Hometown: Bafang, Cameroon (But Houston, TX is home here in the US)
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Neuroscience Major & Chemistry Minor
Name of Medical School: Indiana University School of Medicine
Favorite Quote: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am currently a second-year medical student at IUSM. I have always wanted to become a medical doctor for as long as I can remember. My mom tells me that I started talking about becoming a physician since the age of 4, but I think it was earlier than that-more like when I was still in her womb (haha)-I’m joking. But on a more serious note, my father had a very good friend who was a physician and whom I Iooked up to. He was my role model and I remember always wanting to be like him when I grew up. As I became older, I began to explore the medical field to see if I was really interested. I started volunteering at a hospital in high school where I provided towels to patients whenever they needed them and I got to interact with a lot of them, which I enjoyed. As I went on to college, I again did a lot of volunteering at a hospital. I equally shadowed a good number of physicians from various specialties, loved what they did and could see myself doing the same. The memorable experiences I had with both volunteering and shadowing increased my interest in medicine and were the driving force behind my decision to pursue it as a career.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?
I was all about studying, making sure to get good grades so that I would get into med school and I would panic if I didn’t do well on any exam thinking my chances of getting into med school were over haha. So, If I had a chat with my naïve freshman self, I would her to RELAX, have fun and live in the moment – in addition to working hard in school of course! Thankfully I came to my senses and college ended up being the best 4 years of my life (so far). I met some amazing friends who have now become family.
Another thing I would tell my naïve freshman self is not to worry so much about tomorrow, to focus on today and try to take full advantage of what it has to offer and then when tomorrow comes, do the same.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
It is not an easy path but it is definitely doable and very worth it. Keep at it. Do not give up. You can do it. Do not listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Also, do not compare yourself with others. We all have different paths in life. Focus on you and no matter how many times you fall, get up, dust yourself up, keep on going and stay positive. Your hard work will pay off.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to medical schools?
- Start EARLY! Try to submit your primary application as soon as it becomes available even if you have not yet received your MCAT scores. That way it can be processed quickly and made available to the schools you’re applying to.
- Do not put all your eggs in one basket, as far as schools are concerned. Widen your options even if you want to stay close to family; do not limit yourself.
- When asking professors and/or mentors for letters of recommendation, I highly suggest asking them first if they feel comfortable writing one for you. You don’t want a generic letter of recommendation. You want the professor and/or mentor to talk about you in a way that will make you stand out from other applicants. So make sure to ask for letters from professors and/or mentors who know you well enough to do that.
Did you take some time off before medical school? If so, what did you do during that time?
Yes! I decided to take time off before medical school because I didn’t want to jump right into school after graduation. I needed a little break. During my time off, I did more shadowing. I equally worked as an Emergency Medicine scribe, which I ABSOLUTELY loved and would recommend to anyone taking some time off before medical school (or any professional school for that matter). As an ER scribe, I got to basically work as a doctor’s assistant: I followed them around as they saw patients, completed their notes, recorded lab results, physical exam findings etc. I was very much involved in the patient’s care as the doctors were, which was awesome. In fact, it deepened my interest in medicine, gave me a better idea as to what I am getting myself into as well as confirmed that medicine was it for me. Also, when we learned about taking patient’s histories and physical exams in med school, I already knew what those entailed which was a plus.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of medical school? The easiest part?
The most challenging part of medical school in my opinion is trying to find a balance between school and life outside of school. Medical school is very challenging and demanding. However, I have to constantly remind myself that med school is not my life, but it is part of my life. I try to take time for myself every so often because it is very easy to get carried away with studying all the time. In med school, there is never going to be a time when you have absolutely nothing to do (at least for me), so it is important to know when to hit the brakes and take sometime off to take care of yourself.
As for the easiest part, I am actually not sure to be quite honest haha. I guess it would be interacting with my classmates and supporting each other as we go through this journey together.
What do you do to get through the stressful nature of medical school?
Exercising helps me a great deal! It definitely helps me keep my sanity. Making time for it was tough at first, but I was able to incorporate it into my schedule.
Thanks a ton for your sound advice and for sharing a bit of your story with us Laetitia! We really appreciate you! Best of luck to you next semester and on your path towards becoming a physician!
Posted on December 27th, 2016