Category: Pre-Medical

Click to learn more about the student experience in the pre-medical program at Michigan Tech University. Learn about ways to get experience by shadowing medical professionals, volunteering in the local community (EMT, hospice, social organizations), doing undergraduate research, studying abroad, and so much more.

Reapplying to Medical School: How to overcome Rejection and Improve your Application

Tessa’s First Application to Medical School

Hello, I am Tessa Mlinar. I graduated from Michigan Tech with a degree in Biological Sciences and a minor in Biochemistry in the spring of 2022. I have always been interested in the medical field. After seeking out various medical experiences, such as shadowing, working in a brain injury facility, and studying to become an EMT, I found that I was most drawn to the work of a doctor. So I did what every undergraduate student does and continued finding meaningful exposure to the field, studying hard to pass all pre-requisite classes and scrolling through way too many pre-med Reddit pages.

After months of preparing my application and not-so-patiently waiting to hear from schools, I faced the hard truth that I was not accepted to any medical schools for the 2022 cycle. So I did once again what any undergraduate student would do: panic. This new realization that I would not be attending medical school after graduating was honestly terrifying. I felt lost, and in this panic, I took the first job I was offered in vaccine development. This job only made me more sure that I would not be happy in any other career than medicine. I was determined to reapply and get into medical school the following cycle, which is easier said than done.

Tessa’s Tips for Reapplying

There are many things that I found helpful in pursuing this goal. I hope other students can find it helpful as well.

1. Utilize Your Resources:

There are many resources available to students to help them prepare for applying to a pre-health program. It is easy to scroll through a multitude of medical school preparation websites, Youtube channels, and discussion boards to find information on a wide variety of topics. Michigan Tech offers many invaluable resources, such as knowledgeable advisors and supportive classmates. I spoke with the Pre-Health Director, Nicole Roeper, about all areas of my application, including reviewing many drafts of my personal statement and completing practice interview questions. In addition, I found much support through the peer-led MCAT study group in knowing that I was not alone in this difficult time. Pre-health is often a competitive environment, and it is easy to think you are the only one struggling. I found it very helpful to have a group of pre-health friends to vent to about the hard steps, and I found many were getting stuck in the same place as I was.

Beyond online, MTU, and personal resources, I highly recommend looking for application advice from pre-health programs you are denied from. Unfortunately, not all programs offer this, but the ones that do can precisely pinpoint where you should improve for future cycles. One school I spoke with was kind enough to walk through each section and give me input on how I could better label each experience I had, what order they review the application in, and even provided tips on when it is best to submit each piece. Getting this feedback directly from the faculty that makes acceptance decisions is incredibly valuable and leads me to my next piece of advice.

2. Understand Where You Are Lacking:

After spending months working on your application and submitting what you believe is the best representation of yourself, it is understandably hard to look at it critically after you hit submit. By speaking with advisors, peers, and the universities that offer application feedback, you may see new areas that you can work to improve on your application. For schools without personal feedback, I found it helpful to look at the mission statements and visions of the schools I was interested in. This gave me a good place to start in seeing what kind of experiences these programs look for and ensuring that I align with their mission. Personally, I found that my GPA and MCAT score was lower than the average applicant’s and that my hands-on patient experience was limited. From here, I set a realistic goal GPA to achieve by graduation, took time off of work to study and retake the MCAT, and added on new patient-facing experiences such as COVID swabbing and volunteer EMT work. You do not have to wait until you are re-applying for this step. I would recommend looking for the areas in which your application is lacking long before you begin applying so that you have time to ensure you are a well-rounded applicant the first time.

3. Remember Your Reason Why:

I cannot emphasize this enough, but remember why you are doing this! Applying to any health program takes time, money, and energy. Remembering why I am doing this has helped me overcome a lot of the struggle that comes with rejection and hardships throughout the process.

Everyone’s journey to the medical field is different, and often only acceptances are spoken about rather than the many rejections that come with it. In addition to sharing my own struggles here, I am happy to share that I have been accepted to medical school and will begin my journey to become a doctor in the fall.

The most important thing I can share from my experience is that failure is not final. When I spoke with the many doctors I work with about getting into school in my second year of applying, many shared their stories of taking two or three, or even more, years to get into schools themselves. Every person has a different path to medicine, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your path ends up differently than you had planned.

Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship Awarded to Three for 2022-2023

The Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship is a multi-year scholarship established to provide material support for students who are interested in pursuing medical school. This scholarship wishes to honor Lt. Col. Robert N. Nottoli USAF (Ret.) and Samuel C. Hon M.D. F.A.C.S, both of whom believed that quality education was the gateway to success in service to others. The couple from California who established the scholarship (although not Tech graduates) have chosen to invest in the University’s growing health sciences area.

Preference is being given to Copper Country students in the hope that recipients who pursue becoming physicians will return to the Copper Country to practice and provide sustainable care to citizens of the region. This year’s recipients are all minoring in Pre-Health, with a pre-med focus. The three 2022- 2023 Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship recipients share what the award means to them and their future medical careers.

Sarah Rowe
Sarah Rowe majors in Biomedical Engineering with a Pre-Health minor

Traveling Long Distances for Orthopedic Surgeries Inspires Biomedical Engineering Major Sarah to Help Rural Communities

How did you get interested in medicine?

My interest in medicine grew for a few different reasons! My Grandpa was an ER doctor and growing up my parents talked a lot about him, so my interest in becoming a doctor started when I was very young. Growing up I was also an athlete and suffered many different injuries so I spent a LOT of time at doctor’s appointments. This exposure to the medical field continued to pique my interest and I set my sights on becoming a doctor who works with athletes!

What made you interested in rural medicine specifically?

I grew up as an athlete in Houghton and have experienced firsthand the need to travel to receive orthopedic surgeries. My goal is to eventually help bridge that gap for athletes and everyone else in rural communities!

How has this scholarship helped you achieve your goals?

Thanks to the Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship, I’ve been able to spend more time focusing on my academics and less time on working which has been hugely beneficial, especially during a critical time in my academic career as I’m beginning to look into Medical School applications. 

The Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship Will Help Medical Lab Science Major Ella Achieve Her Dream of Working Directly With People and Improving Outcomes

How did you get interested in medicine?

Ella Kunitzer
Ella Kunitzer majors in Medical Lab Science with a Pre-Health minor

To be honest, I have always had an interest in medicine, I just wasn’t sure how I wanted to direct it.  Coming into college, I was thinking I would go into genetic research.  The further I got into my degree, the more I realized that I wanted to work directly with people.  I started babysitting and learned I loved children.  Then I received my Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) license and a new job and realized I had found exactly where I wanted to be: with people. I am currently in my third year, and about a year out from applying to medical school.  I am working as a CNA and shadowing a midwife, both of which solidified my belief that medicine is the right field for me.

What made you interested in rural medicine specifically?

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in cities.  I have lived in the suburbs for most of my life, but I also spent a couple of years living in big cities in another country.  I was always amazed by the easy access we had to medicine wherever we were. 

Living in another country, I also had the opportunity to see how the people lived outside of the city.  I have one distinct memory of visiting an orphanage in rural China when I was about seven years old and meeting children my age.  These children had been given up to an orphanage because they were sick and the parents had no access to, or money for, healthcare.  The older I’ve gotten, the more I have realized that this is a fixable problem.  I want to work in an area where I can make a difference, and where I can fill the gaps in healthcare.

How has this scholarship helped you achieve your goals?

Because of this grant, I have been able to work a little less and spend a little more time out in the community. I have had the opportunity to shadow the local CNM (certified nurse midwife), and have observed what medicine looks like in a rural area. There are certainly challenges with access to quality care locally, and these are challenges that I would like to help solve.

The experiences that I have been able to gain have further strengthened my resolve to get into rural medicine. Because of this grant, I have gained experiences that I wouldn’t have had the time for. Because of these experiences, I am more determined than ever to help communities such as this one. I want to be able to help the next mother who experiences complications, and ensure she can have the care she deserves without having to travel.

Mechanical Engineering Major Kayley Wants To Find New Solutions To Help Rural Communities

Kaley Elmblad
Kayley Elmblad majors in Mechanical Engineering with a Pre-Health minor

How did you get interested in medicine?

Medicine has impacted me as I directly want to help people in need. Using my background in mechanical engineering I will be able to come up with new solutions and will bring a different viewpoint to medicine. I will be graduating with my undergrad degree in the spring of 2024 and then attending medical school in the fall of 2024.

What made you interested in rural medicine specifically?

Growing up in Marquette MI, I understand the effects of healthcare on a rural area. I want to be a part of the solution and help those who are in underserved communities.

How has this scholarship helped you achieve your goals?

This scholarship is truly an honor and has allowed me to continue my education and effort to become a physician in a rural area.

Want to Lean More?

You can learn about Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship recipients from 2021: Karmyn, who shares her first-semester experience at med school and offers advice for others; and Lindsay who highlights how her research, study abroad, and community service experiences helped shape her career path.

Supporting students through scholarships and fellowships, like the Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship, is Michigan Tech’s top strategic priority. Learn more about how the Michigan Tech Fund helps students.

Pre-health students win top awards at Michigan Tech

We know students who choose pre-health are top-notch. They go above and beyond in everything they do. So it comes as no surprise to see them recognized for their scholarship and community service. Congratulations to our outstanding pre-health student award-winners.
Read more about pre-medical student Christian Johnson (double major in human biology and English) and pre-physician assistant student Bella Menzel-Smith (human biology major).

Michigan Tech EMS: Chloe Looman’s Experience as Captain.

Chloe Looman, EMT Captain, Biological Sciences Major

Hello, my name is Chloe Looman and I am this year’s Captain of Michigan Tech EMS. Our agency certifies students and local community members to the EMT level, and in exchange, we volunteer as responders to the Michigan Tech campus and surrounding community. Our response time is mere minutes in comparison to the Mercy ambulance company, which can sometimes take 30-40 minutes to respond as they serve the whole Keweenaw Peninsula. 

As Captain, I oversee the three to four responding squads that rotate being on call every 72-96 hours. My journey with the agency began when I was lucky enough to be selected as one of a handful of incoming first-years to the EMT class. The course each year trains about 16-20 students to be EMTs (the lowest level certification that can work in an ambulance) in exchange for volunteering as a responder for a full academic year afterward. Coming to MTU I had my sights set on medical school. I love creative problem solving and people, despite being an introvert, but had little evidence that medicine would be where I would truly thrive. I joined the program not only as a way to gain experience prior to med school but also as a way to explore the clinical side of things.

Through my involvement with the agency, I got just that, and so much more. The EMT course for me was like 3D school. Our tests were practicals where we had to physically demonstrate our skills with the equipment and learn how to ask all the right questions as well as think on our feet. The personal growth I got during the course was immense, and it confirmed that medicine was absolutely the right path for me. After earning my EMT license I got a job as a medical responder at Michigan’s Adventure where I got to treat patients all summer long. This set me up to be very prepared for the next academic year when I was responding with MTU EMS. Living in the dorms gave me the extra advantage of often being the first responder on the scene many times. I got to initiate and direct patient care as well as establish how to take a good care report.

In my second year responding, I got to take the role of Squad Leader. With this position, I got to take a more directive role with my squadmates. In the second semester of that year, I got to move to Lieutenant of my own squad, where I was in charge of driving the EMS Tahoe to scenes and overseeing the patient care. I loved that in this role I got to use my leadership skills to delegate tasks and allow my newer responders to also get the same formative experiences I had gotten as a general responder.

For my final year at MTU as Captain of the agency, it has been incredible to get to direct the inner workings of the agency having served every role at some point myself. I love that with my experience as an introverted leader, I get to use my role to encourage the participation and ideas of every member as well as work closely with the class of students that may someday take my place. Michigan Tech EMS has allowed me to develop strong leadership skills as well as discover that medicine is where I feel most at home. I am currently on three medical school waitlists and eager for a lifetime of treating patients.

Healthcare job growth projected at 16%; Michigan Tech Pre-Health professions helping to meet demand

It’s no secret the older we get the more we need healthcare. And the U.S. is getting older. Currently, 16.5% of the U.S. population of 328 million people, or 54 million, are over the age of 65, according to the latest census. By 2030, that number will rise to 74 million, a 37% increase. And the number of people over the age of 85, who generally need the most care, is growing even faster.

So it comes as no surprise that healthcare is expected to create jobs at a faster clip than the rest of the economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 16% growth across all healthcare professions. And these professions pay very well, too. The table below lists just some examples.

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020
Occupation Projected
Job Growth
Median
Pay
Audiologists 16% $81,030
Chiropractors 11% $70,720
Dentists 8% $164,010
Optometrists 9% $118,050
Occupational Therapists 17% $86,280
Physical Therapists 21% $91,010
Physicians Assistants 31% $115,390
Podiatrists 2% $134,300
Speech Pathologists 29% $80,480
Veterinarians 17% $99,250

Michigan Tech’s Pre-Health professions minor has been preparing tomorrow’s healthcare leaders and helping to fill the growing demand for healthcare professionals. Pre-Health professions features helpful faculty and staff ensuring students: meet academic requirements for professional programs, receive valuable clinical experience and successfully navigate the application process. All of which results in a 70% acceptance rate into all health professional programs. For Tech students applying to medical school, they have a 65% acceptance rate (approximately twenty-five percentage points above the national average).

Students can pair this minor with any degree/major they choose at Tech. Popular pairings are made with Human Biology, Medical Lab Science, Biomedical Engineering, Exercise Science, Chemistry, and Psychology. While students can choose any major, these are the most common! 

But don’t let us tell you. Hear from our students first-hand how they prepared for the health professional program of their choice.

Listen to Jill Poliskey describe how a study abroad program in Ireland helped her decide to change her focus and her major and decide to go to medical school to become a doctor.

Listen to Abigail Botz describe how getting involved in research on campus and working as a peer health advocate has helped to strengthen her application.

Learn about Alyssa Meinburg’s progression from MTU’s prehealth program to prosthetics and orthotics school.

Emma DeBaeke shares her journey from Tech into into Physcial Therapy school.

And Karmyn Polakowski talk about her entrance into med school thanks to Michigan Tech’s Early Assurance Program (EAP) with Michigan State University.
Learn more about Pre-Health at Michigan Tech or contact Nicole Seigneurie, Director, Pre-Health Profession directly at 906.487.2850 or nmseigne@mtu.edu.

Karmyn Polakowski: Preparation for Medical School

My name is Karmyn Polakowski. I am currently a first-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

What was your undergraduate major at Michigan Tech? How do you feel this major has prepared you for medical school?

I majored in Medical Laboratory Science (MLS). This degree choice was vital to shaping me into the medical student I am today—I am a strong believer that in order to be a fruitful physician we must know the ins and the outs of medicine from the lab all the way to the patient rooms. Simply because if we don’t know how we got to the answers such as the origin of a particular lab result, it’s difficult to make a diagnosis and explain it effectively to a patient.

The curriculum devised for MLS students is one for students with a desire for perpetual learning and a mind full of curiosity. I promise you, the courses will feed these cravings. 

What experiences/resources did you have at Michigan Tech that you felt set you up for success?

Michigan Tech did an amazing job at shaping me into a competitive medical school applicant as well as a successful medical student by providing me with both the people and activities to make me a well-rounded person. Medical schools emphasize not only the necessary science skills but also the soft skills and I truly believe that MTU set me up to do both. In particular, I had awesome instructors, an amazing pre-health advisor, and extracurricular groups that pushed me to be this type of person.

Why did you apply to Michigan Tech’s Early Assurance Program (EAP) with Michigan State University?

I chose to apply to the EAP simply because I knew that MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) was the perfect fit for me. MSU CHM places an emphasis on producing primary care providers in rural health care settings and that is my personal goal as well. So because my goal aligned with their mission statement so well I decided to apply and even better, apply a little early.

Do you have any tips or advice for future students applying to EAP? Or students applying to Medical school in general?

BE A GENUINE PERSON! Applying to medical school can be frightening because of all of the numbers and statistics about GPAs, the MCAT, etc– however, discovering why you want to do medicine and making that apparent through a genuine and compassionate attitude will take you so much further than a score will. That being said, make sure that you’re always trying your best to do well on your exams and projects, but make sure that you’re also doing things outside of school to shape yourself into a well-rounded person. After all, medicine is about human connectedness, not your best test score.

What type of experiences or extracurricular activities were you involved in?

I was involved in Michigan Tech EMS for a couple of years and it was definitely the highlight of my undergraduate career. I was not only able to deploy my patient interaction and care skills, but I found the EMS family that created bonds to last a lifetime. EMS brings out special qualities in everyone and learning how to utilize everyone’s strengths is really quite eye-opening. This lesson in itself makes me confident in my ability to work well as a physician amongst a group of other healthcare workers someday soon.

Cassie Cecchettini’s Advice for Pre-Meds at MTU

I graduated from Michigan Tech in 2018 where I majored in Biological Sciences (emphasis in pre-professional/pre-med) and minored in Psychology. I liked that this major allowed me to easily get in all of the prerequisites for medical school plus made me take some classes that, while not required, I HIGHLY recommend including immunology, microbiology, and anatomy & physiology. I also believe this major made me more well-rounded because we had to take classes that I probably never would have otherwise, such as ecology, and I tried to think of these classes as a way to gain more outside knowledge rather than just getting educated in strict biology/medicine. 

The sheer number of opportunities available at Michigan Tech set me up for success in addition to the faculty. Professors were always willing to answer questions and make themselves available. I only had Nicole for one year, but she is amazing and helped me immensely even after I graduated. At Tech, I participated in research, was the president of the Pre-Health Association, secretary of MEDLIFE where I went to Lima, Peru twice, co-founded Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Professional Honor Society Michigan Theta Chapter, and was an undergraduate teaching assistant for Anatomy Lab. I also shadowed through Tech’s Job Shadowing Health Professions class and volunteered through the clubs I was involved in and at a hospital in my home state over the summers. During my gap years, I worked as a medical scribe in the emergency department and an oncology/hematology clinic and volunteered at an animal rescue. 

As I’ve learned happens to a lot of prospective medical students, I did not get accepted the first time around. This was a very defeating feeling, but I worked hard to improve my application which included adding non-healthcare experiences (very important!!!), and I reapplied. I received several interviews and several acceptances during my second cycle which ultimately landed me at the University of New England in Maine. The location was a big draw for me as I wanted to get out of the Midwest and explore other areas of the country. Outside of location, I liked UNE because they have an integrated curriculum and a really strong anatomy program. UNE is also one of the more established DO programs with a lot of connections and good match rates. 

A big tip I have for premed students is to take the classes I recommended above! Especially immunology and anatomy & physiology. Having a foundation in those has been critical for my success thus far. Get involved in activities you really enjoy and stick with them. Don’t feel obligated to get involved in a million extracurriculars. Shadowing and volunteering is a must, but as I mentioned earlier, volunteer in a non-healthcare setting to show that you have interests outside of medicine as well. My last piece of advice is to pay attention in class. That may seem silly but getting a good grasp on organic chemistry now will help you when you have to study for the MCAT and helps you establish good study strategies. Oh, and take a gap year! Or 2 or 3. This is a really long journey that will always be here for you. Take time to travel and do things that you love before school starts. 

Ross Michaels. Pre-Med. Researcher. Husband. Hero.

“Where else could I have led a research project on liver fibrosis; watched autopsies; designed a device for the insertion of a myocardial pacemaker via a minimally invasive procedure; published a paper detailing a 3-D printed device we designed and made accessible to the entire world to help diagnose childhood malnutrition; married my high school sweetheart; pole-vaulted and learned to throw a discus, shot-put, and javelin; coached high school football and track; and saved my best friend’s father’s life on a bike trail in the middle of the woods?

Ross Michaels, ’17,  Biomedical Engineering | Pre-Medical, U of M Medical School, Fall 2018 

Maya Braden, Pre-Med Journey

Maya BradenPreparing for Pre-Med

I graduated from Michigan Tech with a major in Biological Sciences and concentration in Ecology. I had a few majors during my time at Michigan Tech. I originally came in as a biomedical engineer and quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. I switched into biochemistry and molecular biology, which was my major for the majority of my time at Michigan Tech.

By the end of my third year however I was really inspired by my time with the conservation corps and I wanted to learn more about natural resources, so I once again switched, this time into biological sciences with a concentration in ecology. Completing my ecology concentration classes were by far the best preparation for medical school and definitely allowed me to develop a different way of thinking about interactions, whether it’s a wetland or an organ system.

Narrowing the Path

I am currently a student at Michigan State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. One of my favorite primary care providers was a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine(DO), and after shadowing a DO I found that my personality fits more with the osteopathic providers compared to allopathic. I like the DO philosophy and its holistic view of people. I was also interested in having the extra tool of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine to treat patients. Having OMM classes now in the fall semester is definitely a nice break from traditional classwork and feels great to have classmates practice techniques on me after sitting and studying for long hours.

Striving for Success

Knowing who to know is everything as a pre-med. This includes advisors, upperclassmen, classmates and professors. No one becomes a doctor on their own. If someone was considering pre-med my first step of advice would be to contact Nicole Seigneurie, the pre-med advisor. She is incredibly helpful and will do her best to help you succeed. After that, it would be to network with those around you because you never know what opportunities will come from it. For university resources, I utilized learning centers often, took research opportunities that were available to me, and shadowed at local hospitals.

My favorite extracurricular activity that I participated in during my time at MTU was with MTU Emergency Medical Services. Everyone in the organization is dedicated to growth, learning, and genuinely cares about others. It gave me a great introduction to medicine. Other extra circulars that I enjoyed while being at Michigan Tech was being a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, a Girl Scout Troop Leader, a resident assistant, biology learning center coach, research, and working various jobs across campus. The best experience that I could have sought was doing an AmeriCorps service term and taking a break from school to investigate my other interests and understand what it means to volunteer and contribute to a community.

Passing it Forward

I would say to financially plan ahead, applying to medical schools is expensive and a lot of people have to do it more than once before they are successful. That being said, as soon as you’re accepted, find out information on as many scholarships as possible and don’t wait to apply for them. I learned about the National Health Service Corps scholarship, which pays tuition and stipend in exchange for working primary care in underserved areas from a doctor my mom was working with. I applied for it and with lots of help from letter writers, was awarded it. I would highly encourage anyone considering primary care to apply if it aligns with your career goals.

As far as how to pick programs, apply for programs whose mission statement you identify with and can see yourself being passionate about. Mission statements tell you a lot about a school’s priority and what kind of providers they want to graduate. If you are considering medical school I would really encourage people to look at both routes, MD or DO, and investigate what each one really means before choosing. DO has a lot to offer and will be competing for residency spots with MD’s now that the residency merger has taken place. I’m really glad that I was exposed to DO and think that DO programs have a lot of great things to offer their students.

Elise Cheney-Makens, Pre-Med Advice

Elise Cheney-MakensMy name is Elise, and I’ll be attending the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in the fall of 2020.

I graduated in the spring of 2019 with a major in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (with a concentration in Biology) and a minor in Spanish. I liked that my undergrad degree was so diverse. In addition to biology classes, I also took lots of courses in chemistry, physics, writing, and even computer science, and it was really fun getting to explore all these different disciplines and challenge myself in new ways all the time. My major definitely kept me on my toes, which I know will help me during medical school.

With all the challenging classes I was taking, it was helpful having so many supportive resources available to me. The learning centers and my professors and advisors helped me at every stage of my college career. This is so overused I’m sure, but when Dumbledore tells Harry Potter, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it,” well, that’s definitely also true of Michigan Tech. There’s always going to be someone willing to guide you, advocate for you, teach you, care about you – you just need to be willing to ask for help.

Another amazing resource at Michigan Tech is the Early Assurance Program (EAP) through the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. I applied for the EAP because I liked the innovative and flexible curriculum at Michigan State and the focus of the EAP program, in particular, on serving underserved populations. I knew I was looking for a medical school with a holistic approach to delivering education – a school that was academically rigorous but heavily emphasized balance and student well-being.

My best advice about applying to school is to dig deep and find some gratitude for the process, even when it feels stressful. I think applying to medical school is actually an amazing learning opportunity in so many ways. You get to be introspective about your life, experiences, and values and how they’ve shaped you into the person you are now. And you get to really start exploring and sorting through what medicine means to you. I highly recommend collecting stories about medicine for inspiration on the days that you’re struggling to find some. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, this piece in the New York Times Magazine is one of my all-time favorites. 

Even the MCAT is such an important experience. It is a behemoth of an exam, but learning how to study for it, what strategies work best for you, and simply that you are capable of doing something this difficult is so valuable for school and life in general. I really would not have imagined I could study for anything so intensely for so long (4 months in my case). But now that I’ve done it – and succeeded – I know I can do it again throughout medical school and my career.

In terms of choosing what things to get involved in outside of class, there are definitely no “right” activities or extracurriculars for pre-med students. But if you do things that you enjoy, that passion will shine through in your application and your interviews. For me, this included working as a writing tutor in the Multiliteracies Center and a counselor at Summer Youth Programs, volunteering for the Young Women Leaders Program and Ronald McDonald House, leading a Girl Scout troop, and doing research on campus and a research fellowship at Mayo Clinic. I was also in the tennis club and played cello in the orchestra.  

Ultimately, all of this – being an undergrad student, applying to medical school, everything beyond – is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember to take it at your own pace, keep an eye on the long game, and be true to your values throughout the process.