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This interview premieres the Tutor the People Interview Series (TTP IS). Throughout the TTP IS, we’ll chat with people from all walks of life within the medical field: doctors, medical students, pre-meds, advisors, and more. Today we’re speaking with Lindsay, an MS1 at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). :hello:

TTP: Hi Lindsay! Thank you for sharing your grains of wisdom about being a medical student, your life as a pre-med, and what led to medical school acceptance! Please, tell us all about yourself. What was your major in undergrad? Did you always want to become a doctor?

Lindsay: Hi, TTP! Thanks for including me in this. I graduated in 2012 from Furman University (Greenville, SC) with a degree in Neuroscience. I was fascinated by the brain and became convinced a bit prematurely that the only life for me would be in research, as a holder of a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. As a matter of fact, when my mother- who is an ARNP- urged me to consider applying to medical school, I was firmly against the notion. My time at Furman was defined by conducting behavioral neuroscience research and working as a teaching assistant in related subjects; this brings us to your next question, where I will address what changed regarding my career ambitions, and why I ultimately did decide to pursue an MD.

TTP: Don't leave us hanging! Please, go on. What made you ultimately decide to transition to training to practice medicine, instead of purely academic medicine?

Lindsay: While my undergraduate experiences in behavioral neuroscience research (studying subjects such as maternal behavior, stress, and alcohol abuse) were certainly enriching, I actually would like to talk about the experiences of my gap years and how those ultimately led me to medical school. I completed an internship in a molecular biology lab at the University of Washington (Seattle) in the summer before my junior year (studying aberrant protein folding), and I decided to return to Seattle upon graduating to build further connections in that research world while considering my next steps for graduate school. Unexpectedly, rather than fostering a further interest in full-time research, while in Seattle I tapped into a sincere desire to engage with and serve individuals in the healthcare setting- a place where people are often at their most vulnerable. I volunteered for several years as a chore worker for a senior citizen with disabilities, and after leaving my job in research, I served as a Residential Counselor for a homelessness services organization. These later opportunities ultimately showed me how great of an honor it would be to obtain training as a physician- and to thereafter be entrusted with the safekeeping of my fellow humans’ precious health.

TTP: What an inspiring story. It's great you got to experience hands-on what it is like to help others, and this is what helped you change your plan. How did you choose MUSC? Was there anything in particular that drew you to it?

Lindsay: I absolutely loved Seattle, but wanted to go to school closer to my family. While applying to medical schools on the east coast, no program showed more genuine interest in me as an individual than did MUSC. On interview day, the College of Medicine faculty and staff were all warm and inviting, and I had fascinating conversations with both of my interviewers which transcended typical interview talk: rather than being interrogated about my achievements and ambitions, we discussed timely issues concerning, for example, the provision of healthcare to vulnerable populations (one interviewer and I actually lost track of time excitedly discussing a mutual interest!) While financial concerns ultimately influenced my final decision, I had no misgivings about attending MUSC after my visit on interview day.

TTP: Understandable. Being able to chat candidly must have made the interview experience a lot less nervewracking. Now let’s talk about the process of applying to medical school. Was any step of it particularly troublesome for you? Did you grow grey hairs when studying for the MCAT?

Lindsay: I experienced a great deal of self-doubt during the process, primarily due to my applying after spending five years away from school and with the knowledge that I had never taken advantage of a premed advisor at Furman. The application process is tedious and can be overwhelming and expensive. While the scope of the exam was intimidating, I actually preferred MCAT preparation to the endless filling out of forms, requesting of transcripts, and other aspects of applying! That said, the process has been completely worth the satisfaction I now feel from being in school again.

TTP: Yes, having a premed advisor on your side is crucial. How is your first year going? Do you have any tips for future med students on how to balance their school obligations with the overall demands of living a healthy life? How do you manage?

Lindsay: I am pleased as punch to be a medical student! The metaphor that medical school is like “drinking out of a firehose” certainly does feel appropriate at times, but I try to stay mindful throughout the fast-paced days and moments of informational overload to remind myself that being where I am is an incredible honor. The MUSC community has been excellent so far about stressing balance and self-care and is generally a wonderfully supportive place. My biggest tip (and one that I am trying to live up to) is to stay connected through it all with what makes you, you: maintain those hobbies and habits which help you to thrive, set boundaries on your study hours, and sleep at least seven hours every night.

TTP: Seven hours is ideal, and definitely helps your brain absorb and process all of the knowledge that is being crammed into it! It's helpful that MUSC is also encouraging a balanced lifestyle. Are you currently working or researching in addition to being a student? Or just a student for now?

Lindsay: I work as an MCAT tutor when a student comes up who is interested and would like to work with me, but so far that has not been very demanding of my time. My plan is to tutor when and whom I can and to otherwise make school my full-time job.

TTP: That is smart. I imagine it would be very difficult to balance more work along with medical school. Do you have any summer plans for the upcoming year?

Lindsay: I would like to conduct some sort of research, but that is about as far as I have gotten in terms of planning. I am still trying to get a handle on all of the interesting things taking place on campus.

TTP: It's ok, you still have a lot of time! For now, take advantage of your community and the local offerings :highfive:. Do you have any future plans to study or practice abroad?

Lindsay: I love the idea of doing so, but have no explicit plans at this time.

TTP: Let’s end on an inspiring note. Have any other tips that you would offer pre-meds?

Lindsay: Before I left Seattle, one of my doctors urged me to enjoy the experience of medical school rather than single-mindedly focusing on my final destination- and to always keep my motivation for doing this at the forefront of my mind. I have done my best to heed this advice: for me, the clients with whom I worked in homelessness services are my primary motivation. The idea of one day helping even one of them achieve better health makes the long hours of studying well worth it for me. Additionally, I would urge premeds to not be afraid to take time off before applying to medical school. I cannot stress how important the last five years have been to my development and maturation as a person, nor can I even begin to imagine how different my experience in school would be had I not taken that time to get to know myself on a deeper level.
 
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