Advice Column.
Check out what current applicants and medical students have to say.

Alexander Shrum

Untraditional Path to Medical School

Medical school was always a possibility, but the reality of my pursuit came later than many traditional applicants. My background is in engineering and prior to medical school I worked two years in two separate engineering positions. One year was spent as a research engineer and the other as a project manager for medical device testing. These experiences taught me to be creative, analytical, and solution driven. Medicine itself is full of challenges with unclear solutions –  fortunately, some days I can wear my engineering hat, other times my medicine hat. A non-traditional background has been overwhelmingly beneficial in my training. Schools do value the unique perspective of diverse backgrounds when choosing applicants. Do not feel discouraged if you are not “traditional.” Be passionate in your endeavors and ready to explain your story on deviating from prior career paths.

Alexander Shrum

Purdue University, Class of 2017

Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2022

Pravleen’s Experience at NASA
National Institutes of Health Summer Fellowship

“This past summer I had the opportunity to be a summer research fellow at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). I became involved in a project dedicated to Type II Diabetic Foot Sensation, with an astronaut application. Specifically, I was interested in studying the microvascular blood flow in various positive and negative pressures. This clinical research, with real world applications, subjects, and testing methods, allowed me to see how medicine can go beyond its traditional elements. I want to emphasize I was awarded this opportunity because I took the time to research different programs across the country.  My biggest piece of advice would be don’t limit yourself. If someone told me a year ago I would spend the summer at NASA, I wouldn’t have believed them. Definitely take chances and do something different, each unique experience will make you stand out in comparison to other applicants. If you have any other questions about my experience or are interested in this program, don’t hesitate to contact me.”

Pravleen Bains

Illinois State University, Class of 2018

[email protected]

Amadouh’s Volunteer Work Abroad
The Impact Abroad Volunteer Program

“Through a scholarship program called Greenhouse Scholars, I was awarded funding to go to Accra, Ghana to work at a children’s hospital for 8 weeks through a program called Impact Abroad. This experience was life-changing. While in Ghana, I actually felt like a doctor. I aided the medical director in the diagnosis of over a 100 children (Malaria, Tuberculosis, Infections, etc). I oversaw over 20 pediatric surgeries. I never imagined meeting a child born without an anus, but overseeing a few colostomies allowed to meet such children. I was also able to perform over 20 exercises with kids in the physiotherapy department for kids with developmental delays or physical injuries. More students should get involved in such programs because they give you exposure that you would never receive in America. It also gives students new perspectives on health and wellness throughout the world. If I could leave you with anything, it would be to look beyond the traditional route in medicine. For example, expand your horizons by working in hospitals overseas, by working with medtech or life science companies (healthcare investment banking), or navigating how the technology sector is impacting our healthcare system. Always remember that you do not have to go to medical school right after college. You do not have to major in a science to go to medical school, and you do not have to be a doctor to significantly impact lives. Weigh your options, diversify your portfolio, and make wise decisions in your life as your future is depending on it.” 

Amadouh Bah

Stanford University, Class of 2019

Sana on the Value of Shadowing MD and DO Physicians

How Clinical Experience Can Build On Your Understanding of Medicine

“I was fortunate enough to shadow both allopathic and osteopathic physicians in my time as an undegraduate. I shadowed a physician who was an osteopathic anesthesiologist and witnessed him perform an epidural on a male patient. I was able to see how he utilized osteopathic values to treat patients, as well as converse with him on his passion for anesthesiology. Additionally, I shadowed an allopathic internist who saw mostly elderly patient. Through my experience with the internist, I was able to witness how many different patients come in and how physicians build a relationship with their patients long term.”

Sana Moqeet

Loyola University Chicago, Class of 2017

How Haaris Told His Story to Medical Schools
How Different Majors Can Help in the Application Process

“While applying to medical school, it was important that I found a way to tell my story. At Northwestern, I majored in Economics and interned in financial services before applying to medical school. I needed  to articulate how my experiences in the business world helped me garner the skills that are essential to being a physician such as leadership, teamwork, and work ethic. Most medical school applicants have a great story to tell and have checked the boxes for having research experiences, excelling on the MCAT, and performing well in academics and extracurriculars, but crafting that story and displaying its relevance to the medical field is a difficult and often neglected part.”

Haaris Pervaiz

Northwestern University, Class of 2017

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Sciences, Class of 2021

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