Application resources and other recent ramblings

I was thinking about what I found to be the most consistently helpful resource for the whole medical school application process and decided that it was undoubtedly the Student Doctor Network (SDN) Forums. Although I distinctly remember stumbling upon the forums in high school, I only returned to the site as I was crafting my AMCAS personal comments last summer [I cannot believe it has been a year since I started my primary application!] and somewhat regretted not keeping tabs on application threads earlier [say, like a year before I was planning to apply]. While it takes some time to learn how to weed out pertinent information, read between the mounds of sarcastic lines and muster the courage to finally post in a thread you’ve followed for weeks [well… it took me a while to actually post something], there is so much valuable information available [and all for free — what a deal!].

Oh, and you could probably guess that my SDN member name is amandaeleven.

Another thing that has been on my mind is the recent op-ed in the New York Times written by Dr. Karen Sibert entitled, “Don’t Quit This Day Job” and the responses that followed. Specifically, Dr. Michelle Au’s Psychology Today post entitled, “The Mommy Wars, Medical Education” and the NPR story, “After Earning MDs, Are Docs Obligated to Keep Practicing Med?” [if you couldn’t tell by now, I’m somewhat obsessed with Michelle Au… but more on that later]. One particularly statement made by Dr. Sibert in her piece: “They [aspiring women physicians] must understand that medical education is a privilege, not an entitlement, and it confers a real moral obligation to serve” really seemed to stick with me — yes, I agree that it is a privilege in some respects, but what about all of that personal investment that went into medical education? I realize that the training of physicians is a costly matter, but I have to agree with Dr. Au on this one — as long as a physician is using her or his degree, I think that the “obligation to serve” has been fulfilled.

During my engineering education, I was extremely involved in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Although I initially attended a SWE Region conference on a whim [well, in reality I was applying to engineering schools at the time, really wanted a trip to Boston and it ended up being free…] — after I transferred to Michigan, I saw how many opportunities were available to get involved and decided to go for them. A little background on the SWE Section at U-M — our section is one of the largest collegiate ones in the nation [SWE is a pretty large international organization that is made up of a ton of collegiate and professional sections] with ~250+ members each year and tons of events ranging from outreach to elementary, middle and high schools, professional development and casual corporate information sessions. While serving as an executive board member and planner/facilitator of an Engineering Club at a high-need middle school, I started to realize the disappointing facts about women in STEM fields. Medicine has really made huge strides forward with the nearly 1:1 ratio of women to men in medical schools, but fields such as engineering have only seen glimmers of a closing gender gap. Although the climate is significantly better today for women in engineering, there still seems to be some invisible barrier. According to the 2009 “Engineering by the Numbers” document released by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), women only made up 18% of graduating engineering students (Bachelor’s) in 2008, down from the high of 20.8% in 2000. How did we regress by 3% over the course of almost a decade? What is stopping young girls from pursuing this relatively stable career-path?

I can’t say I know the answers to these questions, but I have my suspicions.

Alas — I digress… the point of all of this was just to say that learning all of this started a small flame inside of me. I want to see women succeed in all fields, and if medicine is the STEM field that overcame the gender gap that engineering should be modeled after, I want to know that life after all that work is still fulfilling.

Well, I have work bright and early tomorrow morning — time to sleep!

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