Hometown: Wayne, PA
Drexel University College of Medicine Class: 2017
Undergraduate: Rosemont College
Q & A
Did you always know you wanted to go into medicine?
I didn't always know. When I was young I pictured myself becoming a firefighter. I also imagined riding in on a helicopter and delivering packages to people in need overseas. I've always been interested in volunteering and helping people. Eventually, I found out about “Doctors Without Borders,” which is a non-profit organization that brings medical care to areas of the world that don't have access. That's when my mom suggested becoming a doctor. I was a bit of a science nerd in high school (with Physics Olympics shirts to prove it!), so it made sense. I knew I didn't want to be stuck in a lab all day, so I figured becoming a doctor was a good way to combine my passion for helping people with my strengths in science.
At what point did you decide to apply to medical school?
I technically applied for medical school right out of high school. There are several affiliated BA/MD programs and that's what I ended up doing.
How it works is, you interview at the college and the affiliated medical school, and you receive a conditional acceptance, meaning you have to get a certain GPA and very specific MCAT scores. If you fulfill those requirements, you just apply to that one school and you matriculate right from that college into medical school.
Some of the schools offer a 7-year program —3 years of undergraduate and 4 years of medical school. I applied to Rosemont College and completed my three years there, but I ended up deferring for a year. I fulfilled my requirements, but I felt very young and not ready for the commitment to medical school. So I deferred for a year, picked up another major and did some research.
What made you decide to do a BA/MD program?
I'm someone who is motivated by goals and having a plan. I took comfort in knowing that if I put in the work, I would get a specific end product—acceptance to medical school. It's motivating to me. Some people might feel confined by that, but not me. I felt set. I just had to work hard and I knew it'd all happen and fall into place.
Why did you choose Drexel for medical school?
Since I was looking at BA/MD programs, Drexel was already on a relatively short list.
That aside, Drexel has always appealed to me as a school. I'm from Philadelphia and very passionate about this area. I was born here at UPenn and I grew up here in Roxborough and the nearby suburbs. My dad taught in the Philadelphia School District and I knew I wanted to stay in the area if possible. Drexel offered that.
Drexel has always struck me as an extremely supportive academic environment, even before I applied here. That's something I can say has proven true and I've experienced it firsthand. Drexel is not a malignant program, which some medical schools can be. I have friends at other schools who don't feel supported by their peers or the faculty. Drexel's faculty is amazing. You can go to the deans here for anything. They're not here to weed people out. Some people thrive off of that, but I learn better in a more collaborative environment, so Drexel has been a great fit.
Can you remember a specific instance where you experienced that supportive environment?
One of the greatest difficulties when transitioning to medical school is figuring out your best way to study. You have to be very efficient with your studying. Some people just sit and read for hours. I can't do that. I'm a very interactive learner. But I didn't necessarily know that until a friend of mine, a fellow student, pointed that out.
During my first year, I would feel overwhelmed by the information that was being presented to us. Eventually, my friend sat me down and said we're going to go over this together. And that's when I learned I needed to talk out my notes. I'd never taken statistics before and that friend sat with me and basically taught me how to do it. People are really out to help each other here.
As you enter your final year of medical school, is there an area of medicine you're focusing on for residency?
I've always been attracted to psychiatry. What I've found is that in any field of medicine, if a person is not mentally stable, that patient will have a tough time with treatment. It doesn't matter how much information you give them if their brain isn't functioning at a high enough level to use that information. I think that's sometimes underappreciated, and it's an area I've become passionate about.
Have you done a psychiatry rotation at Drexel?
One of the requirements for third-year medical students is a six-week psychiatry rotation. I did three weeks at Friends Hospital, which is the psychiatric in-patient hospital in Northeast Philadelphia that's associated with Drexel, and I also worked with a pediatric psychiatrist at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.
Have you done any volunteer work while at the College of Medicine?
All first-year students are required to do community service. I did mine at a shelter for women and families who have experienced domestic violence.
During my second year of medical school, I served as an officer for a community clinic that is affiliated with an organization called Prevention Point Philadelphia and it is a sanctioned syringe exchange. Drexel students run a free clinic on Friday afternoons and as an officer, I helped recruit student volunteers and physicians.
It's also a great opportunity for students to learn basic clinical skills. It was my first actual clinical experience. You do basic things like get vitals, history, reporting to the attending physician, etc. These are things most medical students don't get to do until their third-year rotations.
How has your clinical experience been so far at the College of Medicine?
Overall, my experience has been really positive. You definitely get a good mix. You have Hahnemann here in the city where you see a large variety of patients, including the underserved population which is great. I was also at York Hospital for surgery where it's a little more rural and I got a different kind of mix and saw a different type of underserved patients. There are a number of different sites. I've enjoyed everything I've learned so far. You also get to see how different physicians run their practice and interact with patients, which is great.
Outside of the classroom, have you participated in any extracurricular activities here?
Absolutely. I can't just sit around and study all day. I joined the acapella group, called Doctor's Note, here at Drexel. That's been an amazing experience. There's actually an inter-med acapella concert where all the different medical schools come together and compete, which is great fun. We also had an opportunity to go to University of Pennsylvania's oncology ward and sing to patients. When I was there, I was able to do a solo of “Fix You” by Coldplay. That's probably one of the most memorable experiences I've ever had. It sounds cheesy, but it was amazing. People were crying and singing with us. It was great to interact with patients outside of the physician role and simply connect at a human level.
I also do baton twirling and performed at the Pediatric AIDS Benefit Concert. And lastly, I'm a tour guide for the medical school. I'm an extreme extrovert, so being a tour guide really fits me. I love showing people around and answering questions about the school.
Do you have any advice for future students?
I would say don't allow studying and board exams to control your life. It's very easy to do that, but try not to lose sight of the end goal, which is being a doctor and that's something you should be happy about. I sometimes would feel guilty if I tried to enjoy myself because there's always more studying you can do. You have to get comfortable with knowing that you won't know it all, and find a balance in your life. That's helped me tremendously.