I deactivated facebook. Signed up with Kaplan Center for a review course for USMLE Step 1. As an international student, I needed F1 visa (student visa to study legally in US) so Kaplan is sponsoring this for me. I guess you can consider me taking time off to really study for this exam. But I do plan on being with them for Step 2 and 3. So, no…I didn’t forget about Tumblr. Thank you for all your comments and anonymous questions.
Since I am with Kaplan, I am definitely using Kaplan QBank, videos and lecture notes. First Aid and UWorld questions are my primary sources. I have Pathoma and Goljan, but haven’t completely gone through them yet. I use NBMEs and UWorld assessments to tell me where I stand. After I take my exam, I will post my experience and a complete review on these resources.
A 35 year-old male patient had grown out warty roots on his arms and feet after a cut from his knee when he was still young. Unchecked, the warts spread out through his body and left him disable.
Test results showed that his condition was caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a common infection that causes small warts to the host. The patient had a rare genetic problem that suppressed the immune system, so his body was unable to contain the warts. The virus had hijacked the human skin cells thus commanding them to massively produce the substance that caused the tree like growth on his hands and feet.
The warts on his arms and feet had multiplied and expanded like roots. His hands were consisted of yellow and brown branches extending to 3 feet. The growth weighed nearly 12 pounds. He could not clench his hands into a fist. Even picking up a spoon or fork was a daunting task. The patient complained of exhaustion after a few steps as well because of the warts on his limbs.
His parents and siblings did not show signs of developing lesions. He maintained a healthy lifestyle despite his condition. Although attempts were made to surgically remove the warts, no signs of improvement were seen.
What do you think he has?
This post is for the premeds and the anonymous questions I have been getting relating to medical school acceptance. I answered similar question before here. But I don’t mind doing it again.
Become a premed student- You are a premed when you intend to enroll in all the required classes for medical school. These courses include 1 year or more worth of credits (with lab) in chemistry, biology, physics, organic chemistry, and calculus for example. You need to communicate well with your academic adviser that you want to go to medical school so he or she can help recommend the schedules and classes suitable for you.
Major- You can major in anything you want. It does not have to be related to science at all. You will see many students do so because it is easier to finish the science major (especially chemistry and biology) and premed requirements at the same time. Stand out by choosing a major of your passion such as English, philosophy, arts, or music. Unless you LOVE the hardcore sciences, do try other majors that you are more enthusiastic about.
GPA- Yes, it is important. But a lot of medical school do not only accept students with 3.7-4.0 gpa. Grades are definitely not the only factor in medical school admissions. You should always aim for an A and do well in your science courses because sometimes schools look at your science gpa more than your overall gpa. All I am saying is that it is not the end of the world if you get anything below a perfect score. As long as you are above 3.0, you still have a chance. Even if you got C’s, you can make it up by retaking the course and do an excellent job on the class (especially if you fail). What you can also do is take higher level classes to prove that you can improve and excel in harder courses of the same subject. B’s are good enough too, so please don’t feel like you need to retake organic chemistry for an A.
Optional classes- Depending on what schools you want to apply, they might “recommend” you take a year worth of other courses such as calculus or physics. Treat these “recommended” classes as if they are “required” to show the schools that you really want to get into their program and you are ready for the challenge. So if your schedule allows, take them.
MCAT- You should get 30 or above to get a decent chance for medical schools. You can retake them too, but more than 3 times would be bad for your application. Take prep courses if you must. Even you have lower gpa, MCAT can really help boost your application if you score well. Higher gpa can help balance the lower MCAT scores too.
Research- Many schools say research is “optional”, so treat this as if it is a requirement. Ask your science teachers if they need research assistants for their research or if you can help out your upperclassmen’s projects. You should know how to write a research paper too. Or better yet, propose your own research and enroll into higher level classes that will mandate you do a research or experiment. Do a thesis if possible.
Shadow a doctor- You need to do this. Before you apply to medical schools, you should at least shadow a doctor so you get a better idea what you will be doing in the future. How can you want to become a doctor without seeing how one works? Once you go down this road, it will take away a lot of time and money. You have to be sure that medicine is what you want to do. All you have to do is ask, and you might be surprise to see some of the doctors’ responses. You have nothing to lose anyway, so keep asking!
Volunteer- It would be better if it is in a hospital setting, but it doesn’t have to be. Medical schools want to see that you want to help people and that you are compassionate. Do you have something worth fighting for? For example, sex trafficking, gender inequality, gay rights, etc. Volunteering opportunities can lead to important connections too. Do it from your heart and time will fly.
Personal statements and references- These are opportunities for the schools to look at you as a person rather than numbers. Make sure you write more than 5 drafts of personal essays and have someone (professors, English major friends, parents, etc.) you trust to look over your work. By junior year, you should have at least 2-3 professors you are close with who can write you references and recommendation letters to schools. It is a plus if you work on a research project with them or have taken their classes for a year or more.
Interview skills- It matters how you talk and present yourself during the interview. You will be interacting with a lot of people in medicine. You can’t be good doctors without being good with people. Practice answering interview questions with your academic advisers or other mentors your college has to offer.
Be polite, but persistent- Visit the medical schools you want to apply to (tours). Keep in touch with the admission officers if possible. Even if you get rejected, don’t give up. Send them a follow-up to ask how you can improve on your applications. Then act on them and reapply.
Alternatives- You can practice medicine in other countries too. Many foreign or offshore medical schools will accept your MCAT scores. Some may ask you to take their own exam that would be equivalent to MCAT. Remember that schools in every country is different. Make sure you read their requirements well before considering. Some schools are 6-year programs since their medical students start as soon as they finish high school. Plus, you can still come back and practice medicine in US too, although the chance of that happening is decreased compared to if you were to study in the US.
Hope this helps. Good luck my friend!