Hometown: Seattle, WA
Undergraduate: University of Washington
Drexel University College of Medicine Class: 2016
Q & A
What made you decide to go to medical school?
I didn't plan to go into medicine initially. I thought I was going to be in physics and astronomy. That lasted for about six months while I was at the University of Washington. I realized that I didn't want to work in a room with three other people for the rest of my life, so I found myself at a crossroads. I looked around at my friends and a lot of them were either going the business route, which I really wasn't interested in, or they were doing pre-med. I knew I liked science so pre-med seemed like a good idea, and I just went for it. I figured out what I needed to do, which was basically take a lot of science classes and shadow doctors. I loved shadowing the doctors, but what really solidified my drive towards medicine was a research project I did in Amsterdam that looked at addiction clinics. Being able to go to a city in another country and feel like I was making a difference had a huge impact on me.
Why did you choose Drexel University College of Medicine?
Being from Seattle, my initial choice for medical school was University of Washington. It's a competitive school though, so I figured if I didn't get in there, I should look at other programs. I looked at schools all over the country. When I looked at Drexel, I read their mission and looked at their emphasis on using technology to be better learners and it really grabbed me. Then when I got to meet with some of the students and faculty here, Drexel started calling my name.
What is Medical Student Journey?
Medical Student Journey is a blog I started a week or two before I moved to Philly. I originally started it so my sister could keep up with what I was doing. She likes to talk a lot, so I knew phone calls would be a challenge as I got busier with school.
Eventually, I had people contacting me saying they'd read my blog. I started getting questions from students who were thinking about coming to Drexel and then during my second year, I started getting questions from first-year students about my experience. Then it just grew from there with regular updates on my progress, which has also helped me personally.
How has the blog helped you during your journey?
One of the best things about the blog is being able to look back and see growth. I'm able to go back and see what I was thinking during certain times of the year. That helps put things in perspective and guides me as I move forward.
Outside of the blog entries, I remember during my third year, I was with a patient and a second-year student who had just learned how to do a neurological exam. They were really methodical with the exam, trying to remember each step really slowly, and I realized how comfortable I'd become doing those things. It was interesting to stand there and say that was me a year ago. It's not like that student was falling behind or doing anything wrong. I did the exact same thing a year before. Patient interaction is something you learn as you go through it, but it wasn't until I interacted with students a year behind me that I was able to measure it.
How has the College of Medicine prepared you for patient interaction?
It's prepared me a lot. I'm planning to go into emergency medicine where patient interaction is a little quicker than other areas of medicine—you're in and you're out. But you can still make a connection and be able to get their story and say one or two things that let the patient know you care and you're there to help. It goes a long way. You'd be surprised. I've seen angry patients completely turn it around after that little extra effort that lets them know you care.
What kind of community service work have you done at Drexel?
The biggest thing I did was PEDS Play at St. Christopher's Hospital. It's a program where you go into St. Christopher's emergency department and play games with the kids. Their emergency department is divided into three areas. Area one is for all the critical trauma patients, so when one of those patients comes in, a lot of the resources go there, which means that the kids in the other areas end up having to wait. PEDS Play offers them a distraction. It helps the kids and it also helps the parents. I did that all of first year and I loved it.
What made you decide on emergency medicine for residency?
I came into medical school thinking I'd do family medicine. I did that rotation and I liked it, but something was missing. Then I did surgery and loved it. I loved the procedures and loved being in the OR. It eventually came down to surgery and emergency medicine. When I needed to make a decision, I couldn't come up with any reasons for not doing emergency medicine, but I was able to come up with a few for surgery. That's when I committed to emergency medicine.
How has the interview process gone leading into match day?
For starters, it's expensive. If you want to get out of this general area, you have to fly and between airfare and hotels, it can add up. It takes a lot of planning. I talked to my wife, who is also from Washington, during all this because I had to decide if I was going to apply to places back west or stay around here in Philly. I ended up spreading out my options, so coordination has been crucial.
How have you coordinated all of your interviews?
I've been using Interview Broker, which is an online scheduling tool, for most of them. Over half the emergency medicine programs out there use it. I received 21 interview offers and 13 of them were on Interview Broker. It's great because everything is in one place. You can look at the calendar and see all the available dates. You don't have to go searching through your email and engage in multiple conversations to schedule your interviews. It makes everything much easier and quicker.
Where did you end up matching?
I matched at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia for emergency medicine.
What were you feeling the moments before and after opening your envelope?
Right before opening the envelope I was very nervous. We weren't allowed to open them until noon on Match Day so there was a lot of stalling for time by the faculty. My foot would not stop tapping as I waited for the time to come.
After opening the envelope, I felt a mixture of emotions. I had ranked my programs with the West Coast ones first, then East Coast programs. There were a couple programs on the bottom of my list that in retrospect I did not want to match with. Not seeing those programs was a huge relief. However, not seeing any of my West Coast options was a letdown at first. Then I realized that where I had matched was one of my top East Coast programs, one that actually would have been ranked higher had I not had the West Coast bias. I remember being very impressed with Jefferson on my interview day and felt like I was a very good fit. I believe I am going to be very happy the next three years and look forward to the adventure.
What is your relationship like with your classmates at Drexel?
Our class has been awesome. I did the IFM [Interdisciplinary Foundations of Medicine] track, which is the lecture-based curriculum, and there was this great collaborative feel. People shared study guides. There wasn't a cut-throat attitude that you hear about at other schools. We all want each other to succeed. Once we got to year three, people started to become spread out, but we had a Facebook group for the class and that helped everyone stay in touch. The group was great because you could ask people for advice and someone was always willing to help out.
How would you describe the faculty at Drexel?
The faculty here is great. They really care about your education and want to help you apply what you learn. They're especially great when you're struggling. They're able to provide a ton of resources to help you out. There are tutors to help with classes, and if you're having a hard time outside of school, there's resources for that. Personally, I noticed some of my test scores weren't where I expected them to be so I talked with Dr. Fuchs and she suggested that I might have test anxiety. She directed me to someone who gave me tips for getting through that with breathing exercises and stuff like that. Sure enough, my test scores shot up 15 points. The faculty here is very helpful and approachable. They'll always help you find the answers to your questions.
What advice would you offer to current and/or potential Drexel medical students?
Based on my four years at Drexel, two pieces of advice stand out the most. The first piece of advice is to find balance. Saying medical school is a major time commitment is a huge understatement. However, if all a student does is study, they are going to burn out quickly. When I felt the best, it was when I was able to find a balance between adequate studying and living my life. You never want to forget who you are during medical school.
The second piece of advice I can give has to do with perseverance. There will be setbacks in medical school and life. The best thing you can do is pick yourself up, learn from what happened, and keep pushing forward. If becoming a physician is truly your dream, never give up on it no matter what happens.