My journey to medical school started when I was in high school and I shadowed a local physical therapist for an English paper about future careers. I unexpectedly enjoyed what I experienced that day. The physical therapist had a great relationship with his patients and made the rehab seem almost second nature as his patients talked to him about their lives and concerns. Witnessing this patient-provider interaction, I decided that I wanted a career in healthcare.
So when I initially started college, I wanted to pursue physical therapy. But towards the latter years of school, I felt like I could do more than physical therapy. I’m not knocking physical therapy as a career or anything, but I felt like inside me I was capable of much more and I challenged myself. That’s when I began to have thoughts of pursuing a medical career. My older brother had finished medical school a few years prior to my junior year of college, and I began to have meaningful conversations with him about becoming a physician. He was behind me 100 percent and had my back in whatever I wanted to pursue. But, he cautiously warned me that medicine was a long road that would be difficult and take a lot of sacrifice. As I was soon to find out, boy was he right!
So now I knew for sure I wanted to be a physician. The next step is actually getting into med school. So I decided to take the MCAT in April of my junior year of college. I figured that I was a pretty smart guy. I could do well on this test. I had a high B average in my science courses in school. So I studied a little bit (not nearly as hard as I should have) for the April MCAT. I took the test and a few months later I got my score back. What? I couldn’t believe it! I thought they had made a mistake and graded my test wrong. I couldn’t believe my score. A 16! Wow!! For real??!! It took me like a day or two to truly comprehend my score. I was bummed out.
But I knew I had a chance to take it again during the Fall of my senior year. So, like most science majors, the summertime brings summer research. I was up in Boston doing research that summer. I met a lot of great friends (including Dale Okorududu, creator of this website). One particular friend, Benson, and I would get together on the weekends to study for the MCAT. Benson would actually hit me up during the week to come to the library to study. I preferred the weekends mainly because I was tired after a long day of research. So I continued my weekend study approach for that Summer and took the MCAT again in August. Then one night in October of my senior year, Benson called me and told me that the scores were posted online. Eagerly I went to check mine. While getting to the website, I asked him what he made. If my memory serves me correctly, he told me he did pretty well. Whew!! I immediately congratulated him and was anxious to see my score. The screen popped up, a long paused ensued. I stared at my score. My score had increased, but only by a few points. My stomach dropped. Here we go again I thought. At that moment, I realized, you get out what you put in for this test. And I had not put in the work or time to get out a good score.
So it was my senior year. Most people I knew with at least a 24 on the MCAT got interviews and had gotten into school. I didn’t have that score, but I decided to go ahead and apply to schools anyway. What did I have to lose? So I applied to about 15 schools, mainly in the Southeast. Needless to say, one by one the rejection letters came in. I was disappointed. What would be my next move? Here I am a senior in college and did not know what my next move would be. I talked it over with friends and family. Some said go to graduate school and get your masters. Some said get a local job and use the year to study for the MCAT. Some said do a Post Bacc program. After much debate, I decided that it was mainly the MCAT that was holding me back and I didn’t think extra classes or going to school would help me. I just needed to sit down and focus for the MCAT.
So it was late March of my senior year and I knew I would not be getting into medical school. But thanks to some good research opportunities while in college, I was able to get a research fellowship with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) starting that September. This was great because now I had the whole summer to study for the MCAT before heading up to D.C. I knew this would probably be my last chance at it.
I had graduated college and now my man focus was the MCAT. I had about a 3-month period to focus solely on it. From sun up to sun down I was in the library studying and doing practice questions. I did TONS and TONS of practice questions. I went over why answers were right and why other answers were wrong. I was locked in. Every free moment I had was spent studying. Then finally it was time for my exam that August. I was confident. I had put in the time and effort. So again, that October the scores came back and I was anxiously anticipating my score. AAAAHHHH!! I had finally gotten a good score. A score I knew that would get me some interviews. I again applied to about 15 schools, mainly in the Southeast. I got a total of 8 interviews, and I actually only went to 4 of them. I was accepted at my home state school, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and had decided that it was the school for me (so I decided not to go on the other interviews). It was a great feeling knowing that I had finally gotten into school.
It was all down hill after that, right? Wrong! Now the next journey begins, adjusting to the rigors of medical school.