Pre-med

Beauty and the Grad School

Hello everyone!

Two weeks of grad school have flown by! I kept meaning to sit down and write this post but I’ve been slammed with work. It hasn’t been easy, but I love it so far. The subjects interest me and are things I can use in my practice, so no matter how difficult it is I just think about how lucky I am to have this wonderful opportunity.

Grad school is a beast! I feel like all I do is study, and when I don’t study I feel guilty! Add that to the guilt that my toddlers aren’t here with me yet and I’m a giant ball of guilt! We’re working things out still, but my husband is moving out here next weekend! It makes me incredibly happy, but I also feel bad because he will be driving across the country by himself. The plan was for me to fly back and drive with him, but when I mentioned it to one of my professors she become very concerned. She told me she would feel it was to my disadvantage to lose that much time studying. I am so incredibly thankful that our professors care so much; I wouldn’t have known I would’ve had no time until it was too late and we were on the road. On the first drive out we were tired, we listened to Harry Potter audio books, and we slept. Literally no time to study, especially since I get carsick when I read. I’m nervous about him driving by himself, but my husband is such an amazing person that he doesn’t care. He wants me to put my studies and my future career ahead of his comfort. I truly don’t know how I got so lucky. We’re hoping we can fly out our babies within a week or two of him arriving; we want to make sure we get all the furniture taken care of before they come out. As for my cute kitties, we’ll be bringing them out by February. We want to make sure we’re settled and find a good vet before we move them.

Back to grad school… My first quiz went okay, but I know I can do a lot better. I’m studying by myself and I’ve also made a weekend study group that I will be going to later today. I feel more confident about this quiz, so hopefully everything works out. I think my nerves got the best of me last time since I didn’t know what to expect.

My advisor also told me to submit my application to AACOMAS so it can be verified and put on hold until they get my December grades and my January MCAT score. Inhala, exhala. AAAAH I’M NOT READY TO APPLY! I want to do it so I can start medical school one year sooner than expected, if I get in, but I’m also incredibly nervous about it. Maybe I should wait until May to take the MCAT so I have more time to study and apply in June like I originally planned. I still haven’t started studying for the MCAT, but our MCAT prep course starts next month. Will I be ready? I just need to get out of my head and breathe… Everything will work out in the end, whether I wait or not.

That’s just a very small update. I will see how my quiz goes next time and I will write a post on how my study habits have changed since undergrad; hint- they’re completely different!

Okay, study break over! I’m off to study some Anatomy (my favorite subject!)

Wish me luck!

Andrea.

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Life

Farewell Utah

Hello everyone!

Today is going to be a little different. This won’t have anything to do with school, but rather my goodbye to the state of Utah yes I am cheesy like that. Everyone always asks me if we will be coming back, and unless I end up here for med school or residency, the answer is no. Since we’re 99% sure we won’t be coming back, I felt like I should write my farewell somewhere I could find later on. If I write it down on a piece of paper, I’m going to lose it, so here it is for your viewing pleasure. 😀

Dear Utah,

Wow. The past 13 years have flown by. I remember when I started 10th grade that I had all these plans to move out as soon as possible. I remember in 11th grade after meeting one of my best friends, shout out to Kat, that we would all get a big house in Washington and our group of friends would live there. We would live close to Canada so we could go to school there. We have life figured out, didn’t we? Then our group of friends became just Kat and me. We’re still very close, but we never got that big house.

12th grade was a rough year. It was a very low point in my life, but I stuck it out. My psychology professor encouraged me to go to college for Psychology, a subject I had fallen in love with that year. I was gonna go to school for that and acting, because I still held on to my dream of being an actress I don’t think I was very good. Graduation came and went… I started college that Fall, and I picked Psychology as my major. I got engaged in December and I started planning a wedding. I didn’t pay much attention to my classes that semester, but I passed all of them with okay grades. We got married the weekend before finals; I don’t recommend that to anyone!

You weren’t easy on us after we got married though. We lived with my parents with the hope that we would only be there for a year. My husband had a hard time finding a good paying job for a long time, and that year turned out to be seven. Say what you want about my parents, but they are the real MVPs for putting up with us so I could finish school. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to go to school in the first place. My dad paid for my first year of school, and after I was married I was able to qualify for financial aid that allowed me to keep going.

Four years in  and we were expecting out first child! I had a year and half left of school and I was so nervous. I knew I was going to keep going and I wanted to graduate on time. Since I have the most amazing family, they helped me every step of the way. Our first child ended up being two! You know the story if you’ve read my blog; my twins were high risk and I was stuck in the hospital for 7 weeks and 1 day. Our twins were in the NICU for 3 weeks and 2 days. I continued to take classes during this time, and as difficult as that was, it helped keep me distracted. I met so many amazing doctors and nurses there; my love for medicine grew during this time and I realized there is nothing else I would like to do. Thank you for bringing these wonderful doctors to this state, especially Dr. I who delivered the twins and let me shadow her.

That year wasn’t easy, but I graduated. I was so proud of myself! Our graduation was at the same place my high school graduation had been at. I wasn’t done with my pre-med classes though; I had two more semesters to do. Thankfully, I had an amazing pre-med advisor; he encouraged me to keep going and helped me have faith in myself. During my last semester I applied to grad school, and that wasn’t easy either. My advisor resigned and it was difficult to get a hold of him. It was like pulling teeth trying to get him to send my letters of recommendation. I was angry. He had everything I needed to submit and he kept forgetting. I took matters into my own hands and sent two letters from doctors I hunt down by myself.

Then it happened. June 2017 I got into all four programs I applied to. It felt surreal… we were moving! What were we going to do so far away from family? I’ve never lived in any other state, let alone live away from my mother. Could I actually handle being an adult? None of that mattered, I was determined to make it work. I made my choice and picked where I would be going for my Master’s.

Now it’s August and I leave you tomorrow to go to my first choice grad school. My dreams are coming true! I never thought this day would come! As excited as I am for this new stage in life, I can’t help but feel a little sad. A big part of my life has been here. As much as I hated you for various reasons, my family and most of my friends are here. It’s bittersweet. You are the place that shaped the person that I am today. I made my family here. I donated so much time to the community here. I’m truly sad to be leaving. My husband and twins are staying behind for a bit until my husband can find a good job out there, but after they join me we don’t know when we’ll be back. I know, it sounds kinda whiny, but I still haven’t gone back to Peru and it’s been 13 years. Who knows where life will take us?

So thank you, Utah. You allowed me to grow up here and have a relatively good life. You allowed my family to have a good life, something we couldn’t do back in Peru. You allowed me to make my own family. You taught me to be more outgoing instead of the shy, quiet girl I was when we moved here. If it wasn’t for moving here, I wouldn’t be fluent in English. I met so many wonderful people that I would not have met if I wasn’t here. I even rescued two beautiful kitties from two of your shelters, one of them being a place I volunteered at for four years. Thank you for giving me opportunities I wouldn’t have anywhere else. I’m sad to be leaving you, even after all those years I spent complaining about you. “Thanks for the memories, even though they weren’t so great” from that Fall Out Boy song comes to mind, ha ha.

Here’s to new adventures and to making dreams come true.

Thank you for everything,

Andrea.

Pre-med

Studying for Anatomy and Physiology

Hello everyone!

I usually get questions from people asking me how I studied for Anatomy and Physiology, so I figured I would write them down here for anyone who might find it useful! Some of these will be similar to my O-Chem ones, and I will update this once I start grad school and change up my style. For now, this is what I did in undergrad!

1) Go to class. Still THE best way to learn. You see what your professor wants you to know and they may even give you hints of what they will have on the exams. You can also ask questions and get to know your professors, which will be good if you want to be a tutor for their class in future semesters.

2) Go over your notes. Your book may have a lot of info, but your professor may tell you things that aren’t in the book. When writing your notes, if your professor likes a topic a lot, make sure you highlight it so you know it will most likely be on the test. My physiology professor based her exams off of her PowerPoints, so the book was not helpful for her class. Again, go over your notes!

3) Go to lab. My school had a lab for both classes. Needless to say, it was important to go to every single one! For anatomy, my school was lucky enough to have cadavers. If you have a cadaver lab, GO TO OPEN LAB AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! We had our usual lab hours, three hours a week, and outside of that we had open lab where we could go study the cadavers and ask the lab instructors questions. My twins were 7 months old when I took anatomy, and I went every day. Sometimes I left lab when it was dark outside. It was difficult, but if I did it so can you! Anatomy is a beast, and you’re going to have to live and breathe it in order to do well unless you’re an anatomy genius, in which case I’m totally jealous!

4) Talk to the lab instructors. I was a lab instructor for Physiology and I don’t think I ever got questions. Most of my students were great and got A’s, but there were a few that should have gotten A’s if they had just asked me questions. I was always willing to help and I even gave out my phone number to helps my students, so if your instructor gives you their info, take advantage of it! Don’t call them at weird hours, but definitely message them if you are unsure about things. Most instructors are happy to teach and want to see you succeed!

5) Use anatomy apps. There are a lot of apps out there, but I used this one here. It was a work in progress when I took the class, but they had most of the systems up. I would use it any chance I got when I wasn’t in lab because I could click on a body part and turn it to see it from all angles. They also had quizzes built into it so you could test how well you knew the parts. It really helped when it came to learning all the muscles!

6) Use a coloring book. My professor added this on his list of materials for my anatomy class. It wasn’t required, but I felt like it helped me. I used erasable colored pencils and would test myself on the structures; I would color in the ones I knew and leave blank the ones I didn’t. Once I got through it, I would erase it all and start over whenever I needed.

7) Tutoring. Last but not least, tutoring. I went to as many SI sessions as I could for anatomy. It helped a lot to have someone else who had already gone through the class answer your questions and tell you what the professor loved to test on. They also had their old exams that they could show you so you could see how the professor would word their questions.

That’s it! I studied a lot those two semesters and it was difficult, but I made it through and so will you! If anyone has any other suggestions put them in the comments for others to see! I hope you’ve found this useful. Let me know if there’s another course you want study tips on and I’ll make a post on it. 🙂

As an update, orientation is on the 11th and I’ll be moving out of Utah next Thursday! I’m so excited and so nervous! I’ll make some posts later to let you know how grad school goes. 🙂

Wish me luck!

Andrea.

Pre-med

Good News Everyone!

Hi everyone,

As you know I applied to four post-bacc programs. I told you on my last post that I had gotten accepted into one program and how I was worried about how things would work out. Thankfully, I had almost nothing to worry about! I got accepted to all four programs I applied to! I cannot begin to tell you how excited and proud of myself I am; I never thought this is where I would be a few month ago, and definitely didn’t think about this when I started this blog four years ago!

So after much deliberation, and by that I mean just waiting for my top choice to accept me, I will be attending Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine pursuing a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences starting this Fall. The curriculum is a lot like first year medical school, so I’m incredibly excited and terrified! I’ve taken anatomy before, but never done the actual dissections! This will really help me once I’m in med school though, so I’ll figure it out. I can’t wait to make North Carolina our new home! Utah has been pretty good to us, but it’s time to leave! I’m sad to be leaving my friends and family, but I’m excited to get away from the snow! I have to be in North Carolina in exactly one month for orientation, so hopefully we can figure it all out by then. I still have to find housing!

The tricky part about this all is my husband’s work. He loves computers and has some experience coding. His job is letting him take their web development course so he can hone his skills and get a tech job through them. With everything he has to do and our limited timeline, I may have to move by myself until he’s done with the course and can transfer out there. We hope it won’t be too long, but I’m so excited and proud of him! This is basically his dream job and he has worked so hard for so long that he deserves to have a job he truly enjoys. Things are looking up for us!

We’re both on a path that will take us to where we want to be in life, and I’m so excited that we’ll be doing things we love while being able to provide a good life for our little boys, which are two now, by the way! Time flies when you’re having fun and working hard!

When I left Peru thirteen years ago, the ONE thing I KNEW I would NEVER be wasa doctor. My dad had drilled this into my head; I wasn’t good at math, so I could never be a doctor. I believed him and we joked about it all the time. And yet, here we are! Once I decided what I wanted to do, I worked hard and passed all my math classes; I even managed to get A’s in College Algebra and Trig. I kept going; I survived organic chemistry and physics, two of the hardest subjects I’ve taken so far. I was able to bring up my GPA enough to be a competitive applicant for post-bacc programs. Pinch me, because I must be dreaming! After a hospital stay, a difficult pregnancy, TWINS… I graduated, I brought up my GPA, I volunteered, I shadowed, I did research… and now I’m getting a Master’s?! How did I manage to do this? I honestly don’t know, but I did it! I’m one step closer to my goal!

I know sometimes we are our own worst enemies; I know I am! The thing is, it’s okay to have doubts. It’s okay to freak out a little and wonder how you’ll get through that difficult project. It’s okay to vent to your friends about how much you hate Physics (me!) Just keep pushing forward, it will all work out in the end! If you need to take a different path for a while or if it takes you longer than most, that’s okay! You WILL get there one day if you keep working on it.

I can’t wait to see what life has in store for us. I know the next few years are going to be difficult, but I can’t wait to experience grad school and get through all those classes! I’m so excited to learn! Hopefully I’ll have some cool experiences to share with you all in the next few months! I’ll also be sharing what I used to study for anatomy in undergrad and what I’ll be using to study for it now, so stay tuned for that!

Fall can’t come fast enough!

Andrea.

Pre-med

HPREP 2017

Hi everyone!

Last week I participated in the 2017 Ransdell Family Health Professions Readiness & Enrichment Program at Campbell University. It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life! It’s not only good for pre-med students, they also host pre-pharmacy, pre-nursing, pre-PT, and pre-PA students! Basically, if you’re interested in healthcare, this is for you!

It lasted about 5 days and the great thing about it is that I only had to pay for airfare and snacks, everything else was covered by the program. There were a lot of students from the east coast, and a few of us from the more western states, so you get to meet a lot of new people; if you think about it, you just met the future of healthcare! 🙂

So let’s talk a little bit about what we did; I will try my best to describe it but it’s really one of those things you have to experience to fully grasp what the program was about. We got split up into groups, which were always changing but we had our main mentoring group. Ours was called Gaylord’s Minions, but it turned into Where’s Abraham? He was one of the group members and it seems that we were always asking about where he was. It was a pretty funny week! And for those of you wondering, Gaylord is the name of the school’s mascot. I guess he was named after a baseball player that went to Campbell. You can find out more about that here. Anyway, back to the mentoring group. I was lucky enough to be paired up with a DO student at the school; she was so helpful and answered all my questions about their DO program. I feel like I understand the difference between DOs and MDs a lot better now thanks to her. I’m probably biased, but she was the best mentor and we had the best group!

We had a few guest speakers, which were amazing. They talked about things like diversity and becoming more inclusive, serving others more and making our life be about that, etc. It was a lot of information, and I wish I had taken notes; I was so amazed by being a part of the program that I forgot my notebook! So if you participate in the program in the next few years, definitely take some notes!

We also had workshops where we learned about things like networking, goal setting, and the different programs Campbell had to offer. We got to talk to a lot of the faculty and staff from the school and had a chance to ask them questions. We also toured the main campus, getting to see their Pharmacy buildings and compounding lab. This was mostly the format for the first two days.

The third and fourth days were by far my favorite! We got to tour the medical school and learn about the technology they used to teach their students. We had a “lecture” about OMM, osteopathic manipulative medicine, and we got to try a few things with a partner. Not gonna lie, I’ve been using what I learned on everyone on my family. My husband is pretty tired of it by now! I just fell in love with OMM though; I think I would want to do a residency on it if I get accepted into a DO program. We had the two DO students practicing OMM on some of the faculty the first two nights, and I stayed up until midnight watching them. I absolutely love what they do, and when they’re done and the patient gets up feeling better? Priceless.

We also got to touch a plastinated cadaver and we participated in an emergency and birthing simulation lab; these were very cool because the robots they used could blink, breathe, have someone talk through them, have vitals… It was just a very cool experience. The emergency sim could vomit and you could draw blood from him, but we didn’t get a chance to see. It could get messy, so I don’t blame them for not doing it! Another thing we got to do was test prep! We split up into different groups based on the test we would need, MCAT, GRE, or PCAT, and we had a Kaplan instructor give us an interactive lesson. It was a bit intense, but I’m happy to say that my O-Chem and Psych/Soc knowledge is still pretty fresh. I need to practice/study the other subjects, but I feel a little better about it. We also had, amid a tornado watch, a scavenger hunt in the PT/PA/nursing building. It was four flights of stairs and the most fun I’ve had in a while. It was called Camelpalooza; their mascot is a camel so that’s probably where the name came from. We had clues, run up and down the stairs to get to the correct place, do an activity as a group, and get the next clue before we continued our run.

Finally, our last day was a half day. We got to participate in a service project where we filled paper bags full of food for children in the community. It was the fastest project I’ve ever done; the teamwork from all the groups was truly astounding. It was supposed to last two hours and we got done a little before the hour mark.

Honestly, it’s difficult to describe what an amazing week I had. The feel of the school was that of a big family, the Campbell Family as they like to call it. It felt like home and everyone was incredibly nice. Not to turn it into a sad post, but I found out my grandmother passed away while at the program. Everyone was so sweet offered comforting words and hugs. I’m so thankful to have these new, amazing people in my life. I even had one of the mentors, who was in the pharmacy program, give me some incredible advice, which I will share with you.

She told me that although this was a difficult thing to go through, we have to look at the positive. Not to take away from the experience, but to sort of add to it. She said that I could use this to empathize with my future patients who will go through this. I was very upset and tired at the time, so I don’t remember her exact words, but what I got from it was all that matters. How could I use this experience to make my future patients have an easier time? I can’t take their pain away, and I can empathize, but what else can I do?

My grandmother had dementia. It has been a long time since I had talked to her, and a longer time since she had known who I was. She lived in Peru, so I was never able to go visit her, but I saw pictures of her throughout the years. Although she was well taken care of, I KNOW that not everyone is. As a CNA, I have seen how people treat their patients sometimes. It can get downright inhumane, and there ARE cases of abuse. So, what can I do to make my patients lives better?

In honor of my grandmother, I’m going to find ways to make the quality of life of patients with dementia better. I’m not sure how, but I will figure it out. I want my career to be about bettering the lives of my patients, so what better way than to start here? I will keep you updated with what I’ll be doing with this, and if you have any tips or advice please let me know!

All in all, this experience has taught me that we should always be looking for ways to help others. One of the things a guest speaker talked about was asking, “How can I help you?” This has resonated with me, and now I get up every day and try to find ways to help those around me. I’m by no means perfect, but at least I’m trying. Next week I’ll give you some more insight as to how it has specifically changed the way I do things at the hospital I volunteer at. Stay tuned. 🙂

Overall, I highly recommend this program! Look it over and if it interests you, sign up next year. If you’re like me and live far away, don’t be scared! I know I was terrified to go to the other side of the country, but it worth it! Take a leap, you won’t regret it! You will be EXHAUSTED by the end of the week, but you will have gained so much knowledge about healthcare and about yourself. You won’t regret it! And who knows, maybe they’ll accept me into their MSBS program and I’ll get to be your mentor! If you want more info about this program, click here.

Cheers!

Andrea.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few pictures of my experience. 🙂 First- HPREP 2017 participants and mentors. Second- Yours truly super excited to be at the medical school. Third- Gaylord’s Minions/Where’s Abraham group with Gaylord himself.

Pre-med

Reflecting on the Past Year

Hi everyone!

It hit me a few hours ago what today was… May 19th, the day I was supposed to take the MCAT. Instead, I ran around getting everything ready for my upcoming trip to a medical school for a program specifically for pre-professional students. I will give a recap of that next week when I get back!

Honestly, I feel a little sad. Today was supposed to be the day I finally tackled the big exam. I was supposed to be done by now, I think, and look forward to my next adventure, which was supposed to be my med school application.

I felt terrible when I decided to put it off again. Like I had failed, like I couldn’t put in the effort to study. I also felt relieved, because I had more time to prepare.

I still feel that way. I know I wouldn’t have been ready on time, and I knew I was putting too much on my plate. How was I going to study 35+ hours a week, go to school part time, and take care of two toddlers? I’m sure there are some amazing people out there that could do it, and I admire you all if you have gone through this. You are incredibly strong and determined! But for me, it just wasn’t going to work out. I needed to put as much study time as I could on my classes, and I was already struggling to give my sons the attention they deserved. I know it’s not gonna be easy, it never will be, but with how little my boys were/are, I knew made the right decision for me and my family.

Do I feel guilty? Yes. Am I at peace with my decision? Not ready, but I believe things happen for a reason. Maybe there is something else I’m supposed to do first. Maybe putting it off and applying to post-baccs was the right decision for me. Maybe improving my GPA and getting a Master’s will benefit my application in the long run.

So yes, I’m a little sad, but the path to medical school isn’t always linear. It’s a marathon, uphill, with many obstacles in the way. It’s okay to take longer than most… Time will pass anyway!

Here’s to another year of growth, and here’s to knowing that I WILL take the MCAT by this time next year.

Never give up!

Andrea.

PS: I applied to four total grad schools. The last two have all my application materials! I’m so excited! The first two still don’t have the letters, but I’ll continue to work on it. Fingers crossed!

Pre-med

Gap Year?

Hi everyone,

The semester is over and I have nothing to do for the next year! Actually, that’s not entirely true… I have to start studying for the MCAT, again, so I can be ready for next Spring!

I haven’t heard back from post-bacc schools and I’ve basically given up on it. The schools have not received my letters of recommedation, and my pre-med advisor is nowhere to be found. He resigned, and although his last day is June 30th, he hasn’t answered any emails or texts. I guess my application is not a priority. I sent in my apllications two months ago, and although he has supposedly sent them twice, the schools don’t seem to get them. This is really frustrating for me, and I’m at a loss as of what to do.

I did apply to another program a few days ago that doesn’t require letters of recommendation, so we’ll see if I get into that one. That program gives you a certificate, not a Master’s, which makes me a little sad. It’s okay though, because I just want a chance to improve my GPA!

I applied to a CNA job as well, but haven’t heard back yet. What do people usually do with gap years? I’m still volunteering at the hospital, and besides MCAT prep and taking care of the twins there’s not much I have going on.

Anyway, happy early Mother’s Day!

Andrea.

Pre-med

Upset

Hi everyone,

It’s almost the end of the semester! Today’s my last day of lecture, quizzes tomorrow, review the rest of the week, lab finals this week, lecture finals next week, and I’m free for the forseable future!

I can’t wait for summer, my trip to NC for a pre-med thing, and spending more time with my family.

So why is the title of this blog “Upset?” Remember how I applied to two graduate schools a little while ago? I haven’t heard back from either school yet. No phone call, no e-mail, nothing. So I went to check on the status of my application; I have only done it for one school so far, because I have to e-mail admissions from the second school to ask them about it.

Anyway, I go to check and my application is still under review. That’s fine, it will take a little bit of time for me to hear back. Well I kept reading… and my letters of recommendation haven’t been received yet. My heart dropped. My advisor was supposed to send them in at least two weeks ago. It doesn’t take two weeks for letters to arrive… I sent in my transcripts through the mail and they arrived within two days.

I sent my professor an e-mail over the weekend to ask him about it. No response. I’m only slightly freaking out… I didn’t realize how much I DIDN’T want a gap year. I love studying, I love learning, I love the stress… what will I do with a gap year? I have the MCAT to study for, of course, but that won’t help improve my GPA.

So I went through all these worst case scenarios in my head about how I wouldn’t get in anywhere. How if I didn’t improve my GPA I wouldn’t get into med school. Honestly, I’m still really worried about all this… But I never give up. I’m going to digress a little and talk about a speech I gave last week.

It was for this project called Mi Verdad, or My Truth. It was about the struggles/stories of Latino college students. I was lucky enough to be able to participate, and I learned a lot about my culture and myself. My theme was “Hard work,” because it’s taken a lot of it to come back from my low GPA and do relatively well in my classes. I might post my speech after finals so you can have a better idea of what I’m talking about. Anyway, I told the audience that you can do anything you set your mind to, that all you need is to put in the work and it will pay off. So how could I give a sort of inspirational speech and then not take in my own advice?

Back to the problem at hand. I’m scared of a lot of things, but I will not let my fear get the best of me. I will check the status of my application again, this time for both schools, and I will e-mail my advisor one last time to ask when he sent in those letters. I will annoy him if I have to, although I really don’t want to, because I consider myself a nice person. I will make sure my application is complete and wait for the schools to make their decisions.

If I don’t get in, I will be sad. However, I will know that I did everything I could and I will figure out the best way to improve my GPA if I have to take a gap year. I will find ways to strengthen my application, and I will apply to med school June 2018. I can and I will do this.

Wish me luck,

Andrea.

Pre-med

To Gap or Not to Gap…

Hi everyone,

I have some cool updates for you guys. I managed to get an A- and a B- on my last two O-Chem exams, so I’m well on my way to get a B in the class. If my professor drops out lowest test score, which depends on our next exam’s average, I could possibly end up with a B+! However, the lab is killing me; the lab questions aren’t very clear to me, but we’re not allowed to ask questions. This means I’m averaging a C+ on my lab reports. I’m really disappointed, but I’m going to work hard to bring that up to a B by doing well in the rest of the pre-labs, labs, and lab final. The lab is considered a separate class, so I really need to do well! As for Physics, I have an A in the lab and a B in the class; I’m really happy, because this is all counted as part of the class, so my final grade should be at least a B if I continue to do well.

That’s it for classes updates. Now, to talk about the title of this post… I’ve put off the MCAT yet again. I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to study for it the way the program I signed up for wanted, 30+ hours a week, while still doing well in my classes. I want to make sure I do well so I can’t afford to slack off. That being said, I will be signing up for a prep course in September and taking it in April or May. That means I’ll be applying to medical school next year and hopefully starting in 2019. It feels so far away, but I need to be able to do things well from now on.

So, to take a gap year or to not take a gap year? Right now, I’m leaning towards taking a gap year. I don’t have to take any other classes except maybe two suggested ones; I haven’t decided if I’ll be back next semester to take Genetics, but that’s probably the only class I would take. However… I dunno if I’ll be here next semester. I might move out of state! Why?

I applied to post-bacc programs! It’s only a few, and I’ll be learning about one that is brand new in my home state so I can apply there as well. I have submitted everything, and I’m just waiting for my professor to send in my letters of recommendation. I will be emailing my professor this weekend to ask if they’ve been sent out yet; one of the schools has a three-week deadline from the time you submit your application! That one is my top choice so I will be annoying my professor until he sends them.

I’m so excited and so nervous! I’m trying to be optimistic but honestly, I’m scared I won’t get in anywhere because I applied later than I wanted to. Just thinking about how great it will be for my medical school application makes me want it even more; I can improve my GPA significantly if I do well, which I know I can do. Honestly, I like school so much, that I think a gap year will bore me. I don’t take classes during the summer, and I get bored with nothing to do and no stress. I know how that sounds… I just like school. Last summer I did MCAT prep on my own and it was heaven. I felt so accomplished at the end of the day; study, work out, spend time with kids. It was perfect.

Anyway, I’m getting off track. So the plan is to take a gap year if I don’t get accepted into a post-bacc program. I really hope I do, because I don’t want to take a gap year, but I’ll make the best of whichever situation I’m in.

It’s times like this that I have to remind myself why I’m doing this. It feels like I keep putting it off, but I know I have good reasons and I’m still trying to improve while enjoying the stage I’m in. The path to medical school is anything but linear, at least for me. It might take me longer, but I will get there.

Fingers crossed!

Andrea.

Pre-med

Updates

Hi everyone,

I have some awesome news to share. I got an A- on my O-Chem exam! I followed the plan I outline in my last post and it helped so much! I’m really excited. My grade in class has gone up from a D+ to a C+, which is not a great grade but it’s something I can definitely improve on, especially because my professor drops our lowest exam score. Once he does at the end of the semester, my grade will be much better, since my lowest score so far was a 61. I’m going to continue studying so I can make sure my grade remains high.

Now comes the interesting part. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m signed up to take the MCAT on May 19th. I signed up two days ago for a prep course through Altius Test Prep. I’ve been reviewing content on my own since August on and off, but I knew I would need something more structure to prepare at some point. Finances are tricky though, so it took me longer to sign up than I was expecting.

I was excited and ready, until I looked at their introduction. I knew the course would be difficult, and I knew it would take time, but what scared me was how advanced their other students are compared to me. I’ll start a little over a month AFTER their short track students. Surprisingly, they say that they won’t accept students later than the beginning of February, but I was still allowed to join a group. I’m worried that I won’t be ready by May, and I thought about pushing back the MCAT for another month to have more time to prepare.

I kept reading what they gave me. The time commitment, the things that need to get done… and honestly, I panicked a little. I don’t think I can finish all of that in under three months. I’m seriously considering pushing the MCAT until next April. I won’t be taking classes so I would be able to concentrate on studying for it. However, that means I’ll have to postpone applying to medical school yet another year.

Honestly, postponing it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I could ensure I’m more competitive by having a strong MCAT. However, I would have to contact everyone that wrote my letters of recommendation and asking them to change the date on them, again. It’s been difficult to do that already, since some people are more cooperative than others. I’m still waiting on one for this year, and another one that should’ve been written by now but hasn’t. It’s discouraging. Additionally, I’ll lose a lot of volunteering, shadowing, and patient exposure hours. What I mean by this is that my advisor let me know that only extracurricular activities from the last four years will count. Since I’ve been pre-med for such a long time, a bulk of my hours came from 2013, which won’t count if I apply in 2017. I’ve been looking for info about this from the actual AAMC website but I couldn’t find anything about it, so it’s difficult for me to make a decision.

I’m going to wait a few days and think it over. I’ll wait until my tutor contacts me and I get a better idea of what this program will require. If I feel like it can be done, I’ll stick with it. Otherwise, I will get a refund and start the program in the Fall.

I’ll keep you guys posted. If anyone knows anything about the four year extracurricular cap I mentioned, please let me know! It would help me out a lot!

I do have another update that I’m afraid is the worst of them all. The hospice patient I’ve been visiting for the past year and a half passed away on Wednesday. I’m usually sad when my patients pass away, but I cried over this loss. He had become a good friend and I learned so much from him. He was an amazing person who will be sorely missed; he wrote a book about his life, which was really interesting, just so he could donate all the profits to charity.

RIP Walter. We will all miss you; from the happy “Hellooooo” you gave when you answered the phone and the “wunderbar” answer you gave when asked how you were doing. I will always remember you and the lessons you taught me about life. Thank you for everything.

Andrea.