Failed MCAT Prep to Successful Applicant After Two Gap Years

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

Session 189

Session 189

In this episode, Ryan talks with Jake who was first here on the show back in Episode 100. Jake recently finished his first year in medical school. Today, he talks about his journey towards medical school, talking about his challenges especially for not being a “premed” in the truest sense of the word (Jake graduated with a degree in public health) as well as his experiences during his gap years in Americorps and what it’s like to finally in medical school.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Jake:

Jake’s premed journey:

  • Initial interest in veterinary medicine
  • His mom as a breast cancer survivor which sparked his interest in how the body works
  • Interest in science broadened and shadowing local physicians
  • Studying the bio psycho-social aspects of disease
  • Working at Americorps services managing a clinic for young people

The impetus to serving Americorps:

  • Wrapping up about 3,700 hours of community service at Americorps
  • Managing two programs simultaneously – young people with disabilities and homeless individuals

Taking the gap years:

  • Taking the MCAT for the first time when he wasn’t ready
  • Realizing he needed to take some time to step back and evaluate if he really wanted medicine
  • Getting into Americorps allowed him to delve into the practice of medicine

Taking the MCAT successfully for the second time:

  • Having the motivation
  • Getting social support from family and peers

His experiences and challenges as a first year medical student:

  • Not having the science background having graduated with a bachelor’s in public health
  • His greatest obstacle to relearn how to learn after not being in school
  • Forgetting how to be a student as a big issue
  • Figuring out how he studies best
  • Dealing with family health issues

Choosing a medical school to go to:

  • Make sure you will have a good support system and like-minded people.
  • Talk with students there to understand the entire culture of the school.
  • Looking at clubs that allow you to do community service
  • Looking at the school’s mission and do you align with the mission

Other considerations Jake had in choosing a medical school:

  • Location
  • Freedom to learn
  • Having the ability to use a note-taking service or have the lectures be recorded
  • Price and average indebtedness of the graduates
  • Cost of living
  • Proximity to family
  • GPA for grades vs. pass/fail

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

  • Take a step back and look at all of your options.
  • Give yourself the due diligence of learning about all the health careers that might be interesting to you.
  • Have a good study group.

Links and Other Resources:

The Premed Years Episode 100: Your Amazing Premed Stories!



Dr. Ryan Gray: The Premed Years, session number 189.

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 as this is going out on July 6, 2016, this evening as this is going out I will be at the second annual Academy of Podcasters Award Ceremony in Chicago with the hopes of taking home a trophy, an award for being the top podcast in the Science and Medicine category, and then I can stop calling myself an ‘award nominated podcast,’ and I can myself an ‘award winning podcast.’ So there’s nothing for you to do to vote or anything, just send some well wishes to me. I’m hoping to Facebook live this event. I’ll be there again- this is July 6th in the evening, I think it’s at 6:00 PM Central time, so I’ll be on Facebook live in the Hangout which you can go get at and ask to be a part of that group, and I’ll Facebook live that awards ceremony at the Science & Medicine category so hopefully you’ll see me win, and if I don’t win, the you’ll see me be a poor loser- I mean a very good participant.

Anyway this episode is an interesting one, we’re going to talk to Jake. Now you may remember Jake from episode 100 when I reached out to you guys and asked that you submit some stories about your premed journeys. And Jake was one of those stories that I shared here on the podcast, and he is finishing up- or has finished up with his first year of medical school. So we’re going to talk about his journey and what he’s learned during his first years. So let’s go ahead and say hi to Jake.

Jake, welcome to The Premed Years, thanks for joining me.

Jake: Thank you so much, Dr. Gray.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Oh Ryan, please.

Jake: Ryan.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Jake, why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your initial interest in being a physician?

Background on Jake and AmeriCorps Experience

Jake: So my journey into medicine started off- it was like every young kid who loves dogs, I was really into veterinary medicine and then about seventh grade we- my mom is a breast cancer survivor two times, and so around that time she was undergoing her first treatment and at that moment I realized that while medicine and the way that the body worked was really interesting to me, I wanted that human to human connection and so I started focusing from veterinary medicine into human medicine. Throughout my studies in high school, got more interested in science and started shadowing some of the physicians around my area, and then in college I did a degree in public health and I studied a lot of the biopsychosocial aspects of disease which really honed me into learning more about health disparities and why some people got sicker than others and got sick more often. So all of that and these experiences came together to lead me into an AmeriCorps service year where I worked managing a clinic for young people here in Pittsburgh who often identified as LGBT and who were experiencing homelessness or housing crisis. And so those two years of my life I really worked in the healthcare field to serve those who didn’t have access to healthcare otherwise, and now here I am, and just finished my first year at medical school.

Dr. Ryan Gray: That’s awesome. So it’s interesting, we’ve had a couple people recently talk about their AmeriCorps experiences. What led you to learning about doing an AmeriCorps year, and what was that impetus to go for it?

Jake: So I originally actually was going into research, into a public health research position. I had worked with a physician here for a few of my summers and winter breaks, and it turned out that she was applying for this new AmeriCorps program that allowed young people like myself to step into the public health world and offer their service for an entire year. I not only did one year, I did two, so I racked up about 3,700 hours of community service with AmeriCorps, and I served all the people here as best as I could. So I was really managing two programs at once; one was working with young people with disabilities, and helping them to have a voice in their transition from pediatric to adult care. Because as you know, young people with disabilities have a lot of different practitioners that they may see, and so that transition means that there’s a lot of moving parts to get them into a primary care doctor, and all of their adult specialists as well. And then the second part like I said, was working with the young homeless individuals, people experiencing homelessness who were ages anywhere from 13 to 26 is really what we worked with. It all started off kind of with my boss saying, “Hey check this thing out,” and then I just dove right in. I’ve always had a pension to serve my community, and I’ve always loved helping others, and so this was kind of a nice bridge into my medical school years. A good way to spend my two- I don’t want to say gap years. Bridge years?

Dr. Ryan Gray: Sure.

Jake: ‘Years off’ is the worst saying because I didn’t take any time off, I was really out there doing what I could.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Why not apply to medical school right away? Why go do these gap years?

Jake: I did try to apply to medical school right away but I wasn’t ready to take the MCAT but I took it anyway, learned my lesson there, and so I realized that at that point I needed to take some time to step back and really evaluate if medicine was what I wanted to do again, and I did realize that of course it was. But AmeriCorps was that first year that allowed me to actually delve myself into the practice of medicine, and understand yes this is for me, now here’s my motivation again to re-try, to re-study. And not only that, I wasn’t in school anymore and so it did give me that opportunity to have a full time position during the day, and then have the nights to actually focus on studying without worrying about grades for classes.

Preparing for the MCAT and Applying to Medical School

Dr. Ryan Gray: What was it about the first time that you took the MCAT that made you not prepared?

Jake: I did everything that you tell people not to do, which is kind of how I stumbled upon your podcast in the first place. I think I started listening my senior- it was my senior year when I started studying for my MCAT. So I took a semester abroad, unlike a lot of premeds who don’t have that opportunity, my university allowed me to take a semester abroad. I did six months in Chile, and that was the fall of my senior year, and so I thought okay I got a lot of my prerequisites out of the way, I’m finishing up school really soon, like I can do this. And so I came back from Chile for my last semester of college and everything just hit me. I was taking eighteen credits, it was not the pace of life in school down in South America, it was back to the rigors of American lifestyle and university here. So everything kind of came crashing down at once and then in addition to that I was studying for the MCAT and thinking about graduating and reconnecting with friends and trying to enjoy my last semester all at once. Just really didn’t work together.

Dr. Ryan Gray: And trying to apply to medical school.

Jake: Well and putting together applications and asking for your committee letter. You know how that all goes.

Dr. Ryan Gray: So did you actually end up applying, or when you got your score did you not apply?

Jake: No, I waited for my score. What I did was I scheduled my MCAT so that I would have my score right around the time that I should have been applying so I could just click the ‘Submit’ button, and I realized when I saw my score that I wasn’t ready and that wasn’t the score that I wanted, and I really needed to put my best foot forward on my first attempt to apply.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Okay. Did you take any sort of prep course the first time?

Jake: I did. Yeah, so I took an in-person Kaplan course. So again, coming back from South America into American life with eighteen credits of real schoolwork plus a three hour long Kaplan course two times a week, it just didn’t work. The great news is that I was able to do- I think it’s called the money back guarantee that they give you, and so when I was doing my AmeriCorps year I was able to use Kaplan again as a resource, and that time I did the online courses so I didn’t have to go in person.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Okay, interesting. Alright what was it the second time around? You said you were doing this AmeriCorps work during the day, you come back and study at night. What was it from a mind shift change, or what else was it that made you be successful the second time around?

Jake: So number one it was definitely that motivation, coming home every day and saying, ‘Okay I know what I want to do, and I just left this-‘ I don’t want to say dream job because AmeriCorps is not a job, this place. I was at a children’s hospital, one of the best children’s hospitals in the country, and I would come home and say, ‘My gosh, this is exactly what I want to do. I want to be just like my boss here who is the most compassionate human being, and all the amazing things that we got done today together as a team. I want to have that for the rest of my life.’ So that was one of them. And then it also helped that my two roommates were also studying for the MCAT, or currently in the process of applying, so they were there to offer some support. That’s something that I really will stress when we talk about the first year of med school is having that social support and understanding among peers, and friends and family for the things that you’re going through.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Awesome. When you were taking these two gap years doing the AmeriCorps work that you were doing, at any point in there did you second guess going to medical school and just think, ‘Wow this is nice being out of school and actually working and not studying.’

Jake: During the AmeriCorps years, absolutely not. I was so pumped to get into med school and I was like, ‘Yes this is it, I’m ready to go.’ But honestly I’ve got to tell you, this year in med school, I thought, ‘What I would do right now for my $12,000 stipend per year, and just having a 9:00 to 5:00 and not having to worry about studying my entire life away.’

Dr. Ryan Gray: That sounds like a reasonable response to the first year of med school.

Jake: During the year, during my AmeriCorps years I really did enjoy it. It was a lot of work and there was definitely stress, and I must say working with especially young people, in addition you add on top of that that a lot of them are staying outside on the street during the winter. I had a really difficult time not wanting to take them home with me, and not wanting to just keep working until I knew that they had somewhere safe to be.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Okay.

Jake: But otherwise for medical school, no.

Medical School Expectations

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah. Going into your first year of medical school, what were you expecting?

Jake: I’d always heard that drinking out of a fire hydrant phrase that everyone uses with medical school, but I never truly understood what that meant until I looked at my first schedule. And they said, “Oh we’re going to ease you in really nicely,” and so they gave us half a day of orientation and then the other half of the day they started us slowly on lectures. And really in that first week the lectures were already very difficult to even grasp and I had no idea where to even start on studying, and learning, and figuring out what was happening. The one thing I must say is I wish that there had been some sort of introduction at my medical school. We started off with I think it’s twelve weeks of anatomy, so it’s exclusively anatomy and embryology for the first twelve weeks, which is lecture all day plus lab in the afternoon in the cadaver lab. And so not knowing the basic terminology for anatomy was definitely a big downfall of mine.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Interesting.

Jake: Yeah.

Dr. Ryan Gray: I took medical terminology in college so I think that probably helped a lot.

Jake: Well I didn’t say it this time, in this interview, but in 100 I think I talked about it a little bit. I don’t have a degree in science. I have a bachelor’s in public health.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Jake: And so I didn’t have the gross anatomy, I wasn’t able to take that because I wasn’t a biomedical engineer, which is how my school ran it at that time. So not having any sort of background and I just had the basic premed courses, not having any background in anatomy or how to describe things was difficult.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Having gone through your first year now, do you think that hurt you?

Jake: It hurt my GPA.

Dr. Ryan Gray: In med school?

Jake: Yes.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Jake: We have grades.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Okay, alright.

Jake: Yes we have grades and anatomy is a nine credit course for twelve weeks.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Wow.

Jake: So when you think about the way that things are, we had 28 credits in the fall and 30 credits in the spring.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Alright so busy.

Jake: Yeah busy but drinking out of the fire hydrant, you start to have that realization that a full semester in college was sixteen to eighteen-ish credits and now we’re doing pretty much double that.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah. Yeah med school is hard, no one said it was easy.

Jake: No, nobody said it was easy. It is totally worth it and I crave for that learning now every day.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah. So you start off medical school, and you’re taking anatomy, you’re taking embryology, these classes that you really have no background information in. How did you survive?

Surviving First Year after Gap Years

Jake: There’s a lot to surviving medical school and many people do it different ways. In my school we have different pathways that you can choose but I’m in the lecture of traditional pathway where I sit in a lecture and then I go to anatomy lab. And so that was really difficult because I’m a visual learner, and so what I mean by that is I don’t learn well by looking at a PowerPoint of things, I need to integrate material and relate it back to what I’ve seen and what I know and what I’ve read. And so anatomy was great towards the end once I realized what I needed to do. I think that’s one of the biggest obstacles that I had to overcome, is that I needed to relearn how to learn after not being in school for those two years with AmeriCorps. I knew how to be a person but I had forgotten how to learn and how to actually push myself to try new things so that I could be successful.

Dr. Ryan Gray: I’ve talked about that a lot on this podcast with my own experience of taking a couple years off, three years off between undergrad and medical school, and forgetting how to be a student. I think it’s a really big issue.

Jake: It definitely was, and so to answer your question towards the- I think it was about my second anatomy exam, we had three big exams that were about three weeks- I think they were three or four weeks apart, if it’s twelve weeks that makes sense. I finally realized that in order for me to succeed I needed to preview the lecture, I needed to read the material in the book before I went, sit through the lecture, and then look at that material right before I went to laboratory, and then once I got to the cadaver lab I was able to say, “Okay I know this from the lecture, I know this from my reading, here it is on a real body. Here it is on my cadaver and I can touch it, and I can look at all the nerves, and all the vasculature that’s supplying for example this organ. And so that was for me what really did it and allowed me to learn anatomy better. I had to figure that out first and it took way too much time, but once I got that down it really clicked a whole lot better.

Dr. Ryan Gray: You know it’s funny, last week’s episode was with Dr. Sandra Maguire and that’s exactly what we talked about is how to be a better student, and how to learn better, and that’s one of the keys that she talked about was reading material before you go to lecture, and then as soon as you’re done with lecture go and take notes, and kind of get it processed so that it’s in your long term memory instead of your short term memory. So it’s interesting that you figured that out on your own.

Jake: Yeah I wish I’d figured it out earlier and had listened to the podcast. And I must admit I was driving home from school last week, I was up in your area and I was doing a program for high schoolers teaching them about careers in medicine, and I said, “I have to listen to Medical School HQ on my way home,” and the podcast didn’t download before I left, so I must have missed that one.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Bummer, that’s okay.

Jake: Bummer.

Dr. Ryan Gray: You’re forgiven. Alright so you are now done with first year of medical school.

Jake: Thankfully.

Hardest Part of Medical School

Dr. Ryan Gray: What was the hardest part?

Jake: There were a lot of obstacles this year that kind of put themselves up in front of me. A lot of things happening with family, a lot of personal things happening, and I’m not sure I talked about them and I think it’s really important that all the people going to medical school have their ducks in a row so to say when it comes to the things that you can control, because the number of- the fewest number of distractions possible is the best case scenario for succeeding in school. When your mind is on school, that’s how you’re going to do the best.

Dr. Ryan Gray: How do you ensure that though? Because life happens.

Jake: So- right so life happens so some things you can’t foresee, but just little things. Making sure that- what really works is if you know you’re a family person and you need to talk to your family on a daily basis, and you’ve always spent dinnertime with them talking about your day, set a time to do that. Say, ‘Hey I’m going to drive home from school at this specific time, I’ll give you a call Mom,’ so that you can have that time to talk to family and friends and then keep things in a line as best as possible so that there are really no surprises. As for the unknowns, I mean sadly we’ve had a lot happen this year, and I was very worried about having to leave for the semester because of family health issues, and those things you can’t control. And I’ve got to say, I’ll just come back to that support system, and your friends, and everyone at school. You need to have that great support network and I think my support network at school, friends and going to my administrators and professors, and really just talking to them about what was happening and some of the options that I had, and to allow them to know that I’m here and I’m trying to do my best and I want to succeed, but there are these outside things happening. Everything kind of came together where I had that support network to push me through and help me study and keep me focused, and really accommodated if I needed it.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Okay, that’s awesome. Going into school not really being a ‘true premed’ as a public health major, you weren’t surrounded by the other cutthroat students.

Jake: We had a little bit of that.

Dr. Ryan Gray: What were you expecting from other medical students, and what did it really turn out to be?

Choosing the Best Medical School for Jake

Jake: That is a great question. I expected it to be all of the cutthroat ‘gunners’ of undergrad in my medical school class, and I wasn’t expecting it to be so collaborative. I think part of that does have to do with me choosing my school. So I wrote a little section down on my own notes about making sure you choose the right school, and so- can I say the name of my school?

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Jake: Okay so LECOM for me was the place where I felt most welcomed and I felt most part of the community. The people I was interviewing with, and the students who I met, they were like me. They had taken some time to understand what they needed in life, and they have some life experiences that were similar to mine doing AmeriCorps, serving their community, not just straight out of college. And so when I was thinking about where to go, that really appealed to me and I made sure that I went to a place that I would make sure that I would have friends, and that support system, and people who are likeminded because sometimes you have to really rely on friends to help you through those hard times and to study. If you don’t have a good study group, if you’re a group studier which I didn’t think I was, some of those concepts that come difficult to you are just made way easier with that study group.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Talk about the- you had said you just kind of felt at home, and you felt like these other students were the same as you. Were you on other interviews where you didn’t get those vibes?

Jake: Yes, absolutely.

Dr. Ryan Gray: What did that feel like? What kind of questions were you asking? Just what was your general reaction?

Jake: So my LECOM interview was my first interview, and so that was for me- that’s the one where I remember all the questions. But I had the connections so I wanted to make sure that I had the same connections with the students there. ‘So what do you do for fun? Tell me about your classes. Please be honest about how long you’re in class. How much outside study work do you do? What do you do on the weekends for fun? Do you have fun on the weekends? Tell me about your study groups, and tell me about what LECOM does to ensure that you as a class are being healthy both physically, and mentally, and that they’re supporting you. How do your professors support you and are the faculty open to suggestions on things that might not be working out so well for the class?’

Dr. Ryan Gray: Those are all good questions.

Jake: Lots of stuff.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah and so the interviews that you were on where you didn’t get the warm fuzzy feeling, what were those reactions like? What were those students like?

Jake: So the students themselves- the one interview that I knew I would not fit in at all with the student body, I had a friend who was showing me around, and that was great to have someone there to actually tell me the true story. It was one of those admission days where they put on the whole show for everyone. And then after lunch I realized that talking to the students- I didn’t go to the students who were actually hired by admissions to talk about the school, I finished my lunch and I went and I talked to students who were sitting there and having lunch themselves during their break. And so that was really, really key in understanding the entire culture of the school. The warm fuzzy feeling was definitely not there, and the words that I heard from most of them were, ‘This was the only school I got into.’

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, which is common. Most students only get into one school.

Jake: Which is common.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Jake: I’m very thankful for a few acceptances, but that was a red flag in that no one seemed happy and no one seemed to be really enjoying themselves. And they said, ‘You know this is where I got in, and this is how it really is here.’

Dr. Ryan Gray: Interesting. Knowing what you know now, after going through those interviews, talking to those students, how could you have done a better job in picking the schools that you applied to?

Jake: Oh my gosh, put me on the spot here. I’m not sure if I could have. Honestly knowing the student- I think part of the interview day is learning about the school, but also interacting with all the student body, and you don’t have that ability whenever you’re looking at- what’s it called, MSAR?

Dr. Ryan Gray: The MSAR, yeah.

Jake: Yeah, the MSAR and the one for osteopathic schools. When you’re looking at that booklet of numbers and the school mission, you really don’t have the opportunity to do that. I would say our favorite website that will remain unnamed of a bunch of forums has a lot of neurotic people on it, and you hear the worst especially about- I’m sure you know this, my school does not have a great reputation among medical students and medical applicants because there are rules to this school, and they are pretty strict about their rules. I must say my experience has not been anywhere close to what everyone blows it out of proportion to be on this unnamed website. But in applying- I don’t know if you can look at demographics and data and say, “Okay I would be a better fit at this school.” The one thing that I really did focus on though where I applied was the number of community. So for me, community health and community service opportunity is really a big part of my medical school experience, and I wanted somewhere that allowed you to do that. So I looked at clubs that allowed you to give community service, and then I also looked at the mission of the school. What does it say- what does the school think its mission is? And do you align with that mission? Is their mission to teach you or is their mission to teach you and be a part of the community? So as far as applying that’s all I have.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Did you go on any campus tours before you applied?

Jake: No I didn’t know that was an option.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Okay. Alright well it’s definitely an option. So if you’re listening to this and you live near a medical school, go take a tour. They’re always welcoming students to come visit.

Jake: Now that you mention, I was getting my visa to go abroad in Chile, I was in Philadelphia and I walked right past Jefferson Medical School, and so I stopped in for a quick second, said hello and grabbed some flyers, but that’s all that I did.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Alright, that’s great. What would you recommend to a premed student who is trying to figure out where they want to go? And knowing the reactions that you had, those feelings that you had at LECOM versus the other schools, what would you recommend to them at this point?

Advice to the Premed on Selecting Schools

Jake: So when it came time for me to pick schools, I of course was looking geography and caliber of the program and some other things that I found very important. For me I had to make a list of what I wanted in a school, and then I had to whittle that down and say, ‘Okay these are things that are very important to me, and so these qualities are not quite as important.’ So when I was choosing to apply I wasn’t quite as picky, and then whenever you have the interviews pop up and you say, ‘Oh my gosh I have this interview, I need to look into this school more,’ you start to realize that there are some really great things about the school and then there are some things that you didn’t realize that were part of the curriculum, or that were part of the culture there. But so I’m going to talk about- if it’s okay with you, my experience of choosing between the schools I was accepted to and that process there. So for me, again I wanted students like me, so nontraditional in that sense of the word, the light sense of me being nontraditional. But I wanted a school that allowed me to have the freedom to learn in a variety of ways in the manner I felt best for me. So that initially meant not having mandatory classes, and then having the ability to use a note taking service or have the lectures be recorded and posted so that I could re-watch if I missed some important points. Dress code wasn’t an issue for me, I was very much looking into price of the school and average indebtedness of the graduates. Location and cost of living, being close to home was important to me, close meaning within driving distance so five or six hours. If I needed to go home for the weekend I had the ability. My roommate who was applying to school while I was taking my MCAT and studying, he talked a lot about how he wanted a school that had Friday exams so that the weekends were theirs to destress and relax and just do what they needed to do. So I found that to be a very good thing about a school and I really was looking for something like that, but of course you’re going to have exams all the time.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Jake: And then GPA for grades versus pass / fail. I thought that that was pretty important. Ultimately I ended up at a school that has a GPA, and has a dress code, and has a mandatory attendance because for me it was the best of all of my options because it had a pretty low tuition, a second lowest- I’m pretty sure the second lowest average indebtedness of graduates, and the most important thing is that I’m there to learn and become a physician and so the low tuition is great, but their first time pass rates on first- we call it level one and level two in Comlex, those first time pass rates were in the mid to upper nineties. And so I knew that that was a place that would allow me to succeed and become a physician which is ultimately the reason I’m here. I’m not here to have fun and look for a social committee and do all the things that I did in college. This is medical school so I took the good with the bad, and I weighed my pros and cons, and I said, ‘You know what? This is the best option for me to achieve my goals.’ And so I had to compromise. I had to give up some of those things that I thought I really wanted in a school.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Okay. What was the best thing about first year?

Best Thing about First Year of Medical School

Jake: Just the excitement of seeing- not to be corny, I watch a lot of ‘House.’ I think ‘House’ is really interesting and after first year watching ‘House’ again, it was just mind-blowing because I say, “Oh I think I know that.” But it’s just the excitement of sitting in a lecture and learning about a specific disease or organ system, and then being able to go and relate it clinically to something that’s happening. So whether that’s in one of your clinical cases, if that’s in a history and physical practice, practice practical with a standardized patient, it’s being able to relate all this knowledge together and say, “Hey I actually learned something and this is exactly what I wanted to do is that problem solving and helping others all at the same time.”

Dr. Ryan Gray: Okay that makes sense.

Jake: Was first year awful in many ways? Absolutely it was. It was also amazing in many ways. And so I know for a fact that I’m where I’m supposed to be, and you’ve already figured out where you’re supposed to be in the class, and your friends, and you start to hone in on those interests despite sitting in lecture all day. I can say at this point I definitely don’t want to be an orthopedic surgeon at all.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, okay. So Jake as we wrap up, now having gone through your first year, having had to retake the MCAT and take some time off in between your undergrad and starting med school, what do you say to the premed that’s out there struggling with their MCAT studying right now and trying to figure it all out?

Advice to Struggling Premed

Jake: I think my advice to anyone who is struggling and saying, ‘I might not be able to do this,’ is to take a step back and to look at all of your options and to say to yourself- give yourself the due diligence of learning about all the health careers that might be interesting to you, and say, “Okay I’m going to rule these out.” I’m going to say medicine is definitely for me because of all of these experiences. The MCAT is a beast, it really is, and I had to take it twice in order to get where I am today. And so I needed that time of reflection and I needed that time to say, ‘Yes this is what I want to do again,’ and have those experiences to motivate me. Not only to study harder but to make sure that everything was as high quality as it could be for my application.

Final Thoughts

Dr. Ryan Gray: Alright, again that was Jake, a first year medical student now on his way to second year at LECOM. If you want to go back and hear his original information that he shared in session 100, you can do that at

If you would like to leave a rating and review for us here at The Premed Years, you can do so over at And if you don’t want to leave a rating and review, that is fine too. You can help us share the knowledge that we provide here by telling your classmates, your friends, your advisors, your teachers, anybody that you interact with on your premed journey. If you would let them know about The Premed Years Podcast I would greatly appreciate it.

Well 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.