For the first time, I felt like a businesswoman straight out of NYU Stern School of Business: the black suit, shiny loafers, and pretty blue shirt. Except, I didn’t dress to impress a major bank company or global enterprise. I had a medical school interview at the University of Buffalo. This was the shining moment for me to stand out in the applicant pool and show the committee I am 100% dedicated to the future of medicine.
I went through blood and sweat all summer preparing for MCATs and the grueling application process. Everything it takes to enter medical school is competitive, labor-intensive, and time-consuming. I basically had no summer (but I did see the sun some days). I only just recently finished sending in my supplement applications to all 14 (or was it 15) schools I hope to enter. *Sigh of relief (and further stress). Here’s a glance of the schools I’ve applied: NYU, Georgetown, GW, Rosalind Franklin, Drexel, Temple, Thomas Jefferson, Boston, Albany, NY Medical, SUNY (Buffalo, Stony Brook, Downstate, Upstate).
I was absolutely ECSTATIC when I got an invitation from Buffalo, because they completed and reviewed my application relatively quickly! So they took me seriously, and didn’t just put my GPA and MCAT scores into a computer. I responded and prepared for this special day (10/7/2009!!)
And that day was just yesterday. I drove with my dad to Buffalo on Monday afternoon, as a way to take a mini-vacation from school and work. Boy did I have to finish loads of PChem HW ALL weekend until the next morning so I wouldn’t have to bring anything with me. Anyway, Niagara Falls was beautiful (plenty of pictures to share soon!) and the environment was relaxing and refreshing.
About the big day. I prepared all over, from Studentdoctor.net to re-reading my application. I guess it was not a complete vacation during my stay. In the end, I didn’t have to fret and freak out about the crazy questions. I learned from students (and the actual interview) to just engage in a conversation and stay relaxed. And I think I achieved just that.
Here was my big day. The morning started off windy and cloudy, while just yesterday the sky was blue and sunny. Thumbs down for unpredictable Northern weather. I still wished I knew the entrance to the Biomedical Building, because yesterday when I went to pick up the parking permit, I found a professor who led us across 2 buildings. Speaking Ihave limited sense of direction, I couldn’t remember exactly how to navigate either. Luckily, when my dad dropped me off at 8:25 am, a staff member found two students in black suits (me and another dude) and led us through the secret back door. Lo behold, I got there in time with god-given help once again. We started with a check-in with this awesome admissions advisor JJ Rosso. When I say awesome, he was like 200% awesome. I checked-in with my driver’s license, and madea joke that it didn’t look like me because I had no glasses in the picture. The tour was long, from the brain museum to the gross anatomy lab to the computer center to the library to the clinical practice center. Lots of walking, but hey, I didn’t mind the loud clicking of my heals and moment in a classic chic suit.
We listened to Dean Severin and Professor Renard(?) who I met yesterday looking for the nonexistent visitor center. We learned about the incredible integrated curriculum, where clinical education and doctor/patient contact begins in the first year. Classes cover the morning, bright and early at 8 am, but we would all finish by 12-1 pm, leaving afternoons pretty much free, over dead bodies, or in clinical practice. Besides the structured, student-friendly curriculum, what impressed me more was University of Buffalo’s approach to the application process. The almighty Dean Severin emphasized the “Congratulations” we received in the email, because it was personalized and meant to be sincere. Instead of using computers to narrow down the student pool, humans sat down to read each and every application, from beginning to end. This gives a chance for them to find students with special qualities that will extend to the rewarding medical profession. GPA and MCATs matter, but it’s the holistic, genuine student they want to interview and get to know. And that’s how 25 of us got in those seats. We were each special in some way, in their eyes. And this note touched me. They did not just overlook me because of my low verbal score, they took time to carefully peruse my writing and understand the person beneath the 3.85 and 32S numbers. For them to also consider students that are applying later in the process would also be a positive step forward, because the committee wants to be fair and comprehensive. Their philosophy (and curriculum) is both new and rare, and it definitely allowed me to appreciate their invitation and curiosity even more.
I thought I really connected with my interviewers. I tried to remain relaxed and excited. Luckily, I didn’t get any out-of-this-universe questions like “How many tennis balls do you think can fit in this room and how you would go about finding that answer?” No serious stress questions, just basic get-to-know you kind of questions. I interviewed with a MD doctor in Internal Medicine and a 2nd year medical student. Here is a sample of the questions I answered:
Why medicine? How did your MCAT score improve so dramatically? If you were accepted, what would make you stand out? What is a social problemtoday and how would you go about solving it? (And the MD who interviewed me told me NOT to say health care) Describe your research and volunteer experiences? Haveyou had much experience working directly with doctors? How was your college experience like? Name a person you’d like to interview in the news or in the past and why? Name a time where you changed your belief/opinion/outlook about something. Howwould your best friend describe you in terms of strengths and weaknesses?
Everything seemed streamlined and comfortable. I felt really connected to myself and my interviewers. With the MD doc, we even started talking about cooking! He is currently experimenting around with Asian cuisine, and I suggested Martin Yan cooking (I remember his famous words very vividly- If Yan can cook, so can you!) I felt prepared and unafraid to face myself- I was able to talk about my passion to work with children. I revealed my past suffering from hyperhidrosis. I identified myself as a human being who has a heart, unafraid to explore and move forward. I am open to new experiences, especially since coming to NYC for college where I found my passion for Asian culture and activities. I have survived my early years in school, and it will get harder in medical school. I wanted to show that I am ready to move to the next step. Medical school is hard, but rewarding in the end. I want to fulfill that vision I have- Connie in the white coat and stethoscope next to an ailing child. I can be a healer and the face of modern medicine. I would love to also get my education at Buffalo, snowstorm and all. Hey, who said the road down medicine isn’t a survival game against mother nature?