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, January 21, 2007

What will I be when I grow up?

Tough One! Even some fourth year med students have no answer to this, talk more of an ignorant wannabe like me, but hey! you gotta have a plan right? I can sooo see myself reading this post five years from now and laughing at my naivete...but again, they say Ignorance is Bliss.

So we all know that Abbey wants to be a doc, heck! she sings it into your ears with every post(can she find something else to talk about already!!). And we all also know that a certain school somewhere in the Midwest granted her a seat in their class despite the fact that she turned into a big fat cry baby at their interview, apparently it's really OK to be yourself at these things. But it's not OK to be just a doctor, you have to specialize in something, anything or everything, there is even a residency in Jackofalltradology! Thankfully I have something in mind, and that something tends to change every week. I'll take you through the list of most of my different fantasies...

Ahhhh if wishes were horses! I think what attracts me the most to this speciality is how complicated it is and the fact that there are only few neurosurgeons out there(relatively). In fact, I am yet to meet one. I'm sure the first time I do, I'll pretty much freeze for a few minutes and quickly proceed to drool all over myself. If it also happens to be a woman...dang! it will be over. And I'm not exagerrating at all here. The other day I was on the bus and as we passed the hospital, I saw a female doc in her white coat and everything strapping her two kids into their car seats. A pure Kodak moment, but I didn't have a camera so my eyes did the Kodaking. Thank GOD the light was red, I just plastered my face to the bus' mirror and stared at her. My first impulse was to run up front and ask the driver to let me off so I could go interrogate her. Like really, what specialty did you do that grants you the luxury to leave work this early and have some time to spend with your kids and such? After deeper thought though, I realized I had no clue how long she had been at work, and how often it was she got off this early, oh and how excited she would be about some random girl walking up to her and asking her questions about her work schedule!

But yeah back to Neurosurgery...I do feel it would be really interesting though. The brain, mind-body connection and the Nervous System are pretty intriguing to me and it will be a complete trip to be able to tweek it up here and there for a living! But this is probably going to be a no-no. Assuming I get good enough board scores to become one, I don't want to earn a million dollars a year, buy a 10 room mansion and an 80k limited edition AUDI just to drive the ride home once a week and never have enough energy to make it up to my $10k king size bed for a good night's rest. And just when I finally make it to the top of my marble flight of stairs, right past the original "Mona Lisa" hanging opposite my mahogany bedroom door...the darn pager goes off [insert expletives here].

A step down, a little less intense. Actually the choice of this week."Living" example, Omar Epps' character in House, MD. An even more living example? The one I got to shadow at the ER yesterday. It's amazing how much more you get to see when you introduce yourself as

"Hi, My name is Abbey, and I would be starting med school in the fall..."

as opposed to

"Hi, my name is Abbey and I'm a premed. Would you be needing my boot licking services over the next 3 or so hours? No? I sanitize my spit before spit-shinning...See..."

As in, the resident actually sent me to rooms myself to "interview" patients. I had to make sure I heard her correctly.

Me: "Do you mean you want me to go into the patients room without a chaperon and ask my own questions??"

Resident: "Yeah Sure"

Me: "Oh...ok"

I walked by the patient's room about three times.

"Oh shoot, I can't do it!"

If I was just supposed to ask them if they wanted some cranberry juice I would have only walked by the rooms twice to size them up before going in(lol) but this was completely different. I went back to the Resident.

Me: "Umm sorry to bug you again but I'm not exactly a pro at this...what exactly am I supposed to say?"

Resident: Laughing "Oh just ask about their history and such"

Me: "Oh ok"

(I walked by the room twice again before finally going in)

Of course they still go back and interview them too but whatever at least I had a chance!

I feel Neurology would be interesting cus you get to learn probably as much as a Neurosurgeon knows, minus surgery and such, the hours are a bit more decent, no million dollars here but at least you can squeeze in a few more trips to a fancy restaurant every now and then, no? There's also this weird interest I've been developing for neurotoxins. As in I just don't want to know that substance xxx is a poison, I want to know exactly what it does and how it does it...don't ask me why.

One of the so-called pathways to happiness. Because you practice your medicine, make your money and still have a life. I was strongly advised by one of the Attendings at the ER to either go into surgery, dermatology, radiology or anesthesiology (Notice the casual mention of talking to the attending, lol, I'm playing it waaaay down. This was the first time one of them in as much as held a conversation with me and it was because we both found out he attended my undergrad institution...the probability of this, is usually slim to none!). The little issue I have with Anesthesiology is that I'm not sure if this field is as exciting as I might like. It seems you just put people to sleep, keep them asleep for as long as possible and then hope you can wake them up again. Then there's also the problem of addiction in this field. Apparently many anesthesiologists end up getting hooked on their own sleep medicine(Physician, heal thy self??). But a certain someone I know who is currently interviewing for residencies in this field(and who has not picked up his phone to allow me interview him...ahem) promises me that it is intellectually challenging and stimulating. I'm hanging on to that promise for now. Anesthesiology is also very much connected to Neurology so it gets mad points for that.

Oh by the way, do you guys know the anesthesiologist chic on Nip/Tuck? The one that operates Christian and Shawn's oh-so-high-tech CD player during surgeries, that also got one of her kidneys stolen last season? Well until recently, I always thought she was one of the nurses. Huh. (Scratching head).

This appeals to my love for research the most...get to look at diseased cells live under the microscope, understand disease pathways and maybe even find a cure to something or the other. The litte qualms I have here is that I will probably spend most of my waking hours at a lab in some hospital's basement. I'm also not sure how much of a market there is for this back in Nigeria, it seems we just wait for the western world to make the discoveries and then we buy whatever drugs that comes out of the research. I don't blame us though, we are too busy trying to feed ourselves to get into such luxuries as saving the world.

Here I'll lump in all the other possible specialties out there(minus the ones I will list in the upcoming section), you gotta keep your options open. Along with that, I could get my med degree, do a residency in Jackofalltradology and work for one of the pharma companies doing clinical trials for their drugs or actually working in management, consulting or something of that nature. And maybe teach in between all this. Ahhh the choices!

ORTHOPEDICS: Can't watch people do anything to bones. I also can't get over using a drill, hammer or any other power tool on a fellow human being. I've tried to psyche myself out of it, forced myself to watch plastic surgeons do rhinoplasties on tv, tried to desensitize myself to broken bones sticking out of people's flesh, etc. Nothing seems to work so I'm officially giving up on this field. But the orthopedic guys at the hospital do look mighty cool when they strut down to the ER in their different colored scrubs. Looking mighty fine and everything. I can almost hear the theme music playing in the background as they walk down the hallway huddle together in a group and mumble some hush-hush stuff then proceed to...wait for this...P.O.P some kids broken arm. All in a days work.

OPHTHALMOLOGY: Same qualms as orthopedics, but worse. O.E. I'm with you on this one.

DERMATOLOGY: Another one of the pathways to happiness. But this one has the tendency to get straight up gross. I can only imagine the different manifestations of warts that one might encounter on any given day. But yeah they are hardly on call which is a good thing. Apparently the only time the ER had to page a dermatologist in, the dude had probably never been paged before. He came bolting in wide-eyed, from home or somewhere, complete with his text book/rash 101 guide (lol). One thing that could attract me into this field would be the thrill of doing some kind of research on my own hair and coming up with the right product line for the poor thing.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

this post is like pretty much my thoughts exactly on the subject. I talked to this one doctor about being a neurosurgeon and he pretty much said I would never get married.. and be alone forever!!(nice huh?). I actually also got to shadow a neurosurgeon and watch an actual surgery.. pretty cool!!

January 21, 2007 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Auh before I leave my comment, realize, when you got me hooked to this site, the only time I expected not to have something to read was when you were off traveling and or interviewing. So yes, you've been gone too long. I digress. Please, if you're going to talk about NEUROSURGERY, you must speak of Ben Carson. I will pray you already know of him, and have read all of his books. If not, get to reading, or at least researching. Start with "Gifted Hands" Everyone's Aunt. Happy Monday to you.

January 22, 2007 9:02 AM  
Blogger Cherub (former Bijouxoxo) said...

Abbey, gal u're so on point with this post. I've been silently reading ur posts, but i never get to post a comment. Ok, first off it pisses me off sometimes when pple hear i plan on enrolling in med school, and the next question that comes out of their mouth is "So what kind of Dr. do u want to be?" I'm thinking in my head, Duh!!! Even some in med students hv no clue what they want to specialize in just yet.

I definitely know the no go areas for me. Orthopedics and Opthalmology are big fat NO-NOs. Funny, i didn't see Pediatrics on ur list.

I'm kinda liking Anesthesiology, Pathology, Family medicine, OBGYN (we need more female gynes, don't u think?). Neurology and Neurosurgery are cool, esp. after i read Ben Carson's books but i doubt if i'll hv a life with those. When u find that female neurosurgeon, that's married with kids, lemme know.

In as much as i want to be a doctor, i want to also get married and raise a family someday. I don't want to be too busy for my husband and kid(s).

January 22, 2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger Gramps said...

k, I didn't see Pediatrics on your list - suprised. Didn't expect to see O & G. Most of the ones I know are guys.

I also feel the same way about ANESTHESIOLOGY. It just seems very boring putting people to sleep.

I have a pathologist and Orthopedist in my family. I've found both areas interesting.

But if you want to make name in Naija, then you better go be a NeuroSurgeon. Your villagers will surely give u a title for being the first woman from your villa,your state and possibly Naija to be a Neurosurgeon.

January 23, 2007 12:01 AM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

@anonymous: about the surgery...lucky you!!! and yeah neurosurgery just has too many sacrifices. You will make a difference in peoples lives but when you're done, they might vaguely remember you and before you know it your kids(if you any) will be grown up and you won't even know a thing about them.

@anonymous aunt: yes I have heard about that book. but never read it. its an autobiography right? i haven't read any of those before...but i might have to put it on my list. And yeah...sorry I was away for a min. I was having some hard core writer's block that only let off this weekend.

@cherub and gramps:why don't i have pediatrics on there? well it's in the wild card section lol. (or cherub did you mean why don't i have it in the NO-NO section?) but one other reason is that I love kids- for the most part :)-but it's not fun when all the kids you see are sick, it's pretty heart breaking. And obgyn-dunno why this has never really been on the top of my list. lol at most of them gramps knows being guys...i wonder why!
And Mr.Gramps are you a doc or planning to be?
As per neuro and my village, will they give me a chieftancy title and name a street after me?? if they promise me then i'll do it, just for them!

January 23, 2007 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Oge E. said...

hahaha ObGyn is at the top of my NO!-HELL-NO!-FUCK-NO! list :)... I never even looked at minez in a mirror :D. Opthalmology too...

My contemplated list includes pediatrics, radiology, oncology (or radio-oncology),pathology, EM, surgery... I recently started thinking about anesthesiology although it doesnt seem too exciting to me either. Love kids, but dont know if I can deal with seeing only sick kids. The oncology thing is my fascination with genetics, EM is my fear of boredom side that drove me far away from office careers, and the pathology is my "what exactly is going on here?" mind...

Abi, I'm so done being excited about interviews... they feel like a pain now dont they? Maybe cos I'm so broke.

January 23, 2007 12:50 PM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

lol...@ u never looked, u should sometime.

Yeah I forgot to mention Emergency medicine and/or trauma surgery..oh well they're in there too.

Oncology sounds pretty interesting too, if ur planning on getting a PHD then you can have ur own lab and do all the fun genetics you want. I guess u can do that too even if you don't have a PHD.

And as per interviews, i find myself hustling for them and when they finally come, and i start thinking of the travelling i'm not usually as thrilled any more. But who until I get into a dream school, I have to keep going!

January 24, 2007 8:55 AM  
Anonymous oge e. said...

Would you go for a dream school over a practical "not-so-dream" choice? I mean financially practical... esp for us F1's. I'm really cuirious to know what u think cos I'm quite conflicted... Not that I have a dream school in the bag yet, just dream interviews... but I figured I better start thinking about that.

January 25, 2007 12:15 PM  
Anonymous oge e. said...

I can't spell... oops!

January 25, 2007 12:15 PM  
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