As many of you know, I am now a first year medical student and will be starting my first day September 6! I have been hesitant to talk about my medical school journey, where I’m going to school, and defending my decisions. I seem that it’s so easy for others to judge me incorrectly by looking at my decisions, rather than the story behind them.
It occurred to me this summer that there are few people that earn a seat in medical school the non-traditional route voicing their story on a social media platform. I found myself, at times, saddened and often deterred from my goals because others achieved something I worked so hard to get and didn’t. The past year has been filled with ups and downs, emotionally and mentally. Thoughts constantly eating me inside “what will I do in my life”, “I don’t see myself doing any other profession”, or “Am I built for this career”. A girl who was once so optimistic, goal- orientated, and professionally driven entered the storm of self-doubt. I’ve had 4 months off school, spent time with the people I love, and helped others grow out of their shell. In the past 4 months I found myself, that optimistic girl that’s out to change the world. I realized that I may not be the only individual in the world that has felt that way, so I decided to write this blog today as inspiration to someone that feels that they are stuck. Here is my story:
Becoming a physician has been a life-long dream, not because my parents forced it onto me, but for the lives I can change. As a child, one visit to the doctor’s office would make my fever or cold go away in a few days, it was magical! Obviously, growing older you learn that magic is called antibiotics- haha! I wanted to be that magician in a white coat that makes all pain and suffering go away with a smile and lollipop. In middle school and high school, I was your typical pre-med wannabe. Loaded up on AP courses, volunteered at health clinics, interned at family practices, national honors society, and competitive Bhangra performer (Punjabi folk dance)- perfect was never enough. In college, joining organizations, keeping up grades, having a social life, continuing dance, creating organizations, traveling abroad, researching and acing the MCAT all became a priority. Now, a practical individual would be like “impossible”, and it was. Making everything a priority made my performance horrible in every aspect. I decided to do a B.S in Psychology with a minor in Biology, if I could back I would change that- but that’s a different story. My resume was very strong but in the midst of making that my grades slipped and my MCAT score wasn’t competitive enough.
I took the MCAT a total of 3 times, the second being my best. I approached senior year of college knowing that my grades made getting accepted into medical school difficult, but not impossible. Therefore, I applied to a post-bac program associated with a medical school. My MCAT was on par, the extracurricular’s above par, but my GPA subpar, and I just had to meet the minimum GPA requirement for the post-bac program to be admitted into their medical school- I could easily do that, or so I thought.
To my surprise, the coursework in the program was actually first-year medical school courses, along with clinical based exam questions under a time limit. Expecting a program to help me transition into medical school, I fell into a trap of being in medical school but not actually a medical student. I barely passed my first course during the first semester, but I grew and learned how to study for medical courses and ACED that final exam to bring my grades up. The second semester was much easier for me because I knew how I learned best, that’s something I failed to understand the first semester- What works for others might not work for me. For 8 months, all I did was study all day, every day, during every second, and it wasn’t enough. After receiving scores from the second-semester cumulative final, I learned I was 1 exam question, just 1 point, away from achieving the minimum GPA to enter the program. 1 point determined my future for me, 1 point.
I returned home depressed; sat on the couch all day watching Netflix, didn’t talk to anyone, and had a difficult time sleeping through the night. I kept thinking to myself what do I do now? Should I apply this cycle and wait a year to see if I’m accepted? Should I pick a new career where I wouldn’t be happy but could move on with life? Should I broaden my scope and try for the Caribbean schools with a good reputation in the US?
After a lot of researching, and self-reflection I decided to apply to Caribbean Medical Schools for several reasons, here are a few:
- I would get experience practicing medicine outside the US and be exposed to medical cases I probably would never see in the US
- I’ll learn about other cultures, as an aspiring family physician, I find it vital
- My clinical rotations will be in the US, so only 1.5 years on the island
- An MD is an MD at the end of the day
Will my path to residency be difficult compared to US graduates? Yes. Will I be able to fulfill my life goals and become the magician I’ve always wanted to be? Yes. Do I have any regrets so far, not at all. In fact, I feel blessed that I’m able to attend medical school in an environment where I won’t be snowed in all day, or won’t be able to enjoy nature, good food, or a different culture during my breaks. I’m excited about this new journey. Where am I going you may be wondering? The American University of the Caribbean located in Sint Maarten, and yes I will go plane watching on Maho Beach!!
If you feel stranded or lost please, PLEASE, PLEASE, e-mail me. I would love to hear from you, maybe lend a helping hand, and watch you succeed as well. My journey has taught me to never limit myself, never exclude possible situations, for life may have something else planned for you- so just go with the flow.
So there it is, that’s my story. Feel free to follow me on Instagram @foodiewithscrubs