Scholarship Opportunity for Third Year Medical Students Interested in Primary Care

I just learned about this scholarship opportunity. $10,000 goes a long way to reducing debt! Check out the details below:

One Medical Group is a primary care practice designed around the fundamentals of quality medicine: listening, evidence, collaboration, trusted relationships – and more time with patients.

In their efforts to invest in the future of primary care, they are excited to announce the One Medical Group Scholarship Program. The scholarship is open to to any third-year medical students who have an interest in pursuing primary care. The scholarship winner will receive $10,000 which will go towards funding their last year of medical school.

The application will be open on January 10, 2014 and they’ll be accepting applications until March 14, 2014. You can find more details about the scholarship and apply here.

One Medical Group Scholarship Program

Award amount: $10,000 (non-renewable)

Eligibility: 3rd year medical student enrolled at a U.S. medical school with an interest in primary care.


Open date: Jan 10, 2014 

Deadline: Mar 14, 2014

Results Announced: May 9, 2014

Contact: (Subject Line: One Medical) or toll free 855-670-ISTS (4787)

Developing Your Peripheral Brain

This is a guest post from David who writes an excellent blog called The Physicians Library. Thank you David!

“What did you use on the floors?” This is a common question I have been getting recently from the recent third year medical students. Third year is a great time to begin building your “peripheral brain” – the pocket references and device apps you use to quickly look things up on the floors. Of course, your own personal preferences will depend on things like specialty interest, how much you want to spend, what do you have available, etc. If you want to use technology some things may be device dependent but in general there is a lot of overlap between Apple and Android apps available. I also used to have a Blackberry Torch and had some apps on there so perhaps there is good news for any holdouts out there. Here’s what I ended up using this year:

Pocket Books

Maxwell Quick Medical Referenceclip_image001

At my school, the fourth-year class usually presents this as a gift to the new third-year students and I have some other schools doing this as well. Don’t worry if you can’t get this for free – it is dirt cheap. Really, there is no reason not to have this book. It’s a lifesaver for everything a student or resident needs to do from writing orders to the mini-mental status exam.

Pocket Medicine

clip_image002This may be more relevant for those interested in internal medicine but there are also similar books for other specialties. I also used the Pocket Pediatrics book. I liked these books because of the charts and algorithms presented. References for primary literature are also provided which can be useful if your attending asks you to look up the article for that particular recommendation. Another nice feature is that these books are in binders which you can open up and add your own pages. A common alternative I have seen others use is the Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics.

Device Apps


clip_image006This is a free app and all you need is a Medscape username and password. Although not quite as good as Up-to-Date it is fairly complete and well-organized. For most diseases it will have labeled sections on diagnosis, work-up, and treatment or management. It also includes its own drug monograph database and a host of calculator tools such as Ranson criteria or Centor. The one drawback is that it is not as searchable as I would like. For example, you cannot search for the aforementioned criteria as Ranson or Centor. You have to look for “pancreatitis prognosis” or “strep throat evaluation”. However, usually the search pulls a list as you are typing so you will likely find what you are looking for before you even completely type in a word.

AHRQ ePSSclip_image004

This stands for Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality Electronic Preventative Services Selector. This app is essential for a rotation with a primary care component (e.g. outpatient medicine, family medicine). You type in the patient demographic data including gender, age, smoking status, and sexual activity and it pulls the current USPSTF recommendations for preventative services that patient should or should not be receiving.


This was my preferred drug monograph database during third year. It has a nice interaction checker, calculators, reference tables, and more. There are others like Micromedex and the one on Medscape. Whatever you do, have one and understand how it works.

Rotation Specific Tools

Surgical Recall

I actually am ambivalent on this book. For future surgeons, it may be more appropriate. I found it useful to a point but it had only decent yield for “pimping” and was not quite appropriate for the NBME shelf exam.

Quick Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV-TR

I am not sure if all medical students will still be working with DSM-IV but either have a pocket reference (check if your school provides one) or download an app. Learning the specific criteria is particularly high yield for a psychiatry rotation and standardized tests.

Final Thoughts

Whatever you decide to use for your peripheral brain make sure you keep it tight to a select few resources and know how to find the information in each. It does you no good to be overloaded with tools and spending too much time figuring them out while you need information. Take some time on a weekend to really play with your tools and familiarize yourself with them.

Essential Books for the First Year of Medical School

What books do you really need for the first year of medical school?

This is not an easy question to answer. Everyone uses textbooks differently. I am not a huge fan of textbooks, at least not as the primary way to learn something. Medical school  textbooks are also notoriously expensive and I am always trying to find way to cut unnecessary spending. What follows is a brief list of books that I found most helpful (or wish I had used more) during my first year of medical school. I have divided the list into three categories:

1. Recommended

2. Mostly for Second Year, Useful for First Year

3. Optional


Netter Atlas of Human Anatomynetter

  • I cannot imagine making it through anatomy without Netter. The labeling can often be busy and overwhelming, but you come to appreciate the detail. Read my full review here.

The Human Brain in Photographs and Diagramshuman brain

  • Our school teaches Neuroscience during the first year, which may not be the case everywhere. Whenever you take Neuro, this book is extremely useful. It displays every useful pathway in an easy to understand way.

Mostly for Second Year, Useful for First Year

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1first aid 2013

  • One of my biggest regrets from the first two years is not getting a copy of First Aid earlier. It won’t make or break your first year, but getting familiar with the book will be helpful in the long run as you approach Step 1. Sections on biochemistry, genetics, and microbiology would be especially helpful to look over during first year courses.


  • If you’re starting med school soon, you’ll quickly learn about Robbins (everyone seems to forget about poor Cotran). Complaining about how big the book is is basically a rite of passage. If your school has access to an electronic copy, using that may be a better option than purchasing it.

Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously SimpleMicro

  • Most of this book will be used whenever you take Infectious Disease, but some schools have an Intro to Microbiology course in the first year. This book is fun and easy to read.


These books I may have used sparingly in my first year or know fellow students who found them helpful. Read a little about them and see if they might be for you.

Medical students, are there any other books that you found essential your first year of medical school?

Making College Great Courtesy The Simple Dollar

Trent over at The Simple Dollar has a wonderful article titled,

Five Thoughts About Making College Great

Here’s a quote that might resonate with some of you-

“Knowing the ins and outs of organic chemistry might help you if you happen to wind up in one of those rare jobs that utilizes it. The skills you’ve built in the process of actually getting through organic chemistry – those are ones you’ll utilize time and time again.”

True and true. Take it to heart when you’re stuck in the middle of aldehydes and carboxylic acid.

Pre Med Reading List


Several important books have shaped my views of medicine, leadership and life.

Here I humbly present a pre med reading list to consider. A few books I’m recommending I realize I may love because of personal preference, and may not appeal to a larger audience.

I always recommend checking your public library as a great way to save some money. If you choose to purchase, you can use the links to buy through Amazon.


If you don’t know a whole lot about medicine, these books will be a great introduction. If you do, they will just make you more excited to go into the field.

How Doctors Think. This book does a great job in identifying how doctors make errors. It’s interesting to read as a patient as well as a future physician.

Mountains Beyond Mountains. One of my all time favorite nonfiction books. Challenging but ultimately inspiring, Dr Paul Farmer’s story makes you want to be a better person, whether you want to be a doctor or not.

Better. Written with authority and candor, this book touches on several important issues in medicine including malpractice and suicide.

In Stitches. In this hilarious memoir, Dr Youn recounts his often awkward journey through medical school. One of the few books that has made me laugh out loud.

Pre Med

These are books I recommend to help guide you through the pre med process.

Essays That Will Get You Into Medical School. If the idea of writing your personal statement petrifies you, this book will help. I did not read the whole thing, but found much of it quite useful.

How To Become A Straight-A Student. Oh how I wish I had this book during undergrad! I’m a little over half way through reading it right now and it is awesome. The book is all about being a great student while maintaining a great college life. Definitely worth reading.

Med School Confidential. I’m still using this book because it covers the entire med school journey, including medical school and residency. (Cool side note, one of the books authors is a doctor I worked with in the ER Scribe program.)


Some novels are great at telling an amazing story and having important life applications at the same time. Here are a couple of my favorite that I feel can be applicable to the pre med journey.

The Lord Of The Rings. Sometimes the road to medical school feels like the path to Mordor.

Watership Down. Yes, it’s a book about rabbits. However, it is one of my favorite adventure novels of all time, plus it has some amazing lessons concerning leadership.

Do you have any suggestions to add to this list?

Affiliate links are present in this post.

A Slight Change Of Plans

Our brains are funny. When we make a decision and start planning, it is often difficult to change direction when another option presents itself. Like a large, dense object travelling at a certain velocity, our decision has momentum that takes a lot of force to change (that’s for all those studying MCAT physics).

A few months ago I was accepted at the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. I was excited, as this was my top choice among DO schools. As I traveled through Peru I waited to hear from the two MD schools I interviewed at, my state school OHSU and Creighton University. I love my home city of Portland and being in Peru made me surprisingly homesick. Therefore I started hoping to get into OHSU.  Unfortunately I was waitlisted at OHSU with a terrible ranking that essentially ensured my fate (only 87 more people need to give up their spot, I got a chance, right? Nope).

So I started getting excited about DMU. They had accepted me, and I really enjoyed the school. Creighton was great too, but as I was still waiting it did not feel like a real option. DMU was real, so I focused on it.

That changed a little over a week ago, when I was accepted at Creighton School of Medicine.

Initially I was torn. I had spent over a month getting excited about DMU. The campus was smaller at DMU and I felt more comfortable there. Tuition is more reasonable. At first I didn’t want to change my mind.

Then I started having conversations with friends and family. I remembered that one of my biggest motivation for becoming a physician is to do international work. I remembered that osteopathic physcians have full practice rights in only 50 countries. I just spent three months learning about medicine in Peru, and if I became an osteopathic physician I would not be able to return and actually practice medicine.

We can debate the MD vs DO thing for a long time (do a search over at SDN if you really want to have some fun) but at the end of the day I don’t want that limitation hanging over me.

Therefore, I’m ecstatic to announce that I will be attending Creighton University School of Medicine. This is certainly a change of plans, but one that I am very excited about. Once I pushed my mind to past that initial block to consider my choices, the right decision was clear.

So what’s the lesson here? Well first, the med school admissions process is crazy. Although I was disappointed at times, ultimately I had options which was a blessed position to be in. Second, when presented with a new option that changes your plans, take some time to really consider it carefully. Talk it over with people who know you well. I’m glad I did.

Go Jays!

Machu Picchu And A Journey In Medicine

I recently finished a three day trek to Machu Picchu. The “Lost City of the Incas” is perched atop an incredible ridge, overlooking the surrounding mountain ranges and a beautiful valley below. It is the definition of impressive.

The trek to Machu Picchu was difficult but exciting. We combined mountain biking, river rafting and a decent amount of hiking (including the final ascent to Machu Picchu at 4AM!). We started on top a 4,300 meter mountain, passed through jungle, hiked old Inca trails, tasted freshly picked coffee beans and swam in an ice cold stream among other adventures. The whole trek, from start to destination was amazing.

I have been thinking about the journey to becoming a physician and what it has to do with my recent trek. I like the concept of a “journey”. It is the reason behind the name of this blog.

Journeys are fun. They take you places you´ve never been before. You see new and wonderful things. And if you make it to the end you are rewarded with the  joy of reaching your destination.

Journeys are also challenging. You may have hardships and setbacks. They may be painful at times. You may have the heartbreak of not reaching your destination.

I wonder if pre med students are enjoying the journey to med school. Is your pre med journey fun? Are you having great experiences and learning? Are you perservering through the hard times and using them as an opportunity for growth?

Or are you just jumping through hoops longing for the destination?

Summer is a great time to explore these questions. There are no right answers. But consider this: if pre med life is constantly miserable for you, what makes you think that will change once you get into medical school?

Photo Credit

How To Find A Mentor

As part of my post on 5 powerful goals for pre med students, I recommended finding a mentor. Mentors can help you develop leadership ability, inspire you or help you become a better student. But how do you find a solid mentor?

Here are a few suggestions to help you brainstorm about where to look for a mentor and how to approach a potential mentor.

Where To Look For A Mentor

Your School Mentoring Program. This one is easy. Many schools have a mentoring program set up that will connect you with local professionals in fields you are interested in. At my college the mentoring program is affiliated with the school of business but they had no problem finding a doctor with tons of global health experience to be my mentor. Look into programs at your school.

Leadership positions. If you have participated in any leadership positions in college you most likely had an advisor or supervisor. If this is someone you look up to and have a positive relationship with they can make a great mentor.

Professors. Hopefully you have had some great professors in college. Why not ask one you respect to be a mentor?

Anyone else you look up to. An older fellow employee. Your family doctor. The only requirements are someone you respect and get along with well.

How To Approach A Potential Mentor

The first step is to consider what you´re looking to get out of a mentoring relationship. Are you looking to learn more about being a physician? Is there a particular area you´re looking to grow in? Do you have a personal goal and want someone to hold you accountable for it?

How you ask someone to be a mentor depends on the current relationship you have with them. Face to face interactions are always best. If you feel comfortable, set up a time to share some coffee or meet in their office. If not, an email will suffice. Either way, choose your words carefully.

Ideally you explain why you are looking for a mentor, what you are looking to get out of a mentoring relationship and why you are choosing this specific person. Keep it to the point.

Finally be sure not to corner someone into making a decision on the spot. Make it clear they have time to make a decision.

Here is a brief example of what you could say in an email or in person:

“I understand you are a very busy person but I have a request for you to think about. I highly respect you as a physician and see you as someone I could learn a lot from about medicine. Would you consider meeting once or a twice a month to talk about life in medicine?”

Final Thoughts

I know this may be hard to do. You have to put yourself out there and it may be awkward. If you ask and they say no, it may create some tension for a little while.

Just remember this: It is worth it.

A little time and effort now could result in a influential relationship for a long time. Go for it.

Photo credit

Hello, My Name Is Steve

My name is Steve Krager and I write for MD Journey. Here’s a picture of me climbing a big mountain in Peru a few weeks ago:

I thought writing anonymously would give me more freedom but I am only feeling more restricted. So from now on I’ll be writing as me, Steve. Nice to meet you.

My Pre Med Journey

I grew up outside of Portland, Oregon and went to college at Seattle Pacific University. I graduated in 2008 with a degree in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Spanish. I loved SPU.

I went to college with the vague idea of doing missionary or international development work. I changed my sophomore year to pre med. It sucked at first. I was a valedictorian in high school but my first quarter of college Biology I barely scraped by with a B-. My first General Chemistry exam I scored a 64%.

Ugh. Do I really want to do this pre med thing? I pushed through, found a tutor in chemistry, discovered more effective study methods and started to improve. I pulled out a B in Gen Chem I. Gen Chem II, an A-. I made strides in Biology, slowly.

I graduated with a 3.65 overall GPA with a science GPA of about 3.4. In January of 2009 I took the MCAT and scored a 32M. The last two years I have worked as an ER Scribe.

Last summer I started the medical school application process. After 12 secondary applications and 8 interviews I was accepted at 6 medical schools and waitlisted at 2. I will be attending Creighton University School of Medicine in August. I’ve been in Peru the last two months watching births and dressing newborns in a public health clinic. It’s been amazing.

I’m passionate about global health and living a remarkable life. My faith is a huge part of why I want to be a physician. I am also passionate about helping pre med students navigate the journey to medical school. I believe deeply that you can be a great pre med student and have an awesome life at the same time.

I’m hoping to be a great medical student and have an awesome life too.

So that’s my story. Any questions?

Keep up with the blog and I’ll be sharing more personal stories about my pre med journey, research on how to study and take tests effectively and other useful pre med content.

What’s your pre med story?

Help Me Make Pre Med Journey Awesome

I started this blog almost two years ago. While I am proud of what I’ve done, I see a lot of room for growth.

Ultimately, I want this blog to be one of the top resources on the internet for pre med students. To this I’m going to need some help from you, my readers.

I need feedback. What can I do to improve the site? What kinds of articles would you like to see more of? Would you find a more consistent posting schedule useful? Use my contact form, email (sam(at) or leave some comments on this post.

If you have your own blog, how about trading guest posts with Pre Med Journey? Collaboration is important in medicine (so I hear) why not start on the internet?

Finally, if you find the site useful, tell your friends. More people here will generate more lively discussion and Pre Med Journey will improve.

Thanks for your help.


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