How My Research Degree Taught Me I’m Not a Surgeon

Recognizing the connection between lab work and surgery
What surprised me the most during my medical school journey was that it was primarily lab work, not my surgery rotation, that taught me I was not a surgeon. The type of experience my lab work entailed had absolutely nothing to do with surgery or clinical medicine, so it was a peculiar and fortuitous realization. I do not believe when entering medical school that I had ever thought about doing research, but our program strongly advocated it. I met with various advisors in first year and decided I was going to transition into the combined PhD program.

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How Nontraditional Students Can Best Position Themselves When Applying to Med School

A friend of mine studied film in college and subsequently found himself working as a cameraman for a documentary television program about the lives of EMTs and ER physicians. He experienced some very tense situations, and from his work decided that he wanted to do more than document how people received medical care—his desire was to participate in the action of helping others as a doctor.
Unfortunately, his film education was the furthest possible undergrad experience he could have from pre-med. He had no applicable science credits, no anatomy or physiology, and the only shadowing he had done of physicians had been with a camera in hand. In short, his path would be an arduous one, and he was soon going to turn 31.

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A Portrait of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Central to the skillset of every physician is the differential diagnosis; this is the process by which new patients are evaluated to establish the most likely diagnosis. Similarly, the first clinical year of medical school is like a differential for each student, except instead of a medical diagnosis, students are seeking to determine which specialty they will choose. This column explores this differential: experiences from each rotation by a current third year student.
Having finished my first rotation, Women’s Health Clerkship, I’d like to offer a short look into the specialty, sharing some of my observations the last few weeks. As I have said often over the past two months, I believe this was the perfect rotation to kick off third year. OB/GYNs have a wide scope of practice, and their field contains elements of many other specialties. During this rotation I was exposed to clinical medicine, by which I mean the art of seeing patients in a clinical setting, spending a few minutes with each, and using history and physical exam skills to offer a diagnosis and treatment plan. I was also exposed to surgery. I hadn’t realized just how surgical of a specialty it is, or at least can be, depending on how a doctor chooses to practice. (More on that later.) I also saw some inpatient medicine, managing patients in a hospital setting and consulting with other specialties as needed. And of course, OB/GYNs have a very unique aspect of medicine that is theirs alone: the labor & delivery floor. This breadth of practice settings was an excellent introduction to many aspects of medicine that I’m only beginning to understand.

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Paving the Road to Medical School

The path to becoming a doctor can feel daunting. For those of us that don’t come from a medical family, it can be challenging to navigate what all you need to do to be a competitive candidate. As a third year psychiatry resident looking back on my pre-med days, I realize just how lost-in-the-woods I felt at times trying to figure out how to get where I wanted to go. Here are half a dozen steps you can take to help pave the way to medical school. 

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Medical School Interview Do’s and Don’ts

One of the most important phases of the application process is your interview. It’s your chance to demonstrate your communication and interpersonal skills, judgment, maturity, and the qualities that are important for a future physician. It’s also your opportunity to see if the school’s learning environment and culture is a good fit for you. It may seem early to start thinking about interviewing, but some medical schools start as early as July, while others interview throughout the fall and spring until their class is filled.
To help make your interview day a success, here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you prepare.

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Beginning Clinical Rotations–An Exercise in Humility

Central to the skillset of every physician is the differential diagnosis; this is the process by which new patients are evaluated to establish the most likely diagnosis. Similarly, the first clinical year of medical school is like a differential for each student, except instead of a medical diagnosis, students are seeking to determine which specialty they will choose. This column explores this differential: experiences from each rotation by a current third year student.
As I write this article, I am thinking about how to compress all that I’ve seen and experienced the last several weeks into a few paragraphs. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it justice, and if I wrote out all my thoughts it would probably exceed the page limits and the reader’s concentration. So I’m going to focus on a few aspects of this first month of being a third year medical student, and I suspect several themes will reappear and be expanded in future posts.

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Post-Bacc Program Guide

post-bacc program

Post-baccalaureate or “post-bacc” programs, for short, are often discussed among pre-med students. While post-bacc programs can benefit students with many types of backgrounds, they are not for everyone–and knowing this ahead of time is important, as the cost for these programs is anywhere between $20,000-$40,000. This article covers just what post-baccs are, as well as important information on who should consider such a program and what students should ask about before actually signing on the dotted line.

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Diversity in Med School: Why It’s Important and What Minority Applicants Need to Know

While getting accepted into medical school is more difficult than ever in America, there are some particular challenges facing would-be medical students from certain ethnic groups that have been traditionally underrepresented on medical school campuses across the country. For many reasons, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) is heading a multi-faceted campaign to increase racial diversity among would-be doctors.

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Who Makes a Good Doctor? How Medical Schools Around the World Try to Find the Best Candidates

around the world

One of the continuing challenges for medical schools both here in the United States and around the world is to find ways to select the students who will have the best chance of successfully completing their education. The goal of a good medical education, after all, is to train students who go on to become doctors, helping to fill the enormous global demand for well-trained, competent physicians. What might surprise many students, however, is how many different ways medical colleges around the world have come up with to find these ideal candidates–and how widely medical education varies from one country to another.

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Five Mistakes to Avoid in Medical School Interviews

medical school interviews

We all know medical school interviews are important. But did you know, according to a survey of medical school admissions committees conducted by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), interviews are the most important factor used to decide which applicants gain acceptance (Dunleavy DM, et al. Medical School Admissions: More than Grades and Test Scores. AIB. 11 (6), 2011)? The most important factor! Fortunately, interview techniques can be learned and, when practiced, improved. This article addresses the five biggest mistakes I have seen pre-meds make regarding interviews during my over 10+ years as a Harvard pre-med tutor and admissions consultant.

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Challenges Remain for Female Medical Students

female medical students

It might actually come as a surprise to many would-be medical students that gender is an issue that still affects those who are training for a career as a doctor. After all, there are more women in medicine than ever before–and certain areas of practice have become largely female-dominated. Despite this, however, gender attitudes can color nearly every aspect of medical education.
Women in Medicine: Close to Parity – at Least In Numbers
Statistically, if you just look at the numbers, the participation of women in medicine has indeed come a long way. According to the AAMC, as of 2013, of the 20,055 students who were accepted into medical schools across the country, the split between men and women was almost evenly divided: 53% male and 47% female. It is important to look at these stats in terms of their historical context in order to truly appreciate them.

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Get A Better Letter: An Insider's Guide to Letters of Recommendation

letter of recommendation

By Michelle Finkel, MD Whether you are a candidate for medical school, residency, fellowship, dental … Read more

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Students With Disabilities in Medical School

students with disabilities

Medical school, for some, remains the ultimate “glass ceiling” — the unseen yet unbreakable barrier that stands in front of one’s dream career as a physician, regardless of his or her qualifications and achievements.
Medicine still employs the “medical model” of disability, meaning that disabilities represent a deficit of sorts, and are something to be “fixed” or “cured.” The physician or medical professional has a job — to cure or heal the deficit. This message is repeated throughout medical programs and serves as a reinforcement that students will not be qualified providers if they have a disability and need to be fixed.

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Q&A With Stephen Aichele, PhD – Quantitative Psychologist

Stephen Aichele, PhD, is a research scientist in Switzerland in University of Geneva’s Psychology & Educational Sciences Department. Aichele received his bachelor’s degree in biopsychology from University of California, Santa Barbara (1994), followed by a master’s degree with highest honors in quantitative psychology (2010) and a PhD in quantitative psychology (2013) from University of California, Davis. As a graduate research assistant, Dr. Aichele worked on both the The Samantha Project and Savannas Forever Tanzania HIV Research Initiative.

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The Top 5 Ways to Improve Your CARS Score Today

improve your CARS score

For most pre-meds taking the MCAT, the CARS section proves to be one of the biggest obstacles standing between them and admission to the medical school of their dreams. The CARS section is a highly artificial environment, unlike any test you’ve ever taken before. It can be difficult to know where to begin and what steps to take to improve your overall CARS approach. Everyone and their mother seem to have an opinion about how to do well on the CARS section, opinions that often contradict each other as often as they agree. To make matters worse, unlike the other sections of the MCAT which play to the inherent strengths of pre-meds, hardly anyone starts off with a CARS score in range of where they’d like to be on test day. Fear sets in, and the “you’re not going to get in” gremlins starting chanting their mean-spirited slogans; all because of one stinking section.

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What the Adcom Sees (and Thinks) About Your Multiple MCAT Scores

multiple MCAT scores

MCAT History
Back in the olden days (like prior to 2007), the MCAT was only offered a few times a year, and test-takers took the paper exam with a No. 2 pencil. There was also a restriction placed on the number of times you could take the exam in a single year, as well as in your lifetime.
Today, the MCAT is offered 17 times a year with the following limitations on how often an applicant can take it:
– Three times  in one year
– Four times  in two years
– Seven times in a lifetime
It’s become increasingly common to take the exam, retake it, and then sometimes retake it again before  applying to medical school.

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Physician Employment Contracts Part II: The Story Continues

physician employment contract

Make sure to check out Part I here!
Today’s article takes a closer look at several key terms in employment contracts that can have a significant impact on a new physician – compensation methods, incentive compensation and outside work or “moonlighting”. Building on our first article that examined termination provisions, non-compete clauses, professional liability insurance and indemnification, we will identify key issues in evaluating compensation models and moonlighting and outline some of the questions to consider before signing on the dotted line. 

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