Here Comes 2015 – Big Things to Come for All!

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Session 110

Session 110

In this episode, Ryan and Allison talk about looking forward towards 2015 – some exciting stuff going on and how you can start preparing for some exciting stuff you have going on.

Part of the podcast’s mission in 2015 is to present to you all other pathways that exist that you can take as a physician whether MD or DO. Having this knowledge may just help you in times when you hit the wall, whether you’re less motivated, or frustrated, or burned out, to become aware of the many opportusnities out there to help you keep going.

In their mission to help the next generation of physicians, Ryan and Allison talk about what they’re looking forward to in 2015, setting goals, the importance of writing down those goals, and things you need to do to achieve those goals.

What are your goals for 2015? Share it with us.

Here are the highlights of our conversation:

Allison’s Highlights for 2014:

  • Having their daughter and change in life from it
  • Being out in practice
  • Developing relationships with patients and their families

What’s coming for Allison in 2015:

  • Allison is taking a new job, going back to an academic setting
  • Guiding, mentoring, and
  • Bringing in a Canadian physician on the podcast for our friends up north

Academic teaching vs. private practice

The beauty of being a MD/DO: Freedom and flexibility in designing your career the way you want it

Things to look forward to in 2015:

  • Bringing what other things you can do as a physician: (e.g. Healthcare policy, Doctors without borders, Consulting)
  • The pathways you can take as a physician
  • Continuing to grow in efficiency
  • Working in your work vs. working on your work

The importance of making your time and plotting your course

The importance of being more introspective

Staying true to who you are and being positive along your journey

Making 2015 your best year and improving on yesterday:

  • What did you fail in last year?
  • What goals did you set that you didn’t make?
  • Did you set goals at all? If yes, did you write them down?
  • What are your goals for 2015?
  • How are you going to get there?
  • What other areas in your life do you want to grow?
  • One year from right now, what do you want your life to look like?

The importance of writing down your goals

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

  • You can move in different ways in your career. If you find something you like, stick with it. If you feel you want to change at a certain point, you can do that.
  • There’s plenty of time if you make it. Plan out specifically what you need to be doing and plot your course.
  • Look inward and reflect. Are the kind of person you want to be? If not, how can you be better?
  • Write down your goals and what things you need to do to get there.

Links and Other Resources:

Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep): Get one-on-one tutoring for the MCAT and maximize your score. Get $50 off their tutoring program when you mention that you heard about this on the podcast or through the MSHQ website.

Know more about Next Step from our previous episodes:

Episode 59: MCAT Retakes – Change and Improve to Get the Score You Want

Episode 87: 5 Things You Need to Do to Start Preparing for MCAT 2015

Know more about the Academy:

Listen to our podcast for free at iTunes: and leave us a review there!


Dr. Ryan Gray: The Medical School Headquarters Podcast, session number 110.

Hello and welcome to the Medical School Headquarters Podcast. Where we believe that collaboration- yes collaboration, not competition is key to your premed 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 you on your path to becoming a physician.

Today, the day that we’re releasing this episode is December 31, 2014. And you may not be listening on December 31st, but if you are, we want to wish you a very happy and healthy new year for 2015. And I say ‘we’ because today I have in the studio, known as our basement office, Allison Gray.

Dr. Allison Gray: Hello!

Dr. Ryan Gray: Dr. Allison Gray.

Dr. Allison Gray: Hi everyone, happy New Year.

Dr. Ryan Gray: How are you doing?

Dr. Allison Gray: I’m great. It’s been a great year and I’m excited about 2015.

NextStepTestPrep Special

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yes, I’m very excited about 2015 as well, and that’s kind of what we’re going to talk about today, is looking forward towards 2015. What kind of maybe exciting stuff we have going on, and how you can start preparing for some exciting stuff that you may have going on. Before we start talking about that though, let me take a second to remind you about our friends over at They offer one-on-one tutoring for the MCAT. And the past month or so we’ve been running a deal with them, $100 off their tutoring, but that’s if you were still the old MCAT, and by now you’re probably not. But you know what, they’re still offering $50 off of their MCAT tutoring; one-on-one MCAT tutoring. Go over to, tell them that we sent you, and if you want to know more about them, go listen to them in sessions 59 and 87, where I talked to Brian, one of the top MCAT tutors and the director over there for the MCAT tutoring. So again,

Alright Allison, so last week I was by myself talking about the kind of the year-end review of 2014. I want to hear from you briefly about your 2014; what you saw as a success in 2014, and maybe some of the highlights for you.

Allison’s Highlights for 2014

Dr. Allison Gray: Well highlight number one is easy, having our daughter.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, I guess that’s a good one.

Dr. Allison Gray: It was a crazy year for me. A crazy great year. But I mean being pregnant and having our daughter, and the change in life that comes with all of that. What else, Ryan? I don’t know, that’s what I think of when I think of 2014, but I think-

Dr. Ryan Gray: Your first full year out practicing, and-

Dr. Allison Gray: Yes, that too. So I started practicing in July of 2013 so about half of the prior year, but it takes about six months to really get your feet wet and get into the flow of things in practice once you’re out of residency. A lot of people say that and I fully agree. So I think- yeah I would totally agree with that statement. Being out in practice for my first time out, that was very exciting and a great learning experience, and I developed a lot of relationships with patients and their families and other providers in the community, and that’s all been really, really great and meaningful to me.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah. And moving forward in 2015 you have a change now, right?

Allison’s 2015 Outlook

Dr. Allison Gray: I am. I’m taking a new job.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah. And so you’re going back into academics.

Dr. Allison Gray: I am, I am. I’ve been really eager to get back into the academic setting recently, and I think you know it’s part of what we do around here where our goal, our mission, is to try to help the next generation of physicians, to help guide and mentor and teach, and I really love doing that. And as much as I loved the job that I was doing, I miss that aspect of it. And so my new job- I’ll be at a medical center, still in Massachusetts, but it will provide me the opportunity to do a lot more of that teaching that I’ve been really missing.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, so you get to try it and see if you like it. You’ve never really been on that side of it, right?

Academic Setting

Dr. Allison Gray: True. I mean- you know, the system you grow up in in a certain sense in academics. You know we all grow up in that system because you go to medical school and then you become a resident, an intern, a resident. And so- but yeah, that’s the system that you know, it’s the only system you know really.

Dr. Ryan Gray: And that’s something that I always warn against. So as a student going through the system, you see what life is like as an orthopedic surgeon in an academic scenario. You see what life is like as a neurologist in an academic center. You hardly get the opportunity to see what life is like as a private practice physician, as an orthopedic surgeon, as a neurologist, as a whatever. And so you may see what- or you may come into medical school with this idea of, ‘Oh I want to be an orthopedic surgeon, I really love it, and I shadowed this one guy randomly a long time ago.’ And then you go to medical school and you see what academic orthopedic medicine is like and you go, ‘You know what? This is not really what I want to do.’ But you forget that there’s this whole other world out there; and we’ve talked about it a couple times. But now you’re going back- so you have dipped your toes in the private practice community and said, ‘Okay this is cool, I like it. But I kind of miss maybe the teaching side.’ And so now you’re going to go dip your toes into that. And it will be different than when you were a resident or when you were a medical student because now you’re the attending teaching resident to medical students.

Locum Tenes

Dr. Allison Gray: Absolutely. And so in a sense it’s coming full circle. I think part though- so the way I look at the world, I mean I think that one of the beauties of medicine and of having an MD or a DO, and I’ve said this before on the podcast, is that it allows you a certain sense of freedom and flexibility in that you can really design your career in the way that you want to a large extent. In past years, past decades, physicians would join a practice or start a solo practice and they would stay in that location for thirty or forty years. And that’s wonderful, but the time of that sort of physician has really changed. If you look at most hospital contracts nowadays they’re three years. There’s a whole organization that we’ve never talked about on the podcast but exists called Locum Tenes. And it’s not really an organization, it’s sort of a concept. And Locum Tenens- it’s Latin and I’m blanking on what it actually means. But it’s probably temporary something, temporary location or something. But the point is that it allows you to- a physician to go and do a temporary- sort of work in a temporary position for a period of time and then move. So some physicians will take an opportunity to go and live in Hawaii or go and live in Milwaukee, or do something completely different-

Dr. Ryan Gray: Who wants to live in Milwaukee?

Dr. Allison Gray: I’m sure- we might have listeners out there. You all in Milwaukee, don’t be insulted by that, we just don’t know anything about Milwaukee.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Madison, Wisconsin recently was ranked a top place for under 35.

Dr. Allison Gray: I’d like to visit Wisconsin, yeah. So anyhow, the point of what I’m saying is that there are a lot of opportunities for movement and change and variety. And moving in different ways in your career- so if you find something that you like, stick with it. And if you feel after a certain point that you want to change, you can do that, and it’s one of the beauties of what we do. So I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to explore something new, and I’ll see. I think I’ll see how it goes and I think at the end of the day my goal is always the same; is to treat patients and improve the neurological health of my patients, and my community. And so how can I best design that in a way that-

Dr. Ryan Gray: Fits you, fits the family, fits everything.

Dr. Allison Gray: Exactly.

Dr. Ryan Gray: And again, I think you said the key- having that MD, that DO, being a physician opens up the opportunity for you to try something, and if you don’t like it, try something else, if you don’t like it, try something else.

Dr. Allison Gray: It’s so true, and it’s interesting because I think a lot of physicians out there- because that kind of homegrown system we talked about where you grow up in academic medicine, because of there’s a lot of sense that that is the only way; that that is the only way to practice medicine, is in academics. And even moreso you could say, ‘Well the only way is to practice medicine and there’s nothing else you can do as a physician.’ But we also know that that’s not true. And I think one of the things I would like to do more of in 2015 is also bring to you out there, our community of listeners, all the other things out there. What are the other things you could do as a physician? So I’d like to bring somebody on the podcast who can talk to us about healthcare policy, and what is it like to work as a physician in healthcare policy? What is it like to work as a physician in Doctors Without Borders? What is it like to work as a physician who does consulting? Some of you might be thinking, ‘Well that’s not interesting, I’m premed and I want to go to medical school so I can treat patients.’ And if that’s true, that’s wonderful, that’s great. But there are- the whole point is that when you enter a career, when you enter a profession in my mind- and Ryan you can tell me if you agree or not. I think it’s really important to know all the pathways that exist to you and that’s part of our mission here at the podcast, is to tell you about all of that.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, knowing all the pathways helps you when you hit the wall; either with your motivation, or you get frustrated, or burnt out as many physicians do. Knowing that there are opportunities out there helps you keep going so you know that there are other truly opportunities out there for you.

Dr. Allison Gray: Yes. There’s no reason to get stuck- to feel stuck. The doors and windows and tunnels and everything that open to you when you get your degree, really our boundless, they really are.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah. What else are you looking forward to in 2015, maybe not something specific, but just looking to grow in 2015?

Dr. Allison Gray: Me personally?

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Dr. Allison Gray: I don’t think I’m going to grow much more, I’m 5’6″, it’s been that way for awhile. I’m sorry. I’m terrible at telling jokes. So I try every once in a while. That was a dud.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, that was a dud. I might have to edit that.

2015 for Medical School HQ

Dr. Allison Gray: That’s against your motto.But what am I- in terms of growing? I’m excited- you know I think we’ve seen so much growth out there in terms of our community at Medical School Headquarters, and we’re so grateful to all of you every day. Hearing from you, seeing pictures of where you’re listening to us, and hearing from you by email, by phone, leaving us a voicemail sometimes, by Twitter, by Facebook; all these ways that you have of contacting us. It’s so exciting to me to just continue to see that grow. And I know recently we talked about the growth of the podcast in terms of how many downloads and how many people- how many ears out there are listening to us. And I just continue all the time to be so excited by that. So I’m hopeful that we will continue to grow and we’ll reach more earbuds and why? Because it’s our mission to help- again that next generation of physicians. And whether that’s somebody- whether you’re out there and you’re in high school like David, whether you’re out there and you’re a non-trad and you’re trucking away and it’s been- it’s a very long journey and you’re tenth year in the process, or whether you’re a traditional applicant and you’re in your junior year in college; wherever you may be we’re- and maybe you’re a medical student or resident. Wherever you are, we’re always wanting to help guide, help advise, help in any way we can. You know, with the experience we’ve had, with the people we’ve talked to; so I’m just looking forward- I hope to more and more growth.

Ryan’s 2015 Outlook

Dr. Ryan Gray: Awesome. One thing that I’m looking forward to on more of a personal level is continuing to grow in my efficiency. And I think this is something where a lot of people- they don’t look at improving. So as a premed student, as a medical student, as a resident; we tend to- and humans tend to continue doing things the way that they’ve always done them. And as a resident specifically you are so busy doing everything that you need to do, that you don’t have time to step back and take a look at what you are doing on a day-to-day basis and analyze that, and figure out how to improve it. But that’s an important step along the process. There’s a phrase called ‘working in your work, versus working on your work.’ And everybody works in their work, and the truly sensational people are able to step back and work on their work, and improve the processes and improve work flows, and streamline things so that they can go to be more efficient and more productive.

Dr. Allison Gray: So does that mean that a sensational person cannot be busy? Or a busy person cannot be sensational?

Dr. Ryan Gray: Sensational?

Dr. Allison Gray: I thought you said sensational people. You said the most sensational people.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Oh okay, yeah yeah. No I think to be sensational and sane, I think you are taking it to that next level.

Dr. Allison Gray: Yeah, because I’m just thinking- you know playing devil’s advocate, I mean when you start medical school and then you move on to residency it’s hard to- like you said, where can you find that time to step back?

Dr. Ryan Gray: It’s making the time. If you look for it, you’ll never find it. Something- I don’t know where I picked that up, I’ve said that for awhile now though. But you’ll never find it if you look for it, you have to make it.

Dr. Allison Gray: Well and I- thinking back to medical school, see I don’t know if we’ve told all of you. When Ryan and I were in medical school the Gators won I think three different championships, it was ridiculous. I was like, ‘Who is this guy? I met him and like all of his favorite teams are winning. The Gators, the White Sox-

Dr. Ryan Gray: The White Sox won, the Gators won.

Dr. Allison Gray: Yeah. Basketball, football, ridiculous. So my point is we had some time during medical school to watch some of these games.

Making the Time

Dr. Ryan Gray: There’s plenty of time. And that’s kind of my point. Is there’s plenty of time if you make it. But if you just trudge along and look at your books for 24 hours a day, and ‘oh let me watch Grey’s Anatomy for an hour,’ and ‘oh let me paint my nails for an hour,’ and ‘oh let me do this for an hour,’ and then all of a sudden, ‘oh I have a test in 24, I need to study all night.’ That’s working in your work, you’re not taking the time to go to plan out specifically what you need to be doing and plot your course. We always talk about course correction; you need to plot your course and look up every once in a while and see if you’re on track or not.

Dr. Allison Gray: Yeah, no I like that. It’s interesting because I mean I also think that it’s really important- now we’re getting philosophical here. But I also think it’s really important to be introspective, and that’s something that I think is so important about your medical school journey, too, and beyond as a physician. So Ryan’s point is the ability to step back and look at sort of the whole picture and how can I be more efficient and what can I be doing better? And my feeling also is that it’s important to look inward and say, ‘am I being kind of the person that I want to be being, am I acting in a way that I want to be?’ It’s a challenge I think, and a lot of people go through life and maybe don’t take the time to be introspective and don’t take the time to really reflect on, ‘am I being that physician that I’ve wanted to be? Am I being that student, that resident, that whatever I may be, that premed- at every stage. Am I living in the footsteps- in the shoes I’m trying to say of that person that I really am envisioning myself to be? And if not, how can I be better?’ I think it’s really important because it helps you stay true to who you are and helps you be honest and continue to be positive throughout your journey. And that’s really important I think as the way that you avoid- again, getting burnt out and getting sort of poisoned by the cynicism that can happen unfortunately in our profession.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Dr. Allison Gray: So there you go, look outward, look inward, look always.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Look left, look right. Especially before crossing the road.

Dr. Allison Gray: And look down when you’re taking a test.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Alright. So for you listening, for you to make 2015, or whatever year you are listening to this, your best year and how to improve on last year? Or even if you want to take it and even make it smaller, how to improve on yesterday? There are some questions you can ask yourself. You can ask yourself what you failed in last year, what goals did you set that you didn’t make? Did you set goals at all? And if you set goals, did you write them down? It’s been shown over and over and over again that writing down your goals is one of the best things to do to accomplish your goals. And I’m terrible at this.

Dr. Allison Gray: Yes, but you have this new fabulous app called Todoist.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, I don’t know if those are goals, though.

Dr. Allison Gray: Oh yeah, that’s just to-do items.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Just to-do things, and that helps. But really goals. Like what are our goals for 2015? Maybe we should sit down and do that.

Dr. Allison Gray: Okay.

Goal Setting

Dr. Ryan Gray: And you listening should do this, too. What are your goals for 2015? If it’s you’re applying this year- or 2015, and you want to get into medical school, write that down. That’s your goal. And then how are you going to get there? Obviously you need to get your letters of recommendation, you need to write a personal statement, you need to start collecting all of your experiences from premed, all of your extracurricular activities, who you shadowed, who you volunteered with. Get all of that in order, because you know that those are the steps that you need to do to accomplish your goals. So those are things that you should be writing down. Start developing those things now so that you’re ready. Talk about some other areas in your life that maybe you want to grow. Do you want to reconnect with some family members, do you want to reconnect with some friends? Those are other things that you should be writing down; other goals that you should want to achieve or whatever you may want to do, write those down so you can see them. Get it out of your head.

Dr. Allison Gray: Yeah it’s part of carving out the path, the life that you want to have versus letting life happen to you.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah. One question that you can ask yourself, write it down and then take some time to think about it. One year from right now, what do you want your life to look like? What are you doing? Are you sitting in a medical school classroom? Are you sitting in an interview? Are you the director of a premed organization? Are you the leader of some awesome club on campus, getting ready for your applications, getting ready building that extracurricular activity, CV, what are you doing?

Dr. Allison Gray: Yeah and are you a husband, a wife, a mom, a dad, a significant other; all sorts of things. Yeah. Don’t leave your personal life out.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yes. So take those thoughts with you to make this next year- make tomorrow, and everything that we talked about. You can narrow it down to a day. Well today, what didn’t go well? How can I improve on that tomorrow to make tomorrow even better than today? So some thoughts for you, a little bit different conversation today, more of a ‘rah-rah.’

Dr. Allison Gray: We’re being philosophical. That’s what New Year’s is all about too, and we always say don’t have New Year’s resolutions, have year-long resolutions.

Dr. Ryan Gray: I hate New Year’s resolutions. If you want to change, change today. Today just happens to be almost December 31st. But-

Dr. Allison Gray: But that’s maybe why we’re being more philosophical. With every year, it’s change and it’s exciting. It’s exciting.

Dr. Ryan Gray: So I want to see what your goals are for 2015 or beyond; whenever you’re listening to this. Go to to go to the show notes page for this specific episode, and leave us a comment there. Alright, anything else Allison?

Dr. Allison Gray: No, I don’t think so. Just have a healthy, happy, safe New Year. Next week is exciting because it’s episode 111.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Sure.

Dr. Allison Gray: 111, craziness.

Dr. Ryan Gray: As we continue on. So do you have any ideas for episode 111 or beyond? Let us know, You can shoot me an email, I’m You can let me know on Twitter, on @MedicalSchoolHQ.

Dr. Allison Gray: Oh I thought of one other thing.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Dr. Allison Gray: I think- when you were asking me what am I looking forward to in 2015, I really am committed to bringing a Canadian physician for our friends up north. We’ve been working on that, and it’s just a little bit slower than we thought. So we’ve been talking with some people and we’re eager to talk with more to try to bring some more insight to the application process up in Canada. So I just wanted to add that for our friends up north who we really appreciate you listening and being part of our community. So we are committed to you as well, and we will do what we can to bring that information to you.

The Academy

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yes. One other thing that I wanted to mention. I’m excited for the Academy. You mentioned a little bit about what we’re doing, but today is the 30th as we’re recording this, releasing it on the 31st, and on the 3rd of January I’m actually going to close the Academy for new members. And that’s because as this past year went on and we worked with the Academy members who were applying this year, it was a lot of work doing mock interviews and personal statement prep. And so we want to work closely with the members that are applying this year. And we don’t want to focus on trying to add new members and all of that. So we’re going to take new members up until the 3rd of January, 2015, and close it for now. If we have time we can open up to new members but we don’t know when that will be. So if you’re thinking about joining the Academy where you can get some group advising from Allison and myself and other members in our monthly office hours, and submit your personal statement for review, and just join an overall awesome community. At least five of our members as we record this have received acceptances to medical school this year along out of five I think that have applied; I don’t think anybody’s gotten- not gotten in this year which is awesome. So go check that out at And before we close out I want to thank the few people that left us reviews. We had a lot of reviews recently, I don’t know the reason that we got a bunch, but we had several new five star ratings and reviews including StealHome, PowerfulWhit, DemyEqualsDaBomb and MostGiantVanillaBear. And one more, AtomicSoap. Awesome names, thank you for having pronounceable names this week. They’re saying, ‘Rave worthy, very helpful premed podcast,’ ‘Fantastic information, must hear.’ ‘The best podcast for premed.’ So thank you to those people who left us five start ratings and reviews. If you haven’t done so, go to where you can do that. It greatly helps us in iTunes with their algorithm. To them it shows iTunes that people like us, and if others are out there looking for a podcast like ours, they will more likely to show them our podcast; so thank you.

Dr. Allison Gray: Ditto on all that.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Ditto on all that. Alright. So I think that’s it, Allison.

Dr. Allison Gray: Yeah, short and sweet and looking forward to hearing from you all, and speaking with you all in 2015.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, so as always I hope you gained a little bit of information out of today’s podcast. Maybe not specifically about medical school, but just goals in life in general. And as always I hope you join us next time here at the Medical School Headquarters.