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Things I Didn't Realize About Medicine Until I Became a Physician

became a physician

Recently SDN member medinquirer noted that it’s common for premed students to learn about medicine through shadowing, volunteering, working in related fields, etc. But surely, said medinquirer in his post, there are things you don’t realize about medicine until after you become a full-fledged, practicing physician. What are those things? Here are some of them of them, as shared by members of the SDN community:
No one teaches you about billing, prior authorizations, etc. until to have to do them. There is no real “education” in those endeavors, but they are part of the system and a requirement of the job.

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The Undifferentiated Medical Student Podcast: Your Virtual Mentor for Choosing a Specialty

What is the Undifferentiated Medical Student podcast? Give us an intro.
TUMS is an interview-based podcast about choosing a medical specialty and planning a career in medicine. Many medical students feel lost when it comes to picking a medical specialty and planning their careers (myself included). There are many reasons for this (and some I personally faced):
-they are overwhelmed by the number of options
-they may feel they don’t understand enough medicine yet to start the discussion
-they don’t have a mentor

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Learning from Thought Leaders in Healthcare: DocThoughts Founder, Nirmal Gosalia


What is DocThoughts? Give us an intro.
DocThoughts is a media platform that interviews thought leaders in medicine and produces 5-minute films. DocThoughts gives the healthcare community an insider’s perspective on topics that you won’t necessarily learn in the traditional teaching settings. We talk to experts such as deans, executives, and physicians about their stories in a personal and informal atmosphere.

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Use Mind Mapping to Write a Personal Statement that is Unique to You

MCAT preparatory courses

Mind mapping is a brainstorming technique that can help you see the big picture of your life story, key personal strengths, and professional competencies. As such, it can be an invaluable method for students preparing for personal statements, medical school applications, interviews, etc.

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Preparing to Apply to Medical School

Wondering if a career as a doctor would be a good fit for you? Already decided you want to apply to medical school, but not sure where to start? In order to help premedical students understand what is involved in applying to medical school, Student Doctor Network has partnered with Open Osmosis to create a video on “Preparing to Apply to Medical School.” Learn what to consider when deciding whether medical school is the right path for you, find out what you will need for your application, and hear what steps you’ll need to take before starting the application process. The video also takes a look at joint degree options, different curricula, and school environments to help you find the best fit. 

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Advice for Interns on Night Float

Earlier this year SDN member bob123451 was the lucky intern starting residency on night float covering multiple surgery services—vascular, general, bariatrics, colorectal, and a number of subspecialties—at a community hospital. Understandably nervous about jumping in with both feet, he reached out to the SDN community for advice. The following tips may be helpful, should you find yourself in the same boat.

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Book Review | in-Training: Stories from Tomorrow’s Physicians

in-training: stories from tomorrow's physicians

In early 2012, medical students Ajay Major and Aleena Paul started, a website dedicated to the medical student community at large with a goal—according to the site—to become “the intellectual center for news, commentary, and the free expression of the medical student voice.” Since then, the site has grown by leaps and bounds, recently celebrating their 1000th article publication. Four years after the launch of the website, Major and Paul—who are now beginning their residency training—compiled around 100 of these essays into a book: in-Training: Stories from Tomorrow’s Physicians.

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20 Questions: Norman Pastorek, MD – Plastic Surgery

Norman J. Pastorek MD, FACS specializes in facial plastic surgery. He trained at The University of Chicago Illinois and is board certified by both the American Board of otolaryngology and the American Board of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery. He has a private practice on Park Ave in New York.

When did you first decide to become a physician? Why?

It was really by accident. I had graduated from high school and decided to go to a college in Davenport, Iowa on a whim. At that point, I was considering being an engineer, so I took all of the required math and mechanical drawing courses. Long story short, I hated it—and I did not excel at my work because I didn’t like what I was doing.
After that first year, I went back to work in a factory where I was a welder. I was content enough doing that work, so for a time I thought I would just stay on that course. It wasn’t until I ran into an old coworker who was going into medicine that I started considering other options: he asked if I liked biology and suggested I go into pre-med. So I did.

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20 Questions: Jeffrey M. Whitaker, DPM, FACFAS

Dr. Jeffrey Whitaker knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a doctor, though his specialty remained uncertain until he discovered podiatric medicine as an undergraduate pre-med student. Having graduated Magna Cum Laude with his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from California State University-Long Beach, he later completed a second Bachelor in Cell and Molecular Biology with San Francisco State University, followed by the successful completion of his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree from the California College of Podiatric Medicine, which is now Samuel Merritt University. Dr. Whitaker graduated from the DPM program with Honors, ranking 4th in his class, and completed his three-year foot and ankle surgery residency with Western Pennsylvania Hospital, in Pittsburgh.

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Ensuring Fairness: An Interview with the Director of MCAT Security and Compliance

Accuracy and fairness in scoring the MCAT exam is an essential part of the test’s role as an indicator of future medical school success. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) requires all test-takers to sign an Examinee Agreement, promising to refrain from cheating or other compromises of the test. The agreement ensures that all medical school applicants can enter the applicant pool on a level playing field, and abiding by this agreement is an important start for examinees to show their commitment to professionalism in their careers as medical practitioners. SDN recently talked with Jason Bell, Director of MCAT Security and Compliance at the AAMC, to further discuss MCAT security and his role in maintaining the integrity of the exam.

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20 Questions: Lindsay Stokes, Emergency Medicine

Lindsay Stokes, MD, attended medical school and residency at Albany Medical Center in Albany, NY where she still lives with her husband and daughter. She is currently an attending in the Emergency Department at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, MA.
When did you first decide to become a physician? Why?
I got a Fisher-Price stethoscope for my fourth birthday and after spending my whole party listening to the heartbeat of anyone who would let me, I decided that being a doctor was the coolest possible job. I have always been fascinated by the human body and as I got older, the social aspect of being meaningfully involved in other people’s lives became appealing to me as well.
How/why did you choose the medical school you attended?
I am a proud member of the It-Was-The-Only-One-I-Got-Into Club, and while we are not the most vocal group, we are (statistically) the most populous.
What surprised you the most about your medical studies?
I was always shocked at just how much there was to learn. In first and second year I’d spend two weeks memorizing a 4-inch stack of notes on a body-system and thinking I had a pretty good grasp on every cell and protein that made it work. Then I realized that each of those cells and proteins had their own 4-inch stack of notes!

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Q & A: Pharmacy Admissions Insider

Applying to professional school can be one of the most daunting challenges of a student’s career. The pharmacy admissions process is no exception, and students may find it overwhelming at times. The Student Doctor Network recently sat down with Jeff, a member of a pharmacy school admissions committee, who shared his perspective on the process and some advice for students.

SDN: What advice would you give an undergraduate student just starting to explore the field of pharmacy? How can they tell whether pharmacy is right for them?

Jeff: The two things that someone who is interested in pharmacy should do are to make sure that they have a good understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a pharmacist in a variety of settings, and that the degree they are seeking is aligned with their career objectives. Many individuals are drawn to pharmacy school based upon nothing more than their perception of what a pharmacist does, with the perception based upon their visits to community pharmacies as customers or the television commercials produced by the national drugstore chains to promote their pharmacists. As you would suspect, their perception of what a community pharmacist does on a daily basis is usually wrong. Others make it to their admissions interview day and tell their interviewers that they want to work as a hospital pharmacist so they can work with patients to discover the cure for breast cancer or diabetes; a noble goal to be sure, but one better suited for a doctoral degree in pharmacology or medicinal chemistry.

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20 Questions: John Hunt, MD, Peds Pulmonology/Allergy/Immunology

John Hunt, MD is a pediatric pulmonologist/allergist/immunologist from Charlottesville, VA. He received his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College before going on to George Washington University School of Medicine, where he earned his MD. He served in the Medical Corps with the US Naval Reserve from 1992-2003. During that time he completed his residency in pediatrics at the San Diego Naval Medical Center, and two fellowships at the University of Virginia, one in Allergy and Immunology and one in Pediatric Pulmonology. Since then he served in a number of roles, from professor at the University of Virginia to entrepreneur to researcher to author.
1. When did you first decide to become a physician? Why?
Throughout my childhood I had bad asthma and my pediatrician was wonderful so I decided by fourth grade to be a pediatrician. By 9th grade, I was cured of that desire because there was no way in hell I was going to put up with all the years of school needed to become a doctor. I didn’t even consider medicine again until my college senior year, during which I decided to be a surgeon. But somehow, in the end of it all I grew up into a pediatric asthma specialist. My wonderful childhood pediatrician quit medicine to open a chocolate factory.
2. What surprised you most about your medical studies?
That the premedical work was pretty much unnecessary, and that I was very glad that I studied in college all sorts of broad liberal arts as opposed to wasting excessive time with undergraduate chemistry and biology. You learn what you need to in medical school and then in residency, and then in fellowship and then every day through a medical career. So, take as few pre-med courses as you can and don’t waste your valuable college education being a pre-med major. There is so much to learn in college that will help you be a better doctor that has nothing to do with chemistry and biology.

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20 Questions: Brian Walcott, MD, Neurosurgery

Dr. Brian Walcott, MD is a chief resident in neurosurgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where he specializes in the care of patients suffering from diseases of the brain, cerebral blood vessels, skull base, and spine.  He is training to become a subspecialist in neurovascular disease, with an active research interest in vascular biology.  He obtained his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and biology from Seton Hall University where he was also a Division I NCAA track athlete.  Afterwards, he went on to medical school at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and was admitted into Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
​During residency, he has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and is an ad hoc reviewer for JAMA Surgery, Neurology, and the Journal of Neurointerventional Surgery, among others. His research is supported by grants from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, the American Medical Association, and the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies.  He was awarded the resident teacher of the year award from the Harvard Medical School class of 2012.  He is also the co-founder of, a consulting service for graduate school and medical residency applicants.

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The National Health Service Corps: Cutting Student Debt and Promoting Primary Care

By Christy Crisologo

It was Pauline Rolle’s grandmother who first opened her eyes to the needs of underserved communities in the United States.

“There are people all over the world who need you,” the pediatrician’s grandmother told her, “but there are also people right here who need you.” After completing her training, those words inspired Dr. Rolle to apply for the National Health Service Corps’s Loan Repayment Program. Today she works at the Duval County Health Department clinic in Jacksonville, FL, serving primarily Medicaid and uninsured patients.

“The program is just awesome — it’s just fabulous,” Dr. Rolle said in an article featured on the NHSC website. “The connectivity among public health providers, the conferences, and the educational credits that they offer — not to mention the support in terms of loan repayment — it’s just a tremendous blessing to me and my family.”

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