Shadowing Secrets for Every Premed

Shadowing Secrets for Every Premed

Allison and I join forces again for another session of The Premed Years.   For this session we talk about shadowing. We've already done a post about shadowing physicians, but we thought it would be good to revisit the subject since it seems to be a common question among premed students.

Jargon Every Medical Student and Premed Should Know

Medical terminology hits you like a brick wall when you start medical school. Suddenly you’re expected to be able to say and spell words like “keratoconjunctivits” or “leukoencephalopathy.” While learning the intricacies of medical terminology is important, today I just want to touch on some of the jargon you may hear about medical school itself…

Choosing Your Specialty: 8 Things to Think About

Selecting which field in medicine you are going to pursue can be a difficult decision for some medical students. Some students already know what specialty they want to pursue even before they start orientation. Others start to get anxious as the end of 3rd year draws near, desperately trying to figure out which field suits them best. Many use the process of elimination as they move from one clinical rotation to the next, crossing off fields of medicine they don't like and making a list of those they do. Only 5 or 6 fields of medicine are represented in the required 3rd year clinical rotations, so exploring other specialties is often necessary. The following will hopefully help you in making your decision.  

Take every opportunity to explore!

All medical schools require students to pass the following required 3rd year clinical rotations: Internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, and surgery. Many also require neurology, family medicine, emergency medicine and radiology. Therefore, if you are interested in ophthalmology, ENT, or orthopedics, you may be asking, when am I going to find out if I really want to pursue this specialty? Some schools provide elective time during the 3rd year, while many do not. As such, there is the summer between the 1st and 2nd years of medical school as well as some time early in 4th year.

Interview with a 56-Year-Old Medical Student

In Session 11 I talk to Kate. She recently turned 56-years-old, and is a 3rd year medical student at West Virginia School of Medicine. AMAZING! You can read a profile that she wrote for us already here.


Kate shares with us her story of switching from a biology major, focusing on premed, to nursing and how at age 50, she got the itch to go back to school to become a physician. One of the decisions that helped her make the decision to switch to nursing was the cut-throat culture of the premed (I'm hoping to change that here!).

10 Books Every Premed Should Read (While Not Studying!)

Below is a subjective list of the 10 books every pre med student should read (or anybody for that matter) prior to going to medical school. The list covers everything from attendings, residents, interns and even medical student stories.   If you have a book that you read that you think should be added to the list, leave a comment below.

2014 MCAT Dates

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the organization that administers the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) has not yet released the 2014 MCAT Test dates.   The 2013 MCAT Test dates were released at the beginning of October, and I would expect something similar again. So keep checking back here, and we'll update this as soon the test dates are available.

Interview with Columbia Postbac Premed Program

Session 10 of The Premed Years brings you what I hope is the start to many expert interviews involving deans of medical schools and deans of postbac programs.

These experts are the reason I started the podcast. These are the people that have the most up-to-date information, the most unbiased information when it comes to helping YOU on your path to becoming a physician.

For Session 10 I interviewed Dr. Victoria Rosner. She is the Associate Dean and GS Coordinator of Academic Affairs at Columbia's Postbac Premed Program.

Interview with Publisher Ryan

Ryan is an MS1 (1st year medical student) and is at Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. He blogs at and his old website is He studied microbiology at UC Santa Barbara and shares how his undergrad classes has helped him in medical school.

Ryan talks about the transition from undergrad to medical school and how he’s studying 8 hours a day. He had heard from others about how much there was to study, but he never believed it. Now he’s living it! We have a brief discussion about some recent news about some medical schools offering 3 year medical school curriculum.

Interview with Non-Traditional Pre Med Torray

Session 8 of The Premed Years brings another great story from a non-traditional pre med student. Our first non-traditional interview was with Russell during Session 6. If you are still unsure about what a non-traditional student is, check out our interview with Rich from during Session 5. Like Russell, Torray has been teaching for the last decade as an English teacher. He talks to us about how some poor pre med advising during his undergraduate career led him AWAY from medicine. Then some health problems, as often the case is, lead him to rethink his career path.

Reader Profile: KH (55 year old MS3!)

If you're interested in contributing to this series, then drop me an email. The series can be a very valuable source for readers and I need a steady stream of new ones to keep it going.   Next in the series is MedicalSchoolHQ reader KH. She answered my questions (in red below) as follows:  

Please tell us a bit about yourself (include where you are in your path to becoming a physician).

I'm someone who has always been interested in medicine. As an undergrad, I majored in biology/pre-med initially. When my GPA was about 3.25, I thought that was hopeless for medical school, and I transferred after my junior year into the junior year of a bachelor's degree nursing program. So after 5 years, had a BSN degree (with SOME of the premed prerequisites). Worked as a nurse, mostly ICU/Cardiac Surgery ICU for 13 years then went to graduate school to become a certified nurse-midwife (I'd gotten certified as a childbirth educator some years before while having my own children so there was SOME tie-in). Worked with a family practice doctor in rural Tennessee at a National Health Service Corps site (they had paid for my MSN in nurse-midwifery). Then moved back to my home state where practicing as a midwife was difficult at the time. Ended up teaching nursing for about 7 years before deciding to go to medical school. Now I'm a 3rd year medical student, at 55 years old.

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