Why did you decide to become a doctor?
I really enjoyed my science classes throughout high school, especially AP Biology and AP Psychology. I also had personal experience with the medical field through my interactions with physicians who cared for some of my family members, and I thought that it would be awesome to be able to combine my passions for science and caring for others into my future career. Throughout undergrad, I spent time shadowing physicians in various specialties, which further confirmed my desire to go to medical school and become a physician.
What struggles did you face along the way?
The process of getting into medical school is long, and it takes a lot of determination and perseverance to accomplish this goal. Having to take rigorous science courses throughout undergrad – often several at one time – and the pressure to perform well in each course can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Also, studying for the MCAT was very time-consuming and difficult at times. Finally, putting together the medical school application, including collecting letters of recommendation, takes a lot of time and energy and can be draining.
How did you study for the MCAT?
I used one of the prep books (to be honest, I can’t remember which one). However, what I thought was the most helpful resource was a set of audio CDs that I listened to every day on my commute to and from school (I lived at home and commuted every day during undergrad). The name of the CD set was MCAT Audio Osmosis with Jordan and Jon. If those are still around, I highly recommend them to review high-yield concepts for the MCAT.
Best MCAT advice:
Give yourself enough time to review and study for the MCAT. I think 1-2 months is reasonable
Don’t burnout while studying. Make sure you make a reasonable schedule for MCAT studying and try to stick to it as best you can, but know that burnout is real. Incorporate breaks, etc.
Find what works for you. Everyone is different and one study strategy may work great for one person and not well at all for another person.
How many medical schools did you apply to?
I only applied to 1 medical school via Early Decision option.
What was frustrating/difficult about the application process?
Just the amount of time and energy required to finalize the application. I think I spent the most time on my personal statement and on the extracurricular activities section, especially with the description of each activity.
Why do you think you got into medical school?
I think I had a pretty competitive application, overall:
~3.9 GPA in undergrad
Scored well on my MCAT
Was involved with a lot of leadership and service activities
Really connected with and had good conversations with both of my interviewers during my interview.
Knowing what you know now, if you had to re-apply now, what are 3 things you would absolutely do to make yourself as competitive as possible:
Try to do well in all of your main science classes in undergrad. Most medical schools will separate your science GPA from your non-science GPA and look at them separately during the application process.
Try to get involved with service and leadership activities. Here, it’s not about the quantity as much as the quality. If you are able to get really involved with 2 or 3 organizations and have a leadership role and do some community service, that looks a lot better on an application than being involved in 5 or 10 organizations and not having a leadership role in any of them.
Try to get as much exposure to clinical medicine as possible, whether it is through shadowing opportunities or other means. All medical school application committees want to know that an applicant has been exposed to the clinical side of medicine and knows what they are getting into instead of just having an idea of what it’s like to be a doctor based on TV shows, etc.
You recently matched into Dermatology, which is notorious for being one of the most competitive specialties? What are 3 key strategies future dermatology hopefuls should implement?
Build really good and close relationships with 2 or 3 dermatology faculty members at your home institution or during an away rotation so that you can obtain strong letters of recommendation, which are an extremely important part of your application. If you know you’re interested in dermatology early in med school, try to find a mentor early on to help you
It is very helpful to do well on Step 1 and to have good grades and evaluations during your clinical clerkships (third and fourth year of medical school)
Research in dermatology is not necessary, but it definitely helps your application and gives you something to talk about during interviews.