Dan, from FutureMDlife on Instagram, joined me to talk about his journey and struggles on his path to medical school as well as his Instagram journey. Dan is a medical student and he has an interesting path to medical school, getting into an early acceptance program so he didn’t have to take the MCAT. He talks about his journey – where it has hurt him and where it has helped him.
Meanwhile, make sure to listen to all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network as you’re gathering resources to help you on this path to becoming a physician!
[01:39] Interest in Becoming a Physician
Dan was initially thinking he going to trod on the business path that he actually didn’t entertain any other options. Eventually, he started to explore medicine more and more as he was always been interested in emergency stuff. He recalls his first emergency call as something he could see himself doing, talking to patients and treating them. He went to an EMT school while he was in high school and became an EMT. Then as he got to college, he decided to be a premed.
By Junior year, he decided on pursuing medicine as a career path. So he took three science courses during his Senior year. This being said, he got into college with several AP (advanced placement) credits in the science courses.
[05:35] How Did AP Credits Affect His Med School Application?
Dan considers those AP courses he took as very helpful. During his first year in college, he didn’t need to take general Bio 1 and2 anymore. So he took Physics. In short, he was able to bypass those. Then later on during his Sophomore and Junior years, he was able to move on to higher level courses.
He was initially concerned that having to take the courses earlier on could probably hurt his MCAT but the way he got into medical school was through an accelerated 7-year program, which, fortunately, didn’t require the MCAT so he didn’t need to take it.
[07:23] Applying for an Accelerated Program
The program he applied to had their application coming out during the end of his Sophomore year. Plus, there were certain requirements like minimum credits and upper-level electives. You also need to essentially finish most of the premed requirements. At that time, he only had two years of material to put on his application. So he had to condense what would have typically been four years into two years. Nevertheless, he enjoyed the process and he was happy he applied, looking back.
Dan actually found out about the program during the end of his Senior year in high school. Then he decided that if he was going to do it and if he was really committed, then he’d apply to the said program. So during his Senior high school through Sophomore college, he shadowed big time, wanting to really become a physician. In fact, this had given him the motivation to get things done. He knew he had to do things early on and so he did.
One of the concerns he had was that this was going to cut short his college life, but he realized medicine is a long road. He realized that medicine is a long road. College is one of the points on that road. And the difference between 3 and 4 years of college is significant. He did realize he won’t be in college like that ever again but he was okay with it. Ultimately, he was relieved that he was able to save himself from having to go through all that rigorous medical school application process.
'I realized that the pros outweigh the cons of the program so I was completely into the idea of, if I got into this program, I would go...and save myself the pain from the application process.'Click To Tweet
[12:22] Being the Youngest Student in the Class
Dan finds interesting being surrounded by classmates who have their own share of life experiences – people in the military, teachers, etc. – while he was the guy who went straight from college and didn’t even take the MCAT. It was a tough experience for him. But now going through for a year and a half, no ones thinks of him as being the youngest in their class now. They’re all just classmates.
[13:25] The Interview Process
Going through the interview process, it was specifically for the applicants of the program. They had to go through the same interview process as any other student applying to the medical school. He interviewed with the dean of his undergraduate university first and then to the medical school with their normal interview process. The questions were the same and they also had Multiple Mini Interviews. The scenarios were the same regardless of their age, which didn’t matter, but how they answered, as well as how their ethics and morals were.
[14:50] The Hardest Thing About Being a Premed
Dan considers the time crunch as the hardest thing as a premed. A lot of his friends were premeds but it was still hard for him to see other people his age enjoying college more than he was. He just remembers studying a lot.
All this being said, Dan still gets to take breaks every now and then. He’s still able to go out to eat, hang out with friends and play video games. He was still a normal college kid. But when he knew he had to get things done, he worked really hard. So there’s this level of work, and play that comes afterward to make things balanced. Dan points out that you have to be balanced in some way, otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to make it. No one who goes so hard all the time is able to start that. Moreover, they were around each other to help each other out and have that collaborative environment.
[17:45] The Impact of Being Younger and Having Taken Less of Higher Division Courses
Dan admits being young and not having been able to take more of the higher division classes in college have hurt him a bit going to medical school, especially during his first year when he was taking courses like Biochemistry. It was a bit tough for him so he had to pick up on it really quickly. He also never took any anatomy classes back in college, which he would have had he done the whole four years. Still, he found himself fortunate to be able to go to medical school straight from college so he didn’t have any break of study habit. He saw people taking gap years and it made it more difficult for them to adjust to the lifestyle of studying all the time. In short, there are pros and cons to that. As for him, the things he had lost by not having taken the classes, he gained in just the continuity of studying that he did.
[19:32] Dan’s Medical School Experience
Dan feels lucky to really love the medical school he’s at and being around people he likes being around, plus the fact, it’s close to home. He knew upon applying to this medical school that if he had the opportunity to go to other schools, his number one choice would still be this one. In that sense, it made applying to medical school so much easier for him.
Moreover, Dan says you could play the what if game but he doesn’t approach it that way. He tries to view everything from a positive and optimistic perspective. He feels so lucky to be one of the people accepted to medical school.
As to which specialty he likes to pursue, it’s been switching from time to time. But at present, he’s enjoying different aspects of internal medicine, specifically GI. He is currently working with an advanced endoscopist and he could see himself doing it one day, although it’s always subject to change.
[21:10] Being an Instagram Star
When Dan came to medical school, he became friends with Steve (@premedmotivation) and they were talking about his Instagram. And he got much encouragement from Steve to try it as well. So he did it and decided to try to help people along the path to becoming doctors or those getting to medical school. He remembers it was very difficult for him as a premed. He had a lot of questions and he didn’t know of a lot of resources at that time. Ultimately, he gained a following and now posts what he does everyday. He tries to explain what the life of a medical student is like, at least in his shoes. And he loves helping put people in that way.
[23:18] Should Every Premed Be on Instagram Creating Content?
Dan thinks every premed should be on Instagram in the sense that if they have people they’re interested in following. Although not everyone needs to create content if this is something they’re not interested in. It does consume some time and if they don’t want to, I don’t think they should be posting photos of what they’re doing.
There’s nothing wrong with doing that and being on Instagram or other platforms in social media and learning from other people who are either in the same shoes as them or recently were. He thinks Instagram is a great way to get information and to directly contact people.
There was a time he stopped posting for several days. He treats schools number 1. For him, he can only help others if he helps himself first in the sense of getting through his courses and doing well. So he only posts whenever he can and not let it stress him out at all because he wants to enjoy posting and answering direct messages.
[26:55] The Hardest Thing as a Medical Student
The hardest thing for him as a medical student right now is adjusting to pace, which he has been doing for a year and a half now. The amount of material they go through in a week is not comparable to the amount they learn in a week back in college. Then he has to review at least 4-5 times before the exam. So it’s that crunch of having to see the information, comprehend it, keep on reviewing, and being able to answer questions properly, and really understand that material. It’s so quick so you have to be able to stand on top of things. And he always feels he’s behind because of this, which is pretty normal but he’s still not getting used to this.
His learning style changes based on the course and the type of material presented and what other resources there are. For instance, if there’s more written information, he’d make review sheets for every lecture so he could just easily read through them quickly. For cardio, on the other hand, there are so many diagrams and images and explanations, he wasn’t able to make review sheets. Instead, he had just been reading lectures and the textbook to help him understand. As a result, his studying habits are always changing.
[29:43] Dan’s Final Words of Wisdom
First and foremost, figure out why you want to be a doctor. This is a question related to how sure are you that you want to be a doctor and nothing else. Otherwise, if you’re not fully committed to this field and to the entire process, it’s going to eat you alive. That being said, it’s great at times and there are a lot of things to enjoy. But if you’re not passionate about becoming a doctor then it’s not the right path.'If you're not fully committed to this field, to this entire process, it will literally eat you alive.'Click To Tweet
Figure out if medicine is right for you by doing some shadowing and clinical work. Then if you’ve figured out that it is really right for you and that you’re fully committed, then just realize it’s a long road and a long process. But it’s so worth it in the end. Just keep pushing day by day and it will get better.
Follow @medicalschoolhq on Instagram.
Follow Dan on Instagram @FutureMDlife.
Follow Steve on Instagram @premedmotivation.
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