Introduction to the OldPreMeds Podcast

Session 1

Welcome to the inaugural episode of the OldPreMeds Podcast!

OldPreMeds.org is a site dedicated to nontraditional premed and medical students. This podcast is going to take questions that students post in the forums over at OldPreMeds.org which will be turned into episodes. Your questions will be answered to help you on this journey to becoming a physician.

If you’re a nontraditional student entering the medical field on your terms and you may have some hiccups along the way or perhaps changing careers and you’re ready to change course to go back and serve others as a physician, then this podcast is here to help answer your questions and educate you.

The OldPreMeds Podcast is published by Dr. Ryan Gray who is also the publisher of the Medical School Headquarters Podcast, which has been around for more than 3 years now.

A Brief Overview – Who We Are

OldPreMeds.org was founded in 1998 by six slightly older students who were getting harassed for some online forum for an MCAT prep course. They decided to create a mailing list that began with six students. Rich Levy eventually got involved with the site since 2002 and formally took over eight years after serving as both executive director and publisher of the OldPreMeds.org.

OldPreMeds.org has now joined the family of Medical School Headquarters where Ryan has taken over on the role of publisher of the OldPreMeds.org website as well as in helping direct the society that it runs under.

Currently, the site has over 10,000 registered members and over 25,000 monthly unique visitors, being the largest organization that is solely dedicated to nontraditional students who tread the path of medicine.

OldPreMeds.org  is founded under the auspices of the National Society for Nontraditional Premedical & Medical Students.

Where we are headed to moving forward

What used to be the nontraditional is now the new traditional and with so much misinformation out today both for nontraditional students and the regular students about medical school prospecting and application, we are dedicated to overcome this major challenge and put clear emphasis on accurate, referenceable, attributable information.

OldPreMeds.org provides a safe place for students to go and ask questions and not be judged in the same way that you will be in other sites.

Rich is not exiting completely as he will still get on the podcast, along with Ryan, to share their wisdom to listeners. If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Links and Other Resources

OldPreMeds.org

Visit medicalschoolhq.net for tons of information about the premed journey

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at [email protected] or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

Transcript

Session #1

Introduction

Dr. Ryan Gray: The OldPreMeds Podcast, session number 1.
You’re a nontraditional student entering the medical field on your terms. You may have had some hiccups along the way, or you’re changing careers. You’re now ready to change course and go back and serve others as a physician. This podcast is here to help answer your questions and help educate you on your journey to becoming a physician.
Welcome to the inaugural episode of the OldPreMeds Podcast. Now OldPreMeds you can find at www.OldPremeds.org or you can find this podcast at www.OPMPodcast.com. What OldPremeds is, is a site dedicated to nontraditional premed and medical students. And this podcast is going to take questions that students post in the forums over at www.OldPremeds.org, and turn them into episodes. I’m going to take the question and we’re going to answer it- myself and Rich, and we’ll introduce Rich here in a second. But if you don’t know who I am, I am Dr. Ryan Gray, I am the publisher of the Medical School Headquarters, and the Medical School Headquarters Podcast. That podcast has been around for more than three years now; if you haven’t listened to that podcast, if you’re just finding me through this podcast, then go check out the Medical School Headquarters at www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net, and go listen to those podcasts. We’ve got a ton of great information about the premed journey. Not specifically for nontraditionals, although the majority of students that listen to that podcast are nontraditional students, so I do cater a lot of stuff to nontraditionals. But the OldPreMeds Podcast is going to be a very short forum, about ten minutes each, question and answer. We’re going to find questions that people post in the forums, we’re going to answer those questions, and all of that to help you- help guide you as you are on this journey to becoming a physician.
Now Rich is going to talk about it in a second about the transition of OldPreMeds, so I’ll let him do that. Actually, let’s just do that right now, let’s introduce Rich. Rich, welcome. Why don’t you introduce yourself and your role with OldPreMeds?

Background of OldPreMeds

Richard Levy: My role until very recently with OldPreMeds was as the Executive Director and the publisher of the website. But that recently has changed. We’ve now joined your family of Medical School Headquarters, and you’re taking on the role of publishers of the www.OldPremeds.org website as well as help to direct the society that it runs under. And we wish you well in your new endeavor, Dr. Gray.
Dr. Ryan Gray: I’m becoming a media mogul.
Richard Levy: Well let’s not go too far.
Dr. Ryan Gray: Why don’t you explain- since this is the first episode of the OldPreMeds Podcast, why don’t you explain a little bit of the history of OldPreMeds maybe when you took it over, because it was given to you at some point as well, and where it’s going, and where maybe you hope I take it.
Richard Levy: Okay well actually I’ll go back a step further, it was founded in 1998 by six slightly older students who were getting harassed in some online forum for an MCAT prep course, so they decided to create a mailing list. It started with six students, I took it over- I was involved with the site since 2002, I took it over formally in 2010. We currently have somewhere over 10,000 registered members who have gone and put their name and address, et cetera. We have somewhere over 25,000 approximately per month of unique visitors that come to the site. It is the largest organization that is solely dedicated to nontraditional students who are seeking going into medicine. Besides the website it’s founded under the auspices of the National Society for Nontraditional Premedical and Medical Students, but everyone knows us by our website name which is OldPreMeds of course. Where the site should go is an interesting question, because what used to be the nontraditional is now the new traditional. So I think the site needs to go and just integrating with the rest of the premed information because I think there’s so much misinformation out there for both nontraditional students, as well as regular students, about the prospects and how to apply to med school that deserves a site that emphasizes accurate, referenceable, attributable information which I think you do very well, especially through your podcast. We have the people who are in the know who are talking about what they actually know, as opposed to those who may guess, speculate, and promote myths across the website like some other sites that we won’t mention by name now.
Dr. Ryan Gray: Those other three letter sites. And you know Rich from being my friend now for a couple years, and you know why I started the Medical School Headquarters, and it was to kind of overcome that misinformation out there. And it’s interesting, just today there was a question on Twitter from a medical student who I actually have had on my podcast, the Medical School Headquarters Podcast before. And he wrote a question basically saying, ‘Hey premeds, who of you actually use SDN? Why do you use it? And if you don’t, why don’t you use it?’ And it’s interesting, I asked him why he asked the question and he just said, “It was triggered by the mocking of medical students and college students, essentially being wussies for wanting a safe space online.” So students are seeking a safe place to go ask questions, and kind of air- not air their dirty laundry, but air some of their weaknesses, and some things that they’re maybe ashamed of; getting an F in a class or a poor MCAT score. And this anonymity of students are just [Inaudible 00:06:36] them.

Dangers of Online Forums

Richard Levy: I think in my entire time in being involved with OldPreMeds, there have only been two- count them, two people that I’ve ever had to ban from the site for their obnoxious, uncivilized behavior. There have been a few times where threads have gotten out of hand, but I’ve rarely have ever had to moderate. My view was that they’re adults, other adults will get involved and will let them know, and that has always been the case unlike Student Doctor Network. And we should say about Student Doctor Network, the people who run it who founded it are really dedicated for their job, they are. But it is the students who get on there who believe that to enter a professional physician that requires so much integrity and ethics, that it’s okay to be unprofessional without integrity, and to be an obnoxious little so-and-so online while you’re getting there, which seems so contraindicated.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah it’s interesting, the Twitter question asker- the person that asked this question on Twitter, he went on and said one of the reasons he’s asking this question, it looks like he’s trying to dig up some information to write maybe an op-ed piece, and he thinks maybe SDN- and again as you said, the people behind SDN have good intentions, it’s the anonymous users that are the trolls. But he says that he’s wondering if SDN has a role in the lack of diversity of the students applying to medical school, because they go onto the site and maybe ask questions, or maybe they’re just reading and see that, ‘Oh everybody has to have a 4.0 GPA and a perfect MCAT score to get in.’

Richard Levy: That’s interesting you should say that because this has come up a discussion at the osteopathic conferences and at the AAMC conferences, where I heard one admissions officer refer to the- I think the term she used was the ‘geekification’ of the med school applicant pool, that it is cycling back to what it used to in the late 1970’s and the 1980’s where you had nothing but white males, biology majors, with 3.8’s, and that was it. You had nothing else in the applicant pool. I’ve actually written a few things about this, and I was contemplating finishing my PhD studying this very issue. The amplification of the myths of medical school admissions through some of the websites, SDN being the biggest one. The line that I always use is that people on this site- it’s difficult to get into medical school, but people on SDN make it sound mythically impossible.

Dr. Ryan Gray: I like that, mythically impossible.

Richard Levy: And it’s true, mythically impossible, because I have met so many people who have 3.5’s, 3.4’s, 28–30 MCAT who don’t think they should even bother applying to medical school.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Those are great scores.

Richard Levy: They’re fine. I have somebody right now who had a terrible- a lot of personal issues in the beginning part of college stop for a while, they went back to college and excelled as a high level researcher. But if you look at her overall score it’s like a 3.1, but her last three years of school- she spent like five or six years in school mind you, was like a 3.9. And I said if someone had looked at that and said, “Oh you shouldn’t bother applying.” She’s now had seven interviews including at some of the top schools, so I know it’s a person who’s going to have a choice, and they’re probably going to try to recruit her. Yet if you listen to the SDN wisdom, she would have never applied. And that’s part of the reason why I’m still involved with SDN; partly because the founders asked me to get involved again to make sure there was accurate information, to make sure there was some voices of reason in that small- small little voices that might get through this incredible weeds of all this misinformation, and that’s why I stay involved with the site.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, and one of the biggest reasons that I’ve had such a fondness for OldPreMeds, is because that community there is so different as you said. And so if you’re listening to this, and you’re a nontraditional student, or maybe you’re a traditional student and you want a safe place to go, go check out www.OldPremeds.org. I think that’s where you can go and ask questions, and not be judged in the same way that you will be at other sites.

Richard Levy: Sounds like good advice to me.

Final Thoughts

Dr. Ryan Gray: Well Rich, I appreciate everything that you have done with OldPreMeds, and it’s exciting to have this torch passed to me, and I hope to do it justice in the future moving forward. And you’re not exiting completely, you’re going to be on this podcast with me for as long as you can tolerate me, and share your wisdom for those that will listen in the future.

Richard Levy: Absolutely.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Thank you Rich for joining me. Alright well I hope you enjoyed this inaugural episode of the OldPreMeds Podcast. Not a ton of great information that you can act on to better your premed self, but hopefully some good background knowledge about who we are, and what we hope the OldPreMeds Podcast is going to be.
If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast, go to www.OldPremeds.org, register for an account, go into the forums and ask a question. As we talked about earlier, OldPreMeds is a very safe place for students, and we hope that you go and you feel safe there. Ask the questions, hopefully we’ll answer them here on this podcast.
If you have any questions for me, or want to say hi, my Twitter handle is @MedicalSchoolHQ. I’m not sure if I’ll get an OldPreMeds Twitter handle, or just route everything through the Medical School HQ Twitter handle. Come find me on Twitter, I love Twitter, come say hi, and I hope you join us next week here at the OldPreMeds Podcast.

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