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

Sunday, October 29, 2006


By popular demand(who am I kidding, actually one demand), I will be providing some updates on the many facets of my life...

I finally heard back from my GRE student last week. He brought his GRE math score about 250 points higher than his first practice tests. Which is awesome, but he strongly believes he could have done better if only the test center hadn't scheduled the exam next to a multipurpose hall where freshmen were having orientation. He was pretty upset about that one!

Tutoring my two kids for the SAT II Biology hasn't been as easy as the GRE though. I faced some slight problems at the start. Biology is very different from Math in that for the latter no significant preparation is really needed before a session. In essence it could be 'free styled'. Bio is a bit different. Yes I know the basics about Gene Transcription and Translation but all the ten enzymes involved and their specific functions don't exactly stick in my permanent memory. The other problem was that I did not have an SAT II text book of my own, and wasn't planning to invest in one either, so I couldn't exactly study before our session and this led to me spending a lot of time during the session flipping through pages and looking rather incompetent. It was before our third session that I finally figured how to save my reputation.

I started giving them tests on last week's work before the start of each session. That usually took about 15 mins...just enough time for me to use their text books to prepare myself for the session. SPLENDID!

We've been moving at a rate of about one chapter a month (the chapters are really long and they weren't taking the exam till March anyways) but this week they delivered an early Halloween Scare.

Student: "We registered for the exam a few days ago...

Me: "Ok...good"

Student: "We decided to take it in January instead of March"

Holy Crap!!...and you didn't feel it necessary to consult with me before doing such a thing. I'm not that important anyways right? Just the person that will be crucified if you don't do well on the test!

Me: "Oh really? So is this like late January or early"

Student: "Umm I think pretty early January"

Are you seriously kidding me!

Me: "So do you want us to meet more than once a week now?"

Student: "No...once a week is fine"

At this point I was too pissed off to respond. Wasn't sure I could address the issue with any kind of professional discourse at this point. I for sure didn't want them going home and asking their mom if "FREAKitus SHYTus" was latin for "semi-permeable membrane". So I took a deep breath.

Me: "Ok so....let's talk about OSMOSIS..."

With this slightly new development in mind, I spent most of Friday Night at Barnes and Noble's sipping on a very watered down hot chocolate from Starbucks(they need to take lessons from Dunkin Donuts) while furiously scheming through their array of SAT II Biology Text books to make sure I was covering everything the kids needed to know. Also picked random questions from the various books' sample tests for their in class test next week. I'll be damned if they fail the test on my watch...but then again 1 and a half months to prepare?....dang! I feel the need to raise my fees for a breach of contract...

In other news, I finally acquired the guts to go up to the docs at the ER and ask to shadow them. Before now, all I did was "comfort" patients and ask them hundred times over if they wanted some ginger ale while they waited for the doc. Needless to say it was only a matter of time before they actually spelt it out to me that they didn't come to the ER for drink services but to see the doctor. Who woulda guessed!

But yeah... last week I went around with a resident and tried as much as possible not to be the stereotypical over-zealous premed. I was doing fine until the resident was interviewing a kid(3 yrs or so) that fell off her chair onto the non-carpeted floor and suddenly started feeling sleepy. The resident did the routine stuff - optical disk check (shining bright light into the kid's eyes) and observing her reflexes, etc ("squeeze my hands", "wiggle this", "wiggle that"). While doing this she asked the parents various questions..."did she black out after she fell?", "did she cry?", etc...At this point my simple mind is thinking..."why are they relating the fall to her sleepiness, it was already late at night anyways..." So I asked the only logical question in my most doctorly voice

"What is her usual bed time?" haha I sound smart

Dad: "Anywhere between 8pm and 10pm or whenever she crashes" But why wasn't the resident writing down this valuable piece of information

She fell at about 7:30 ish...that solves it, it could probably just have been around her bedtime.

We left the room.

Resident: "What I observed is the presence of a frontal contusion followed by lethargia, will order a PET scan and/or MRI. Lethargia could result from internal bleeding in the intra-cranial region..."

At this point I looked around. She was actually talking to But what exactly does contusion mean again? And what was the difference between a PET and an MRI? I remember covering this in my Medical Terminology class but that was how far my memory went...didn't feel the need to ask, will google that when I get home.

Me: "So the lethargia could not just be due to it being around her bedtime?" for some reason, I didn't let my theory go. Began to sound more stupid each time I repeated it.

Resident: "Could be...but most likely not, gotta do all the tests to eliminate the possibility of an internal bleed"

Me: "Oh"

Apparently if that was my patient I might have sent her home with a bleeding brain. I guess you actually do learn a thing or two at Med School.

By the way...contusion = bruise(in this context)

I have not been to the hospice in a while for a multitude of reasons. It probably started when I got sick towards the end of the summer and then I started at the ER on Saturdays. I technically still had Saturday Mornings free but with having to work most Sundays, I needed a little downtime on the weekends.

The other day though, I was about to step out of my apartment complex when I suddenly saw one of my patients from the hospice passing right in front of the apartment. I froze. I think it was from the shock of seeing him among the general population.For the first time the concept of HIV not showing on a person's face literally hit home. I also didn't know what exactly I was going to say to him. "Hey what's up? What are you doing out here and where's that sign you're supposed to carry to let everyone know your condition?" I wasn't even sure he would feel comfortable talking to me on the "outside" for another multitude of reasons so I let him pass by before I stepped out. There are some situations one just has to let pass by...

So I will be heading out to the Ivies for my next interview this week. My interview is actually on Halloween and some of my coworkers have been kind enough to suggest I wear a costume to my interview. Won't that be such a great Ice Breaker?
Anyways, the Ivy in question is less than 5 hrs away so I have decided to drive to the venue. I will proceed to burn a "I'm-gonna-take-over-the-world" type CD for the trip and hope that hypes me up well enough. Will fill you in on any interesting details when I get back...and best believe there will be no tears this time, so help me GOD!

Mr. Camel Milk...I hope this answers most of your questions, keep 'em coming and I'll try to answer to the best of my ability.

(picture of my first ever carved pumpkin, look at the precision on those edges...I'm ready to be a surgeon lol.)

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Anonymous Camel Milk said...

Los fantastico ! 250 point increase is amazing. Were you a math major ?. I guess ur already bumping up ur rates, now that you've 'arrived'. Watch out tutor-dom lol :)

Good Luck with them interviews, put ur F-1 game-face on, and God willing, it's a wrap.

October 29, 2006 6:16 PM  
Blogger Bijouxoxo said...

Girl, i can so relate to ur ER escapades. I don't ask any questions when the doc is questioning the patients, even though i'm tempted to, i just say hi to 'em and watch like i seriously know what's going on. When we leave the patients, the doc, then faces me to tell me about the problem and what his next step is gonna be. Of course, i don't understand like half of what he's saying, but with the look on my face, u never would've guessed. Anyways, i quickly write down the stuvvs and google it. When the doc has some downtime and he's more relaxed, then i throw in a couple of questions.

I'm rooting for u jere, best wishes on the interview. No more tears, and i trust u wouldn't dare wear a halloween costume! That pumpkin was skillfully carved, u're so ready to be a surgeon.

October 29, 2006 6:50 PM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

@Camel Milk: lol...yeah it was a significant increase. I want to take all the credit for it...but let's just say there was room for significant improvement. I probably couldn't tutor someone that just wanted to bump up their score from a 700 to an 800! I was a bioinformatics major in college though, and had to take about 6 math classes but that didn't help with tutoring the GRE!

I sure hope this interview really is a wrap!

@Bijoux: you know if there's one thing I've learnt, is never to be afraid of sounding stupid lol. Many times I have had questions in my mind and didn't want to ask it all for me to find out later that asking would have helped and of course most other times I just sound plain stupid but it's OK.
and the only costume I will be wearing is my "I wanna be a med student" one.

October 29, 2006 7:03 PM  
Blogger Bijouxoxo said...

Hey, u need to read Janie Lee's latest blog entry. It's so scary. Serious yawa for the doctor that discharged the lady.

October 30, 2006 2:47 PM  
Blogger NaijaBloke said...

Na wah o .. thank God say the Doctor dey nice cos if na one arrogant Doc ..u would have been chewed out right there for making a suggestion ...

Have a nice week

October 30, 2006 3:18 PM  
Blogger Biodun said...

Best wishes with your interviews girl! Have a blessed week

October 31, 2006 12:41 PM  
Blogger NaijaBloke said...

What happened to ur blog yesterday?
Abi na cos u dey change to beta blogger?

November 01, 2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

@naijabloke, i didn't log on yesterday so i don't really know. maybe it was down again. i assumed beta blogger would be better cus blogspot had been down a bit too often over the last few weeks but maybe not.

biodun...thanks for the good wishes

bijoux...i checked out the blog, yeah pretty scary all the things that can go wrong. i doubt if they will ever find the person that gave her those meds...

November 01, 2006 2:02 PM  
Blogger Bella Naija said...

All the best Abby...hope ur halloween interview went well..
U r in my prayers!

November 01, 2006 4:22 PM  

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