University of Tennessee College of Medicine students in their third and fourth years of medical school participated in a panel discussion, answering questions by UT Knoxville "Intro to Health Care" students, a class led by Kimberly Morris, MD, FACP, Associate Professor, Medicine. The discussion focused on applying to medical school and what medical school is really like. On the panel were Jeff Atherton (M4), Katie Thurman (M4), Allan Hamilton (M4), Ben Pomy (M3) and Vikas Suri (M4).
The panel members agreed that important factors for getting into medical school are grade point average, MCAT scores, and extracurricular activities. They did suggest that while biochemistry and gross anatomy are important undergraduate classes to take, taking classes students will enjoy is also valuable because once in medical school, the curriculum is the same for everyone. The medical students also suggested volunteering at a hospital, getting involved in a research project, and getting involved in organizations that interest them and taking on a leadership role. Atherton said he received positive feedback during interviews for initiating a swing dance club.
Hamilton said, "You can't do lots of fun activities during medical school, so do it now." He noted that his admission panel made positive comments about his experiences with track and Young Life.
However, Pomy said, "Try to do something because you want to, not just to look good on applications."
In regards to life in medical school, the panel members agreed that it can be difficult to create or maintain a school/life balance because you have to study a majority of the time, but they did offer some suggestions.
Several student commented that maintaining relationships with people who are not in medical school is especially difficult because they don't understand what you are going through and you can't do everything you'd like to do together. However, Pomy said that he created a system where he would study for six days and then he would take a day off to spend time with non-medical school friends, rest, and "not go crazy." He said, "It's difficult, but possible."
Thurman noted that keeping up with her non-medical school peers can also be difficult because they are graduating from school and getting started on their careers, which allows them to do things like save money in a 401K that she is not able to do yet.
Undergraduate students were interested in knowing about debt related to medical school. Several of the medical school students noted that since you can't pay on the loans while you are in school or residency, the debt is something you have to not think about.
Undergraduate students also asked about MCAT preparation. Several students said you need at least three months to prepare. Hamilton said, "The MCAT is unlike any other exam in college. Answering the questions prepared me for what tests are like in medical school."
Thurman said, "It was big for me to practice the test ... it's a long test, something to get used to for medical school."
When asked if they would choose medical school in hindsight, all of the students said yes.
UT undergraduate students gave positive feedback on the discussion. One student said she liked that they were getting advice from students currently in medical school as opposed to doctors who were in medical school 10 or more years ago.
Posted January 14, 2016
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