Meet Student Doctor Chelsea
I'm Chelsea Nicole! I am a first-year podiatric medical student, attending Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine. I've wanted to be a physician since I was a young girl, and fell in love with the field of podiatry while shadowing podiatrists over the past few years. I'll be utilizing this page to highlight my journey through podiatry school, share fun facts about podiatry, and share tips for applying and successfully matriculating into podiatry school.
My Journey to medical School
My closest friends know that I applied to medical school for years, four application cycles to be exact. In 2015, when I was rejected from every medical school I applied to and realized I would not be matriculating into medical school following my completion of undergrad like my peers, I was beyond frustrated. I actually cried while delivering my senior speech during my final PhiDE meeting because I did not know what my next steps were. Following graduation, I ended up taking a gap year to focus on strengthening my application, and retook the MCAT. Yet, once again, I did not receive a single interview. At this point, I began to focusing on improving my grades and enrolled in a Master of Medical Science Program at Hampton University. While attending HU, I achieved a 3.8 GPA, and took a year and a half to once again study for the MCAT in the hopes that I would matriculate to medical school upon graduating with my master's degree. However, once again I did not receive a single interview during the 2018 application cycle, and again took another gap year. To say I felt defeated during this most recent gap year is an understatement. The past 365 days have been tough for me. With the encouragement of my mom, I have managed to continue to persevere and move forward with applying to medical school. Without her encouragement, I would not be at this point in my academic career. Two MD Caribbean acceptances, one DO acceptance, and three podiatric acceptances later, I cannot thank her enough for always being in my corner, always believing in me, and always providing me with the encouragement I needed to keep pushing forward. And for that I'll forever be grateful.
Never give up, Don't ever give up
It’s late February, interview season is nearly over, and maybe you haven’t heard back from any schools yet. You’re feeling discouraged and ready to give up on your dreams of becoming a doctor all together, right? Wrong!! DO NOT GIVE UP! I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve cried because I didn’t hear back from any schools for three interview cycles. I’ve felt the frustration of watching my peers start and finish medical school when I hadn’t even entered the building. But imagine if I had given up. Imagine if I had said that’s enough, I don’t want to try anymore. Imagine if I hadn’t applied a fourth application cycle. I would’ve never known that my blessing was right around the corner. I’m here to tell you that your blessing is right around the corner. That phone, that email is coming and you WILL become a doctor. Maybe not this application cycle, but very very soon. So pull yourself up by your boot straps, revamp your application and apply again! Explore the possibilities. Conquer your dreams, and discover the world that lies ahead of you
What should my undergraduate major be?
Let’s talk a little bit about secondary education. I get messages all the time from budding pre-med students asking what they should major in. For some reason, there is a belief that if you wish to practice medicine that you should only major in one of two things, Biology or Chemistry. In fact, when I started college my pre-med advisor told me that if I didn’t major in those two subjects, that I likely wouldn’t be accepted into medical school. So for the first two years of my education, I had my heart set on majoring in Genetics...only to enroll in my first Genetics course in my third year of college and realize that I absolutely HATED it. During that time I had finally met a mentor that gave me some of the best advice I ever received. She told me that it didn’t matter what I majored in, as long as I had all my prerequisites covered to apply to medical school. I took her advice and ran with it. Three weeks later, I was officially an Ecology major at The University of Kansas. Instead of spending time majoring in something I hated, I was now spending time enrolled in field labs hiking through the woods and catching crawfish and tarantulas to study, and I absolutely loved it! So what’s my advice to the pre-med major unsure of what they should major in? Find your passion and major in it! If you’re a history buff, major in History. If you loved art, be an Art Major. It doesn’t matter what you major in, as long as you have all of the med school prerequisites completed, and a few upper science courses, like Biochemistry, or Microbiology completed, you will not be penalized for not having a science major. I enrolled in nearly all of my upper level science classes at Hampton University, an HBCU located in Hampton, Virginia. There I received a Master of Science in Medical Science, and took several courses including Microbiology, Histology, Virology, Immunology and Biochemistry.
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how to ace a virtual medical school interview
In a recent statement issued by the AACPM regarding the COVID-19 Disruptions to Education, it was stated that interviews may now be conducted via video-conference technology or other acceptable means. Interview season is already a stressful time. However, switching to virtual interviews adds another layer of stress on top of the jitters a interviewee may already be experiencing. In 2018, I conducted two interviews via Skype for Caribbean Medical Schools, and ultimately was accepted into both programs. Listed below are the steps I took to prepare myself for a successful virtual interview.
1. Know as many details about the program as possible.
You should already be thoroughly familiar with all programs you are applying to, regardless of if the interview is in-person or virtual. However, I list this step first because this is the most important step in order to nail a Skype or phone interview. During an in-person interview, an interviewer may be able to sense that you are nervous, or that you aren’t giving thorough answers because you have the “Interview Day Jitters.” However, adding a virtual component to the interview process minimizes the interviewer’s ability to pick up on your nerves. They may believe that you just aren’t interested in their program, if you don’t seem to have well-thought out answers regarding specific details about their program. The best way to ensure you know the program through and through is to make a list of what the program offers; class size, curriculum, clinic details, board pass rate, residency statistics, etc. If you’re unsure of something about the program, such as wanting to know if the program offers time off to study for boards, you can then use this as an opportunity to ask the interviewer this as a question. Asking questions helps to further showcase your interest in the program. You should always have a question to ask when your interviewer asks if their are any additional questions.
2. Be prepared to discuss any red flags in your application, without being defensive.
You may be wondering what a red flag is. A red flag is anything in your application that could raise questions to an interviewer about your success at their school. For example, having a poor semester, a low GPA, a low MCAT score, repeating classes, withdraws on your transcript, or taking a core course pass/fail (excluding the Spring 2020 semester) are all considered red flags on an application. The best way to address this to your interviewer is to thoroughly explain what happened resulting in the red flag, but to end you explanation with what you learned from the adversity that you faced, and how you adjusted your habits to improve following the red flag. Answering questions about red flags without being defensive, i.e. using an external locust of control, showcases your maturity about the situation. Schools are not looking for perfect applicants; they are looking for applicants that are well-rounded and are able to overcoming struggles and challenges that may one day arise when they are practicing medicine.
3. Be confident in your answers, and avoid being long-winded in your answers.
Keep in mind that interviewers only have a limited amount of time to conduct each interview. It is possible that with the switch to virtual interviews that interview time may be further limited. When answering interview questions, get straight to the point, and avoid giving tedious details that do not contribute to strengthening your answers. Ideally, your answers to an interview question should be no more than three minutes long, as it is likely that your interviewer will have a follow-up question to your answer. My virtual interviews were very structured and the interviewers didn’t give much feedback to the answers I gave. If this occurs during your interview, don’t feel flustered, and continue to answer each question with confidence.
4. When answering each question, relate your answers back to medicine in some aspect.
What I mean by this is simple. You’re interviewing for medical school, therefore you want your answers to showcase that you exhibit quality characteristics that you believe a physician should display. For example, if you’re asked a question about what you would do if you discovered that a student was cheating on an exam, stress the importance of being a trustworthy physician that displays integrity, and how those two qualities are something that should be displayed throughout medical school, not solely during one’s years of being a practicing physician.
5. Convey a positive and up-beat tone throughout the entire interview. Tone is hard to determine when one is not in a face-to-face setting. For this reason, it is crucial that you speak in a manner that reflects that you are happy and excited to be conducting the interview. Your interviewer may not have the ability to see you on a web camera, and if you seem vague or uninterested during your response, they may believe that you are not interested in their program.
Most importantly, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! There are tons of free resources online that you can utilize to prepare for your interview, such as practice questions. I prepared for my interview by reading Dr. Ryan Gray’s The Premed Playbook Guide to the Medical School Interview. This book offers pages and pages of advice to follow to ace your interview, along with tips including proper etiquette for interviews.