Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Life for the Past Eight Months

              For the past eight months, I have endured the grueling process of getting into medical school. If you noticed, my blogging started to slow down around the middle of last summer. This is when I started to prepare for my second attempt at the MCAT (the standardized test needed for admission to medical school). When I tried to take it the first time, I was also involved in summer courses and volunteering and I was not prepared, so I ended up spending $300 just to sit in a room for three hours, only to void the test at the end. But it was worth it, because on my second attempt I did well enough to begin the process of applying for school. I practiced up until September, when I traveled to a test center to take the MCAT again. I did not do as well as I anticipated. The test is numerically ranked -- you can score anywhere from 0 to 45. I was averaging a "30" on my practice tests at home. I took time off of work and hanging out with my friends so I could study most days and nights for about four or five months. I ended up getting the national average...a 24. I was pretty disappointed in myself at first, because I felt that most competitive schools would like to see at least a 28.

      So I decided I would have to take it a third time...unfortunately, because every time you take this test you set yourself back another year for entrance. I decided this until I began shadowing a cardiologist at the local hospital where I volunteer. He introduced me to osteopathic medicine...familiar with the term? Neither was I. In college, we learned only about M.D. doctors and allopathic schools. I was completely unaware that there was another type of medicine equally recognized and administered in the United States. I thought for sure it was some kind of holistic, hokey practice, but I was wrong. I learned that osteopathic doctors (D.O. as you may have seen on white coats before) are prepared to perform surgeries and can practice in any specialty, just like allopathic doctors. The only difference? The founding principles, and the extra O.M.M education. Osteopathic doctors are capable of manipulating joints, soft tissues, and muscles in the body with their hands to help relieve localized and chronic pain. They receive 200 hours of training in this field, and it is a type of treatment that can help with anything from headaches to shoulder pain to digestive issues. It is really an amazing process once you see someone performing it. I was able to shadow an osteopathic doctor at a refugee clinic and I watched him perform O.M.M on a lady who had chronic back pain from work. Pretty remarkable stuff!

         So when I researched osteopathy, I decided that I was going in the totally WRONG direction with my life. The good thing about that? Osteopathic medical school starts in July, so I still had time to apply. The doctor that I shadowed urged me to apply, with the idea that having a high GPA and solid extracurriculars would offset the lower MCAT score. I am sure glad that I listened to him, despite how crazy my life has been lately and how much debt I have managed to obtain! I wrote and edited my personal statement from November-December and submitted my application in January to 15 osteopathic schools. That's a base fee of one-hundred and something dollars and about 40 for each additional school. Then, you also need to pay an online service (I recommend Interfolio) to send your letters of recommendation to each school. 

          After the schools have assessed your primary application, you will receive a secondary application if you pass the minimum requirements. If so, you then have to write (on average) three or four essays per application per school, and you have to pay anywhere from $50-200 for each secondary application. After that, each school can decide if they will invite you for an interview based on everything that you have submitted. It has been the longest and most stressful waiting game. I was rejected at first from Touro in my home state of NY and from Nevada. Then I received five interview invites -- for LECOM in Erie, PA, WVSOM in Lewisburg, WV, VCOM in Spartanburg, SC, CUSOM in Dunn, North Carolina, and UNECOM in Biddeford, ME. I traveled to each school and look forward to making another post for curious readers or potential future medical students about my interview experiences -- and what I can offer as far as tips! I am currently on the wait-list at LECOM, VCOM, CUSOM, and UNECOM and I have been accepted for NEXT fall (should a seat not open this year) for UNECOM and VCOM. I was rejected from WVSOM. So for now, more waiting. They can even call you on the very first day of classes if a seat opens up! So all I can do is prepare to move as early as this coming July. Even if I start the following fall, I plan on moving anyway, to start my new life.

So this is why I have not been posting! I also have been shadowing multiple cardiologists, a D.O at a family medicine practice, and residents at a family medicine center which primarily serves refugees. Though I have currently stopped shadowing (so that I can continue to volunteer and work 35 hours a week), I learned a lot of valuable experiences that I am sure will come up in future posts. Again, thank you for my patience and I hope this helps you understand why my blog was so stagnant!

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