UGAPreMed a magazine for uga pre-med students
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Whatâ€™s Inside? 17
10 How to Stay Sane
And Balance the Pre-Med Life
Deciding on a Major The Ultimate Quest
How to Stay Healthy
Cracking the MCAT
04 15 07 16 08 17 10 18 12 20
PharmDawg Travelogue How to Form A Good Relationship With Your Professor
Volunteer Experiences How to Survive
Large Lecture Classes
Why I Love Science
www.premedmag.com | facebook: premedmag | twitter: UGAPreMedMag
Writers Sheila Bhavsar Laurence Black Carley Borrelli Sarah Caesar Muaaz Masood Swayamdipto Misra Emily Myers Cathrina Nauth Nina Paletta Abigail Shell
Faculty Advisor Dr. Leara Rhodes Editor in Chief Shajira Mohammed Managing Editor Aashka Dave Design/Photo Editor Christine Byun Designers Lauren Foster Gloria Jen Tammy Luke Business Editor Neha Gupta Associate Editors David Kupshik Erica Lee Selin Odman Promotions Editor Kathleen LaPorte
Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
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Public Relations Hannah Kim Sona Sadselia
Editor’s Note It’s a new year at The University of Georgia! A few short weeks ago, we all came to campus with the zeal to accomplish our goals. I remember when I first visited UGA and saw campus. I was awestruck by its grandeur and fell in love. I immediately knew UGA would not only be my home for the next four years but also the place where I can become the person I strive to be. This month’s issue of PreMed Magazine focuses on helping you to pursue your aspirations and to become the student you strive to be. When our editorial board first discussed the Back to School issue, we immediately wanted to publish articles about those topics we wish we had been able to read, instead of finding out in other less appetizing ways. Carley Borelli and Nina Paletta cover topics such as keeping your mind and body healthy with UGA-centric tips. For those who are taking entrance exams this year, Muaaz Masood refreshes us on the importance of preparing for the MCAT. We know school is not all about going to class; therefore, Swayamdipto Misra shares his secrets on getting the most out of your volunteer experience, while Rose Shaber explores a relatively little known form of study music. I hope this month’s issue gives you the insight and advice that helps you reach those very dreams you saw when you first stepped foot on campus. As the saying goes, “the good stuff is always worth the work it takes.”
Shajira Mohammed Editor-in-Chief
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and balance the premed life Sixteen hours of class. Research lab. Extracurricular after extracurricular. Volunteer work. Friends. Sleep. Tests. Homework. Applications. Welcome back to school! BY: NINA PALETTA
It seems as though as soon as you arrive back on the University of Georgia campus,
you have to hit the ground running. As a pre-med student, you know that you have a daunting task at hand – to make yourself stand out to medical school admissions boards when the time comes. You know you have to have stellar grades, a course load that rivals something that Einstein would have taken in his prime and an impressive resume filled with leadership roles, volunteer work and research galore. This feat may sound easy for, say, a robot – robots do not need to eat or sleep or decompress at the end of the day. But what about us poor, normal non-mechanical pre-med souls? Not only do we have to balance all things scholastic, but we also have our social and mental needs. I can tell you right now, if you sit and work 24/7 like the medical school admissions boards
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standards seem to dictate, you will go a little nutty. So what’s the key? How can you be the star student and keep your sanity? Throughout high school, I was always able to manage my time well; but when the nitty-gritty of my pre-med years hit, I found myself floundering. Some people will get overwhelmed and go overboard with their social lives. Other people (like myself) will throw themselves into their academics and somehow forget to come up for air. Yet another group of people will be consumed by extracurriculars in the attempts to build the ultimate resume. In the throes of premedical training, it seems as though rationalism and logical thinking are thrown out of the window so that the impossible can be achieved.
“If you try to take genetics, cellular biology, and biochemistry in the same semester, you will cry. Every day.” Health takes a back seat. Sleep becomes a foreign concept. The balance of all of these aspects that make up a pre-med student is not something that comes easily. I still find myself struggling with it sometimes and I am in my last year as an undergraduate student. As elusive as this balance may be, however, it is possible. The key is more than just timemanagement. The key to keeping your sanity when your pre-med career is in full swing is acceptance, delegation and self-preservation. I may not be an expert, but through my time as a premedical student at the University of Georgia, I have discovered some of tricks to keeping your sanity. As counterintuitive as some may sound, you will thank me later: 1. Sleep is your best friend. I know everyone says that. You are probably so sick of people telling you to get sleep; but sleep is probably the biggest key to success you will ever find. As premedical students, we sometimes comply with such frivolous statements until we know the scientific “why” mechanism showing the benefit, so here is why:
Studies have shown that sleep is an important aspect of the learning process both in information acquisition and consolidation. Dr. Robert Stickgold, a sleep division specialist at Harvard Medical School, has shown that sleep both before and after trying to learn new information is essential. If the brain is too fatigued from lack of sleep before information is presented, the memory circuits that cause new information to be processed will not be working
at full capacity. This causes a decrease in the amount of information that can be taken in at one time. Also, after the new information has been presented, the brain needs time to process the new memories. Declarative memories are stored by changing the way that neurons interact with one another in the hippocampus and other areas of the temporal lobe. Sleep allows the body to transform the initial neuronal signals into stable, strong neuronal connections to create the declarative memories.
Since this is the case, be sure to get your sleep. Do not be afraid of naptime. Make up for all of those times you fought naptime in kindergarten and sleep if you are tired during the day (just, please, make sure you are not in class). Do not pull the double all-nighter you think you can handle. If things are not getting done, do what you can and give up for the night. Accept that you cannot possibly do everything there is to do in one given day and get some sleep. You will be able to better recall information and have the ability to get more out of class when you do.
2. Choose your schedule wisely. Yes, there are certain classes that you need to take. Yes, you need to take some classes before others. You do not, however, need to take them all at once. Overloading yourself with too many difficult classes in one semester is one of the biggest mistakes you can avoid. Although you may start off with wonderful intentions (“I’ll have more than enough time to get everything done!
It won’t be as hard as I think it’s going to be!” Sound familiar?), you need to expect classes to be more involved than you anticipate. The reading will take longer. The writing assignments will take more research. Studying for two or three tests you have on the same day will take more than an afternoon. Give yourself more time than you think you need. Only take two intensive science classes per semester if need be. If you try to take genetics, cellular biology, and biochemistry in the same semester, you will cry. Every day. And that is neither fun nor healthy. Make sure you have some fun classes sprinkled in with the hard stuff. That is what electives are for, right? Once you make your schedule, set a study plan. Create a schedule for the week that sets aside time for that big homework assignment or that test that is on the horizon. If you have a set study plan, you will be more likely to stick to it and less likely to be overwhelmed. 3.Reevaluate and delegate when it comes to extracurriculars. One of the perks of going to a college like the University of Georgia is the plethora of extracurriculars oozing from the campus’ pores. Everywhere you look there is a poster, flyer or email advertising a different club or organization for you to consider joining. That being said, this can also be one of the most detrimental things for a pre-
“The key is more than just time management.”
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med student. Even though it might seem like medical school admissions boards want you to be involved in everything under the sun, it is not possible. Let me repeat that – IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO DO EVERYTHING. Pick a few extracurriculars that you are passionate about and become involved with those. Medical schools want to see your deep commitment to a few organizations, not flippant, occasional participation in every organization you come across. If you feel like you are already in too deep and have overcommitted yourself, take a step back and reevaluate. Don’t really care about a particular club anymore? Stop attending the meetings. Took on too many leadership positions and are drowning? Delegate the work if you can, or talk to someone in the organization so that everything can get accomplished. You cannot take on everything thrown at you, so pick and choose the things you see as most important.
4. Make sure to have a support system. There is nothing easy about being a premed student. There is nothing easy about being a pre-med student. It involves long hours in the library, difficult classes of which some people cannot even pronounce the names and sacrificing some of the “typical college” experiences to get you where you want to end up – medical school. For most, the long hours and difficult classes will eventually take their toll. You will get frustrated and overwhelmed sometimes and that is okay – it happens to all of us! What helps us through is having a strong support system behind you. Friends, family, classmates – you need to have people who understand and who are on your side for the bad days. At the end of the day, sometimes you just need a hug or a kind word to help encourage you through what is the hardest thing you have tried to accomplish thus far in your life. Do not try to take it on alone. 5. Schedule in some “you time.” This is what I struggled with the most. Even though you need to work extremely hard to keep your grades up and work with extracurriculars and volunteer
organizations, you need to make sure that your mental health is taken care of, too. Like I said before, if you drive yourself into the ground by working 24/7, you will go crazy. It is not healthy for you to throw yourself into your academics and volunteer work and never come up for air. Remember, you are still in college, pre-med or not. Be sure to take some time off. Go home if you need to. Spending months away from your family is hard on anyone; and if that is combined with the stress of a pre-medical regiment, it needs to be addressed every now and again. Take spontaneous trips with your friends. Go see that concert that you have been fantasizing about since you were a teenager. Everyone’s going to that party? Go with them. Let loose. Having some health issues? Take a “mental health” day. Go get a massage. Lay in bed all day and watch TV every now and again. Let yourself decompress. We are not robots. We need to have human interaction and let ourselves de-stress in order to stay sane. Do not forget to live your life. No one said pre-med was easy. There are days when you are going to wonder why you wanted to do it in the first place. However, if you can remember the keys to staying sane, you will be able to get through it in one piece. You will be a doctor someday, and you will look back on this time in your life and smile, even though it seems hard now. Just remember - even robots need to recharge their batteries at the end of the day. Do not forget to recharge yours.
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BIOCHEMISTRY. BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES. ARTS & SCIENCES. CHEM HEALTH PROMOTIONS. KINESIOLOGY. LIFE SCIENCES. MICROBIOL SOLUTIONS. GLOBAL HEALTH. NURSING. BIOTECHNOLOGY, CHEM ENGINEERING, CONSERVATION BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY, MEDICI CHEMISTRY, SOCIAL WORK, PSYCHOLOGY, physics, nutrition, BIO BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES. ARTS & SCIENCES. CHEMISTRY. HEALTH PR KINESIOLOGY. LIFE SCIENCES. MICROBIOLOGY. HEALTH SOLUTION GLOBAL HEALTH. NURSING. BIOTECHNOLOGY, CHEMICAL ENGIN CONSERVATION, CHEMISTRY, SOCIAL WORK, PSYCHOLOGY, physic BIOCHEMISTRY. BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES. ARTS & SCIENCES. CHEM HEALTH PROMOTIONS. KINESIOLOGY. LIFE SCIENCES. MICROBIOL SOLUTIONS. GLOBAL HEALTH. NURSING. BIOTECHNOLOGY, CHEM ENGINEERING, CONSERVATION BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY, MEDICI
Deciding on a Major
Coming into college, some people immediately know what major they intend to pursue, some are not so sure and others think they know what major they want to earn and then end up changing their minds. Deciding on a major can be incredibly stressful. After all, the major you choose does, to some extent, begin the path to your career. Is it even possible to make such an important decision?
The first thing to remember is that a chosen major should bring out your inner nerd. It needs to inspire passion, spark interest and promote happiness. Without these things, you will find it dull and difficult to study for classes and your future career will probably end up an unrewarding one. Even though other people -- be they your parents, older siblings or career counselors -- may be pushing a different major because it leads to more “success,” your major will ultimately determine your life. Only you know what will make you happiest, and that happiness is essential to your future success. That being said, there will probably be classes that are difficult no matter which major you choose. You should not necessarily change your major because you find the coursework difficult. Rather, you should decide whether or not you think your future career is worth the effort or if you will be miserable doing
similar work in the future. If you find that to be the case, give some thought to finding a major that leads to the careers you think are worth the extra effort and you could see yourself enjoying in the future. The first major you pick does not necessarily have to be the major with which you choose to stay. If you do decide to change majors, visit the offices of the area of study you are interested in, speak to someone about the requirements for the major and look at what the courses offered on the University bulletin (www. bulletin.uga.edu).
“Being happy studying your major and being happy in your career is essential to success”
If you are worried about finding a job in your area of interest, many resources exist which can guide you in discovering available, compatible jobs. One such University resource is the Career Center (www.career.uga.edu). They also have an office on the second floor of Clark Howell Hall on the University’s main campus. Visiting either the Center’s website or office will provide information on internships, part-time and full-time jobs
in your area of interest and what you can do with different majors.
And specifically for those you interested in medical school: the type of major you pursue is not a determining factor in your acceptance now. You do not have to major in biology, chemistry or genetics to get accepted. Most importantly, you should to take the classes that will help you do well on the MCAT (the PreMed orientation session, your academic advisor and the PreMed Magazine website –premedmag. org- will tell you what classes these are) and to choose a major that is challenging but in which you will do well. Both doctors and other individuals who work in medical school admissions offices have said that medical school admissions boards like to see unique majors on applications. However, if you do love the biology, chemistry or other hard sciences, a major in one of these fields will not prevent you from being accepted. Remember, the road to medical school is long and difficult and choosing a major you enjoy will make the journey a better one.
premed magazine at uga | September 2013
How to Stay
By: Carley Borrelli
Living on your own and having access to the unlimited meal plan, downtown nightlife, and weed-out classes can cause high levels of stress for new, wide-eyed freshman. It is important to figure out early on how to balance all aspects of your life in college so you’re not regretting your choices as finals roll around. Below, there are several easy tips to help manage stress, eat well, and leave you time to enjoy the college experience. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, college students are getting an average of 8.5 hours of sleep per night. While this might be true for some of us, there are many students that survive on five or less hours of sleep a night. It is important to aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every night to try and balance out the occasional all-nighter you might pull before a test.
Creating a routine for yourself will help you balance and divide your time well. By setting aside time to study for your classes, hang out with friends, and hit the gym, you will decrease your stress and feel much more relaxed.
When heading to the dining hall, try and make healthier choices. It can be tempting to always order a cof-
fee from OHouse or grab a cookie or two on your way out, but these sugary choices can add up. Try and replace the cookie with an apple or banana and have milk or water with your meal instead.
While it can be tempting, it’s never a good idea to skip class. Especially if the class size is small, it can be extremely disrespectful to professors if students are not coming to class. Research has shown that attendance is statistically significant in explaining class grade, and students who miss class frequently significantly increase their odds of earning a poor grade. If this hasn’t convinced you, some teachers require an attendance policy, so make sure you review the syllabus before you decide to play hooky. Take advantage of the variety of exercise activities at Ramsey. They hold workout classes every day, have a track above the basketball courts, and there are separate workout rooms for girls and guys. It is important to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you’re having trouble sticking to it, invite a friend along so you can have someone there to exercise with and motivate you.
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There are hundreds of organizations on campus for literally anything you can think of. It’s a good idea to try out a couple of organization you’re interested in your first year. They’re a great way to meet new people that share a similar interest and involve yourself in something you are passionate about.
Instead of taking the bus between classes, try to walk as much as you can. It may be difficult to do if you have two back-to-back classes on north and south campus, but if you have the time, it’s a great way to increase your exercise and get your blood pumping!
If you don’t already have one, buy a water bottle and carry it with you on campus. There are plenty of places to fill it up on campus and water is a refreshing and cheaper alternative to sugary drinks. For those students that are commuting or living off-campus, the UGA Health Center has a nutrition kitchen where they host cooking classes a few times a semester. The class costs five dollars, and you get to eat what you cook. They also have an easy take-home recipe for you to make it yourself at home. If you’d rather pick your recipe from their extended list, you can reserve a special
e “...replace th an cookie with a...” n a n a b r o e appl
class for you and five of your friends. Most people don’t know that there is a Quiet Reflection Room in Tate that is open to all students. It is suggested that students use this quiet space for brief prayer, meditation or individual reflection for 10 minutes. This room is located in the hallway between old and new Tate, and is a great place to recharge.
If you find yourself struggling or just need someone to talk to, contact UGA CAPS (Counseling and Psychiatric Services). The cost was included in your student fees, so it’s free to set up an appointment, and it’s a great resource for stress and life management. They offer short-term individual, group counseling, psychological assessment, and other services.
I hope these tips offer you some good advice at succeeding in college and you decide to incorporate some of them into your daily life!
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WORK Smarter, NOT HARDER By: Cathrina Nauth
o it’s that time of the year again. A new semester has begun and we all return to our tightly packed schedules. As you rush from your biology lecture to your job, then back to your room to start all of that homework you have, while thinking of what you’re going to eat for dinner, you wonder whether you are exceeding the human work capacity. You begin to anticipate changing your work schedule, leaving organizations, or even dropping classes because it’s just all too overwhelming! However, there is an alternative - work smarter, not harder. The phrase “work smarter, not harder,” is such an overstated adage that has probably lost its meaning, causing us to ignore it. If this sounds like you, maybe it is time to reexamine the phrase- look at it in a new light. We go through our lives, day by day, feeling as if we don’t have time to do everything we want to do. This can affect our grades, friendships, and stress levels. But sometimes, you just need to step back and reexamine everything. Think carefully choosing courses, while reexamining your time management skills with these tips. 1. Choose the right courses Don’t take unnecessary classes that will throw you off track for graduating on time. (Your parents might not be too happy about having to pay that 5th or 6th year tuition.) In order to make sure you are taking the right classes, talk to advisors or upperclassmen with your major or pre-professional program. Also, join related organizations through the Center for Student Organizations. It’s a great way to stay on track and meet people with advice about courses or professors.
2. Don’t look for the easy A classes GPA requirements on prerequisites and scholarships puts a lot of pressure on students to maintain high GPAs, but you want to make the most out of your time here at UGA. So, if you have credit from an AP course in high school, do not retake the class to make an “easy A.” Retaking classes you already have credit for, simply for a GPA boost only takes away from your time that you could use to join organizations, study abroad, or take a variety of classes.
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3. Spread out your schedule Packing each semester with an overwhelming amount of difficult courses will only leave you wanting to give up. You know your strengths and weaknesses, so this should help you in your decision in scheduling classes. For instance, if you struggle with science courses, taking three science courses and their labs may not be a good idea for one semester, no matter how fast you want to get them over with.
4. Avoid procrastination “Time to study” should not be translated as “open tabs with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube while having an open book nearby.” Take it as it literally is. Actually study. Shut off the world for a while and concentrate. Procrastination only causes your work to pile up, causing you to be working on homework until the sun goes down and comes up again. Avoid this by simply forcing yourself to ignore all distractions. This is easier said than done, but practice makes perfect, and after a while, you’ll find hours magically added into your previously quick and hectic days. 5. Make a list of tasks Have an agenda, make a list on a sticky note, put it in your phone, anything. Just make a list of tasks that needs to be done. This will avoid that feeling of sudden anxiety when you finally lay down in your bed and you remember that you have that five page essay due tomorrow, and all you have on it is your name. Add tasks to your list as they come up. It even helps to cross out the ones you are done with. It gives you a slight feeling of accomplishment.
6. Don’t make it harder than it is Step back, breathe, take your day one step at a time. Don’t over think anything. After you organize your day, follow that schedule, and leave space for unexpected events that may come up. Follow your plan and don’t stress. Remember, slow progress is still progress.
7. Cramming never works in the long run Studying a few sections each night will help you retain a lot more information that trying to cram everything in the night before. It may work for that one test, but think of all the studying you’ll have to do when final exams roll around. Remember, college isn’t all about grades; it’s about learning towards a career, so it’s important to actually know what you’re doing. 8. Actively read What’s the point of reading your textbook like a novel when it’s not one? There’s no storyline, no major characters, nothing. So read it like it should be read. Highlight, take notes, test yourself, do practice problems and make sure you understand everything!
9. Study in groups Sometimes, studying in groups can help you retain the information better because you are saying the information aloud. Also, everyone has different skills, so different people may be able to explain different ideas. But, be careful with group studying because it can lead to unrelated conversations, making your study time a lot longer than it should have been! 10. Get involved, but not too much Graduate schools and potential employers do want to see that you are able to branch out, socialize, and do a variety of tasks. But, don’t overwhelm yourself. Find a few organizations that you are really interested in- not the ones that you think will look good on an application- and dedicate yourself to it. Showing strong dedication to a few organizations is more important than trying to be a part of every organization on campus.
All of these tips are crucial, yet easier said than done. The best way to make sure you have a successful semester is to start building these habits now. It’s a new school year- a fresh start. So take the necessary courses, join all the organizations you want to be a part of, redefine yourself and make the most of the “new” you. There is no longer a reason to give off that “I’m busy all the time” vibe. Enjoy your college years. But, don’t wait until midterms roll around to start practicing these tips. Start building your habits early and success will ultimately follow. premed magazine at uga | September 2013
the By: Muaaz Masood
MCAT Daunting does not begin to describe how premedical students view the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which is required by all 126 medical schools in the United States.
The MCAT, which has been a crucial component to the medical school admissions process for over 80 years, is a standardized, timed, multiple-choice format test. It is dubbed the most difficult of any other graduate school entrance examinations, including the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), to name a few. At five and a half hours in length, it is also the longest graduate school entrance exam. What makes the MCAT notorious for its difficulty and the cause of many premedical studentsâ€™ anxiety? To answer this question, we must first delve into how the MCAT is structured.
The test consists of three sections: Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and Biological Sciences. An optional Trial Section, which contains experimental questions for future MCAT examinations and does not count towards your score, may also be taken at the end. The science sections, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, are structured similarly. Both sections contain a total of 52 questions--seven passage-based question sets and 13 independent questions, and each science section is given a 70 minute time limit. The Verbal Reasoning portion is somewhat different. Forty questions are asked based on seven passages,that are approximately 600 words each. A 60 minute time limit is given for this secti. So what is it about the MCAT that makes it so challenging? There are several factors which contribute to the overall difficulty of the exam.
Time is a crucial component during the MCAT. The time allotted for each section may seem generous, but when taking into account the time it takes to read the passages and questions, to recall information from memory and to choose the correct answer, it is easy to see how a time limit adds to the difficulty of the test.
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It is best to spend no more than 1 minute and 20 seconds per question. Mastering the 80-second suggested pace requires lots of practice.
Another issue many students face is the immense amount of content covered on the MCAT. The exam requires introductory knowledge of physics, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and verbal reasoning—approximately two to three college years’ worth of information.
Although there is a fair amount of content that students must know, the MCAT does not simply test whether or not facts and concepts can be recalled. Rather, the MCAT presents ideas within a context often unfamiliar to most students. For example, the MCAT may test a physics’ concept of electromagnetism by presenting this concept in a passage about the workings of an MRI machine. This method of presentation requires the examinee to not only be familiar with an idea, but also show his or her ability to successfully apply the idea in an unfamiliar situation—a skill that, again, must be practiced. After looking at what makes the MCAT so difficult, how should anxious premedical students go about preparing for this test?
Fortunately, there are several options available. A popular choice for many students is to enroll in a commercial test preparation course, such as those offered by The Princeton Review, Kaplan, Examkrackers, Berkeley Review, etc. While enrolling in a prep course is expensive, averaging approximately $2,000, the course does provide students lecture-style instruction that covers frequently tested material. Furthermore, prep courses provide a plethora of resources including prep books, videos, practice MCAT tests, and more. Many
students prefer these courses because they are an excellent way to keep on track with a defined study schedule. Students enrolled in prep course, also benefit from having an instructor to ask questions and explain misconceptions.
There are other ways to prepare, such as independent study. People who believe that they can form and follow their own study schedule often purchase test prep materials from friends or third-party sellers. The choice simply depends on you—your course load, your extracurricular activities, your study ethic, and your level of determination. Both test prep courses as well as independent studying are equally as effective in achieving a good score as long as a study schedule is regularly followed. One of the costliest mistakes a student can make is to procrastinate studying. Remember, the MCAT requires four to five months of review and practice on average. It is not a test for which you can afford to procrastinate.
The good news is that the MCAT is meant to be a fair assessment, and with sufficient hard work, motivation and lots of practice, a competitive score on the MCAT can be achieved. It is key to remain on track whilst studying for the MCAT, it is also important to not overwork yourself. Taking small breaks from studying and going for a run or socializing with friends, for instance, have been proven to be effective in reenergizing and refocusing your mind. While the MCAT is an arduous test, receiving a competitive score is highly rewarding. Remember, the MCAT is one of the last and most important steps in actualizing your dream of becoming a physician. premed magazine at uga | September 2013
PharmDawg Travelogue by Abigail Shell
Every year holds new adventures and surprises, some more significant than others, and these memorable ones tend to be the ones we hold closest to our hearts. For me, this past summer began one such year. In April, I found out that I had been accepted into UGA’s College of Pharmacy; in May, I finished O-Chem and watched my little sister graduate high school; and the day after her graduation, I boarded an airplane bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Over the course of five weeks, I interned at Hospital Garrahan in the city and took Spanish classes at the University of Palermo, returning home just in time to make my final preparations for my first day of pharmacy school. What inspired this series of events? What impact have these experiences had? I invite you to journey with me through my transition from pre-Pharmacy undergrad to Class of 2017 PharmD Candidate in the hope that the lessons I learned may offer you guidance as well.
The summer after my freshman year, when I traveled across the United States with Give Back(packing), I decided that a career in pharmacy, not journalism, was the path I intended to take. Under the strain of a heavy course load and faced with the lengthy process necessary to acquire a pharmaceutical technician’s license, I was unable to work in a pharmacy during my second year, but as I completed the application for UGA’s College of Pharmacy, I realized that some such experience was necessary. At the same time, I decided to continue to pursue a Spanish minor and resolved to finish as much of it as possible before pharmacy school. Together, these two ambitions led me to the UGA en Buenos Aires program. One of the only travel-study programs that offers a medical internship for course credit, UGA en Buenos Aires proved to be more rewarding than I had ever expected. Not only was I able to work in a clinical setting but I also gained the experience of
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“I decided that a career in pharmacy, not journalism, was the path I intended to take.” commuting long distances and mastering public transportation, two vital skills of city life. The hospital in which I worked was called Hospital Garrahan, and it was a free pediatric hospital, designed to serve the underprivileged citizens of Buenos Aires as well as any foreigners who could not afford the city’s main hospitals. Interaction with this demographic was not something I or any of the other interns from the program had previously experienced and the opportunity to talk with some of these families showed us the importance of both the work we were doing and the necessity of always treating our patients with respect. In the hospital, I shadowed the head of residents in the pharmacy. I went on rounds in the oncology ward with her and toured both the compounding and IV labs. Additionally, I attended seminars with the pharmaceutical residents. During this time, I learned not only about the various pharmaceutical practices within the hospital but also about the structure of pharmaceutical education in Argentina. Contrary to what I had previously believed, their system is much like ours. For three years they study didactically, and in the fourth year, they have a series of rotations. Combined with the similarities in their hospitals’ technology and organization, this explanation of their certification process chastised me for any mental conclusions I may have jumped to before making the trip and taught me the value of approaching every situation with an open mind.
When I returned from Buenos Aires, preparation kicked into high gear. I had received my acceptance letter to UGA’s College of Pharmacy back in April, but due to the stress of finals and packing for my trip, I had not had a chance to get ready for my first day as a professional student. Because I had taken my undergraduate classes at UGA, I was familiar with the campus and the inner workings of OASIS and Parking Services. What I
lacked, however, was a sufficient supply of business clothes. At orientation, Dr. Wolgang explained how every Wednesday was “Professional Dress Day,” a day for the entire college to present themselves as they would as a working pharmacist. In direct contrast to the undergraduate staples of Chaco’s, gym shorts, and oversized t-shirts, this dress code served as a physical testament to our new status as professional students. After orientation, the only item left on our To-Do list was the White Coat ceremony, upon completion of which we were dressed, pressed and ready for our first day.
What a first day it was! Schedules and books in hand, we all filed into our lecture hall, but unlike undergrad, we did not have to hike from building to building between classes since all of our classes were conducted in the same room. Over the course of our first week, we ordered name tags and fitted lab coats (for the girls), learned about the structure of our PCL vs. Anatomy labs, and began joining organizations. By our third week, we had conquered our first major test and begun to master our rather complicated schedules. Although our first few days were a bit hectic, by this point in the semester, we have all come to feel quite at home in our lab coats. If there is one thing I have learned so far during this rather memorable year, it is the need to appreciate every moment and to stay on top of my schedule. Not only did Buenos Aires dramatically improve my Spanish but it also gave me the practical experience and confidence I needed to step boldly into the next chapter of my life. I do not know what path you are on, but in whatever direction you stride, I challenge you to push your boundaries. Adventure will knock, but only you can open the door. You never know what you might learn about yourself, and besides, it makes for one impressive interview answer.
HOW TO: FORM A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PROFESSOR It’s true—no one likes the kid who is always trying to buddy-up to every professor, but where else can positive, solid recommendations come from when it is time to apply to graduate programs? BY: LAURENCE BLACK
“Don’t be a teacher’s pet.” This is a phrase that most students hear throughout their academic careers. To an extent, it’s true—no one likes the kid who is always trying to buddy-up to every professor, but where else can positive,prestigious recommendations come from when it is time to apply to graduate programs? Be covert. Follow these simple rules and no one will notice that you are an undercover teacher’s pet. However intimidating it may be to sit front and center in a huge lecture hall, it always comes in handy. Sitting in front allows the professor to remember your face. Seeing a familiar face every day means that they will be more likely to interact with you before, during or after class. Furthermore, sitting in the front allows them to see that you are paying attention and making an effort. However, you must be careful because sitting in front of the professor’s face means that he will also be more able to see you texting or playing on Facebook.
Additionally, if you are going to sit in front of the class, be prepared to answer questions when they are asked. Always do the homework and read the book. Professors find nothing more frustrating than rooms full of students who have no idea what is going on. Be that beacon of light in the sea of blank stares. Your professor will remember it. The next key step in being a covert teachers pet is regularly attending office hours. Professors are a far less intimidating when you are with them on
a one-on-one basis. Just because your professor is twice your age and their name is followed by “MD, PhD,” does not mean that professors are not people too. More often than not, they are happy to know that you are excited to learn and more than willing to help when you are struggling. Through office hours, you can also work to develop a more personal relationship with your professor, allowing them to get to know you as a person. This will prove helpful when you are scrambling for recommendations later in your college career.
Finally, always be inquisitive. Show your professor that you have a thirst to learn. A positive attitude will benefit you in the best of ways -- even in the dullest of subjects. Not only will your professor be impressed that you are awake, but you will also be more likely to remember the material when a test inevitably rolls around. Most of the time, the classes that are the hardest to pay attention in are the ones that will come back and haunt you on graduate admissions tests such as the MCAT or the PCAT. It is possible to be a star student without antagonizing your professor. All it takes is proper seating and a little academic effort. As a bonus, you will learn a lot in the process, make better grades and truly enhance your collegiate experience.
Make the Most of Your Volunteer Experience By: Swayamdipto Misra Walking into a hospital can be an overwhelming experience for just about anyone, but it can be particularly stressful for new volunteers. These volunteers can be identified by their slack-jawed expressions as they gape at nurses running down the hallway alongside bedridden critical patients or at the flight team rushing to the helicopter to fly to patients. Volunteering at a hospital is not just answering calls at nurseâ€™s stations or helping wheel handicapped patients down to the exit ramp. If done correctly, it can be an immensely satisfying experience that will give the volunteers a taste of what being a healthcare professional entails.
The number one quality a volunteer should possess in order to have the most informative experience is an openness to whatever may be asked of them. Every task that a volunteer is asked to do is important, even if it may seem mundane or boring at times. Volunteers are at the bottom of hospital totem pole, and like bottom feeders everywhere, they are expected to clean up the little jobs and tasks. They have the least responsibility because they are not usually qualified and have no experience in
doing anything else. Least responsibility, however, does not mean no responsibility; lives are still at stake.
Volunteers are given jobs that offer them a chance to learn about health care from a bottom-up perspective. Maybe in the midst of organizing paperwork and stamping countless files, a volunteer will achieve sudden enlightenment and realize that they could not bear to deal with any giant bureaucracies and that they would rather become a dolphin trainer. If doing the so-called grunt work is the bane of a volunteerâ€™s existence, then they are probably not cut out for a career in healthcare. Too many doctors and nurses already suffer from the burnout associated with bureaucratic matters.
Volunteers are also in a prime position to talk to nurses and doctors and find out why they decided to follow their career paths. Volunteers can pick up tips on how to be happy in healthcare during these times as well. For those reasons, volunteers should try to make friends with everyone around them because if one idea sticks out in a hospital, it is that there are no lone heroes. Everyone
works together with the person beside them for the betterment of the patient. A good working relationship with the people around a volunteer will reap countless benefits such as a welcoming workplace and a group of people prepared to mentor the volunteer. If a volunteer is interested in medicine, a good working relationship with the attendant that comes through their floor -- always followed by those nervous residents though -- could result in being invited to observe a procedure on a patient or being introduced to other doctors who are in the field that the volunteer is interested in.
Lastly, a good volunteer should make friends with their fellow volunteers; they are the peers they will eat lunch with, share priceless memories with, and grow as a human being with. When matters start looking dark or a hard dayâ€™s work hits home, a volunteer should always be able to turn to his peers for comfort and support. Being a volunteer at a hospital is an immensely satisfying job that everyone interested in careers in healthcare should pursue.
premed magazine at uga | September 2013
SURVIVE LARGE LECTURES
By: Sheila Bhavsar
There are 26,373 undergraduate students that attend the University of Georgia--making large lecture classes with approximately 300 students quite common.
Large lecture classes are especially prominent in the premedical curriculum. These classes can be daunting for anyone--particularly first-year students, accustomed to high school classes with a maximum of 30 students. However, there are simple steps to take to increase the likelihood of success in a large lecture class. First, students should strive to ac-
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tually attend class. This may seem obvious but, students in large classes find it especially tempting to skip classes where a teacher seldom notices when someone is missing. You may think it is futile to attend class because you do not gain anything from it, but attending class is valuable. Professors may reveal critical information and material that can come up on exams. Furthermore, each professorâ€™s style of teaching is different. By attending class, you will become aware the professorâ€™s style and realize the types of questions he or she asks. In class discussion questions and concept reviews,
are likely to appear on the exam. Hence, if you attend class, you will know how to study for exams more efficiently.
Thirdly, utilize office hours. Professors anticipate giving students supplemental assistance during this time. Prepare for office hours by completing assignments or reading beforehand, and use this time to clarify any uncertainties. Reading or completing assignments before going to a professorâ€™s office hours also prevents procrastination, since office hours are usually only once or twice a week. There is another added bonus to utilizing office hours, your professor will get to know you. This is advantageous, when asking for letters of recommendation for medical school, jobs and summer programs.
Secondly, be engaged in the lecture. Though you may not find the topic of lecture particularly interesting, you should attempt to remain focused throughout the lecture. Browsing social media sites can create huge distractions for yourself as well as others around you. Using your computer for purposes other than taking notes during class will not help you to pass exams. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions. Though it may seem scary, asking questions is critical to understanding an unclear concept. By asking questions you will help yourself and The last tip for success in large your peers to better understand lecture classes--get to know stuwhat the professor is teaching. dents around you. Befriending
fellow classmates can benefit you in countless ways. Fellow classmates can provide support if a class is stressing you out, and they can share ways that they may cope with their stress. Also, classmates can provide notes or materials given out in class if you have to miss class one day. Most importantly, forming small study groups with classmates is easier if you actually know your classmates. Study groups are helpful because you get the opportunity to learn concepts from different points-of-view. Though it may take some adjustments and hard work, you can be successful in large lecture classes. Use these tips with study practices you know work for you, and you will survive any lecture class.
premed magazine at uga | September 2013
Science By: Sarah Caesar
“In many ways, I am a late bloomer. There are many times that I wish that I had stumbled upon the joys of biology at a young age. My passion for the subject took root during my high school years and has been nurtured this past year.”
The scraping of chairs against the polished floor, extrication of books from already bursting full backpacks and the usual conversation about homework assignments, came to an abrupt end as our school bell resonated down the hallway. It was first period and I was sitting in the front row of Ms. Hopp’s Anatomy and Physiology classroom. The dimming of the class lights along with the monotonous humming of the projector’s cool-
ing fan cued the start of our lecture that day, titled ‘Parts of a Kidney’. I was sure that keeping in line with anatomical tradition, we would name the top, middle and bottom halves of the bean shaped organ that was on display, bringing a quick end to the class. I could not have been more wrong. As Ms. Hopp progressed from slide to slide, I found I was enthralled by the biological complexity of the
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renal system. Whether it be the glomerulus’ ability to act as a high pressure filter or the doppelganger role that the kidney plays as an endocrine organ to regulate blood pressure, the complexity and diversity of the organ was mind boggling.
This is a theme that has been recurrent in any part of the biological system that I have been fortunate enough to study. In many ways, I am a late bloom-
er. There are times that I wish that I had stumbled upon the joys of biology at a young age. My passion for the subject took root during my high school years and has been nurtured this past year.
My sister is a PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and I cannot recall the number of times she and I have discussed how far away we are from even remotely replicating the function of a single organ despite the enormous strides that our society has made in computing, mathematics and engineering. My fascination with the workings of this magnificent and other complex structures of science continues to grow as the day by day. One of the main reasons why I am interested in biology is because, as Dr. Roy Glover puts it, “[the human body] is the only thing you carry with you from the moment you are born until your very last breath.” As a natural wonder, the human body is the ultimate equalizer. It remains
fundamentally the greatest thing that we share with every single being of our species regardless of color, race, creed or position in society.
I might have been a late bloomer to science, but I have been blessed with an ability to connect with children from a very young age. They enjoy my company as much as I do theirs. In order to merge my passion with my strengths, I hope one day to serve the community as a pediatrician. In order to gain insight into the medical field, I have been volunteering at Emory University’s Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). During my time there, I gained a valuable understanding of what actually happens in a hospital environment. Also, I witnessed the inexplicable joy of playing with toddlers, the devastation of learning of a child’s terminal condition and the empathy required to deal with a patient’s loved ones.
CHOA was the ability to witness humanity at its finest. The children at CHOA gave me so much more than I will ever be able to give back to them. Their unadulterated joy despite the medical challenges that lay ahead of them was a testament to the innocence that we often lost with age. In a perfect example of life’s irony, I learned the greatest philosophical lesson of hope and perseverance from little children who can barely even spell the word ‘philosophy’. In many ways, the time I spent at CHOA has outlined the challenges that await me on the road to becoming a physician. I hope to make people’s lives better through my life’s work. While the going may get tough and the road might be narrow, my determination has never been stronger. I could not agree more with Mahatma Gandhi when he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.
The greatest part of working at
premed magazine at uga | September 2013