Ooh, tread lightly there, my friend.
If I were a residency director, I wouldn’t take the time to look up your blog to see evidence of your interest in medicine or my specialty. That’s what your residency application (ERAS) and personal statement are for. If it’s not apparent in your application, I’m not going to go digging for it. Also, your ERAS application will also have places to list your medical work, whether it’s volunteer, research, or paid, so you won’t need to have a separate platform for this either.
If writing is something you’re interested in, by all means, keep a blog. But be extremely careful what you put on it. If you plan for the blog to be public and visible to potential employers, you need to make 100% sure that what you post is 1) your own opinions and writings, 2) properly sourced and referenced, 3) not a poor reflection of your school or residency program, and 4) HIPAA compliant. You probably shouldn’t write all your whines about school or residency or patients in a blog you’re going to share with a program director, either. And no patient stories.
This question comes up a lot.
I generally recommend that people keep them covered for interviews and clinical activities, just because you don’t know what your interviewers’ or your patients’ preferences and sensitivities would be. But tattoos really shouldn’t affect anything. I know LOTS of docs, nurses, pharmacists, and other hospital staff with plenty of tattoos (even full sleeves). Our hospital requires employees to keep them covered at work, but they don’t mind you having them, and it doesn’t affect employment.
I work with one male physician who has pierced ears and pierced nipples that are generally pretty visible under his ratty Affliction t-shirts. On weekends he walks the halls with ripped jeans, boots, and a leather jacket, and patients who don’t know him assume he’s a visitor, but he’s an excellent physician, so no one says anything about his wardrobe choices. Ultimately, what matters is whether you’re good at your job or not. Ok, but maybe don’t go this far.
Not at all. I have a terrible math brain. Once you are done with your premed pre-reqs, the only math you do thereafter is pretty basic. No worries friend.
Hibernating sounds real good.
Like reeeal good.
But srsly though. Don’t do ANY studying before you start med school. No one else out there will be studying. And if they tell you they did, avoid them, because they are the gunners of the class. This is your last chance pretty much ever to relax, so take advantage of it.
I took a super light schedule the last semester of my senior year because I already had acceptance to med school and I didn’t want to work my tail off. So I took the last few required classes and dropped 2 400-level science electives to give myself a whopping 12 hour schedule. It was glorious.
umm, I’m not sure you can prepare for this, other than going ahead and researching area counselors ;). Just get rested up. Find yourself an awesome place to live, because coming home to a nice place does wonders for the morale.
Get an animal to take care of (probably a low maintenance but furry one like a cat or bunny) because they will help de-stressificate you.
And get all your life stuff together. Anything that requires paperwork or an appointment should get done before school officially starts. Go to your doctor and your dentist for check ups before you start, because you may not see them again for the next few years.
Stay Tuned for Secrets of the Magic Match Computer…
Hi there Dr. Wayfaring! I’ve been deciding between PA and med school for the longest time. I am not keen on med school because of all the testing. Step 1 terrifies me in addition to all the other block exams in classes during M1 and M2…and then there are shelf exams in third year, then Step 2 in 4th! I do find myself fascinated by med school life and medicine otherwise. I’m just a terrible test taker. What do you think, because I don’t know if this is a good reason to rule out med school. Thanks! -anon
I don’t think tests are a good reason to rule out any profession. Whatever you do, if it involves grad school, there will be tons of testing.
I’m not sure that med school has more than PA school, actually. From what I’ve seen and read about PA school (help me out here PAblrs), many of them have tests weekly or every other week. Med schools generally do tests monthly or every 6-8 weeks. Of course, they covers more material, but they’re less frequent. PAs have licensing exams too, so don’t think you’ll get off easy there either.
If you go into school knowing that you’re a poor test taker, hopefully you could figure out some study methods and test taking skills to try to overcome it. You may even qualify for certain testing accommodations to assist you.
There are tons of good PAs and doctors out there who weren’t great test takers. Don’t let that be your reason for not pursuing your dream.
I’ve said this a thousand times on this blog, but I think the big thing to remember is that you will make time for the things you value.
To get through the stuff you have to do (so you have time to do the stuff you want to do):
1. maximize your downtime. Study during down times at work. Read or listen to a lecture while on the treadmill or during your commute. Review flash cards while you eat lunch. Use that time for studying. Figure out what subjects work best for studying in bits and spurts for you.
2. Get organized. Everything you need to study or work or do whatever you are doing should be within arm’s reach. Have a plan for what you’re doing so that you don’t waste time fumbling around. Make lists. Crossing things off lists is super fun.
3. Set small goals. Like “I’m going to give myself an hour to do XYZ”. Or “You will be more motivated to get things done more quickly, and therefore give you more “left over” time to spend however you need to. Work in shorter blocks of time. I’m a big fan of the 50 minutes on, 10 off system to get stuff done.
4. Plan fun stuff out in advance so you can be sure to get all your non-fun stuff done first. If you have a party you want to go to on Saturday night, you have to hold yourself to the rule that you cannot go unless you get A, B, and C done first.
5. Learn to say no. You do not have to do everything you are asked to do, whether it is related to fun, work, volunteering, etc. You are allowed to say no and not feel guilty about it. Don’t overload yourself.
6. Prioritize. Do you really need to go to that optional meeting? What things are “must haves” in your day? Schedule your day around your top 3 or 4 things, that way only the less important stuff gets left out.
7. Don’t procrastinate. Review stuff from lecture within 24 hours of hearing it the first time so it sticks better. Don’t wait till Friday to review what you learned on Monday. Also, you’re rarely more motivated than right after you get an assignment. Write out a quick outline or schematic of a project right after you get the assignment. It will go a long way in helping you get through it later.
8. Time yourself for a while and see how much time you spend doing stuff that doesn’t matter. Then figure out a way to streamline it.
9. Download a program to kick you off the internet after a while. You don’t really need to flip through the 19 best Olympic bulges on Buzzfeed anyway.
10. Practice radio silence. If you’re working on something important or you have a rhythm down, don’t answer your phone. Don’t worry about push notifications and emails and texts. Silence it all until you are ready for a break.
Hello there, Do you have a timeline for usmle exam too? When is the most recommended time to take it? Hear from you soon…
That one’s a bit easier.
Most schools have a time set aside for you to study for and take step 1 at the end of your second year. Don’t put it off till you’re in your clinical years. You’d be amazed how quickly you forget gluconeogenesis and steroid hormone synthesis and the coagulation cascade.
Step 2 CK/CS
I took CK at the very beginning of my 4th year. Again, some schools will give time for studying for this. Mine recommended we all take 2-4 weeks of “home electives” so we could study.
I took CS later in the year, only because it was the only test date I could get. I recommend getting both of them over with early in the 4th year so you can focus on the important things like interviews, moving, match day, and the suuuuper chill schedule that is the blessing of the 4th year.
This will vary by your residency program. Some people will actually take Step 3 before graduating med school. That’s totally fine. My program required us to take it before the end of first year. I think this is a pretty solid plan, especially if you’re going into a specialty that isn’t going to be covered much on the test. You wanna take that test before all your general medicine knowledge leaves you. For those of us in family medicine, we mostly took it in the second half of our year so we had about 6 months of core rotations down. It was sort of “real world studying.”
With every new procedure, medicine, or exam technique comes a little (or sometimes a big) twinge of fear.
I remember my first:
And guess what: all of them were scary as POO.
We fear the unknown. We fear hurting a patient. We fear messing up and looking stupid. But medicine (especially residency) is all about learning and doing new things. Each new exam and procedure is a milestone. When you get past the everyday stuff like violating people’s personal space, asking them awkward questions, and doing basic procedures like pelvic exams, the next hurdle doesn’t seem so scary.
As you progress, the hurdles get bigger, but you also become better equipped mentally, intellectually, and emotionally, to handle them. But in the end, this is why we have supervision in med school and residency. Your residents and attendings are there to make sure you don’t hurt people.
How to apply to medical school:
The AAMC has some great factsheets for aspiring doctors, applicants, med students, and residents with frequently asked questions, so I encourage you to check those out. They pretty much lay out everything you need to do to apply.
Hi there. I’m a 3rd year university student and medicine has always been my dream route after graduating. However, last year I was going through a tough time and as a result my grades suffered. I still meet the minimum requirements for admission to most med schools but I lost my scholarship and it’s not likely I’ll get it back. My grades have improved but I’m scared I won’t get in to med. I’m worried that if I can’t substantially bring up my GPA, I’ll just get ignored in my application. I would consider myself to be well rounded but I don’t know if it’s enough. I just don’t know what I’d do if I don’t get into medicine. I used to have back up plans but I just don’t want to do them anymore. I am so set on med school. Any advice? :/
Part of wanting to go into medicine is being ok with not making it there in the “traditional” timeline. This whole thing is a gamble. Only a handful of people in my class in med school went straight in from undergrad. You could have a 100% perfect application and still not get in (don’t freak out!) because there simply aren’t enough spots for all the qualified applicants.
What’s important is doing your best. If your grades, MCAT score, and extras represent your best effort, be proud of it, regardless of the outcome. If you don’t get in on the first time around, be persistent. It’s not the end of the world. Half of my class in med school had already applied once and were denied. Find out what you can do to make your application even more desirable and work on that for the next year.
Be careful not to idolize a career in medicine either. EVERYTHING, even the things you absolutely love, has a downside. Regardless of how much shadowing you’ve done, you can’t really know what medicine is like until you’ve “made it,” so to speak. If you hold medicine up on a pedestal, you are liable to be disappointed when you eventually do make it. What if you work so hard to be a doctor, and when you finally get there, you hate it?
Also, don’t expect that fear of not making it to go away once you’ve secured an acceptance to medical school. Next you will fear dropping out, failing your classes, getting a bad score on Step 1, and looking stupid on clerkships. Then when you graduate you will fear looking dumb compared to your fellow residents, hurting a patient you have been trusted to care for, missing an important diagnosis, getting sued, and on and on and on.
A little fear is healthy. It keeps you humble and keeps you learning. But too much fear, which I think you’re bordering on, friend, can hold you back from doing amazing things in life. What if you’re not meant to be a doctor? What if you’re meant to be an amazing biology teacher? Or a pharmaceutical researcher? Or a nurse? Or a PA? What if your insistence on being a doctor is preventing you from excelling in something else? Just think on that.
How do you like move from med school to residency and internship do you have to apply or like get asked or do you just show up? -anon
how does one chooses a hospital to do you residency on? like barring the MATCH system, how do you choose your “dream” hospital? -anon
Man, I wish you could just show up on July 1 and hit the next step like transitioning from middle school to high school. That’d be awesome. In reality though, the road to residency is a bit like dating, or at least what I would imagine dating to be like…
1. You decide you want to be a [insert specialty here, but I’m gonna use Family medicine as an example] doctor.
2. You fill out a lengthy
personality profile application online, which includes a personal statement that tells all about why you want to be a family doctor.
facebook stalk do internet research on all the available programs and narrow the long list down to the ones you’re interested in dating. You do this by geography, reputation, program curriculum specifics, and of course, website aesthetics.
They (DOs) are cool. They do the same things we (MDs) do, plus some other magical handsy stuff.
They can go to MD or DO residency programs.
They tend to have a more holistic look on medical care (at least during training), which is nice.
Every DO I’ve ever worked with has been just as qualified (or moreso) than their MD counterparts, so if that’s a concern, don’t let it be. If I had known about DO schools when I was applying, I would have probably applied to both.
EDIT: Also, check out the DO and DO student section of the medblr spotlight and hear their perspectives!
Well, I’ve gotten rid of quite a few of them, but here’s what’s left. Hmm, I’ve been looking for good kindling for my fire pit. I think I’ve found it!
It may feel awkward to praise yourself, but that’s what you should be doing in this letter of rec. I mean, if I’m on an AdCom and read a less-than-glowing letter of rec about an applicant, I would assume that the letter writer didn’t have much confidence in the person.
In this post about personal statements, I recommended asking a good friend or family member (ok, not your mom, but like a cool uncle or something) why they think you’d be a good doctor. They will probably come up with reasons that never would have occurred to you. Ask them what qualities they look for in a good doctor, and then ask how you exhibit those qualities.
When you write the letter, write it like you are literally bragging to someone about how great you are. Write using the first person. Then when you’re done you can change all the I’s/me’s to third person. Don’t worry about making it perfect. The professor will edit it how they want it.