Undergraduate: Williams College, BS in Neuroscience and Biology
Graduate: Drexel University College of Medicine, MS in Biomedical Studies
Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine Class of 2020
Can you tell me a little about yourself before you came to Drexel?
I did my undergraduate at Williams College in Massachusetts. I was a neuro/bio major, but I needed a little extra work to get into medical school, so I did the Master of Science in Biomedical Studies here at Drexel. It's a two year program and, in the second year, you actually do the same curriculum as the first year of medical school. It's a really good test for seeing if you can handle the rigors of the MD program.
How did you hear about the Biomedical Studies program?
I had a really good premed advisor at my college, and she basically told me, "Listen, you could get into medical school, but you're risking spending all that money applying, and this is a really good program. I've sent people through it before, and if you survive it, you're going to be better prepared than anyone else," so I followed her advice.
The College of Medicine doesn't guarantee MBS students an interview for medical school, but if you get above a B+ in every class and score a certain mark on the MCAT, they grant an interview. Then, after that, it's up to the college to decide.
When did you know that you wanted to become a doctor?
I figured it out fairly early just by accident. My high school had us do senior projects. For the month of May, except for your AP classes, you were basically done with school. You ended early, took your exams, and you were supposed to follow a professional for that month, doing their schedule, whatever it was. I actually kind of delayed finding someone and didn't have anything in mind, but I had a good family friend who was a pulmonary/critical care doctor. Up to that point, I had only known her as a really nice, awesome woman that I liked hanging out with. After spending that month with her, I was in love with the profession.
I already knew I liked science, but the experience showed me another side of things. I was able to spend time with patients and interact with them. They were happy to spend five minutes with someone with no medical knowledge that was just paying attention to them. The doctor did a lot of rehab with her patients, and I would do the exercises with them. I just really liked that balance of being with people and having that be your main focus, but to have the science behind it was incredibly interesting.
Do you know what kind of medicine you'd like to specialize in?
I'm leaning toward primary care, but I'm keeping an open mind. I don't want to be super specialized and see the same conditions every day. In primary care, you deal with a range of things and you engage with other specialists to manage the care of your patient. I also want to have long-term relationships with my patients. I can't imagine sending someone out the door and not having any idea what happened to them.
How has the program been going so far?
It's going pretty well. I was really well prepared for the first year since I experienced it in the Biomedical Studies program, so I got to have much more of a life than some of my classmates. Then second year came and I was like, "Here is what medicine is actually like." However, it was also so much more interesting to learn all the different pathology that goes on, which is why we see patients. We don't see them because they're healthy. We see them because there's something going wrong. I think it was really tough, but I enjoyed all of the different clinical scenarios. We started thinking more critically, like how doctors would actually think.
What is your relationship with your classmates like?
It's good. When I started I was in a program where there were 50 of us and we saw each other all the time. Now that I am in my first rotation, I'm not with anyone that was in my little curriculum, which has been really cool. I've been really excited to get to know more people and work with them.
How have your clinical rotations been going so far?
I'm on surgery, but I actually started out on anesthesia. This is my third week, and their schedule is much more relaxed than the typical surgery rotation. We get in at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., but they send first years home at 3:00 p.m. However, I've been warned that for my next couple of sub-blocks of surgery, it will be an 11- to 12-hour day. I'm a little nervous about that, but it is nice to be in the hospital talking to doctors and getting their opinions. I don't know what I want to do yet, so I spend a lot of time asking, "Why are you here? What brought you here?" I'm amassing all of these opinions because I hope to figure out eventually what I want to do.
Are you involved in any extracurricular activities, such as volunteering or clubs?
Yes, I have been involved in a few different things, but the main thing is Mothers and Baby Dragons, which is a program that a student created three years ago for her women's scholar program. Through the Drexel Women's Care Center, we pair students with a mother who is at risk for not having proper follow-up care. Our goal is to help field problems with the patient. We're not able to doctor the patients, so we focus on being a resource and helping them connect to other programs.
Through participating, the students learn so much about how a patient deals with their health and what obstacles they face. The patients also have a lot of questions, or maybe they're not thinking ahead as much about what the next step is, and the student can say, "Hey, I know this program. There's a way we can get you a car seat," if they have a car. If they don't have a car, how can we help get them to their appointments? Can we plan the bus schedule with them?
During my first year, I worked with a mother, and during my second year, I was the student coordinator who ran the program.
How is living in Philly?
It was an adjustment for me because I'm from a small town, and then where I moved to for college was even smaller. Even though it took some time, I can't imagine not living in the city now. There's a lot to do and there are so many great areas. You can get everything you need within a couple of blocks.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering coming to Drexel for medical school?
I think the thing that surprised me the most coming here, was the type of people they select. In my experience, with very few exceptions, the type of students that they select are not competitive with each other. People are supportive and friendly, and they're interested in things other than medicine. They are not necessarily people who knew they wanted to go into medicine their whole lives. We have a lot of non-traditional students, people who worked before coming to medical school. When you're talking about a case, you have so many perspectives and opinions in the room, and people actually listen, respect and want to hear those opinions. In contrast, at other schools you hear stories about people stealing notes or purposely not letting someone know about some change that happened because they want to get a leg up. That has not been my experience at all at Drexel. I think that's one of my favorite things, actually—the students are just like they advertise.