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

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Thank you all for the interesting comments, I had fun reading them...Like gramps said, (it feels funny quoting all these weird names, lol) everything one does there is a risk and I really understand that. My first thought when I tried to answer the question though was that my life was more important to me than any patient's life. I aint JESUS so I have no obligation to die/risk my life for someone. Even if I did, what would happen afterwards? If I made any significant contribution to the medical world, all I'll get is some foundation or some room in a hospital named after me...but the point is I will still be dead and nothing will change that!

Thinking deeper about it though, a friend who went to a country in West Africa to do some AIDS research told me that if anyone with HIV needed to get any kind of surgery, he/she was rejected by the Federal Govt Hospitals which were the only ones that even had the facilities to perform any sort of surgery. This sort of puts things into perspective as per how one would feel if you were just condemned to die regardless as to how much any doctor can do to prolong your life. We won't even get to how blatantly discriminating this policy is. Also, like ogizzle and medstudent implied, it seems the whole medical training process sort of molds you to put your patients first and think about even your own safety last, kinda like a fire fighter that runs into the burning building when everyone is running out-not very logical to the common man but makes complete sense to them.

Here are some links I found on the topic:

Scalpel Free Surgeries?

Maybe Doctor's Actually don't have a choice in the issue

On the topic of worst medical experiences, mine will have to be this summer when I got sick and got really paranoid, thanks to google, as to what I might have. My then uninsured behind after consulting with all the medical students and quack doctors I knew decided to go to the occupational health center of the hospital I volunteer at to confirm my differential diagnosis of measles. Immediately I even let the physician assistant know that I thought it was the case of the "M" Word she yelled at me like I had just stepped on her toes with 4-inch stilettos! She even went ahead to let me know that if I was as paraniod as I was, I had no place working in a hospital! Geez can you allow a sister express her fears to a health care professional!! I know its free but...To make matters worse, we weren't even in private, we were just off in some corner of the waiting room when all this happened so like ten people witnessed my gross embarassment! Worst hospital experience till date, bar none.

Anyways, the whole post was inspired by some reading I had been doing trying to catch up on some of the hot topics in medical ethics for my interviews. I stumbled on so many more that I would ask your opinions on in the near future since I have such an enlightened readership.


In ER news, can I just say I finally found out what it felt like to want to pass out, puke and attend to acute onset diarrhea all at once!

This little girl came in with her mum with a pretty deep cut on her leg. After the endless waiting characteristic of the average ER visit, it was finally time to get her stiched up. The Resident I was shadowing (a very hot one by the way) called me to tag along with him. It was just going to be stitches, nothing very ERish or GREYish but we all start somewhere don't we? Only last week, I missed the chance to see a tonsil abscess (pus in the tonsil) get drained, but apparently GOD knew what he was doing. (PS all I do each weekend is prostitute myself infront of the patient white board where all the doctor's hang out and wait till the highest bidder calls me's called Volunteering lol, cus I don't take cash. I get paid in a different currency-Surgical Procedures). Anyways back to the main story...

So I follow "Resident Hottie" to the patient's room, the wound gets numbed up using saline solution(i think?), no noise from the little girl, wow she's strong. At this point her mom says she can't watch anymore. I'm thinking whatever it can't be that bad, I have seen worse. I had watched my hand being sewed up when I was only about 11 , I had dissected a dead cat for a whole year in undergrad anatomy without flinching, and I sewed up a frog or two last summer after robbing her of her eggs. I was ready to take over the world. At this point "Resident Hottie" pulls out the needle *Insert action music here and play in slow motion* and gives the wound the first stab.

*Dang, he's poking the wound with a needle, nah think of it as broken skin and wow! she's not even moving...did I mention anesthesia was God's gift to medicine already? the darn thing works like a charm, no wonder those anaesthesiologists get hooked on their own stuff...*

At this point everything is going well, he puts in about 5 stitches then proceeds to take out the first and try to redo it. Apparently it was too loose. He tries to take the needle via thesame route as before and this is where the blood and all kinds of juices start flowing out of the wound. He tries once, and then twice...I just feel like yelling at him right now to get it over and done with! The blood was draining from my brain now and flowing in the general direction of my legs, but we were almost done, it would be over soon.

*Ahhh finally the stitches are in...wait what is he doing again...?*

He then decides to flip all the stictches across so that all the knots are on one side of the wound. Docs or med students out there, is there any medical basis for this or is this strictly for aesthetic value? This he just did by grabbing each knot and pulling it across to the other side, each time pulling up the wound (I mean, broken skin) along with it.. More juices are flowing out of the wound at this point. Could this really be over already!

*Hmm is it just me or is the room spinning*

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, the end point of this titration had long been reached, every extra minute I stayed in there was just adding excess acid to the solution.

I try to reach and hold on to something, nothing in sight.

*Must hold up and be strong, Its just broken skin...broken skin...broken skin...must show them I'm ready for medical school, must, must, must...*

At this point I'm puking in my throat, my head is feeling very light, and certain unknown fluids are threatening to burst out of my front and rear body openings. The room was still spinning. I was sweating like a goat. I found the door handle, tried to look strong as I walked out of the room. Still wasn't any better. For the first time in my entire life, I felt a pressing need to pass out and wake up when everything was over. The whole ER was spinning at this point as I tried to put one foot infront of the other and look for the closest empty bed. I found one in the hallway. I tried to sit down upright for a second but eventually just crashed unto the bed. It took me about 15 mins to get back to a fraction of my normal self. Resident Hottie had passed by once (or was it twice?) at this point and didn't even ask me why I left the room prematurely, I tried to explain the first time but words failed me. Eventually I regained proper use of my locomotory and verbal skills and went back to the patient white board area. Found "Resident Hottie" and proceeded to explain what happened and how I needed to take a quick break and eat some dinner..

"Sure no problem, don't worry it happens to all of us, you should be better after dinner"

I thanked him and as I left, I imagined him telling the other docs about how I had almost passed out over just a few stitches, and them having a good laugh about it. That's OK though, they could use good laugh every now and then. I still can't imagine if I had been in the room when they were draining the tonsil abscess, immediately I saw the pus coming out of the patient's mouth I would probably have been gone. Apparently one has to be gradually eased into these things.

As I walked out the ER to get my dinner, I remembered what I had gotten from the cafeteria earlier, it was pasta and RED tomato sauce plus a quarter piece of chicken, white meat....chicken...wasn't that what Cristina got Burke to practice his stitches on?
I could feel the nausea returning at this was going to be a very interesting meal.

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Blogger Gramps said...

Laughing over how you passed out is a small thing. I've heard doctors make some really degrading comments about "body parts" of a patient they had just operated on or examined. They say it's all part of the unwinding.....?

After my cousin read "Final Diagnosis" by Arthur Hailey, she couldn't shake her pathologist's father's hand for almost a week.

November 15, 2006 12:23 AM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

yeah they do have an interesting sense of humor...

Final Diagnosis...never read that one but I'm guessing its an autopsy type book.

And after seeing the different things surgeons do on a daily basis, I really have profound respect for their hands...those hands have been inside people's organs and saved lives but you can't tell if you saw them on the street. Amazing!

November 15, 2006 12:29 AM  
Anonymous Medstudent said...

lol, don't worry you will get used to it. I remember the first day in Anatomy, I was so grossed out, I didn't want to touch the cadaver, we even named him, and covered his face and privates to give him some privacy. After taking him apart piece by piece, by the time we got to Neuroanatomy, and all my lab mates where being squimish, even the guys, I got the electric saw and sawed his head in half, and pulled out the brain. Wow, typing that sounded so wrong, basically shows you how you get desensitized in medicine. It's sad but that might explain, why some doctors get so cold to patients, my goal now, is to keep myself from changing, I haven't even reached my residency years, and I can feel myself changing. Female physicians especially, become real b*&^%@ because we want to prove our mental thoughness and not break down.

November 16, 2006 6:54 AM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

lol...sawing a human head in half...that has to be interesting.

even with the cat we dissected in Anatomy, the first day I was a bit grossed out, I think the people that were more bothered were those that had cats as pets. I quickly got over it by the next lab. and it is hard to not get desensitized. hearing thesame complaints over and over again, etc probably gets old quick.

November 16, 2006 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Patrice said...

A surgeon friend told me he could stand anything except snot and phlegm. Feces, blood, guts, even vomit . . . all okay, just not snot and phlegm. Seemed strange to me, but to each his own. Good thing he wasn't an ENT guy.

November 17, 2006 12:26 PM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

yeah I guess everyone has their surgical "pet peeve". I know I have a really hard time watching them do any bone work..seeing them take a drill to someone's skull, or hammering away at bones is just pretty disturbing to me.

November 17, 2006 3:50 PM  
Blogger Ogechukwu said...

Anything to do with the eye will fuck me up nicely. So even though we have familial glaucoma, I aint trying to find out shit about it. That being said, isn't it nice that u're having ur own vounteering fun now not in college when it might just have been mechanical? And again, I must commend u on ur storytelling. Admirable. You might wanna consider a career in fiction... maybe medical fiction writing... :)

November 19, 2006 9:16 AM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

yeah i have to second you on the eye thing...i can't watch eye surgeries for the life of me. tried many times but no success. and i have to agree that i'm happy that i didn't volunteer while still in school. for one i won't have seen half of what i've seen so far cus most of the patients at my school hospital were old folks.

medical fiction, does that even exist? thanks though.

November 19, 2006 10:50 AM  

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