Year in Training: 3rd Year Medical School
Specialty Interests: Surgery, Emergency Medicine
College: The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
College Major: Biology
Follow Amanda: @coffeeandscrubs on Instagram
What's your story?
When I was a child, I always wanted to conquer new things whether it was a craft project, cooking, sports, music, etc…I always wanted to challenge myself. I remember being the only fifth grader in my class who could name all of the bones of the body for extra credit.
I also remember an instance when my uncle (who just began his orthopaedic residency) showed me an x-ray and asked me if I would use a pin or screw for this fracture. I kept asking him to quiz me and I surprisingly got them right! He jokingly said, “You could be an orthopaedic surgeon!” Those were little inklings that led me to medicine but ultimately, the moment I decided I wanted to do medicine came on a day I was volunteering at a hospital…
For those who don’t know, volunteering is pretty much a requirement for getting into medical school. I volunteered quite a bit in the hospital pushing around coffee carts or directing people around. I have to admit, I thought a lot of this was pointless until I was volunteering with an older woman and we stopped by a waiting room to rest and talk.
She told me how she was treated for cancer at that very hospital and was so inspired by the doctors and nurses that her way of giving back was to volunteer at the hospital. Every time someone asks me this question, I always remember this story. I think, at that moment, I realized I wanted to be one of those doctors that inspired patients. Long story short, my love of conquering new things and my desire to inspire culminated in why I chose medicine.
I wanted to be someone whose purpose was to better the life of a patient.
What are your #doctorgoals?
I think I am secretly an adrenaline junkie because I love being hands on with things at a fast pace. I’d love to be an emergency medicine doctor or a surgeon. I like to be busy at all times, and for me, I want to be in on the action and see results immediately.
My ultimate goal in becoming a great doctor is being caring and personable with my patients. I think there is always the ability to advance yourself in different aspects of being a doctor but staying personable and caring sometimes goes to the wayside.
I recently finished two weeks with an ICU doctor whose charisma and true ability to care for his patients and patients’ families have inspired me to master that skill.
The medical pathway is a long and frustrating one, but I consciously make an effort every day not to be jaded by this process.
What has been your biggest hurdle?
I think the biggest hurdle in my journey to becoming a doctor is one that many fellow students and professionals can relate to and that is the constant reminder that my life as a 20-something year old isn’t like that of a typical person in their 20s. I always remind myself that I get to learn about medicine and that I get the opportunity to become a doctor…
...but there are days that I struggle with the idea
that I am missing out on a lot of things.
In my short time as a medical student, I’ve had to say no to family reunions, spontaneous friend vacations, graduations, and at one point, I even questioned whether I could go to my brother’s wedding because of bad timing. (Luckily I made it just in time!)
But I always make it a point to take a step back and remember that I am lucky to have the opportunities that I have and that at the end of the day, it’ll all be worth it in the end.
The medical school board exams are challenging. What would you change?
For osteopathic students, we are given the choice to take COMLEX (DO boards) and/or USMLE (MD boards). I actually didn’t end up taking the USMLE and only took the COMLEX despite studying for both. I studied for USMLE up until 2 weeks before the exam but canceled it because I wanted to devote all of my time to doing well on one exam and not mediocre on two. If I could retake it, I would change these three things:
Questions, questions, questions. I spent entirely way too much time reviewing material and I wish I had finished UWorld questions and gone through COMBANK questions twice. Boards are one part knowing the material and one part knowing HOW to take the test.
Focus on my weaknesses. Physiology and pathology were two things I struggled with on boards and there were times I had extreme anxiety when reviewing these topics. My advice is to push through the anxiety because ultimately it will do you more good than studying things you already know.
Give myself time off. I wish I could go back and give myself “me time” every day or at least one day a week. Board studying really is a marathon and keeping myself sane should have been a bigger priority.