Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Know what you want in life...

What a busy day it has been. I've been running none stop since 8 am. I had to do my health screening for my volunteer work at a local hospital. Then, I had a phone interview for a pharmaceutical position...which sounds promising. Then finally I was off to meet with the Dean of admissions for a local medical school. The drive from my house to the medical school is about 35 to 40 minutes, the traffic was very heavy in the medical district. I was so affraid that I would be late....but, I wasn't. Thank God. By the time I found the admissions office and where I needed to go, I walked into the front office at 1:26pm. My appointmet was at 1:30pm. Thank God she had someone in her office. Also, there was another guy waiting to meet with her before me as well.

Normally, as a business woman I dress in business attire when meeting with others. So, today was no different. However, the young man sitting in the waiting area was very casually dressed with shorts and a polo shirt. I thought perhaps he has already been admitted??? My mom has always said, "Dresss for succes. When you leave your house make sure you have your earrings on, makeup on and look like success, because you never know who you will run into." Today was no different. I really wanted to leave a strong impression. With the young man waiting in the waiting area with me, I attempted to start a conversation with him, however, he was really tight lipped. I did manage to get out of him that he had applied for this season application process and had not been extended an invitation for a formal interview yet. So, he was there to ask a few questions. Best wishes to him.

I found the environment very refreshing and uplifting. Students walking around, chatting, some where studying....It felt energizing to be in that environment. I was trying to see if I could decipher the med students from employees. I did notice everyone was wearing scrubs of different colors. So, who were the students or who were the employees, I can not wait to find out. Do the first year med students wear different scrubs than second, third or forth? Well, when I get accepted I will know all of the ins to being a student there. Wow, it's like a secret society. Once you are admitted you will know all or learn all. Well, perhaps that's taking it a little to far. As far as secret society description goes, no matter what the environment is if you are on the outside and do not know what goes on on the inside, it's a closed society, sorta speak. But, the good news is we all have the opportunity to gain access, if we have the interest to explore the options and/or have what it takes to get in. This is exciting.....

Well, the dean of admissions was called to the OR and I was unable to meet with her. Ahhhh...However, there are no mistakes. I did have the opportunity to meet with the assistant dean of student affairs. He also sits on the admission committee, very friendly man. I noticed in his office he had a lot of pictures spread out throughout his office, a family man. We began to exchange pleasantries, taking about the affects of Ike, are place of origins, etc. Then we got into the business at hand. I needed answers. I need assurance that I was in fact on schedule. I had prepared a brief snap shot of who I am. It included my CV (which is like a resume), my completed and planned coursework, my GPA and Projected GPA, and my personal essay. I had been working on my personal essay for about 40 hrs. I finally got it within the guidelines, less than 62 lines and no more than 80 characters per line. I thought my content was on point and would surely get me an interview.

I began to ask for clarification on the application process and the required classes need to truly earn and invitation for an interview. He confirmed for me what I was thinking and what I had researched prior to speaking with the advisor at my JC. He state he has no idea where they received their information and perhaps they need to read their website. He unequivocally denied that not having taking the Organic chemistry class at the time of my application would limited my opportunity of getting an interview, I just would have to have it completed before I began med school. He said they do not discriminate against classes taken during summer sessions or even at night for that matter. He said they have interview nontraditional students that had not even taken Physics yet (but, it was on their list of classes to take before the first day of entering medical school.) He stated if I am able to get an acceptable MCAT score without having taken the course work first , only shows that I am capable of successfully completeing medical school. As far as, not have A & P, Genetics, Immunology, Biochemistry, etc, those classes are not necessary because I will be taught those in medical school. Now if I wanted to take these classes to be familiar with the subject before hand that's up to me, but it has no bearing on whether or not I will get an interview or not. Also, He stated that in medical school the way they teach is totally different from undergraduate and usually offers little help in students recalling the subjects taken in undergrad.

He kept saying the advisors at my school really need to read their website. Perhaps, the advisors want me to take more classes at the JC is why they feel that way. Or the advisors are trying to shelter the students from being rejected. He really did not know where they received their information. It was totally inaccurate.

Basically, He stated, "We look at every line on the application, we take into consideration the applicants GPA, MCAT score and what contribution they will make to that particular class." Whether, an applicant take Genetic, Immunology, etc has no bearing on getting an interview or getting accepted. If these were required courses that are need then they would be listed in the prerequisites. He gave me numerous examples of applicants that did not have one class or the other and were interviewed. He had non traditional students that only took the 10 prerequisite classes and got an interview. Age is not a factor for admissions either. He stated he has interview a 72 year old and most recently a 55 year old. Non-traditional students made up 21% of the current entering class. I left his office on cloud nine. All my research, my preparation was not in vain. My thinking process was logical and obtainable. I have a very diverse and dynamic background with alot of life experiences. I have a very great chance of getting into medical school and by the grace of GOD, I am going to make it. With GOd on my side, I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.

So, do not let anyone tell you, you can not do something based on their fears, their past experiences. You investigate, You seek out, you know what you want in life and You go after it.

Life is meant to be lived and experienced. Live your life as if you only have "One life to Live" and you will not go to your grave in regret. Believe that within you lies everything you need to accomplish your dream. Seek God to find your strength, your courage, your passion, and go after it.

Know for yourself what you want in life........and go for it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hit by Hurricane Ike...

Wow, this has been a real experience. School has been out for the past 9 days and it looks like we are going to have a full two weeks off as the necessary repairs are made in our area. Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area September 13 at about 4am. The winds were very strong. Rain was falling horizontally, due to the strong gust of wind. It rained all day. Thank God we did not have any flooding in our immediate area. We were without power about 13 hours. Alot of people are still without power 9 days later. Our backyard fence was damaged, a few shingles were ripped off the roof and water was leaking in our bedroom. The good part about all of this is all of our family members are safe and made it through with minimal damage. Our prayers go out to those that lost love ones, homes, personal items, and that are still without electricity.

Having this break has given me the opportunity to read ahead in my classes, review chapters we have already completed and read some other books. I really needed to review my Physics chapters. I believe the information is clicking now. I know when I return back to school I will have exams in Physics and Chemistry. So, I will be ready.

This semester seems to be dragging on. I guess I got use to the fast pace of summer and looking back I think I really enjoyed the hetic and busy schedule. Right now. I am so thirsty for knowledge, I cant wait for next semester. With great anticipation, I am planning ahead to familiarize myself with other subjects I will encounter, such as Genetics, Microbiology, A & P, Biochemisty, etc.

I've also been spending my time volunteering at the local food bank, which has been interesting. Processing pounds and pounds of food. It's amazing of all the food the bank recieves that need to to be given to those in need. Perfectly good food donate by various organizations such as grocery stores, etc. It feels really good knowing that familys are recieving food and supplies, especially during this hurricane Ike disaster.

From a suggestion of a friend I met at the food bank, I picked up a few books on expanding my memory. I am learning techniques to expand my memory and recall pertinent information, which is vital in medical school. Memorization is key to my success in medical school. Being able to take in large amounts of information, organize it, store and be able to recall it when is what I am learning from these books.

I started editing my personal statement too. it was approximately 2.5 pages long. After over 30 hours of writing, editing and re-editing, I now have it within the Texas application guidelines of 62 lines with no more than 80 characters of text per line. I believe I am going to work on at least 2 more essays and choose the best to submit in my application. I pray that it is interesting enough, shows my will and determination and will warant me offers for a personal interview.

The steps to entering medical school: 1. Finish prerequisites 2. Take MCAT 3. Prepare application and personal statement 4. Personal interview invitation (if you are selected bases on the first 3 steps) 5. Offer to attend medical school. It seems like 5 small steps, however, there is a lot of planning involved at each step.

I've learned that each step I take is getting me closer to a yes. By gradually checking off things on my to do list, the process will not be so overwhelming. Planning is key. Knowing my time lines and when things need to be finished is important. For instance, I need to get copies of my transcripts so that I can apply for this summer research position. I need extra copies so that I can apply for University of Houston Downtown for spring 2009 and I am going to need copies to submit by med school application. I have targeted requesting these transcripts no later than October 15th. Staying organized is important. I must say I feel good about my organizational skills. They have improved over the years.

Although many would have rather Hurricane Ike to have disappeared in the gulf, I choose to use this time down time wisely. Stay focus. Get prepared. Change is coming.....Ike was evident of that.....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

They will not stop me....

The fall semester has begun. I am excited. I am like a sponge in the class room. Every word that my instructors are communicating, Im soaking them up. This semester I am taking Bio II, Phy I and Chem I. I decided not to take a fourth class because, I wanted to dedicate the extra time (ha ha) to studying for the MCAT. My husband purchased a MCAT study guide for me, which cost $75. And from what I can see it is worth every bit of it. I love the fact that every subject has a review I really wanted to take Anatomy and Physiology (A &P I) this semester. I keep going back and forth...on that decision....But, when I found out the book, lab book, and etc was over $250...that help me to decide to wait until next semester..... Ouch.....

I scheduled an initial interview with the admissions department at a local medical school to get a inside opinion on what I need to accomplish in the next 9 to 12 months.....I may have to push my plans back one make sure my package is strong and all my bases are covered....What's one year? I have time....(as a matter of fact we all have time....Time to accomplish our dreams, right...all we have to do is put a plan together and walk it matter what....)

I noticed from the medical school website that 21% of the entering classes was from a nontraditional background. Nontraditional student is what I am called. I am a nontraditional student because, I majored in another dicipline in undergrad. My Bachelor degree is in Business Admin. Currently, I am at a local junior college (jc) taking the premedical courses necessary to complete the application.

I have been advise by the counsellors at this jc that I should give myself 2 to 3 years to complete these courses....TO me this is absurd. The total credit hours in the premed discipline needed to apply to medical school is only 44 hrs. I completed 8 this summer, 12 this semester, 16 to 20 next semester. And that leaves 8 credit hours to take either next summer or in the fall. I would have completed the 44 hrs within 1 year of starting my premed course..... The big question I have for the admission director at the med school is do they frown on science classes that are taken in the summer? That is what the admission counsellors at my jc are telling me. And they are saying that I should take more than the minimum requirement courses, dont take the MCAT unit I finish all my premed classes....blah blah blah.....

According to the application process, I am able to complete as many course as possible, take the MCAT, and apply, list all scheduled/planned classes on application. If I need to push my Organic Chem I & II into the fall of 2009 and spring 2010, then I will take additional science course, such as Human Genetics, Immunology, Biochemistry and Microbiology.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A 40 year old Medical Student

In this blog, I will express my excitement, my desires, my fustrations,and my potential obstacles to gaining admissions to medical school at age 40. I will attempt to express how I will use my enthusiam, dicipline and determination to over come every potential obstacle.

During this blog, I hope to spark and stimulate your curiosity to learn more about yourself, the decisions your have made thus far in life, are you on the correct path in life, are you pursuing your goals and dreams. A wise person once said, "Do not ignore your dreams. Your dreams will lead you to your path in life. Pursue your dreams."

After graduating from high school at the age 16, I realized that I didn't pursue my dream of becoming a cheerleader becuase "I thought I was too skinny." WOW, too skinny, cheerleaders are suppose to be skinny, right? That is a dream I can never go back to or accomplish. I did not want to live my life in "if I coulda, woulda shoulda." So, I said to myself, I will never let fear of people or what people think keep me from doing what I want to do in life.

Well, not really having a concrete plan for my next step in life after high school, I decided to join the US Air Force. Wow, what an adventure. I had a wonderful time. I was able to be independent and earn money for college. This was the beginning of following my dreams and discovering my path.

As I gained real world experience and responsibility, I developed a strong work ethic and sense of pride in excelling to the top, not letting anything hender me from achieving the highest honors in all my military training, early promotion, awarded Air Force Commendation medals, etc., I was on my way.

At this point in my life I considered myself as a person that loved life and felt as though I could achieve anything. I was living life to the fullest and pursuing my dreams. I was able to finish a successful tour with the Air Force, graduate from college (the first in my family) and began a successful career. After 20 years in the work place, I come to discover, my true dream of becoming a doctor has been suppressed for lack of financing to attend graduate school, fear, not enough time, perhaps Im not smart enough, etc.

Well, the turning point in my life came summer 2008. As I began to seek for my true self, seek God for answers as to why doors were closing for me, I was mediatating and medical school came to mind. ??? Medical school??? Yes, medical school. During the course of the last few years in my previous profession, I had the pleasure of having a few doctors as clients and each time I would say to myself, "I should have been a doctor. I could do that. They are no different than me, no smarter, no wiser, etc." My experience of life has brought about a 180 degree turnaround in my ability to comprehend complex concepts and has sharpened my keen sense of discpline, I believed that would make me a great medical school candidate. I decided Im going to medical school.

After spending hours on the internet research criteria of getting accepted, I noticed I was lacking all the prerequistes need to apply, Cal 1, 2 yrs of Biology, 2 yrs of Chemistry, 1 yr of Physics. I enrolled in college to finish these courses. I just finished two course (8 credit hours) in the summer session: Cal 1 and Biology 1, both with A's. Now, that was crazy. My schedule was so tight that I could do nothing else but study. Having a full and hetic schedule is only preparing me for a successful medical school experience.

I spoke to the premed guidiance counsellor and he said it will take me 2 to 3 years to finish all these courses and get ready for the MCAT (medical entry exam) WHAT? At his proposed schedule, I would be 41 apply for medical school. I do not have 2 to 3 years to wait to apply. I needed to complete the majority of these classes within one year. And that is what I am going to do.

For the fall semester I am taking Bio 2, Chemistry and Physics. Spring 2009: I am taking Chem 2, Physics 2 and Biology 3 (Anatomy and physiology) and Biology 4 Immunology and Genetic. I plan to apply to Medical school by May 31, 2008 and all I will have left to complete are Organic Chemistry I and II, which I can complete in the summer or the Fall and Spring of 2010. (Since, medical school applications are submitted the year before you plan on attending, I will have one whole year to finish up any prerequistes before the first day of medical school starts.) Also, I will be taking the MCAT in the Spring as well. I plan on making all A's in everyone of these classes and make at least a 32 on the MCAT.

I know, I know...this is alot. But, I know I am capable of doing this. I have a wonderful support system. My husband is 100% behind me on this. So, with him support I am able to focus 100% of my time and energy to my studies.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. As I was doing my research on attending medical school and looking at all the schools in Texas. I noticed a section addressing veterans. As I began to read at approximately 1:30 am, I saw something that was totally beautiful. In the state of Texas, if you are a veteran that served in the listed wars (I served in Desert Storm), entered the military in Texas, received a honorable discharged, etc. I would receive a tuition and fee waiver that is good for undergraduate and graduate school. I had no idea about this exemption. I could have used it for my undergraduate degree, but I used my military GI bill. Now, this is really icing on the cake. Remember, how one of my fears were that I did not have the money to pay of graduate school, that has worked itself out.

What I've learned to reinforce the saying, "Do not ignore your dreams. They will lead you to your path in life. Pursue your dreams." As I pursue my dreams, my path is still unfolding even at 38 years old. As I continue to pursue my dream, I will have my acceptance letter to medical school by the time I am 39 and will enter medical school at the wonderful age of 40.