an agreement with the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce to work a year in a rural area of Georgia for each year they paid $20,000 to my medical school. What a great deal for someone interested in rural medicine anyway! Furthermore, about every state has a similar program. In some states, you don’t even have to be a resident to qualify for their loan repayment programs. While I understand the concern for some students that locking themselves into a rural contract may be equivalent to them signing away earning potential, I ask them to look at the bigger picture. Let’s take a hypothetical situation where student doctor A and student doctor B are both graduating. Student A signed a rural contract and student B did not. If both students went to the same school and had no outside financial assistance other than loans and the rural scholarship, then student doctor A would have $80,000 less in loans upon graduation. Furthermore, this means Student A has much less interest to pay as well. Student doctor B would have to make a significant amount more to make up for this gap. So again, please do not discount rural medicine! Not only does a great need exist, but also, it may be the best financial decision you could make as a medical student.

Joey Johnson is a second year medical student at Lincoln Memorial University - DCOM. He is Class President, CEO of a company that provides various free services to rural areas, and owner of He plans to go into family practice in Georgia as an osteopathic physician, and his is also an avid NFL fan.

September/October 2014 | PreMedLife Magazine |39

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the anti-freshman 15 Train. Hard. Achieve Twitter: @thafitnessgroup


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

Here We Go Organ Pillow

Well, you’ve done it again - spruced up your space with pieces like this anatomy-themed pillow in a way that fills your fellow science-loving friends with envy! You keep this grey pillow on your couch, and look forward to ‘organ’-izing your thoughts after a long day while leaning back onto its illustrated motif of a human brain, throat, heart, and lungs.



Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You Journal Catalog an entire year of bold, brave acts inside this thoughtful paperback journal! Just like the cover, which features a quote by one of the fiercest first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt, every page of this daily diary encourages you to seize the day with an inspiring axiom from a historical icon.

u 42 | PreMedLife Magazine | September/October 2014

Body of Work Notebook Set Tuck your thoughts into these pseudoscienceinspired notebooks by Cavallini & Co.! Embellish your ideas with this trio of pocket-sized pads, which are loaded with old-timey info on the mind and body.

Message In A Bottle Flash Drive

This tiny bottle USB drive lets you capture that bygone romance in our modern, electronic age. It provides a charming way for you to pass notes or share playlists, as well as being an imaginative place to store your important digital documents— keeping your best ideas sealed freshly inside.


u Big Head Memo Pad

When it comes to keeping up with deadlines, you know you’ve got to use your noggin. But when your mind is already brimming with todos, stay on track by using his head instead!

The Only Constant Is Change Desk Clock


When life feels like it’s constantly in flux, this pewter desk clock’s provocative paradox offers a moment of comforting clarity, time after time. In lieu of ordinary numerals, it features the wisdom of Greek philosopher Heraclitus (THE ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE) in a continuous, contemplative loop.

September/October 2014 | PreMedLife Magazine |43


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

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.

Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change to world.”” HARRIET TUBMAN, was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War

“Cherish your visions and your dreams

as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” NAPOLEON HILL was an American author in the area of the new thought movement.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

STEVE JOBS , was an American entrepreneur, marketer, and inventor.

“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective

Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials and methods. Third, adjust all of your means to that end.” ARISTOTLE, was a Greek philosopher and scientist.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk,

if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

44 | PreMedLife Magazine | September/October 2014

It Takes Some Courage, But Saving Money Is Worth The Leap.

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September/October 2014  

The Lifestyle Magazine for Pre-Medical Students; In This Issue: Why Medical School Is Still Worth It; A Pre-Med's Guide to Back-To-School; R...

September/October 2014  

The Lifestyle Magazine for Pre-Medical Students; In This Issue: Why Medical School Is Still Worth It; A Pre-Med's Guide to Back-To-School; R...