Hello everyone!! I get asked tons of questions from you all about med school, many of which inspire my posts, but sometimes there are questions I just feel like I don’t know enough about (or have experience with) to address properly.
Today I thought I’d do a post addressing 5 of those questions, in a much shorter format that hopefully may help some of you. Again, these aren’t things I’m any type of expert on (not in the nearest), but if my experience can help even one of you then it was worth it!
Before we start- here’s a quick list of some of the medical school-related topics I’ve addressed already in full posts:
So now let’s jump into some of the topics!
1. financing medical school - financing childcare - financing a wedding
I get questions related to this so SO often and have never addressed it because I probably have the worst advice ever. So I’m warning you, if you want to be financially responsible you should probably scroll past this topic to the next one and listen to your financial aid advisor. Still reading? Alriiggghtt...
I’ll start by saying I went to undergrad on a full ride (full scholarship) so have absolutely no debt from college. But for medical school, the truth is that you cannot work while in school (some people do during first year), so loans are where all of my money comes from. I was lucky in that I was awarded large scholarships from my undergrad and from Harvard, but everything else is allll loans. I’m looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay back when I’m done. Paying for a nanny? Loan money. Paying for our low-budget wedding? Loan money and my parents. Just keeping it real.
At the end of the day though, none of us are going to be struggling once we’re doctors. One of my mentors gave me some of the best advice for those of us already in medical school - right now you might not have the money but you have the time, later when you have the money you might not have the time - so don’t put things off because of the money. Maybe not the best advice for everyone (and my financial aid advisor would not approve) but I liked it.
The MCAT was actually the weakest part of my medical school application so I’ve never felt like I should be giving advice on it - I scored a 30 (not bad, but by no means fantastic either) and wasn’t sure how much better I’d do re-taking it - so I didn’t. I would say take the test once you’ve completed all of your pre-reqs (I took it with only one semester of physics and that was definitely my weak area). The best time to take the MCAT is the early spring of your junior year so you can have your score back before the summer and apply right when applications open (if you're going straight through from undergrad). I used ExamKrackers and really liked the format - if I did it again I’d consider the review courses that a lot of my classmates used, but honestly I didn’t have the time while being a full-time student and working in lab, a medical office, etc. An important thing not to forget in your mcat prep is practice questions and tests!! This will apply to all of the standardized tests you take throughout your medical career - practice questions like it's your job. I discuss some more pointers in my post on applying to med school.
3. reapplying after getting rejected
I was blessed in that I only had to apply once, but for lots of this stuff it’s such a crapshoot that great applicants are having to re-apply after taking some time off all the time. I can’t really give too much advice on the subject, but I would say that if you want to reapply, make sure you spend your time off improving your application - if you need to re-take your mcat, re-take it and kill it. If you can, find a position in a research lab and try to get something published. If you have free time shadow some physicians and really confirm that you want to pursue medicine - it will help reassure you and can provide experiences to write about in your new and improved personal statement.
4. volunteer abroad trips
I never did any of these for a few reasons - the biggest one though, was that growing up in an incredibly underserved area I always knew that I wanted to do outreach work, but I wanted to do it here. I volunteered as a medical assistant and counselor in a family planning clinic and worked with spanish-speaking women who received free care. I also just didn’t have parents who could pay for me to fly to some country and work for free (or pay to volunteer). I’d say if you can and want to participate in one of these programs, though, make sure it’s through a well-established program that actually has a constant presence in whatever country it is. A lot of the people interested in global health here at HMS do work with Partners in Health.
5. couples match
We’re just getting to know this baby and we actually are going to have an, uhhhh, interesting time applying for residency. There is such thing as a couples match so that a couple applying to residency at the same time can rank their lists the way they want to to stay together. Unfortunately for us N has decided he wants to go into ophthalmology (which is a really cool specialty), a specialty that for some reason has an early match, which means we can’t couples match - n will have to rank his list before I’ve even interviewed at places. We’ll figure it out but we definitely have a bit of a unique situation.
I hope this was a little bit helpful to some of you! As always leave questions or comments in the comments below - even though I no longer have the time to reply to every comment I promise I read each and every one and still get excited about each one. So keep them coming!