Day 271: Response to reader Qs

Today’s inane image of the day:

Skimming through the Respiratory chapter of Rapid Review Pathology.

A reader left me a set of questions to answer on my FAQs page [prior to my template switch — comments apparently cannot be left on pages anymore with the new layout — BUT, I still love getting questions so comment on a post or feel free to email me!], and as promised, here is an entry with my responses:

1. One thing I like most about medical school.

It is really hard to narrow it down to just one thing that I like most about medical school — I love almost everything about medicine [except maybe for the stress…]. But since you asked for one thing I’m going to have to go with the fact that every single day, I learn something new and fascinating about the human body. From an engineering perspective, the human body really has some incredible checks and balances that we try to mimic imperfectly. For example, although we have had the ability to stop the heart and place a patient on a heart-lung machine, it still isn’t an optimized device — emboli can be introduced occluding blood flow in a vessel and red blood cells are damaged as they run through the tubing of the machine [a reality that I became really familiar with while working at Terumo Cardiovascular Systems]. So yeah, medical school [and being in this profession, period] is awesome because everyday when I learn something new, I am reminded of how awesome our bodies really are!

2. Extracurricular activities/leadership roles I had prior to medical school.

I posted an abridged version of my CV on the blog to try to answer this question. But if I had to highlight a couple of them, I’d say that my involvement in the Society of Women Engineers [SWE] and planning/facilitating the Ypsilanti Middle School Engineering Club really stand out in my mind. Keep in mind that I transferred from Bard College at Simon’s Rock to the University of Michigan after 2 years, so while I participated in a number of extracurriculars at Bard College, I don’t usually mention them since they were so long ago.

SWE was a huge part of my life since I joined prior to starting at Michigan and jumped right into an officer position after 1 semester. The organization gave me the opportunity to organize and run a summer camp with one other person, network with corporate recruiters, build my interviewing and resume-writing skills as well as assume a leadership role as part of the Executive Board. Because SWE at Michigan is one of the largest engineering organizations on-campus, there was a lot of work to do to keep it running [we had 50 officers and 200+ members during my last year] — but it was well worth it because the position taught me a lot about being a leader and working with a leadership team. Plus, I met and became close with some incredible people along the way!

The Engineering Club sticks out in my mind because I had to do a lot of preparation to plan each session for the students. Ypsilanti Middle School is a high-need school, so that means at least 50% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch [while I was there, it was close to 90% of the students]. This posed a number of challenges for me — recruitment, trying to accomodate for a range of learning styles and levels and building a relationship with my students were all hurdles I had to scale. In the end, I got a lot out of the experience and believe that at least a couple of my students did, too [one of my favorite memories of the club was when I asked who was interested in engineering and most of my students raised their hands — this was huge for me since many of my students weren’t huge fans of science or didn’t know what engineering was].

3. How long I spent studying for the MCAT.

I wish I could remember exactly how long I spent studying for the MCAT… but I think it was at least a couple of months. I took it in January of 2010 during my Senior year so it was kind of tough to juggle a Senior Design project, classes and studying for the MCAT. The only resources I used to study were the ExamKrackers series, sometimes the Kaplan Comprehensive review book [there seemed to be a number of errata in this text so I don’t think I used it much] and the official AAMC practice tests. I completed almost all of the prerequisites for the exam over 2 years prior to actually taking the test so the material wasn’t too fresh in my mind, but I got through it.

I’m interested to see how the new MCAT plays out… but I guess it’ll be a while before the AAMC starts administering it. I’m skeptical of it being a “better” test, but I do believe that the exam needed an overhaul of some sort so I think they’re moving in the right direction.

Hopefully this answers your questions and as always, feel free to leave more for me in the comments section below!