Name: Kobina A. Wilmot
Residency: Internal Medicine
Medical School: Rutgers- New Jersey Medical School (formerly UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School)
Undergraduate: The College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College)
1) When did you decide you wanted to become a Medical Doctor and what led to this decision?
Medicine was my goal from a young age. I probably had some influence from my parents when I was in elementary school, but once it was on my mind that is what I wanted to be. From then on, especially when encountering interesting medically-related experiences whether basic cardiac anatomy and physiology, volunteering at a hospital, to finally shadowing doctors and seeing the doctor-patient relationship up close, I knew medicine was for me. No matter how bad things can get, being there for my patients is an incredibly rewarding feeling that I feel cannot be surpassed.
2) What was the most difficult part of getting into Medical School for you?
Simply the MCAT, Ha! I was always a great science student and had a good GPA at a great school, was very involved in extracurricular and leadership, made the most of my summers doing summer research and medical education programs, and was able to obtain at least 10 exceptional letters of recommendation; HOWEVER, the MCAT was very difficult for me. The MCAT was difficult for me because at the time, I did not understand how to prepare for standardized tests including the MCAT and SAT. But because I had strengths in other parts of my application, I buffered my MCAT scores along with applying relatively early in August. (I would suggest applying at least by July).
3) How did you study for the MCAT? How do you recommend students study for the MCAT?
I initially took my school’s prep course plus studied on my own (which was very difficult for me given the discipline required) but I didn’t do so hot. I then followed this with a Kaplan prep course with more structure and did slightly better but was still not very satisfied. Luckily I didn’t have to take it again. The difficult part for me was that I knew the basic content well, but it was not showing given my understanding of how the questions were posed.
What I learned from that then corrected in medical school (and especially on USMLE Step 1) is YOU HAVE TO DO QUESTIONS. LOTS OF THEM! Your goal should be to exhaust the question pool so that when a question is being asked you can already tell what they are trying to test you on since you may have seen something similar to it already. I would do as many passages as possible and make sure to attack your weaknesses first.
For example, verbal reasoning was tough for me so what I might suggest to myself now is to read the NY times daily and critically analyze it. Also, I would do a couple passages daily and skew my studying toward more verbal reasoning passages earlier in my studying and gradually increase number of physical and bio sciences passages. After completing passages I would then critically evaluate each question and understand the wrong answers in addition to the right answer. What I suggest to all students now is to spend some time learning the content and spend just as much time or more completing passages.
4) What did you do during your undergraduate summers?
My first summer I weirdly wasted selling knives as a Cutco salesman. I think I may have spent a little time shadowing my family physician as well. My second summer I did SMDEP (Summer Medical and Dental Education Program) at what would be become my medical school UMDNJ-NJMS. I was able to do anatomy and physiology (including test on cadavers) which was a great experience. I also got great advice about becoming the best candidate for med school that I could be, and I was paid. In my 3rd summer, I took the MCAT for second time (this was when the MCAT was only offered twice a year), applied for medical school. That same summer I also went to the Medical College of Wisconsin and attended the Summer Minority Research Training Program. I got my first experience with what research was and did some basic lab techniques like RT-PCR. They also paid us $3000 for the summer! My last summer before medical school, I was an EOF counselor and math tutor.
I think the goal is to find some sort of scholastic activity that furthers you toward medical school in research, mini-med schools, and or shadowing so that you can talk about these experiences during interviews and also so you really can affirm your interest in medicine. Also by being involved in a program, you are in that specific programs pipeline and they are more likely to want you to come to their school given they know you better than the average applicant.
5) What is one thing you wish someone told you while you were in college?
How rough procrastination can be, and to work hard then play hard. If you get your work done with good time management including good study and sleep habits you can be more efficient and truly enjoy your time when you are not working. The best way to be prepared for class is to review outlines and potentially read up on subject before class followed by good note taking and then review of notes and book material after lecture. Sleep is extremely important for your success and functionality as well.
6) What led you to choose your current specialty?
The heart was always first and foremost in my pursuit toward medicine. With heart disease being the number one killer in this country, I am passionate about seeing people changes their lives by changing their lifestyles to healthier options and activities.
7) Briefly describe your average work day.
Currently I am a 2nd year cardiovascular clinical investigator fellow at Emory. My average work day is variable. I have a half day of clinic every Monday morning and attend cardiology conferences weekly. Otherwise, most days my time is spent doing research, particularly regarding psychological stress and coronary heart disease.
My research tasks include completing cardiac stress test on study patients as well as mental stress tests (involves monitoring patients under the pressure of completing an unprepared speech for 3 minutes in front of audience) and also attending weekly research meetings and other odds and ends for my research group. The majority of my time is spent writing papers and analyzing data so I can hopefully present these interesting findings at conferences or get it published towards a goal of being an expert in my field.
8) What do you enjoy most about your profession? What do you enjoy least?
I love the relationships I have with my patients and staff. I least like the excessive documentation that we have to complete as physicians. More importantly it hurts to see patients suffer, especially if it is towards the end of their life.
9) What words of advice would you like to leave with pre-medical students?
The one thing I tell everyone which I learned as a representative for my class on the admissions committee during medical school is if someone has the determination, will, and the passion for medicine they can become a doctor. It might take more time, lots of work, a lot of networking, attending a post-bacc program, or even a non-traditional route like working in another field initially; however, if you want medicine and you are willing to work for it; you can get it!
10) If you had to start over and choose a career again, would you pick medicine? Why or why not?
Yes, as I said above, it’s the most fulfilling job in the world and nothing compares to the ability to be there for someone in their time of greatest need.