Jason Spears here and I’m a medical student.
There are two types of pre-med students: 1.) those who knew from an early age they wanted to become doctors 2.) others decide later in life, perhaps after working an uninspiring job that medicine is their calling.
I was the first type and arrived at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) set on becoming a doctor!
This meant I got involved with the premed society from day one, enrolled in all of the premed classes, majored in Political Science and worked as a Sports Medicine Aide through the Athletic Department.
I had a tough time making the transition from a public high school to a top 20 university and my freshmen grades reflect this. I remember meeting with one science professor who told me, “With grades like these you’ll never get into medical school.”
Knowing medicine was for me I didn’t drop premed like many of my classmates, instead I stuck to it and was determined to succeed.
Being a member of the premed society was my support system because I had upperclassmen I could turn to for advice. Plus there was a sense if everyone else was graduating and matriculating to medical school then I could do the same myself.
By my sophomore year I had moved up to the premed society executive board, serving as the treasurer. Lastly, I spent my junior and senior years of college as president of the premed society.
How do I know so many medical school representatives?
Each year the premed society would host an Annual Medical School Day where we’d invited medical school representatives to campus for what is comparable to a college fair where students can learn the specifics about each medical school.
Since I organized this event through emails, phone calls and meetings I developed connections with a large number of medical school admissions advisors who I remain in touch with to this day.
The MCAT As Great Equalizer
After struggling initially I picked up my grades and saw a positive trend in my GPA.
Knowing how competitive medical school admissions can be I knew doing exceptionally well on the MCAT would be my ticket to medical school.
My study routine consisted of a Kaplan MCAT Classroom Course while completing all assigned readings and problems. Every Saturday you could find me buried in the library taking a full-length MCAT and I used Sunday to go over my exam.
This allowed me to get a great MCAT score…high enough to capture the attention of Harvard Medical School.
The AMCAS Error
I applied to really competitive medical schools. Like your typical premed student I was constantly checking my email and the mail box for any word from the medical schools.
February arrived and I was holding onto the idea, “It just takes one yes.” But when the last medical school said no I was devastated.
My plan of becoming a doctor would not be happening.
I had to pick myself up, speak to advisors and develop a plan of action.
This meant perhaps my science GPA was weak so I should attend graduate school. I was open to this possibility and immediately began to send out applications to post-bac and Special Masters Programs (SMP).
I had no problem getting accepted into these programs but things would suddenly take a turn for the worst.
One program ran my medical school application through their computer and it indicated I may ve been missing most of my required premed coursework.
To make a long story short I contacted the American Medical College Application Service aka AMCAS where I learned, “Your 2008 application was processed incorrectly. AMCAS made an error by giving you ZERO semester hours for your Harvard courses.”
I completed Biology and Organic Chemistry at Harvard Summer School. Therefore, manually looking at my transcript you’d see my Harvard courses but the computers were calculating the credit incorrectly and showing as though they were never taken in the first place.
Masters from Boston University
I went on to receive my Master of Arts in Medical Sciences from Boston University School of Medicine. It was a lot of work but I enjoyed the experience overall.
Albeit, I’m not happy about the $70k in student loans for this graduate degree but when I become a doctor it will have been totally worth it.
Remember how I stated my science GPA was not the best while an undergraduate student at Northwestern?
I was able to fix that while in graduate school. I met with a learning specialist, discovered my studying methods were inefficient and if things didn’t change medical school would be very challenging.
Luckily, after attending an academic boot camp geared specifically for medical students I now have a toolbox of study skills and test-taking strategies to be successful from day one of medical school.
What This Means For You
My journey to medical school has had its hiccups but through it all I have not become discouraged instead I figured out what needed to be done to get myself to the next level.
The worst thing you can do as a premed is to give up.
More importantly, I have been in your shoes and know what you are going through. I have firsthand knowledge of the pain, the struggles and your resolve to get into medical school.
I know what it means to have someone tell you that you won’t get into medical school. Heck, all the medical schools told me so through their rejection letters the first time I applied.
I have plenty of connections throughout the medical community and this will be very advantageous to you. You can gain access to insider information you can’t get elsewhere. Plus, I have successfully advised countless premed students over the years. I will help you avoid the common pitfalls that can ruin your chances of admission to medical school.
My goal is to have you get into medical school with the least amount of stress, time or money.
Academic and Professional Qualifications
- Medical School Student (undisclosed for privacy reasons/HIPPA)
- M.A. in Medical Sciences from Boston University School of Medicine
- B.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University
Professional & Research Experience
- Thesis, “Contributing Factors to Increased Incidence of Births by Cesarean Section and Implications for Mother and Neonate.”
- Founder, DoctorPremed.com
- Sports Medicine Aide – Northwestern University
- HIV Research Assistant – Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI): Partners AIDs Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital
- Research Participant – Undergraduate Success in the Sciences (U.S.S.) at Northwestern University
- President – Premed Society President at Northwestern University
- Peer Advisor – Northwestern University