Medical Student

Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

The personal statement for medical school applications can be the most daunting. It’s one page where you can write anything you want about yourself and it’s often the best opportunity to demonstrate who you are besides just your GPA and MCAT scores. Thus, it was the part of my application that I was most stressed about but I ended up with a piece I was pretty happy with. So, I thought I’d share my personal tips that helped me.

who am i

First make a list.

Answer the question “What are you passionate about” and just brainstorm. See what patterns you see and try to pull those out in your writing.

Sound like yourself.

Yes, you want to sound professional but not like there’s a thesaurus is tossing out words.

Have the right people edit.

Have people you trust edit such as your school health committee or career advising. An English major or professor for grammar and spelling. But be wary of having too many people edit it. Too many cooks in the kitchen can leave you with something you’re not happy with.

Focus your paper.

Only highlight 1-2 key experiences from your resume. Otherwise it’ll just read like a laundry list. Mention the 2 most relevant ones to what you’re applying to and use the space to expand on them.

I hope some of these tips help and good luck with your applications!!

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Medical Student · School

Tips for MCAT Test Day

The MCAT is a beast of a test and there are so many tips and tricks to use for preparing for it. However, not a lot of people share their ‘day of’ tips. Here are some of my personal tips for what to do the day of the test based on my personal experience.

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1. Try to have a relaxing night

Obviously you want a good night’s sleep but if you can’t fall asleep because of nerves, try to do something relaxing that does not include technology. Maybe read a book or journal just to keep your mind at ease and rest.

2. Get there early… duh

You will not be the only one and it will cut down some of your anxiety.

3. Stretch during breaks

You’re going to be sitting for a long time. During my breaks I did full yoga stretches and even sat down on the floor to do the butterfly – I didn’t worry about what I looked like, I just wanted to feel comfortable.

4. Pack smart

I brought plenty of snacks and a cardigan because I tend to get cold.

5. Know the rules

You need proper forms of ID. Also, some places will only let you bring in ear buds to the testing site if they are still in the package so double check this.

6. Don’t make plans

You may be mentally exhausted by the time the test is done. If you want to celebrate after, do so but don’t plan anything too strenuous otherwise you may regret it.

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Book Worm · Medical Student

Book Review: First Person Plural

I recently read First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple by Cameron West which details the author’s personal struggle with dissociative identity disorder or DID (once called multiple personality disorder).

first person plural

I have read quite a few books detailing individuals with this disorder and their life stories. Many involve quite detailed accounts of the abuse they encountered. Although this book does include upsetting details, the focus is not on what Cameron went through as a child due to a sexually abusive mother and grandmother, but rather it focuses on Cameron’s struggles as an adult. I think this makes this a more approachable story for readers interested in DID who are wary of reading a graphic retelling of abuse.

The story starts with Cameron West, a father in his late thirties, running a successful business and happily married. However, as time goes on he finds that his mind starts to jumble and eventually, he finds other personalities – 24 to be exact.

What is truly amazing about Cameron’s story is the support system he has! His wife Rikki is incredibly supportive. The story includes her own struggles as she tries to help the  man she loves through this journey. Also, reading about how the two decide to tell their young son about what is happening is so interesting. Their son, Kyle, explains how he sees his father’s disorder as well and a child’s perspective is great.

I think that this book is a great find for anyone – either people interested in psychological disorders or practicing physicians. DID is a disorder that is often misunderstood and has serious implications on an individual’s physical health as well. Cameron’s story is a fantastic first step to starting to understand DID and its full impacts on an affected individual’s life.

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Medical Student

Applying To Medical Schools

The 2018 application cycle is about to come under way for medical schools. One of the first steps of the application process is actually deciding where you want to apply to. The average student applies to about 20 schools. I applied to 15 myself and there was a rumor going around my school that someone applied to 75. That may seem like a good idea but applying to that many schools can get expensive fast so you may want to be a bit pickier.

Here are some of the factors I took into consideration when creating my list of schools.

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Location, location, location

You’ll be spending your next four years here so you want to be happy. I knew that I couldn’t stand being too far from my family even if I liked the school so I decided to only apply to schools on the east coast.

Out of State

When applying to schools out of your state, look into how ‘friendly’ they are to out of state student. You want to apply to schools that let a fairly high percentage of out of state students otherwise you may waste an application on a school that is not likely to let you in.

Review student profiles

Medical school websites often have student profiles from the past few years that include majors, research experience, average GPAs and MCAT scores. Comparing your own profile to theirs will give you an idea if this school is a realistic option for you. You want to apply to schools that match your own profile.

Review with your advisor

After compiling your list, review with both your academic advisor and your pre-health advisor. They’ll help ensure that your list is appropriate and reasonable based on your credentials.

Program

All medical schools will help you become a doctor, but there are a few things you want to consider when investigating programs. Does the school rank? Is class lecture-based or team-based learning? How early will you get clinical experience? All of these options are good but you need to think about what is best for you. If possible, try to get contacts in the school and ask them about their own experience.

I hope this helps and best of luck with the application process!

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Medical Student

Closer Look Day

Well, I can officially announce that I will be attending the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont as a member of the class of 2021 (that’s a mouthful haha)!! To say I am super excited is a drastic understatement. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Closer Look Day up in Burlington which was a great chance for admitted students to see if UVM is the right fit for them.

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My new Vermont swag that I purchased

 

The day started with a continental breakfast buffet complete with coffee and bagels (all the necessities). It provided me a chance to meet and mingle with many of my potential classmates which was great. I was nervous I would come off as super young since many people don’t enter medical school right after college or that everyone would think I was too chatty and possibly insane (a definite first impression when it comes to me). However, I clicked with quite a few people and I’m looking forward to getting to know them all better in the fall.

Quite a few professors spoke including the dean detailing specific aspects of UVM’s program, clinical approach, and hospital patient profile. Then the admitted students broke up into smaller groups. I was in a group of about 15 where we got to rotate around the medical school and discuss key aspects of the curriculum that make UVM different with both professors and current students.

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A row of ‘Dr. Moo’ stress balls we were gifted with

 

The class Professionalism, Communication, & Reflection (PCR) was discussed which meets once a week to discuss important themes in medicine that are not taught in class. Topics include facilitating professionalism and working with patients with special needs. Additionally, we got to explore simulation labs and listen to a dummy’s simulated heart sounds and attend a diversity panel.

For those of you starting the application process, I highly recommend checking out this school’s program to see if it’s as good of a fit for you as it is for me – especially since it is very friendly to out-of-state students (an important aspect to consider).

 

Book Worm · Medical Student

Book Review: How Doctors Think

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, M.D. is on many lists of what to read before entering medical school. Thus, this past month, I thought I would check it out. I was surprised to learn that it was actually not written with aspiring doctors in mind, but rather it was written for patients to hopefully aid them in better interacting with their doctors.

how doctors think

The goal of this book is to provide both patients and doctors better information so that they can make better judgements, diagnoses, and treatment plans together.

Now, as noble as that can sound, it also does not sound like a truly exciting book to read, but don’t be discouraged. I really enjoyed reading this book! Groopman includes multiple stories from his own work as well as from his colleagues that are gripping, heartbreaking, and interesting. Often, you are following the doctor’s thought process and he/she tries to correctly diagnose a patient with an unclear problem. Almost each chapter has a mystery patient and as Groopman goes through it, you learn how  the doctors approach the problem, how their medical training influences this approach, and how sometimes their approach is flawed leading to complications.

 

doctor nothing

 

I found this so interesting because as an aspiring doctor, it is important for me to understand some of the pitfalls that doctors can have in their thought processes when making a diagnosis. For example, Groopman describes a woman who had Celiac disease but was constantly diagnosed with psychological disorders instead due to a cognitive bias the doctors had.

The book ends with Groopman’s advice to patients on how to best interact with doctors including what questions to pose, how to describe symptoms, and how to handle non-ideal doctor patient relationship. I think this advice is useful for any patient and all doctors to consider moving forward. All in all, I highly recommend reading this especially for people considering the health field!

 

 

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