The life of a pre-med student can be hard. If you’ve ever dropped your entire stack of anatomy flashcards in the street, spent your Friday night in the library, or almost slept through that 7 am chemistry final, you know what I mean when I say that pre-med life can feel about as dangerous as a recycling bin in an episode of America’s Funniest Videos.
The other day I started typing the phrase "how do you prepare for medical school?" into my Google search bar.
Before I could finish typing the question, Google, in all its autocomplete glory, filled in these three suggestions for my query:
"How do you prepare for a tornado?"
"How do you prepare for a hurricane?"
"How do you prepare for a tsunami?"
Ain't that the truth? Sometimes it feels like prepping for med school really is like bracing yourself against the onslaught of an impending natural disaster. You try not to bend and sway in the gust of pre-med coursework that threatens to req you (see what I did there?). All the while, you're doing your best to dodge the MCAT prep books and recommendation letter requests that are quickly spiraling into a twister in your not-so-distant future.
Behind me, I heard the sound of a car door opening. Out of a gray sedan emerged a red-faced boy, no older than twenty. His face was the definition of sheer terror. As he exited the car, I heard his mom bellow from the passenger-door window, “You better do well on that test, BRIAN!” Tears began to drip down his face, and the car peeled off. He hung his head, visibly defeated, and he slowly approached the gallows—the MCAT testing center.
The exact steps Alice used to find local shadowing opportunities with ease.
Alice graduated with a major in human developmental and regenerative biology and a minor in global health and health policy. Her main extracurriculars included dance, the health advocacy program, and stem cell biology research. After her undergraduate career Alice decided to take two gap years. In her first year she backpacked through Spain on the Michael C. Rockefeller Fellowship and in her second year she worked in thoracic oncology clinical research at UCLA. Alice will begin her enrollment at Stanford Medical School in the Fall of 2016.
I have been hitting medical interviews hard since August and have yet to go through an interview without mentioning my Fellowship experience through the Atlantis Project in Albacete, Spain. Being proficient in Spanish, traveling to Spain had obvious pros in my mind. And intending a future in medicine, shadowing physicians abroad almost had more appeal.
The exposure I received through the Atlantis Project showed me I wanted to be a doctor. It represented for me an occupation that balanced the competency of knowledge-based learning with the compassion associated with a social, patient-centered daily schedule. From the AP, I went on to pursue an internship at University of California, Davis School of Medicine and worked to incorporate for physiology-based classes into my undergraduate coursework.