326: How Reapplying to Med School was Successful for this Student

Session 326 Amanda had to apply to med school twice. We talk about her premed path, her first application, her struggles, and how she succeeded and received three acceptances. Check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network. [02:01] Drinking From a Fire Hose Amanda agrees with the analogy of drinking from a fire hose with all the information coming in and the exams they've got to prepare for. [02:38] Being a First-Generation College Student Being a first-generation college student, she was just focused on getting into a school. Once she got there, she was just trying to adjust and did research on her own. But it was really her interest in science that got it all started. She likes working one on one with people. She likes learning about the body. She recalls shadowing for the first time and seeing the atmosphere, it gave her that seed to really want to do it although there were moments she'd question whether she could do it, which is pretty normal. As a first-generation college student and she didn't have her parents to lean onto for academic support, she reached out to programs in her school and joining clubs and reaching out to others. She even sought the advise from her high school counselor. But she considers the internet as a huge help which led her to this podcast later on in her college years. "Educating myself as much as I could to prepare myself and learning from each mistake instead of dwelling on it." [05:28] The Biggest Mistakes During Undergrad Amanda just got so bogged down into her grades and classes that she didn't see the bigger picture. So she ended up applying just two schools because she realized it wasn't working. She did end up going to one of the top schools she wanted to go to. However, looking back, she was just not seeing the bigger picture and instead, she was focusing on that quiz she was going to have on a Friday. She was in her honors program when she started undergrad where she went to a liberal arts school. When she attended an advisory premed meeting, she realized there were so much more to do. She went to the internet and came across this podcast. She believes the liberal arts school was able to help her as there were so many discussions that got her to engage in small conversations which she thought benefitted her science classes. Her biggest science class in organic chemistry consisted of 38 people. They didn't have any teaching assistants. She also met incredible people and felt being in a tight-knit family. [08:45] Finding a Physician to Shadow and Being the Resource Queen Amanda was struggling hard to get there having no one in the family who's in the medical field. But she reached out to people such as her college roommate, who connected her to an internist, who also gave her name to different specialties. Due to her diligent research on everything that needs to be done as a premed or med school, she was even named by her colleagues as the resource queen. Now, she's braver to reach out to people, even physicians. What made her successful as a medical school applicant and she wants other students to know that you have to do things because you want to do them. Don't do them because you feel that you need to do them. She did struggle with this back in high school doing sports she didn't really like. Then in college, she felt she need to do research and do this and that. But when she graduated, she wondered what things she needed to do and ended up being a behavioral therapist for kids with autism. It was clinical but it was something she really wanted to do and experience. "Do things because you want to do them. Don't do them because you feel that you need to do them." [12:30] Preparing for the MCAT the First Time Amanda actually took the MCAT twice. In fact, this came up in a few of her interviews because she had an 8-point jump between her two scores. She was doing research at a nearby hospital in Chicago while studying for the MCAT with no defined schedule. She took it in the first year of the new MCAT so it was also another process to learn about that. She studied on her own and ended up taking it just as she had applied. She also didn't take enough practice tests and ended up only applying to two schools that cycle since she felt her MCAT wasn't as good as it could have been. She knew she could do better so she decided that she needed more experience. She didn't realize the amount of diligence and planning required that it should have taken to do well. She sent out six primaries and ended up going to two of them. Both were MD schools and she only shadowed an MD. She didn't really look into DOs and didn't know anything about it so she didn't apply to DO schools. She didn't get any interviews but she got a callback and got good feedback from one of the schools which she ended up getting accepted on the next cycle. She didn't go there though. [17:50] Lack of Clinical Experience and Making Up During Gap Year Her clinical hours were so minimal and she had volunteered for hospice care and volunteered in the ER. They were all low hours compared to what she gained during her gap year. To get more experience, she became a therapist for kids with autism. It wasn't entirely medicine but that therapy gave her the experience. She worked as a scribe which helped a lot and she continued to shadow. [18:50] Taking the Next Steps and Taking the MCAT the Second Time Although she would advise otherwise, Amanda was already planning on what to do on the next application cycle. So she planned on enjoying her senior year and making the best out of it. She still did well in school and continued volunteering the entire time. Then she studied for the MCAT the following summer. She spent the whole summer studying. Unfortunately, an MCAT course wasn't going to work for her financially. She found a Kaplan book and Examkrackers online. She gave herself a strict study schedule and stuck with it. "I just made a strict schedule I gave myself during days off and what test days and I stuck with it. That is what I needed to succeed." At that time, she was applying for a job and was going through the onboarding process. She was also babysitting here and there to keep some cash flow. But it was an MCAT study-focused summer. [20:38] Fee Assistance Program (FAP) Initially, she thought she was going to combine her income with her family's which would be the percent poverty level so she brushed off the idea of applying for it. She did probably qualify and it could have helped her during the application. Applying for the FAP wasn't too bad. She was living at home so she was easily able to access all the documents she needed to and upload everything. Basically, she had to provide proof of income for herself and her parents and fill out some expenses. She submitted it and got back very quickly. What she got really helped her save a lot. At that time, she also continued doing her own "fee assistance" trying to save as much money as she could. [23:00] The Gap Year Experience and Applying the Second Time Amanda waited for a cycle in between and took a gap year. She took the MCAT and got more experience. She had more confidence going into the application cycle. In terms of picking schools, she used the MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirements). She was considering her geographical location, especially looking at the midwest region. This time, she applied to both MD and DCO schools. She looked at schools she could get cheaper flights to and places she would enjoy living. During her downtime as a scribe, she would look at schools and list what she liked about them and averages. With the FAP only offering 16 schools, she applied to 22 MD schools and 7 DO schools. She didn't get the AOA assistance program for DO schools. So she was being strategic with how many schools she was applying to. She applied to two neighboring states but she got denied very quickly – not even a secondary from them. But she only did two of them and the rest were private schools. As to why she applied to DO schools this time, she got to work with many DO doctors and had discussions with them about their experience and the schools they went to. In fact, some of her favorite doctors where DOs. "I would be happy to go to either just a medical school in general. Finally, when I understood that there was barely a difference...I felt comfortable applying to both schools." [25:50] Getting Her Interview Invites and Acceptances Amanda got her first interview invite on her birthday in mid-July –best birthday present ever. She was glad that she was in a gap year since she appreciated the need for having time off and figuring out travel plans which would have been otherwise hard to do had she been in school. She also tried to save money when she could so she didn't stay in a hotel. She would always stay with someone she knew and drive herself there. She had five interviews for MD schools and four acceptances. And out of the 7 DO schools she applied to, she had all interview invites and went to three interviews and got accepted to those three schools. She thinks her gap year has made her a very well-rounded applicant. She was done well with her undergrad in terms of grades. Her MCAT wasn't amazing and only medium range at 508. So what she believes made her really stand out was her experiences and just being herself. She had intimidating interviews but she just took it as a conversation. Plus, she read The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. "I think what really made me stand out was my experiences and just truly being a person during the interview." She ended up deciding between two schools but then she got a partial scholarship from one school so she went for it. Again, she had to save as much as she could. But then, she liked the school environment and their community involvement. She liked the aspect of diversity and helping the community around you. [32:32] Getting Financial Aid Amanda though med schools don't give you anything. But when she got her financial aid letter and was listed and just got it. She assumed it was due to her financial aid situation as she was growing up and being part of the financial aid program. So she felt she earned it that way. Now that she's in medical school, she's very happy with her school pick. They're on their second year now and she's happy overall. She loves going to school everyday and has met amazing people and met with great professors. [34:45] Final Words of Wisdom If she had to speak to her old self, Amanda would tell herself to just be confident in the process and everything that's happening might feel like it's the end of the world but she is growing from it. Take it step by step and not be so bogged down by feelings of failure. Links: MedEd Media Network MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirements) Medical Schools Applications Cost Estimator The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview

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