Getting into Medical School, aka Holy of Holies (the F-1 version)

My adventures as an international student trying to get into a US medical school as a prestigious MSI student!

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Location: East Coast, United States

I am a 22 yr old Foreign lady trying to get into an American med school. The journey has been "rough" to say the least. So join the band wagon and let's see if they think I'm good enough to become a doctor. I hope my story encourages someone, maybe you. Not necessarily to become a doctor, but just to follow your dream. Leave your comments as you read...I thrive on feedback. And if this is your first time here, catch up on what you missed, cus every post IS important...well almost all. So forget that board meeting(at your own risk) or skip that class (again at your own risk) and lose yourself in my archives. REMEMBER: "If it aint ROUGH, it aint RIGHT" - Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons Guard

Friday, August 04, 2006

Harsher Realities

It's now about one week and three days since I submitted my application and it's still waiting in line to be reviewed. I keep telling myself it will eventually get on top of the stack but I can't help being worried. We are already in August, deep into the admission process and I am not even in contention yet! Only yesterday, at the bus stop, I saw one of those early birds I told you about, chatting away with his friend about how he was on his way to mail in his secondary app, to make matters worse, to one of the schools I was applying to myself! So there was my competition. The hater in me wanted to grab the envelope from him and run away with his precious credentials. You know, let him start over so I could buy myself some time. This could finally be a good time to put some of those MATRIX moves to use, I didn't understand the movie but at least I remembered some of the moves. For real though, who was I kidding, I could just see myself tripping on some imaginary rope placed there by "The Oracle" and getting the whooping of my life right there, infront of my job...bad career move. Even if I succeeded, this was definitely not the time to get some bad karma working against me. So I let him go. As I rode home that evening, trying to calm myself down, I had an epiphany. As hard as it was for me to admit, the world did not revolve around me getting into med school...

Let me introduce you to PAULA. I was drawn to her the first time I met her. Something about her, a certain quietness and calm. She reminded me of my mom a bit. She was probably in her late fifties and looked like life had dealt her some tough blows below the belt. Last week was my third time visiting her. She complained even more than usual this time. Her stomach was worse and all she could eat was fruit. I like fruits but dang! To be stuck eating that alone had to suck! Unlike the last two times I visited her, I didn't just talk to her for five minutes and run off. I forced myself to sit down, and actually hold a deep conversation. She asked about my life and I asked about hers. She talked about her children, the ones in the army which she worried about all the time and the one at home that she worried about just as much. She talked about how much pain she felt and how it was worse than the last time. Regardless of her complaints, I was just happy to see her again. I had not been there for about two weeks now and I was beginning to worry if she would still be there on my next visit. Again this time, the question was right at the tip of my tongue but I couldn't ask it. I thought about all the possible ways of asking without offending her. None of them sounded right. Where were the right words when you needed them?

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I started volunteering at the AIDS Hospice where I met Paula a few weeks ago and it really has not been easy. I remember the week before I started, that's when the gravity of what I was about to to do hit me. I was going to deal, DIRECTLY, with people that had this disease. The people that were treated like our modern lepers. Even more importantly, was I risking my life? I spent most of my time online trying to find out if anyone had caught the disease while spending time with patients. I should know better right? Easier said than done. Believe me, all the theories you know about these things completely fall apart when you are actually faced with the practical situation. I knew everything about the virus. I knew how you could contract it and how you couldn't. But with a possible encounter looming ahead, I began to wonder how sure the scientists were about these details. 'Cus there ARE exceptions to every rule. Five years of science had taught me this, if nothing else. I kept thinking I was crazy for doing this, and then I began to wonder what my parents would think. Well, let's just say what they won't be finding out until it's over.

After a semester of immunology and mircobiology, you could wake me up in the middle of the night and I would rat out how the virus attacked human cells, step by step, detail after detail, but I did not know the first thing about interacting with the victims themselves. After those classes, I even developed a new respect for the virus. I mean this thing completely evades our amazing immune system. It's like getting past the worker termites, the soldiers and the drones to attack the queen of the nest. But it does it in disguise. How do you defend against something that looks just like you? The first stage in solving any problem is identifying it, but unfortunately our bodies won't even know there's something wrong until it's too late. It uses our own weapons to make itself stronger, and then turns around and uses these same weapons against us. Like Al-Queda, learning to fly planes in American Schools and using America's own planes to harm its people. At the same time getting past the CIA. But like 9/11 seeing the victims of this "Intelligent" virus only generates anger.

As I went around the hospice, I saw residents at various stages of the disease, some looked completely healthy while others were barely hanging on. I couldn't believe there was still no cure. But then again, every generation has its battle. The Bubonic Plague, Small Pox and now AIDS and each time, human sacrifices had to be made before the magic vaccine was found or the disease simply died out. As I was introduced to each resident I couldn't help but think. How did they get the disease? What was that one moment they replay in their head each time and wish never happened? Was it the day they met that partner? Or the day they needed that fix? Whether or not it was their "fault", they were paying for it now and unfortunately, the world was making them pay double for it too. Many of them had been shunned by family and friends. I would later find out that over 90% of the residents were there because of drug addiction and were still battling their addictions along with the disease. Yes, many of them put themselves in risky situations, but honestly, we are all just one wrong move away from the virus too. Harsh Reality.

I personally don't think Paula is/was a drug addict, she is a mother of four grown children that visit and call her often, has grand children and looks very well rounded. But then again, you never know. I cannot and might never find a good way to ask her how she got the disease, I don't even know if it is ethical to do so, but as I got ready to leave her again last week, I faced another problem, one I had faced the last two times also. What do I say? I couldn't really say "Get Well Soon" because technically that was almost impossible, neither could I give her any hope, because God knows I didn't have any. I knew I was going to spend the next two days or so thinking about her and the rest of the residents. I also knew that those couple of days will be filled with paranoia as to whether or not I exposed myself to the virus on my visits. Stupid but true. I will not stop going until I get over this. People take care of their spouses and children with the disease and do not contract it. Heck! People like Cookie Johnson are only a broken condom away from catching it so why on earth was I worried, when I never even did more than rub a shoulder? It's all in the mind guys, all in the mind. So as I walked out Paula's door, I said thesame thing I said the last two times... "Hang in there Paula, and see you next week"...I hope.

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As I spend the rest of the week worrying whether or not I will get into medical school, Saturday mornings put everything in perspective. I know that whether or not I become a doctor, as long as I'm alive, life goes on and I have other dreams to realize. This doesn't mean I'm going to stop "whinning" up here, but believe me I know things could be much worse.

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Anonymous Oge E. said...

Just so you know and dont keep checking your status everyminute like I did, I submitted mine 07/08 and it's "ready for review". I know it's not particularly encouraging, but that might answer your question about whether or not something's wrong. I dunno why it's so slow this yr.

August 04, 2006 9:51 AM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

yeah that's what mine says too...have u gotten any secondaries yet?

August 04, 2006 9:53 AM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

by the ur one of those early birds :p

August 04, 2006 1:27 PM  
Blogger Bijouxoxo said...

I'm sure it must be emotionally draining interacting with the residents one on one. It's nothing like u read in books, this is reality. The good thing is that it'll make u see life from another perspective, plus one would stop being a chicken and toughen up.

As a doctor, i'm sure one would encounter worse situations. I'm going in next week to start shadowing in the ER, a part of me is cringing at the thot while another part of me is excited. We'll see how it goes.

As for the apps. just let go of it into God's hand, 'cos there's nothing u can do now. Trust that his good, perfect and pleasing will, will be done in ur life.

August 04, 2006 4:30 PM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

Amen oh...I'm trying but its hard not to worry. I started volunteering in the ER too last week, its a bit easier actually. I feel less at risk, or maybe I'm getting used to working with sick people, hard to tell. It shd be fun though.

August 04, 2006 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Oge E. said...

Sorry I just came back. Yeah i got a few secondaries although the app still isnt verified and some guy that submitted b4 me isnt either. About early burd... the pressure to turn it in was just too much. lol

August 05, 2006 2:53 PM  
Blogger ABBEY said... your thing girl!

August 05, 2006 2:59 PM  

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