Decisions

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Hi everyone!

So I have some exciting news! I heard back from a post-bacc program! I’m so incredibly excited! However, I have some tough choices to make though.

My husband’s job can’t transfer him where we would be going. I had checked with him for the other schools, but this one had completely slipped my mind. As luck would have it, he may be able to transfer within the company to a field that he wants to make a career out of, but they may require him to stay in the state. If it was just the teo of us we could probably make this work anyway, but as you know I have twin boys. This makes it more complicated because we can’t pack up and move without some sort of income, so if my husband has to stay in the area it will be a strain in our family.

So I’m sort of at a cross roads. The program is great and tied to a medical school, which is exactly what my advisor said I should do. However, it’s gotten down to choosing between my husband’s dream job/livelyhood and me furthering my education in hopes of getting into med school. My husband has gone as far as suggest that he should stay home with my boys and continue to work while I go to school across the country. This is not an ideal situation and one that neither of us wants… and honestly I’m not sure it’s worth it enough for me to leave my sons for a year. On the other hand, should I pass this up? Something I’ve worked really hard for that could improve my GPA and my chances of getting into med school?

For now, I haven’t heard back from the other three schools. My top choice may or may not have a completed application; I asked on Wednesday but have yet to receive a response. It’s one last letter of recommendation, and I keep reminding the person writing it to send it. All I can do is wait and hope someone else gets back to me so we can decide on the best option.

I’m really nervous for the future. Last week I was dying to get accepted anywhere… now I’m dreading having been accepted. I know things will work out in the end, but I guess I have to stress out about it first.

Anyway, just a little update. I have until June 30th to get back to the school and let them know if I accept their offer or not. I’ll let you know what happens and how this works out. Here’s hoping only good things come our way!

Andrea.

HPREP 2017

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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! ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā 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.

Gap Year?

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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.

To Gap or Not to Gap…

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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.

Updates

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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.

New Year and Almost Done!

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Hello everyone!

I really need to write more often…

Today is the first day of my hopefully last¬†semester of pre-med requirements! I’m finishing up O-Chem II and Physics II. I’m excited, but also nervous, because I take the MCAT in May and I apply in June!

So first things firsts, I finished last semester strong! I got an A- in O-Chem and a B in Physics! Physics was a struggle, so I’m so thankful I was able to bring up my grade. I have a different professor this semester so I’m hoping it will go better than last semester. As for O-Chem, I really surprised myself! I didn’t study nearly hard as I did when I first took the class 2.5 years ago. I just studied differently…

I figured I would share how I did it in case any of you are curious. First of all, Leah4Sci’s videos on reactions were amazing. They helped me remember everything while consolidating my knowledge of the reactions mechanisms. I’m so thankful I discovered her site! I also completely ignored my textbook this semester… I just went over my notes, re-wrote them sometimes, and went to SI (supplemental instruction) instead. I think it helped a lot more than my book, since going through every single page didn’t help at all last time. Finally, a friend of mine and I had study group on Saturdays so we could go over things we were not sure about and teach each other. She did well in the class too, so I think our little study sessions help a lot. I definitely recommend making a study group for this class; the more you teach, the better you learn!

So, MCAT prep. I’m hoping to sign up for a prep course within the next month. While I wait to¬†sign up, I’ve been using Kaplan books to study. I just finished the behavioral science review today, and I started the Physics one. I’m excited to be done with a section, but I’m going to pick Saturdays as my review of previous subject days. What I mean is that I’m going to re-write the main points from the chapters on a separate notebook and read over it on Saturdays rather than study “new” material. I’ve also designated 4:10-6:50 Am as study time; I’m not sure how well this will go, but I’m hoping it’ll work. I just want to get it¬†out of the way early so I’m not making excuses once my sons go to bed and I’m too tired to do anything. This means I’ll be going to bed by 8… I’m not excited, but I have to make this work somehow!

Oh, I also took a 2.5 hour long MCAT practice test from Kaplan. It was my first one, and I tried to do it quickly so I could pretend I was running out of time like I’m sure will happen on the actual MCAT. I did horrible. It honestly killed my confidence… I learned a lot from it though, so I’m excited to keep studying and improving. My lowest section was the Physics/Chem section, which doesn’t surprise me since I still haven’t taken the second half of Physics and O-Chem, and I took Gen Chem like three years ago. Definitely my toughest section, so it’s probably what I’ll spend the most time studying. My best section was the CARS section, which surprised me. I’m happy about it, and I know I can keep improving, so I’m excited to take another practice test and see where I’m at. My second best section was the Behavioral Science, which I was happy about since Psychology was my major. Biology was kind of in the middle, but I’m not worried about bringing that up. I think the biggest thing with the MCAT is understanding how the test is given. Once you sort of understand how they test you, and you review all the content, you get an idea of how to apply that content to answer the questions.

As far as my personal life goes, if any of you care ha ha, things are going well. My twins are almost two years old and my husband is working to become a stock broker. Life seems to be taking us in a good direction, and I hope it continues. I’m still volunteering at hospice, I volunteered at a school last semester, and I’m going to an interview tomorrow to volunteer at the hospital where I lived for 7 weeks delivered my twins. I’m also looking for a D.O. to shadow, so that will be interesting.

I’m on track to apply to med school with my GPA being the only thing holding me back, so I’m not going to lie that I’m pretty scared, but also pretty sure, that I’ll get rejected. I’m still thinking about applying to post-bacc programs, but studying for the MCAT is taking up all of my time so GRE prep is not really a priority for me right now. I might apply to a few that don’t require it, and if I don’t get accepted I might apply in the Spring when I have my MCAT score. If things work out I’ll start med school in the next two-three years. Fingers crossed. ‚̧

So that’s it! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season and are ready for this new year. I definitely am!

Cheers!

Andrea.

Happy New Year!

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Hi guys!

Hope you all have a fantastic new year full of adventures and happiness.

This is basically how I spent my day:

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Entertaining these little ones that are not so little anymore. ūüė•

I hope next semester (LAST ONE BEFORE I GRADUATE!) will go well. I’m taking a break and only going half-time this semester. I’m a Life in Medicine class and a Perception (psych) class so far. I’m on the wait list for Genetics, a class I really want to take, so if I can get in I’ll drop the psych class and take Zumba for a total of 6 credit hours. It’ll be weird not going full-time, but I need a little time to figure out how to balance school and motherhood. I figured is better to do it now than to try once I get into med school if I get in…

I feel well though. I had an A, A-, B+, and a disappointing C+ for grades this semester. After beating myself up about it, I decided to suck it up and learn from my mistakes. You can’t succeed if you don’t fail, and you can’t succeed if you stop trying. I just can’t let this happen again, and I won’t. I can do this.

So here I am. Ready to take on the world and try to make 2016 the best year yet!

Happy new year!

Andrea.