Hometown: Margate, FL (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Major: Neuroscience; Minor: Economics, Chemistry
Name of Medical School: UPenn Perelman School of Medicine
Favorite Quote: “You’re a leader when you can get a leader to follow you.”
Contact Info: Richard.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 a 3rd year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. There were a combination of factors that influenced my decision. I wanted a career that rewards creativity, isn’t monotonous, and allows me to have a positive impact on the world around me. I like the constant emphasis on innovation and improvement within medicine and the variations in patients that makes each person’s care different. I also enjoy the constant feeling of having a direct and indirect impact on people’s lives. And to be honest, the salary and lifestyle are attractive as well. Growing up, money was always tight in my family. Having a career that allows me to provide a comfortable lifestyle for my family is important to me, and this career provides that without compromising the other factors mentioned above.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell him?
I would tell myself to make the most of the next 4 years. After nearly finishing my clerkship year, I’ve truly realized how unique undergrad is. The ability to make your own schedule and the overall large amounts of free time makes undergrad special. I would tell myself to make the most of my free time, attend events, explore the city, and spend more time at the beach. When the school offers something you’re interested in, go for it, because after undergrad those opportunities become more and more scarce.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
The path to becoming a doctor is very long. At the very least, it’s 11 years of school and residency after high school before you can be an independent physician. It is truly a marathon and unfortunately it is easy to get distracted, discouraged and delayed. The best way to get through it is to set short-term goals like join this club, keep my GPA above X, start a research project, etc. The small goals really help to keep yourself on track and motivated, especially when your end goal is so far away.
Also find something you are passionate about (ideally somehow relatable to medicine) and do it. For me that passion was children. I volunteered at a children’s hospital, organized toy drives for an elementary school in Miami, and tutored as well. While taking calculus and general chemistry and other classes that seem distant from my goal career, it’s helpful to feel like I was accomplishing something that I cared about. It is also really helpful in med school interviews because it gives me something unique and memorable to talk about.
What is your favorite thing about your medical school?
They really care about the students. The faculty is willing to provide personalized solutions to students that find themselves in difficult situations, both academic and personal. Life doesn’t pause during med school and it’s great to know that they always have your best interests in mind. After talking to some friends at different schools, I realized this isn’t the case everywhere.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to medical schools?
Outside of the obvious things like start your application early, be organized etc., I would say try to show your passion. This is true for applications, but probably even more so for interviews. While on this path it’s easy to become just another applicant. In an effort to be the ideal med-school student, people become boring: STEM major, humanities minor, chem TA, year off for research, basic volunteer work. If you are passionate about children or health disparities or even economics, make it clear so you’re more than just applicant #2365. For me, my focus was children. I knew I wanted to work with kids, so everything from my cover letter to my most memorable experiences had elements that involved children. This was also easier to do because so many of my extracurricular activities benefited children in some way.
What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy playing basketball, video games and hanging out with friends around the city.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of medical school? The easiest part?
The easiest part is preparing for tests. You know what you need to know, and the professors are no longer trying to trick you or weed out students. The challenging part is that the volume of information is huge and a lot of learning is self-directed. As I have advanced further and further through the curriculum, less and less of my knowledge comes from lectures and more and more comes from independent work.
How have you been able to deal with your romantic relationship and medical school at the same time?
As someone who got married during my 2nd year of med school, I can say it’s very difficult to manage both, but definitely worth it. Time is scarce in med school, but most people find a way to make it work if it’s important for them. For my wife and me, we would set aside time to do things together. Study breaks became diner dates, and sometimes when it was a tough week we would just study together at each other’s apartments.
What were some of your involvements in college? Have those involvements helped you in any way in medical school?
During undergrad I worked as a tutor for the Academic Resource Center. This helped me learn to communicate complicated concepts in simple ways. This has been very useful in the hospital when explaining diseases or medications to patients.
Thanks a ton for all of the useful information you shared with us Richard! You have some awesome advice and great experiences that we could all learn from! I also fully agree with the importance of finding your passion and making sure that you show it clearly to the medical school committees! Keep on doing great things and best of luck to you as you go on to become a phenomenal physician!
Posted on January 6th, 2018