I am a miracle made up of particles and in this existence I'll stay persistent and I'll make a difference and I will have lived it - Medicine for the People

Public Service Announcement - Take A Break From Stressing Out and Watch This Adorable Video!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This is for all of you stressed-out premeds who haven't heard back from schools yet, who just got ANOTHER rejection or who are waiting to find out if you've been accepted after a recent interview. This post is also for all of the M2s in schools across the nation who are gearing up to take the Step 1 exam (I know some schools take it early and some have a few months to go but anxiety knows no boundaries).

Here is a video of what my friend and I like to call "raccooning." It's fairly obvious after you watch it what we mean by this term - it's when you are snuggling someone so intensely and with such affection and they are just sitting there with a look on their face sort of like "I'm too tired and comfortable to make you stop but you're being ridiculous and I am not going to respond to your gregarious outburst of savage snuggling."

Know what I mean? I'm sure some of you have been there and if not, well, I bet you'll still enjoy this super cute video. After viewing, I highly recommend going and finding a friend and re-enacting the scenario because you will both end up feeling much better, I promise!

Interview Day At UVM Part II

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Here it is! The much-awaited (I'm sure) follow up to my initial post about my experience interviewing at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

I left off at lunch, which, after touring the school and sitting for long periods of time through several diferent talks was very much welcome. We were lead down to a cozy cafeteria where a group of M2 students met with us to discuss their experience at UVM and answer any questions we had. First of all, the food was quite delicious and if I remember correctly some of it was locally sourced/organically grown which I really appreciated. Secondly, the M2s were so incredibly welcoming and eager to answer any and all of our questions no matter how inane they may have been. I definitely took advantage of having a first hand resource to talk about the school so before I knew it our lunch hour had passed and it was time to meet back at the office to be taken to our interviews.

I don't want to talk in specifics about my interview because I honestly don't even remember what exactly we talked about the whole time but I DO know that it was the most wonderful, unique, and encouraging interview I have ever had. My interview was a woman named Anne Sullivan whose daughter was attending UVM Med and who had been working at UVM for a number of years. What struck me most about our interaction was that she was genuinely interested in getting to know me and learning my story. She had all of my application materials but referenced them only occasionally because she was mainly concerned with finding out about my life off paper. Our discussion, because it was a discussion really, beyond anything else, made such an impression on me that I can't quite articulate how I feel about it. Not only did I feel like my accomplishments and successes were acknowledged, I felt like my interviewer was able to get the true measure of me as a person and that was something I hadn't experienced in an interview before. 

After the interview (there was only one) we were taken on a guided tour of the Fletcher Allen Health Care Facilities but I was honestly so mentally exhausted at that point that I didn't retain much except the vague recollection that the hospital was beautiful and spacious and there was a weird quilt sculpture in one of the halls. 

Because all of the interviews and tours were at different times, we all ended up meeting back at the admissions lobby at different times but happily were surprised to find that the staff had put out cider and doughnuts for everyone! It was a taste of home and I was very impressed with the suble touches present throughout the day that reminded me I was in Vermont. 

The last hour of the day was dedicated to a debrief with Dr. Janice Gallant (Associate Dean for Admissions) and a few other faculty members. We went around the table and discussed our impressions of the school and our "take-away" from the day. I was able to meet for a few moments with Dr. Gallant and discuss holistic review and was surprised at how quickly she was willing to engage with me. 

The last thing I want to say about this experience is that it really showed me what it means to be a part of a school that cares deeply not just for their students, but for their applicants as well. I think UVM did a particularly amazing job of conveying that and it's proof positive that they are such an excellent, successful, and high-caliber medical school because of this attitude. 

Fletcher Allen, UVM, UVM Med
Fletcher Allen

Interview Day At The University of Vermont College of Medicine

Friday, January 3, 2014

I'm sure many of my poor readers have lost hope that I would ever actually post this but GUESS WHAT, YOU WERE WRONG! And that's good news for everyone :)

Unfortunately I underestimated how incredibly busy I would be for the holidays with work and a very much needed trip to Boston to visit friends during which I did not get anything productive done (unless you count R&R which I think is pretty important!). I finally arrived home yesterday after a very long and convoluted return journey that included an unplanned stopover in Minneapolis due to a mad storm buffeting Chicago and although there's about a foot of snow outside I'm really glad to be back.

Mostly though, I'm glad that I finally have time to sit down and write about my UVM interview! I know it's been a long time in coming but better late than never I suppose.

I have to admit that I was incredibly nervous for this interview for several reasons. One being that I had to travel to get there and during the winter flying, especially to tiny airports in New England, can be very unreliable. Also, the disappointing news I had recently received from Rush had really been quite a blow to my self-confidence. Having a school reject you outright (as opposed to just putting you on a waitlist or, ideally, accepting you) is akin to having someone important that you like and respect very much tell you point blank that you aren't good enough to fraternize with and it's more than a little tough to get over. I know that's not the truth of it but that's just how it feels. With that in mind, I'm sure you can imagine my anxiety at the thought of going through the same process of interviewing at a school that I was really interested in and then facing the possibility of being rejected again. 

Early on in the day, my experience at UVM quickly dissipated all of those feelings. I had arrived in Vermont quite late so I didn't attend the optional class with a medical student that was offered and instead got to campus around 8:45 AM. I checked in at the admissions office and then had a few minutes to wait and mingle with other students who were also slightly early. There was an M2 (I think?) that several students had attended class with around to answer questions and I just hopped right into the discussion which didn't faze her a bit.

At about 9:30 AM the group of us (which had grown to about 16, maybe?) were ushered into a small conference room where we were greeted by a representative from the admissions office. I have to say here that Liz was without a doubt the friendliest person I have ever encountered during this application cycle. I had emailed with her previously regarding a question I had about my application and her prompt and helpful response was very much appreciated. It was very clear during her introduction that she was genuinely interested in making the process as stress-free for us as possible and I appreciated her attitude so much. It was truly refreshing. She immediately put everyone at ease and the relief in the room was palpable when she explained that UVM was really looking to make the day a positive experience for everyone.

The rest of the morning proceeded much like it had at the Rush interview. There were talks with a representative from financial aid, the dean of medical education, and (most interestingly) someone from technology services. This is where I got hooked. Not only does UVM have an amazing and unique curriculum that they are incredibly proud of, they have a history of utilizing technology to assist students in learning as effectively as possible. I won't go into details of the VIC - Vermont Integrated Curriculum - except to say that they are constantly working to improve it (you can take a peek at some info here) and that while some of their practices and scheduling may be unusual when compared to other schools, UVM's results, scores, and satisfaction rate among students are impressive to say the least. Most of all though I was impressed by the opportunities and encouragement for research and assisted learning. When we heard from a woman who worked with the office of technology I was excited to see that the medical school was intent on taking advantage of the latest and greatest in modern tech for learning as well as for research. I'm interested in informatics research so I especially liked that they heavily focus on use of electronic medical records, meaningful use etc. As a bonus, they provide laptops to every student free of charge, a fact that I particularly appreciated since they offer full service for your laptop throughout your four years at the school and I am notoriously terrible with electronics!

After the talks and a lot of sitting we were taken on a tour of the college of medicine which was probably my favorite part of the whole day. UVM boasts a high-tech sim lab as well as state of the art classrooms and I was undeniably impressed by the facilities. It was so comforting to look out the windows and see such beautiful and familiar territory - Fletcher Allen, Lake Champlain, the mountains. I felt like I was home. The best part of the tour came right at the end when we were introduced to the MAP (Mindful Awareness and Practice) room in the student lounge aka the napping room. I think it was then that I fell in love.

This post is getting pretty long so I'm going to cut it off here and pick up with the rest of the day starting at lunch with an awesome group of M2 students. As always, feel free to comment!

UVM, University of Vermont, College of Medicine
Did I mention the campus is beautiful?