In today’s episode, Ryan talks with Jimmy who has a good non trad story to tell. Jimmy took a couple of gap years before and after going to premed. He thought he was going to be a nurse but then things changed as he figured out he wanted to pursue his dream job of being a physician. Listen to find out more about his struggles and triumphs in his medical school journey, initially going to a community college, getting some C’s on his transcript, taking the MCAT, working as a nursing assistant, and more.
Here are the highlights of the conversation with Jimmy:
From being prenursing to getting accepted to medical school:
- Influenced by sister who is a nurse
- Going to full time community college for senior high school
- Working two jobs and starting full time college
- Being pulled away as a nursing assistant from the nursing home
- Deciding to take his associates degree and taking a year off to pursue music
- Going back to the community college to take science courses
- Thinking that he wasn’t good enough being in a community college and getting C’s on his transcripts
Schools not accepting his community college classes:
- They prefer university credits but in good standing, community college credits will suffice
Choosing which schools to apply to:
- Not having a dream school but only having a dream job to be a physician
Considerations for transferring to a four-year university:
- Choosing a smaller class size – being set on sending their students to medical school
Taking the MCAT:
- Hitting the void button for MCAT 2014 and deciding to take another gap year
- Not committing enough to studying
- Using his gap year going to AmeriCorps
Serving at the AmeriCorps:
- Interest in the youth and public health
- Working with kids and schools in Louisiana
- Great help in his medical school applications which came up during his interviews
Studying for the MCAT:
- Princeton Review
- Khan Academy books
- Flash cards
On his medical school application:
- Leaning towards the DO path
- Getting secondaries for MD schools, filling them out, and submitting
- Early application is critical!
- Getting accepted to an MD medical school in his hometown
Some pieces of advice for premed students:
Indulge in experiences.
Links and Other Resources:
Dr. Ryan Gray: If you’re a fan of The Premed Years, check out www.MedEdMedia.com for more great content like this podcast.
This is The Premed Years, session number 184.
Hello and welcome to the two time Academy Award nominated podcast, The Premed Years, where we believe that collaboration, not competition, is key to your success. I am your host Dr. Ryan Gray, and in this podcast we share with you stories, encouragement, and information that you need to know to help guide you on your path to becoming a physician.
Now at the opening for the last couple weeks I’ve mentioned two time Academy Award nominated podcast, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, The Premed Years was nominated last year in 2015 for an Academy of Podcasters Top Podcast in the Science and Medicine category, and again here in 2016 we were nominated again in the Science and Medicine category for the Academy of Podcasters Podcast. It’s a great accomplishment, it’s something that’s judged- there are judges that nominate the podcast, it’s not nominated by audience members or anything, so it puts everybody on a level playing field which is awesome. And I just want to thank you for listening every week because without you listening I wouldn’t be here talking. So thank you for listening, thank you for being there, thank you for all the supportive emails, all of the ratings and reviews, and everything else. The awards ceremony will be July 6th in Chicago, and I’ll be there for that which is fun. I was planning on going to the conference anyway, it’s a podcasting conference, I’ll be there anyway. But hopefully I’ll try to get it on Facebook Live stream. If you’re not on Facebook following both the Medical School Headquarters page, and the Medical School Headquarters hangout group, I highly recommend you go do that, and then on the 6th I’ll be livestreaming from the awards ceremony and hopefully I win. But I’m up against some good competition.
So today I have a great guest, his name is Jimmy. He reached out to me and said, “Hey I love your podcast, here’s my story, I’m wondering if it would be a good story to tell on the podcast.” And I immediately reached back out to him, I said, “Definitely. You’re a great nontrad story, and I know it would help a lot of people.” So Jimmy you’re going to hear took a couple gap years before he went to premed, and after his premed, and you’ll hear what he did during those gap years, and why he was delayed in becoming premed; all kinds of great information that has led him to now having an acceptance to medical school. So let’s go ahead and jump in and say hi to Jimmy.
Jimmy, welcome to The Premed Years, thanks for joining me.
Thank you for having me.
I want to know- you sent me this email that kind of described your past, and part of it was that you were pre-nursing. Why were you pre-nursing and now have an acceptance to medical school?
Very good question. My journey kind of started in my senior year of high school. It was time to grow up, it was time to get some jobs, and my older sister was an RN, and I really felt like I was kind of following in her footsteps. So the natural thing to do was to take a CNA course, and start working, and I did a PSEO year, I’m not sure if you know what that is.
No, what is that?
I went to full time community college my senior year of high school instead of going to high school. And so the high school footed the bill for that, that was excellent, and I went in and I was just figuring pre-nursing was the way I was headed, but I worked as a CNA for a couple years, that being the first one. It was a really rough start. I started full time, I had two jobs as a nursing assistant just because I didn’t know how to say no, and then I started full time college and I really delved in and I was all set on the nursing track. It just seemed right, it seemed like healthcare is always a place they need you, it’s a serving and rewarding career, and I just realized in the nursing home really is where- I was being pulled away from that, it wasn’t what I thought it was, and that’s when I decided after about a year of that and taking nursing courses and not really thinking about them the way I was hoping I would, that’s when I decided, ‘I’m just going to get my Associate’s degree and take a year off.’ And so in 2011-
Let’s stop there for a second.
So you’re in a nursing home, what sort of environment was your sister working in?
We actually worked at the same nursing home.
Oh okay so you couldn’t lean on her for other experiences.
Not necessarily. She was a harder worker than me though, she had like two or three jobs and so she was working at different nursing homes and when I put my application in at that nursing home they were like, “Oh your sister’s such a hard worker, we’ll just have to let you in the door here.” And so that really helped, but- and it’s great, it was rewarding. I worked with the residents, and the nurses were great, but I guess I really wasn’t thinking about medical issues the way that I had envisioned myself simply because I didn’t have enough exposure to nursing versus physician or even mid-level practitioners. I didn’t really know- I was pretty naive I would say. So that gave me the exposure I needed.
Yeah and that’s a great start. A lot of people ask about being a CNA, and it really is great exposure. But I want to ask too, you talked about your nursing classes, and them not really being what you thought they would be. What did that really mean?
Well I’ll tell you what that means. My very first semester of college I took human anatomy. I’d never had any intro biology courses, I don’t know what I was thinking, and it just kind of wrecked me. I came out of there with a C and I was just scraping by- that was on a curve and everything, and actually some other grades suffered that semester as well because I was working the two jobs, and I just thought I could do it all. But so I didn’t really have a good first impression. I was like, ‘If this is what nursing is, it’s just memorizing all these bones and muscles,’ and I didn’t really feel like I was learning very good science, and that may have had something to do with just being at a community college and their focus wasn’t really getting to the hard science of it, it was just cranking nurses out, you know? So it gave me kind of a bad taste in my mouth, and I had to look at that C on my transcript for years to come, so I was kind of salty, and I went on and took the rest of that year as nursing courses, and then after that year I just said, “I’m going to steer away and get my Associate’s of Arts degree and then take a year off and think about this.” So I still went through with it for the rest of that year, but between that and the nursing home I was kind of just shutting- like I kept working at the nursing home, I kept taking the courses, but I knew that I was going to start steering away from nursing.
Okay. What were those next steps in your mind? Because I know there are a lot of students in your similar situation, and one person listening right now might be in the exact same situation where they’re working as a CNA, they think they want to be a nurse, and then something changes. What was that next step? You kind of talked a little bit about a physician is the next step, but really there’s a million and one different ways to go from nursing, including outside of healthcare. What was going through your mind that led you down to the next path?
Well like I said, I pursued that Associate’s degree, I was really involved in music at the time so I was still entertaining that idea, and that’s what really gave me the incentive to take that year off. So I kind of pursued music for a year, and kept working at the nursing homes to pay for that, and it was during that year I was like, ‘What was it that I really wanted out of healthcare?’ Because I started thinking after I’d taken the science courses, is maybe I wanted to think about health at a more foundational level, and maybe that would actually pull me towards more of a research career. And that’s the kind of things I was thinking about that year I was taking off, still working at the nursing homes. Then towards the end of that year I just decided, ‘I don’t really have to make this decision yet because whether I want to go more toward a research career or stay with working with people every day, but still having a very good science background, I can still do this and just kind of start taking my gen chem’s and my ochem’s and my physics.’ So that’s when I decided at the end of my year off that I was going to go back to the community college for one more year and take all those science courses and see if I had what it took, and I ended up liking them a lot.
What do you think was the difference between liking those classes, and doing well in those classes where you have to memorize a bunch of stuff, and not liking anatomy where you had to memorize a bunch of stuff?
I think a lot was my mindset to be honest. When I took that year off, I really realized that school is something that I want. Like I said I was still entertaining the idea of music, and it was all so perplexing, and I just decided that, ‘I think this is really something I want.’ And when I went back to the community college, I remember my first chemistry exam in general chemistry 1, and I got like a C- on it, I was just devastated because I came back to school, I was motivated and I was just like ready to roll with this, and it was just- it was devastating. Like I thought I was ready for this. And what really pulled me through that semester was I had an awesome instructor and he really pushed us- it was kind of an engineering program, so he really liked that he had a couple students in there that were pre-healthcare and that weren’t just going to take gen chem 1 and call it quits on chemistry. So he was really investing in us, and that helped me a lot, and I was able to pull out of that general chemistry 1 with an A, and that really motivated me to keep going with that. I think that answers your question, did I?
Yeah so a lot of mindset and then it sounds like a good instructor, a good professor that kind of took you by the hand and was a mentor for you.
Yeah, that helped a lot definitely.
That’s awesome. So when did this thought of being a physician creep into your mind?
Yeah like I said, it was kind of during that year off when I decided either way I have to go back to school and take hard science courses, and by hard science I mean like the nitty gritty chemistry and ochem, and then I can kind of decide from there. But because of my background in nursing I kind of already had that mind made up. It was really very like- it’s kind of sad but I think what ran through my mind a lot was, ‘Maybe I’ll tell people I’m undecided in case I don’t get into medical school.’ And I don’t know if that’s a common thought at all, but-
Yes it is.
It probably is. And so I had this mindset where I don’t know if I have what it takes to get into medical school, but I kind of like research anyways, so maybe if it doesn’t work out with med school I can kind of lean towards the research side and still be content with that.
Why did you have that thought that you didn’t know if you had what it took to get into med school?
I was from a small town, I had community college credits, I already had a couple C’s on my transcripts. I was- and I was just starting to learn about medicine strictly from a statistical perspective. I hadn’t shadowed any physicians at that point, I just thought this is the next step- this should fulfill what I’m not getting fulfilled in with nursing. And I was- like I said I was kind of naieve approaching that, but- I’m losing my train of thought here, sorry. What was your question?
So the thought of why you didn’t think you were good enough.
Oh yes, exactly. Yeah so I had all that kind of against me with- like I said, the C’s on the transcript, and I was looking at local medical schools, and even a couple that were further away admissions statistics because I’d heard just the talk was how rigorous it was, and how competetive school was. And it really didn’t look like I had a good start. I remember even hearing a rumor that some medical schools don’t accept community college credits at all, so maybe my first three years was a waste. So at that point I actually emailed a bunch of medical schools and I asked them, ‘Are you going to accept these credits?’ and the majority of them said yes with just a very few exceptions. But I was just worried about that, and I didn’t have a lot of guidance, no physicians in my family, nobody that had really done it before to pave the way for me. So it was kind of a profound thought and I was really worried about it; a lot of sleepless nights there. But I just kept going on, and I transferred to my main university, and I still love the science courses, and I worked at a bigger hospital when I moved to that town, and it was really falling into place. I found physicians to shadow, that was no easy ordeal but it worked out.
So let’s talk a little bit about those next steps. So you were smart, you emailed medical schools which is always something that I recommend to students, and they always seem to be surprised like, ‘Oh I can ask the schools directly?’ I’m like, ‘Yes you can, that’s the best place to ask outside of anywhere else.’ I mean Student Doctor Network, even emailing me and asking me; my typical response is go ask the school directly because they’re the ones that have the answers. So that’s good that you did that. I’m interested to know- you said there were some schools that said they wouldn’t accept your community college classes. Talk about- I mean you don’t have to name the schools, but what was their typical response?
The typical response, even if they did accept it, and I didn’t look at these emails before I talked to you, I probably should have. But the typical response was, ‘We really prefer the university credits, but in good standing community college credits will suffice.’ And then there was a couple- the bigger universities in the midwest, because that’s where I’m from, Minnesota, a couple of the bigger universities said that they just wouldn’t prefer that and they wouldn’t accept them, and that students in the past that had done that retook those courses at their university. But there was a good amount of- like I said the schools, to the point where it wasn’t too discouraging where I was like well I can just drop those couple applications. Didn’t know if I was fit for those schools anyhow, and I went on from there. And a lot of those were actually DO schools too I should mention.
MD and DO schools- from what I remember none of the DO schools said that they wouldn’t accept the community college credits, there was just a couple of the bigger MD ones that wouldn’t.
Okay and the thought never crossed your mind to go ahead and repeat those courses? None of the schools were that important to you?
Right. At that point I wasn’t dead set on anything, on any one school, I didn’t have like a dream school, I just had the dream job to be a physician. So that didn’t discourage me. I thought- one thought that crossed my mind was maybe I’m missing out on something that- or maybe it would help to retake these courses in studying for the MCAT, but ultimately I was already kind of- with my gap year and having to return to community college for a third year, I felt like I was already a little bit behind my classmates. So I was willing to avoid that at all costs to just stay ahead of the game.
Okay. So you get this email that says, ‘Yep we’ll accept your community college courses. We don’t prefer them but we’ll accept them.’ At what point- I know you already talked a little bit about transferring to a four year university. What was the thought behind transferring to a four year university? How did you go about picking that school? What was that process like?
A lot of that was location, which I don’t know if that was the right way to go about that. But I was from a small town in northern Minnesota, and there was a bunch of buddies from high school and even from the community college that moved to Duluth where there was the University of Minnesota Duluth and the College of St. Scholastica, a smaller private institution. And so I was kind of deciding between those two because I would have had a place to live, there was two really regionally known well hospitals, good performing hospitals that I thought I could get a job at if I moved there, and that would open a lot of doors for me. So it seemed like that was the right move, and so I talked to both of those schools that were in Duluth and I ended up going with the smaller school because they were so set on sending their students to medical school. And actually that was somewhat of a tough decision because the University of Minnesota Duluth has its own medical school. So I thought, ‘Maybe I can get my foot in the door if I go there,’ but then the College of St. Scholastica was advertising themselves as, ‘Last year 85% of our students that wanted to go to medical school got an acceptance letter, and we have really good mentoring here,’ and I actually talked to a couple of the advisors and faculty beforehand, and I just really felt at home there. I like the smaller class sizes, and actually that good professor from the community college I was talking about really recommended St. Scholastica as well because that’s where he went to undergrad.
So it’s an interesting comment that you make about the 85%. Did that school offer you a committee letter?
No, they did not.
They may have if I would have looked into that. And I know that now they really got rolling with that, so now since I graduated in May of ’15 that school actually started what they call the Premium Premed Track where they- I think they probably do a lot more of that like the committee letters, and they have the MCAT trainings, and they’re buckling down so they want to move that 85% up to 100%.
Interesting. I asked that question because a lot of prehealth offices, premed offices, will give a statistic like that. Like ‘90% of our students got into medical school,’ and I tell students ignore that number. That number means nothing because a lot of times that prehealth office will only count the people that they’re writing comittee letters for, and they won’t count the students that they have turned down to write a committee letter. They’re still applying to medical school, but the prehealth office is saying, ‘You know what? Your grades aren’t good enough, your MCAT score isn’t good enough, your extracurriculars aren’t good enough. We don’t want to write you a personal- a committee letter.’ And so it’s like skewed data because they have this selection bias of who they’re letting into their study, you know what I mean?
So it’s something that a lot of students look at, and a lot of prehealth offices will advertise it and market it saying, ‘Look at us, look at us,’ but it has nothing to do with it. So I’m glad you mentioned these other things like the atmosphere there, the small class sizes, these other things that interested you because those are more important to seek out.
Yeah, absolutely and now that you mention that I feel maybe like I was kind of brainwashed. But yeah that definitely wasn’t the determining factor, and I was really happy there, and I still keep in touch with the faculty there and they’re still supporting me. So- and actually I don’t remember talking to any of my fellow premed students there that did get a committee letter, and I know a lot of them did get accepted to medical school.
So I don’t even know if that was a thing there.
But maybe it was.
You mentioned that you graduated a couple years ago now, or last year, but you didn’t apply to medical school last year.
What was the reasoning behind not applying to medical school when you graduated? Or timing it so you didn’t have to take another gap year?
Yeah I have a tendency of biting off a little more than I can chew. So when I was approaching the summer between my junior and senior year at St. Scholastica, I wanted to get involved in more research so I picked up the twenty hour per week research deal that they do, and I thought I could do that while I was working at the hospital and studying for the MCAT, and I scheduled myself for the MCAT that summer, and I said if I really commit to this and I nail the MCAT then I won’t have to take a gap year. And that summer kind of crawled by and a lot less studying than I was hoping had happened because I was working so much, and I was actually taking eight credits that summer as well. I don’t know what I was thinking. But I took the MCAT and I remember it was in August, so I would have been a little bit later in the cycle anyhow had I even decided to apply. But I took the MCAT, I suffered through- this was the 2014 version of the MCAT, I suffered through all that and at the end I hit the void button.
Why? Why? Why did you do that? I want to know why because a lot of students go through this.
Oh I felt terrible doing it. I remember going through the first section, I think it was the chemistry physics section, and I really felt like that was my zone, that’s where I started my chemistry career was right there, I took physics and chemistry at the same time so I really liked the first section. And the next two sections just killed me. Especially the more reading intensive sections like the- they call it CARS on the new MCAT, I don’t remember what it was called on the old one.
Yes, yeah. But it just- I felt terrible as I was clicking through there, and I felt like I was guessing, and I was staring at the clock the whole time, and I was just pretty terrified. So the curiosity didn’t overtake me. I hit void and I didn’t want the medical schools- I didn’t even want to see what I got. So I just said, ‘I guess this is my determining factor, I’m going to take a gap year.’ And I should have known from the beginning because like I said I was taking credits, and I was working more than I should have been, didn’t really commit enough to studying, but I’ll never know. And then I heard again too that the 2015 MCAT- my advisor was telling me, “I really think you should take that one because you will be the first applying class to have that and they’re going to put less emphasis on it.”
You’re going to sneak in.
Yes that’s kind of what he was making me think. And I was like, “No I don’t want to take another gap year, I’m just going to do this in 2014.” And it just ended up not working out, and I wasn’t too disappointed. I was- a gap year was something I was entertaining again, another chance to grow up, a chance to get some new experiences, so when I hit void on the MCAT I realized that’s what I was going to have to do. And I didn’t start studying again until the following summer which would have been a year ago from now, right after I graduated college. But yeah I don’t want to get too carried away there.
Okay. Alright so you hit void, you say, ‘Okay I’m done, I’m going to take a gap year.’ What decisions did you make to decide what to do during your gap year?
It was- I don’t remember exactly what was going through my head. I was really set on service of some sort. I was looking at different missions programs that there were, I was- I considered the CNA work that I did in the hospital somewhat service-based because I felt like I was working with people all the time. So I was even considering sticking around and doing that for a while, and so I talked to my advisor about it and I was- to him I was really thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll apply to the Peace Corps,’ and he didn’t like that idea at all. And he told me about a program that I hadn’t heard of called the Americorps. And he said it’s less of a time commitment, you’ll get to stick around, they won’t ship you off to Africa, it’s probably a little less intimidating and who knows if you’ll end up going overseas for two years, what will be running through your head at that time. So that’s when I decided that I was going to apply for both the Peace Corps and the Americorps and kind of see where that went. Do you want me to keep expanding on that?
Well talk a little bit about your experiences. So ultimately you did the Americorps, right?
What was that experience like? And do you think it will ultimately help your future as a physician? Because I know a lot of students are looking Peace Corps, looking at Americorps, looking at these kind of- these programs that you go out and serve others. Do you think that it will ultimately help, and do you think it helped on your application?
To all of those questions I would say absolutely. When you’re applying to the Peace and the Americorps, it’s you have a wide variety of jobs that you can apply to. I was interested in working with youth and I was interested in public health, so I applied to all sorts of positions that were having to do with teaching, or one of the positions I applied to was hanging up mosquito nets in Rwanda. And so then the Americorps you go on the Americorps website and you check the boxes for public health and education and it hooks you up with all the programs that are available for that. And I knew that I wanted to do service of some sort so it was a good fit for me. I know there’s a lot of people that are probably more research-oriented that would want to maybe do research for a year on their gap year, but I knew that I wanted to work with people. So when I applied to those two, I actually received an acceptance from both. The Peace Corps wanted to send me to Rwanda to do a public health movement with malaria, and Americorps I was accepted to a program called City Year which works in inner city schools to attempt to raise graduation rates as a tutor and mentor. So I was debating between those two and I kind of took my mentor’s advice at St. Scholastica where he was saying, “You might be getting in over your head going to Africa,” and I thought it would be a really awesome experience, I was doing a lot of research on it, and ultimately I decided that staying- well I ended up coming down to Louisiana for my Americorps service working with City Year. So I’m still very far from home, I’ll get to experience a new city with new people, it’s definitely a different culture down here so I didn’t miss out on that, and so I kind of got all those experiences I wanted and I was working with people every day, and I think if I would have went with the Peace Corps maybe I would have gotten off track from my desires of- maybe I would have entertained some ideas that ultimately weren’t related to what I was working up to, to that point. And I think staying in the States really helped keep me focused on that. So that’s what I decided to do, and to answer your question do I think it helped on my application? Yes it absolutely came up in all of my interviews I had. I only ended up going to two medical school interviews, and it came up in both of them. And one thing that I put on most of my medical school applications, and really what my personal statement was built around, was I was a small town kid and a lot of medical schools like small town kids that return to small towns. And I like that idea for myself. I think I’ve learned a lot in the world and I can bring a lot back to a smaller community. So that’s something I preached on my personal statement, and this experience that I’ve had in Louisiana working with kids in the schools I think is definitely going to help me with that because I’m learning a lot about the public education system, and it doesn’t matter where you go, there’s always a public education system and a lot of times small towns need help with that, and physicians tend to be community leaders instead of leaders. So I definitely think I’m going to be able to bring a lot from this experience to the community that I’m going to be in, and I know that that definitely helped really solidify to the medical schools that I applied to that I was a service-oriented person, and that I was interested in returning to those communities to help them with issues that might revolve around that. So I definitely think that they were interested and anybody that is preaching those sorts of things with their application should consider experiences like that.
Okay. You had mentioned that you voided your MCAT, and you took a break from studying. I’m assuming that you had to pick up studying for the MCAT again while you’re doing this Americorps service.
Is that correct?
Yes it worked out really well. So the timeline looked like finals week in May, 2015, I took all my finals, I had all my MCAT books ready for the 2015 MCAT, and the second I finished my last final I just started studying, and my MCAT was scheduled for- so at that point I was in Minnesota, my MCAT was scheduled for July 21st in Louisiana. So I was just going to study, study, study until I came down to Louisiana and then it worked out really well where my Americorps service didn’t actually start until like two days after I took the MCAT. So I came down to Louisiana, I didn’t know anybody, and I stayed in my apartment twelve hours a day, and just studied, and you never want to go outside here because it’s too darn hot, so I just stayed inside in the AC all day and studied for those couple months that I had off, and it ended up working out for me. When I saw my score a month later I still thought I could have done better, especially with how much time I invested, but ultimately I was happy with it and I decided to continue with the application process.
Good so I think you broke the MCAT code, is that you have to move to a city where you never want to go outside, and you don’t know anybody.
Yeah and Baton Rouge is a good place for that.
It has to have Internet access.
Yes, actually one thing I would recommend that I used a lot other than the Kaplan books, and I think one of my books was the Princeton Review, I used Kahn Academy religiously. They’ve got a good MCAT study help right now as well, so I watched that really well and made a lot of flashcards for myself. So I would recommend that to anybody listening as well.
Okay. You had mentioned that you went on two medical school interviews.
How did you decide the schools that you applied to, and what did that look like as far as how many interview invites did you get, and obviously at some point you got an acceptance.
Right. So a month after I took the MCAT, I saw my score, decided I wanted to apply, I submitted all the applications, and at this point I was still leaning between DO and MD so I submitted- I was actually leaning towards DO-
Oh wait I want to stop you there for a second. You took the test you said July 21st?
Yes I think that was the date.
So July- so August 20th, the end of August you got your score. You didn’t apply to medical school before then?
I didn’t. Well I had all my applications- like I had the schools that I wanted to apply to picked out, and I had my personal statements started, and I had all my- I had my letters submitted, all my letter writers had their letters in.
But you never had your grades verified or anything?
Oh yeah, maybe I misunderstood the question. I had my applications opened and I had started them, but I never hit submit until after I saw my score.
Yeah so you didn’t have your grades verified.
Right, yeah I actually had to wait for the verification and that was tortuous as well.
I was checking my email every day. But yeah so it wasn’t until like the last day of August I think that I actually was content with my personal statement, I coped with my MCAT score, and one of my letter writers was actually making me stay up at night with how close he was cutting it to submitting. And then he finally got his letter in, and I hit submit the last day of August, and then the waiting game starts. I think within- actually the MD applications, even before I got the verification I got secondary offers from the MD schools, which there was two. And then the DO schools took like a month and a half I think to verify all my transcripts, and I was really actually invested in the DO schools at that point, so that was kind of- that was keeping me up at night as well. I think I had eight or maybe seven out to DO schools, so like I said I was leaning toward a DO path at that point, and- but the next day after I submitted my applications is when I got the secondaries for the MD schools and I filled those out as quick as I could within probably a week and submitted those both right away. And then the DO schools came in kind of rolling in one at a time with the secondaries, but like I said it took a month and a half to verify so for those considering applying early, definitely do it early. All of them are rolling admissions and I was just sweating thinking about it. But it ended up working out. I didn’t actually submit all the secondaries, I probably submitted five of them, maybe six, and then I just kind of like- I was getting some of the secondaries in later November, early December and I was like, ‘What’s the point?’ But at that point I think it was in late October that the first MD school got back to me for an interview offer, and I was ecstatic about that of course, and that was the University of Minnesots Duluth, right where I was from. So I scheduled that interview and I think it was right before that interview I had my plane ticket booked to Minnesota, I think it was about a week before that interview, I got an interview from the other MD school, they offered one. So was surprised because you hear about the differences between DO and MD school and I really thought I was cut out for DO schools more, and they were kind of being silent in the whole process.
Cut out just based on grades and MCAT score?
Yeah and you hear about the holistic approach to the DO schools, and they were more accepting of my community college credits, and there was a couple different factors. So when I actually went out of my way to shadow physicians earlier in my undergraduate career, I sought out DO’s because I know the DO schools like that when you shadow the DO’s and you get your letters from, and the MD schools don’t really care. So I really liked it, I thought that the osteopathic path would open doors and the physicians that I spoke to mostly spoke highly of it. So I thought that that would be interesting, and- but ultimately I wanted to be a physician, and actually if I was at all interested in staying close to home, there’s no DO schools in Minnesota or the closest one is in Des Moines which is quite a ways. So I took both of those interview offers and I did one in November and one in December, and then I just got home on Christmas break and I wasn’t expecting to hear from the schools over Christmas break and I got a call from the University of Minnesota Duluth that said they’d like to offer me a spot. So that was excellent, and then the- it was very ironic. It was that very same day I think I got three interview offers from DO schools, the very same day, and over email of course. And at that point I already had invested in all these plane tickets and I was just like- I was so excited to have that acceptance that I was just going to be content with that, and it was a medical school that was close to home, so I could hang out with my siblings and my family on the weekends or whatever, and I was already so caught up in that moment that I didn’t actually interview at any of the DO schools that offered me the spots. So the DO thing was interesting to me but it was just really timing and so apply early I guess is the moral of the story.
Yeah so apply early, and get rid of those notions that DO schools only- are the only ones that let you do holistically, and therefore they’re probably better for ‘me’ because of my background. Each of the medical schools has their own reasons, their own filters that they’re looking at students, and it just takes one school that matches up with your past, your extracurriculars, your whatever. And so obviously in your case, you were leaning more towards DO because you thought that that’s who would accept you more, and it was the two MD schools that pulled through.
Yeah and one thing that I would add to that too is applying- I was really looking at the mission statements of the schools saying are they interested in physicians that- or students that want to become physicians to return to smaller communities? Or are they more interested in training physician scientists, or researchers. And so the MD schools that I appled to lined up with that as well. Like the Minnesota school and the other one was a North Dakota school, they really wanted to send students to smaller communities to practice medicine, and that’s really what I was going for at the time, and I still am.
At the time I lied to them.
No, I mean you hear that all the time though. Like I talk to some of the first years, and you ask how many of them are actually interested in practicing family medicine and a lot of them are on the fence now that they’re in the door. But I am genuinely interested, and I think they saw that in me, and so what I’m trying to get at is if a school has a mission statement that you’re interested in, I really feel that that should be a determining factor in applying for that school. Are you a good fit for that mission statement? And is it something you agree with? Because I think they do look for that in you.
Very cool, alright. Well congrats on the acceptance to your hometown medical school.
Yes, thank you very much.
It’s awesome. What do you think was the biggest thing that you’ve learned as you went on your journey, and you started community college, and you kind of get frustrated with classes there, but then you go back and take even harder classes and do well; what’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned on the journey that the premed student listening right now can take home with them.
For me it was really the variety of experiences that I think showed me what I wanted to do, and ultimately got me that acceptace letter. Was I was interested in healthcare, nursing even at first, and so I started as a CNA job, and a college that I could afford, and that was in the right geographical location. And from there I went to Duluth where I worked in the hospitals and that opened up my eyes to a lot more, and even some other volunteer experiences. And then Americorps really opened up my eyes to different cultures, and different experiences and how I could integrate that into being a physician. And research experience as an undergrad. I regret- I said earlier that I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, but I absolutely regret none of that because all of those pushed me in a direction where I knew what I wanted more. So I would say try all the experiences you can get. If you think they’re going to fit with you and your mission, hopefully to becoming a physician, and just give them a genuine try. More than a couple weeks or whatever. Or like I did a couple semesters of undergraduate research before I realized that maybe this physician scientist thing isn’t a route for me so I went more towards like community health and small town stuff. And so yes, just indulge in the experiences, that would be my number one piece of advice.
Alright Jimmy, thank you for joining me. Again that was Jimmy with all of his infinite wisdom on his path, his journey, his experiences. Again it’s these podcast episodes that you consistently come back to me and say, “That was a great episode because I feel like I’m just like Jimmy. I’ve had that scenario where Jimmy was struggling with this, and he overcame it so now I have the motivation, the encouragement to overcome it. So I hope you got a lot of good information, a lot of good encouragement out of Jimmy’s story. If you’re listening and you think you have an interesting story, shoot me an email go to either www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net/contact or you can just shoot me an email Ryan@medicalschoolHQ.net. Share your story with me and let me know if you want to share it on the podcast. I’m always looking for great guests, and I know you have a great story to share. So let me know.
I do want to let you know about www.MedSchoolInterviewBook.com. That’s right, I’m working on a medical school interview book. As I’m recording this, if you’re listening to this in the future even by a couple months, the book is probably already out and you can find it on Amazon and probably nay eDevice reader you have, and you can buy the paperback version at Amazon as well.
But the Med School Interview Book has taken all of the knowledge that I’ve learned, I’ve taken from guests like Dr. Wagner from episode 19 who used to be the Dean of Admissions at three different medical schools. And Dr. Polites who’s been on four different episodes who’s at Wash U. And many other people- Dr. Rivera talking about the MMI. I’ve taken that knowledge and the experience that I’ve had doing mock interviews now with upwards of 100 plus students. Taking all of that information, that feedback, that knowledge, and getting the feedback from those students that have now gone on into their ‘real’ medical school interview, and given me the feedback and say, “Oh Dr. Gray, your mock interview prepared me so well for that interview, I’m so glad I did it with you, and now I have an acceptance.” So all of that feedback all that information, all that knowledge I’m putting into a book. One of the biggest problems with med school interview books is that it’s usually a little bit of content and a lot of questions. And it’s just a list of questions that you look at, and you don’t really know what to do with it. And you can answer the questions in your head, and prepare for them in your head, but you don’t really know how you should answer that, or what the feedback is from an answer. And so what the www.MedSchoolInterviewBook.com, whatever the name of the book’s going to be, I don’t know the name of it yet, the third part of the book- the first section is all content, it’s all about why the interview is important, common mistakes, how to succeed, how to prepare, what are medical schools looking for; it’s all of that. The second section is a list of questions. So you have to have a list of questions, I think it helps to understand and to get an idea of what to expect. And then the third section is where I think the most value comes from, it’s actually transcripts of interviews that I’ve done with students. So it’s their answer- the student’s answer and then my feedback. So you can see how students are answering questions, you can see the feedback that I’m giving to them. So go to www.MedSchoolInterviewBook.com, get notified when we release the book. If the book is already out, www.MedSchoolInterviewBook.com will just take you right to the book so you can buy it at your favorite eBook reader store of choice.
Alright I want to take one second and thank a couple people that have left us ratings and reviews. We got got a ton of ratings and reviews over the last week, pushed us well over 400 five star ratings, which is awesome. So I want to thank vubrandon who says, ‘This podcast has provided invaluable insight and has even made the premed process entertaining. It’s the perfect remedy to the other toxic premed communities I’ve only visited as a necessary evil.’ That’s an awesome review, thank you vubrandon.
We have Dayna Pre-PA, so we have a nontraditional pre-PA student that’s listening to the podcast and it’s helpful. They’re saying it’s helpful for all prehealth students, which is awesome so thank you for that.
I’d like to hear from more of you. If you’re a PA student, or maybe a pre-nursing student that’s listening to this, that’d be awesome to know. Reach out to me. We have Freshflip19931234 who says, ‘This is a great podcast for anyone traditional or nontraditional in the premed pipeline.’ Thank you for that rating and review.
I have a bunch more to go through but I’ll cut those off for now. If you would like to leave a rating and review go to www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net/iTunes.
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Alright I hope you got a ton of great information out of the podcast today, and as always I hope you join us next week here at the Medical School Headquarters and The Premed Years Podcast.
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