Countdown To Med School

Six days until Orientation starts at Creighton University. I’ll finish my journey to Omaha on Saturday and try my best to get settled in a few days.

I’m excited/nervous/everything you’d expect to feel about starting medical school. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people and making friends. Having been out for two years, I’m actually looking forward to the school work, although I’m sure that will change in a couple weeks.

I’m anxious about being able to handle the workload and still have a life. From the conversations I’ve had with med students, it seems to be about boundaries. It’s about setting a schedule and sticking to it, and when you’re done studying, you’re done. I believe I can do that, but have yet to put it into practice. Do I have the discipline to stop studying even though I know there’s more to learn? I’ll keep you updated.

I’m curious, are any of you starting med school soon? What are you excited or nervous about?

Dr Atul Gawande- Physician, Writer, Role Model

Last year I attended a lecture by Dr Atul Gawande, a physician with several best selling books (Complications, Better and most recently The Checklist Manifesto) who came into prominence due to an article he wrote in June 2009 for the New Yorker called The Cost Conundrum. It is well worth your time to read it.

The article became popular after President Obama read it and brought it into a meeting with several senators regarding health care reform. Since then Dr Gawande has increasingly been seen as an innovative voice in regards to improving health care quality while controlling costs.

Based on the speech I heard, that distinction is well deserved. He is an impressive speaker. He explains complex issues clearly and is a talented story teller. Most of all, he is inspiring. He sincerely believes that we can improve health care and he’s so passionate about it that you can’t help but want to come along for the ride.

One of his main points was that when examining outcomes and making comparisons in medicine the most useful comparison is not looking at good vs. bad, but rather good vs. great. Most physicians and hospitals in the USA fall somewhere along the good spectrum. Dr Gawande argued that the best way to to improve care is to observe who is standing out and doing the best, then examine why that is the case and how that can be emulated in other places.

At the end of the lecture they allowed a question and answer period. The questions were written on note cards by audience members during the lecture. My question was picked! I asked,

‘What can medical students be doing while in school to make sure that they become great?”

His answer was brief and basically touched on two points.

1. Medicine is become more and more collaborative, so the better you work in a team environment the better a physician you will be. Practice working with other people.

2. Take the initiative to learn things on your own.

Medical school starts next month. I’ll do my best to become a great physician, with Dr Gawande as a role model. Maybe someday I’ll write some bestsellers too!

Have you read any of Dr Gawande’s books? What did you think?

Med School Update, Home Sweet Home Edition

It has been a busy past few months! After traveling in Peru for nearly three months I’m now back in the states enjoying the beautiful northwest summer. The transition back has been smooth, save for a minor illness (which thankfully was not some strange tropical disease).

Now I’m in full preparing for med school mode. Right now, this mostly means spending time with friends and family. Soon it will mean working out all the details for a move halfway across the country. I’m also going over the “DMU Primer” which is reviewing some basic science stuff.

I hope you have enjoyed the more frequent posting the last couple months. In case you’ve missed some of the newer posts, here are a few highlights:

My review of the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package

10 Great MCAT Study Tips

How To Save Money During The Medical School Admissions Process

Thanks for reading and commenting. The blog has been growing in readers lately and it would be great for this to continue. Tell your friends and share articles you find useful!

My First Deposit to Medical School

I just put down my first deposit for medical school. $1000 to hold my place at my top choice so far.

One thing I didn’t realize about osteopathic medical schools is that they have early and expensive deposits. They want deposits 2-3 weeks after you are accepted.

This was tough to do, but I didn’t really have a choice. I have three more upcoming interviews but the deposit was due today. If I didn’t pay it I would lose my spot in the class.

It is essentially a $1000 insurance policy in case I do not get in anywhere else (assuming I would want to go to another school). While a grand is tough to swallow if I end up going somewhere else, in the big scheme of things it’s not a huge deal. And if I end up going to the school it goes towards tuition anyway.

Man, this process is long and financially costly. Hopefully I’ll know where I’m going within the next month though. I’m not complaining though, I’m going to be a doctor!

How Many Applicants Get Into Medical School? 2009 Data Released

The AAMC recently released applicant and enrollment data for 2009.

What are your chances of getting into medical school just based on the numbers? About 43.5% based on the 2009 data. The ratio was also 43.5% in 2008.

While the number of slots in schools have increased slightly, so have the number have applicants thus the constant ratio.

Click on the link above to read more about the numbers based on gender and ethnicity.

Keep in mind these numbers represent MD schools only, AACOM has not released acceptance numbers as far as I know. Applicant data for DO schools for 2009 is here.

What does this mean for you? We can expect the numbers to be similar for this year, meaning 56.5% of us are going to be very dissapointed. Good luck to all who are applying.