From a career-changing single mom with a 2.24 GPA to an accepted med student – how did Brianna do it?
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[03:33] Interest in Becoming a Physician
Brianna felt she was called to be a physician after seeing the writings on the wall while she was in the hospital during her grandmother’s last month of life.
Brianna was in her last semester of college at that time. She initially wanted to be a teacher, plus, being a mother trying to provide for her daughter, she was in a mindset of having to work after college.
While her grandmother who had achalasia was in the hospital, there was another doctor that had to perform a procedure where her grandmother ended up with pulmonary edema. Her parents tried to warn the doctor but the doctor didn’t listen to them. It was also later found out that she had pancreatic cancer.
It’s a common story that I hear, especially from underrepresented medicine students, that the physician won’t listen because they think they know better. The silver lining though is that this has launched a lot of people’s careers in medicine. And Brianna is one of those people.
That being said, Brianna credits the ICU team that took care of her grandmother. She was amazed to see the kind of palliative care that her grandmother got even if they didn’t know her. Seeing some of the health disparities and why representation matters, just inspired her to apply to medical school. She was looking for something to help her transition from education to medical school, and with the fact that she had a GPA lower than 2.5.
Getting a Special Master’s
Brianna went to two graduate programs. She started out in one graduate program, and then ended up transferring to a special master’s program. She thought she could do it.
She had the aha moment of realizing she could just teach the next generation and inspire them to be the ones to represent in healthcare. She didn’t have to do it, but she can just tell them to do it and help them do it since she teaches Life Science and Math.
Brianna was lucky to have some scholarships and she had a strong family support system as well.
[21:28] Not Enough Clinical Experience – But She Got an Acceptance!
Brianna got one acceptance to medical school considering she didn’t really have any recent clinical experience. And she thought where she hit the nail on the head was her stories. Specifically, her clinical experience was being her grandmother’s caregiver in the hospital. And she believes it was her reflection that really did it for her.
Then her shadowing experience was right before her application was available to submit. Pulling her perspective of what she saw, what it meant to be a physician, and what it meant to serve in healthcare, just made those hours more meaningful for her.
Now, this is a completely different take than what I typically recommend. But it worked for her. It’s not something I would generally recommend for everyone, but it’s just a different way to do it. At the end of the day, it earned Brianna at least one interview.
[25:01] Finding the Right Program'Before you begin anything you should always research.'Click To Tweet
One of the things Brianna did very heavily was to research a lot of programs. She looked to even a blog of a minority doctor, Dr. Danielle Ward, an osteopathic physician who is a plastic surgery resident, as we’re recording this.
She found a virtual mentor in Dr. Ward, and Brianna followed in her footsteps to go to the same school for a master’s program. And Brianna was able to apply herself in a way that showed that she was capable of doing well in school if given the opportunity and the right mindset.
She was still an educator before she transferred over to do an SMP. She was still a single mom out there.
For her, it wasn’t a matter of whether she was smart enough because she had already proven to herself she could do it. After she took that leap of faith and applied to that special master’s program, she just committed to being a full-time student.
What gave her the biggest boost was being able to take on the rigor and the heavy load of those classes and do them well. She was able to thrive in her study group and was able to communicate well in class and with her peers. Brianna finished that first semester with a 3.82.'Control your mind, control your future... if you believe you can do it, then you can do it.'Click To Tweet
[32:32] The Decision to Switch Programs
Brianna thought that if she went ahead and committed to a full-time special master’s program, she would be taking on a heavier load and more rigorous classes. Then that would better display her capabilities in a medical school versus the online graduate program she was in before.
Her transcript says 2.6. But when AAMC calculated it, it was 2.24. She knew she had to find a way to make herself more attractive. And so, she felt a special master’s program connected to a medical school would be better looking to a medical school.
While Brianna applied to medical school, she was still in her SMP. A lot of times, I will typically recommend finishing your SMP first and getting all of those grades under your belt. That way, you can show medical schools that it’s not just a one-semester fluke. Then you’re not waiting on sending updates and hoping that schools will look at it. But she did it anyway because she knew she was still going to apply if she didn’t get in.
[38:54] The Interview
Interestingly, Brianna didn’t get any questions related to her GPA during her interview. Her undergraduate 2.24 GPA did not come up. The non-committee member was more focused on her why and her transition from education to medicine.
Now, the reason they didn’t ask about her undergrad GPA was they were satisfied with her graduate GPA. And so, they didn’t care.
Brianna is the perfect example of a student who just had to be good enough to get into medical school. She was good enough, not because she had a 2.24, but because she proved herself in her special master’s program.
[43:46] A Mindset Shift
Brianna admits there was a time when she didn’t feel like she was good enough. But she also had this mindset that if she felt that, then she was going to strive to be better.'Once you switch that mindset and you believe that I am good enough... once you believe that in your heart, then your actions will follow.'Click To Tweet
True enough, Brianna got the acceptance and will be starting medical school.
One thing Brianna would never forget is what her best friend told her while she was still in her special master’s program. That even if she didn’t get into medical school, she was worthy. She was good enough regardless of her accomplishments and she held on to those words to motivate her.
[50:31] Final Words of Wisdom
Brianna recommends to students who are also going through the same journey she went through to start off by controlling your thought process. Surround yourself around positive, inspiring people. Believe that the most difficult part is believing that you can, once you believe that you can, you will be unstoppable.'The most difficult part is believing that you can. Once you believe that you can, you will be unstoppable.”Click To Tweet
If you believe in yourself, then you can overcome it because your strength is in you. Surround yourself with people who believe it. If that means following inspiring people on social media, then go for it.
Finally, take it one day at a time because things can get overwhelming. And you will get there. She might be an exception, not the rule. But a lot of people can learn from her story.
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