Friday, January 22, 2016

Student Post: Coming Back To Reality—A Time For Reflection

Transitioning back from winter break is never easy. I would even dare say it gets harder as the years of schooling accumulate. Coming back for my second semester of being an M2, there is a whole new level of fun that becomes increasingly real with each day: Step 1*.

Every M2 is enjoying the added stress that studying for "boards" brings, on top of the already-busy schedule of studying for domain exams and other classes. This is, of course, beyond other extracurricular activities we hope to incorporate, such as research, volunteering, exercise, and sleep.

But the thing is, we all find our own ways to accomplish what is important to us. And while some days may be rough, it’s crazy to think about how far we have already come in just a year and a half.

Despite the stress that comes from being in medical school, I have many fond memories at the CHM. There are so many opportunities to get involved, such as with student interest groups and electives.

I explored Emergency Medicine through the Emergency Medicine Interest Group and practiced my medical Spanish skills through an elective called “Health Care Interviewing of Spanish-Speaking Patients.”

Through shadowing experiences, I’ve learned which specialties I am more intrigued by…and others not so much.

Being on Student Council, our big event of the year was putting on the annual Med Ball. We worked for about four months and planned out a special evening for the students, faculty, and staff. It was fun seeing everything come together—from the decorations to music to class superlatives, including best dancers, best dressed, and most likely to NURS (an acronym for patient support: Name, Understand, Respect, Support).

One of my favorite parts was seeing all of the Med Follies that our class produced! These hilarious parodies were about life as a CHM med student. Even the faculty and staff represented with their own Med Follies! I had such a fun night with my classmates dancing the night away.

There is a whole array of CHM events that happen beyond campus as well. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to go to Peru with a group of 14 students from CHM for a few weeks. It was hands-down one of my favorite CHM experiences. In fact, it was one of my favorite summers, overall.

We shadowed in both private urban hospitals and the rural provinces learning about the Peruvian healthcare system from different sides. We had the chance to observe and volunteer with cleft palate surgeries in the rural provinces of CaƱete, where we also held many dental campaigns in different schools and towns to educate children and adults about oral hygiene and distribute toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. It was truly incredible to interact with the people of Peru and learn about their culture, food, and values.

LMU students worked hand-in-hand with local medical professionals in Peru
After the program ended, our group of students went on a five-day hike, sleeping in tents, climbing up and down mountains, ending at the beautiful Machu Picchu.

You definitely bond with your classmates when you all have to struggle against the steep uphills, pee in the middle of nowhere, swim in the hot springs, and combat the sweat and mosquitos together. And yet, it was such an unforgettable hike. The entire trip was an unbelievable experience with a great group of fellow med students.

LMU students at Machu Picchu
While there are many good memories I’ve had at CHM, my favorite aspect of CHM by far is our community of students, faculty, and staff. When prospective students ask our current med students what drew them to CHM, they find that the first thing most of us will say is the community.

Everyone is so encouraging and respectful of each other. There’s always a positive vibe despite the madness of studying. Many students share their study guides, resources, tips, and advice because we all want our class as a whole to do well on our assessments.

Even more so, the faculty and staff make a huge effort to teach and motivate us. They continuously make themselves available for help or assistance because they genuinely want us to do well and always ask for feedback to figure out the best ways to assist our learning.

One of my most meaningful memories was when an anatomy professor took extra time out of her day to walk through the anatomy lab with me. I hadn’t had anatomy before and I wasn’t initially comfortable around the cadavers. She took time out of her schedule to meet with me outside of class to familiarize and desensitize me to the cadavers, while simultaneously talking about being respectful of the deeply personal donation these people had made to our training. That is one of many examples of how the faculty and staff go above and beyond for their students to help them succeed.

Reflecting on some of my best memories and experiences at CHM reminds me how fortunate I am to be part of a great medical school. It motivates me to continue the push when the school load is hard and heavy, especially as Step 1 slowly creeps up on us.

*Step 1 is the first part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which assesses whether medical school students can apply the necessary concepts that are needed to continue medical training. It's also referred to as "boards" or "The Boards."

Sheri VanOmen is a second-year College of Human Medicine student from West Michigan. This year, Sheri is lending her voice to the Office of Admissions blog to periodically offer an inside look at what being a student at CHM is all about. Also read her previous post, "From "Far Off" Place To Medical School." 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Waitlisted Applicants May Submit Updates, Additional Materials

There are five main steps to get through the entire medical school application process. Upon submitting your secondary application to the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM), the Assistant Dean for Admissions will review select factors and applicants will either be deemed unsuccessful, placed on hold, or invited to interview.

As part of the selection process, one of the outcomes from the committee on admissions after interviewing can be the waitlist. Schools may also refer to this as the alternate list. While it's not the ideal outcome you'd like to initially hear, there are steps you can take moving forward.

Last year, we wrote a post entitled, "So You've Been Placed on the Waitlist: What's Next?," that offers some good tidbits. 

If you are placed on the alternate list, your file will remain under consideration for acceptance until we notify you of a change in your status. One of the actions you can take is to submit additional information or, in other words, updates.

Please note that per CHM policy, only applicants who are placed on the alternate list may submit updates. This may not be the case at other schools as policies may differ.

Some schools may accept updates from all of their applicants. Schools may only accept updates within a specific time frame. CHM applicants who are waitlisted may submit updates at any time prior to a final decision.

Additional and/or updated grades, new clinical, volunteer, and/or research experiences, additional letters of evaluation, and a letter of continued interest are all suitable updates.

Ultimately, updates don't need to be major achievements but should be new developments beyond what's already been established in your primary and secondary applications. Highlight new experiences and accomplishments.

Remember that the goal is to sell yourself. Good luck!