Advice for Medical Students

Like most things in life, following exactly what some internet blog tells you may be a bad idea. However, I write this with the hope that some of this information may be helpful in tailoring your medical school experience and allow you to become an extremely desirable candidate for residency. Trends come and go but most of what I will say will hopefully stand the test of time. 

I will first make some general statements and then break it down by year.

Residencies want students who will not be a liability to the program. This means that they will work hard to screen out "trouble makers". They don't want someone who will clash with patients, other residents, staff or attendings. You have to understand that training is an extremely stressful environment. If a student is difficult to work with right now, imagine what that person will become under tremendous amount of stress. 

When we pick students for internship and residency, we first screen all candidates by reviewing USMLE scores, clerkship grades, personal statement, and extracurricular/research activity. We want to make sure you will not fail your residency because you cannot academically succeed within that specialty.  If we think you can do this, we invite you for an interview. 

Most directors do not have a formula that calculates whether a particular candidate fits some type of residency criteria. That is because this process is not an exact science. Every year, there are so many different candidates from all walks of life that it would be a disservice to have a “standardized” algorithm.  They would lose many fantastic candidates with so much potential if they did. Most of the time, the departments get an overall feeling from the entire application whether a particular candidate is “good” for the program. I can’t emphasize enough that the personal statement does play a big role in many cases. Many directors I have spoken to argue that if you cannot convey yourself in writing well, they question whether or not you will be able to converse with patients effectively and write an appropriate medical note detailing the patients’ stories. 

If you get past the initial screening, the critical component begins. Imagine we have 50 students with similar USMLE scores, research experience, and clerkship grades on a list. Everyone looks and sounds about the same on paper. Everyone seems “nice”.  They know that the candidate can cut it academically. What's critical at this stage is whether at some point during residency, that person will get into a fight (I have seen fist fights), endanger patients with their incompetence, or conflict with other services. If we think that you are a decent human being who will be a good advocate for patients and become a team player, you will be ranked. We will go back to the committee, look at the interview scores and comments all of the faculty have given during the visit, look at all of your test scores and research, and decide how to rank you. Your personal statement will be used as tie breakers if there are any doubts or questions. 

Year By Year Breakdown

There are ways to get through medical school without being labeled as a gunner or a complete a**hole. 

Year 1

This is your study year. You need to learn or relearn the basic sciences. Learn your anatomy and learn it well. You WILL be pimped on this (pimping in medical school and residency is when your senior (resident or attending) quiz you in an impromptu fashion in an effort to “teach” you something... or just humiliate you, depending on who you meet). One who knows anatomy will be far superior to any other student or even resident. 

The most critical aspect of your first year to me is the summer break. Some people take this time off to let off steam, relax or just do nothing. I think there is nothing wrong with that. However, most of my colleagues and friends used this time to get involved in research. Those looking to enter extremely competitive residencies (ie. dermatology) use this critical time to position themselves with a mentor in a field with the hope that they can publish something. Actually, some students looking toward ultra competitive fields or competitive residency programs ally themselves with a prolific mentor from day one of medical school. 

Now the problem is, the majority of you will NOT know what specialty you want to go into. Therefore, it is difficult to predict which mentor would align with your passions. If you’re in that boat, my advice would be to pick a research project that has broad implications. I picked infectious disease and social policies regarding sexual assault victims as my research projects because these fields can be applied to most specialties. I had originally thought emergency medicine was my calling and that’s why I picked these two projects. I pivoted in 3rd year to Neurology but these were still relevant. Plus, these two experiences really helped me solidify my topics for personal statements.

Year 2

Study for your Step 1. No matter what people say, the residency directors will rank you initially according to your USMLE scores behind closed doors. Every specialty and each program has an unofficial minimum score they are looking for. You will never get an exact cutoff on this. Depending on how desperate (or not) they are in recruiting residents for the match, this score will fluctuate from year to year. But these scores are important so you need to start early. 

My recommendation is to buy a Question bank early and slog through it. People put this off until 2-3 months before the exam but you should get started early because most qbank programs allow you to reset all the questions at least once. Therefore, you should plan on getting through it once, and reset a few months before the test to go over the questions. I think First Aid is helpful. Many swear by Goljan and USMLE World. I used all three. 

Hopefully, you are still continuing the research project you started in your first year. Hopefully, you are staying sane. Prepare for your clinical year. Hone your “people skills”.

Year 3

Be enthusiastic. 
Keep your head down and work hard. 
Be an asset.
Do not be annoying
Do not be an a**hole to your fellow classmates
Do not screw over your fellow classmates
Do not make your intern or resident look bad in front of the attendings.

The Wards

Your primary role as a medical student is to learn. Your secondary role is to be helpful in everyway. Do not be a liability. Help your intern and residents. Make them look good. 

I once had a med student make the intern on our service perpetually look really bad. In a poor attempt to impress the attending, he would make some snide comments about how “the person taking care of this patient did not realize this or that or observe something, et cetera” during rounds. The student never identified the intern by name but used what he probably considered “witty” ways of alerting us that the specific intern wasn’t doing everything he/she was supposed to accomplish in a given day. This behavior did not make him look smart. Rather, it just reinforced the idea that he was not a team player. Instead of helping the intern with these inadequacies, all he did was belittle him/her.

Little did this person know, that at the end of the rotation, the attending he wanted to impress did not remember this student at all. But as you can imagine, that intern and the senior resident remembered vividly. Guess who makes the recommendations for grades at the end of each rotation? In an attempt to “show off” during rounds, he pretty much lowered his chances of getting a great grade. I don’t know why students forget that interns and residents were med students once. They remember all of those classmates they hated. If you reflect a personality that they abhorred in the past, do you think they will think highly of you when you act this way? 

I often get asked how students can excel in these clinical rotations. I think that 99% was attitude. I was never the smartest on the team but I was willing to do everything I could to learn. I was enthusiastic but I made sure my classmates didn’t look bad. If a resident asked me if I wanted to do “so and so”, my answer was always yes.  Sure, I had do some scut stuff here and there but when the residents and interns found out I could be counted on, they gave me more and more responsibilities. I became an asset.

It’s crazy how some students (just because they are not interested in a particular specialty) just blow off the rotation and do the bare minimum. This is a bad idea. The medical field is a small world. Don’t burn bridges and don’t build a reputation that you are lazy. Plus, you NEED to learn these things. Make an effort!

Step 2 CK

While you are having fun on the wards, you need to start preparing for Step 2. Purchase some type of Question bank and go through each subspecialty section while you are rotating through said specialty. It’s a great way to pass the shelf exam as well as study for USMLE Step 2. Again, most qbanks allow you to reset at least one time so after you go through each section during your rotations, reset it before the test and go through it again. Pre-test, Case Files, Blueprint, etc all have strengths and weaknesses. Most people I know (who did really well) picked two study materials and a qbank. Don’t bother trying to read textbooks. You just won’t have the time. Get through the high yield stuff. 

Step 2 CS 

This is a tricky one to cover. I’m not going to get into the politics behind this but I will just say that for this test, you need to find someone to practice with. The scenarios that you will face are pretty straightforward. Within a few seconds, you will know what pathology you are tackling in each room. From what I gathered from my patients who volunteer for this test, there is a standard checklist they go through to see if you have covered the basics in terms of history. But that checklist is pretty much the same across the board. What I find helpful is to practice over and over again the standard questions you will be asking for all of your patients (ie. How old are you, what medical problems do you have, what makes the problem worse/better, etc) . The trick is to be able to get through these questions as efficiently as possible. This process has to sound natural or else the patients will dock some points. The patient volunteers have been trained to aid you, not hinder this process. So if you practice the standard list with a partner, you should have no problems.  

Practice the physical exam on each other! Doing exams on the wards is different from the test. The test is standardized. On the wards, depending on the specialty, you were taught various non-standardized ways that are relevant to that field. You have to get through the physical exam fast. Time each other! Wash your hands before and after the exam! WASH YOUR HANDS!

Learn to type. Seriously, you need to type fast. As of this writing, this is what they allow you to write:

History - 950 characters or 15 lines
Physical Examination - 950 characters or 15 lines
Diagnosis - 100 characters for each diagnosis
History Findings and Physical Examination Findings - 100 characters for each field
Diagnostic Study/studies - 100 characters for each study recommendation

I asked most of my colleagues how much they wrote and it was pretty much a consensus that they used all of the character allotment. 

Writing the dreaded personal statement(s). 

Everything I have said in my tips for pre-med personal statement apply here. The only difference is that you are now focusing on why you want enter a particular specialty. Hopefully, if you followed my advice above, a combination of your research experience, experience volunteering in the past as well as your clinical rotation gave you enough experience to write a stellar paper about yourself. 

Please do not write your resume in prose form. Do not recap what you wrote on your CV. I cannot believe how many students just re-list all of their accomplishments they spelled out on their CV in their personal statement and leave it at that. (All of my friends who are on the admission committee complain about this all the time). Weave a tale. Tell me about yourself. What makes you tick? What are your motivations? Why are you a passionate person? Why would I like you as a human being? How did you get to where you are at now? Who or what inspired and continue to inspire you? What aspects and experiences from your life keep you going during the stressful times? 

Read short stories from famous authors. Read pieces from the new yorker or inspiring mini biographies from various sources online. Read over what you wrote in your application to medical school and expand on that. 

Apply Early

Do not put off applying to programs. You have to do this early. Interview spots fill up FAST. With more and more medical students (domestic and international) every year in combination with pretty much a static number of residency spots, the competition is furious. You want to plan your travel early because many of these interviews may fall during the holiday season. Prices are expensive. Get a head start. I applied on the first day.

Year 4

Scheduling the interview

If you took my advice, you should have received all of your invitations early and have the advantage of picking the interview day of choice.  

In my opinion, from the residency program’s perspective, the timing of the interview is not that important. There are plenty of candidates that interviewed very early or very late and was ranked at the top of the list. Some say that going early helps your chances because you are showing initiative and interest. Some say that going late allows the staff to remember you better during the ranking. A good candidate is a good candidate, regardless of when he/she interviews. I really think the timing is not that important to most programs. But do not put off making the interview appointment. As I have said, the spots fill up fast. 

From the candidate's perspective, however, the timing may matter. Some people say your first few interviews should be programs that are not at the top of your rank list so you can get some practice. This may not be a bad idea if you get nervous during interviews. One or two under your belt may allow you to build confidence. Although I think using the actual interviews for practice is not economical or a good use of time, some people do this to prepare themselves. I think that practicing with a friend or colleague before the interviews is a better way. Also, interviewing late may not be great because the process is really tiring and expensive. Toward the end, many candidates get burnt out. You may not be so enthusiastic. So if you left your top choice until the very end, you may not be able to bring your so-called “A” game in late February. You may not be able to shows much enthusiasm. I would take these into consideration when planning for the season. 

Rock that Interview (again). 

It’s time for you to shine (again). You have everything that the residency committee wants (on paper). They are now going to figure out if you’re a good, decent human being who can work well in a team and flourish as a newly minted doctor in their program. 

Relax. The interviewers want to get to know you. They want to know your motivations. They went through your personal statement and want to talk about some of the things you wrote. Expand on those points. Talk about things that are not on your CV. Tell them about your passions. Show them you are a good person. 

I once had a student blow off the interview in an epic manner. It’s cringeworthy just thinking about it again. This person had his/her sights on only one particular program; the candidate wanted to match into the residency affiliated with her med school. This student had already interviewed there and was confident he/she was going to match. The interview with me was late in the season. During the entire interview process, he/she had a look of disdain, was apathetic, and was really pretentious. This irked many members of the committee as well as residents who interacted with the candidate. It was pretty clear that he/she wasn’t going to be ranked in our program. Personally, I think the candidate really didn’t care either way. 

This is bad and unprofessional on multiple levels. First, if you’re going to blow off the interview, why are you there in the first place? It would have been easier to just cancel. Plus, because you had selfishly taken an interview spot, you deprived another candidate a chance. Second, the world of medicine is surprisingly small. It’s so small that most doctors are probably connected via 2-3 degrees of separation. Therefore, you are essentially setting yourself up for possible failure in the future. You may not like the residency program now, but who knows where you’ll end up. Perhaps you’ll need to interview for a fellowship position or a job. Perhaps the people you are interviewing with will move to your current hospital. 

This candidate probably expected that we would not rank him/her. This person was right about that. But this person probably did not count on our chairman knowing all the people in his/her home program because he went through residency together. Because we were so perplexed by this person’s demeanor, the chair called up his friends at the candidate’s home program. Long story short, it did not end well for this person.

So the moral of the story is: be professional, cordial, and tells us your story!

Follow up

I think this is VERY important. This is more important than the timing of your interview. You should send a thank you card or email right after the interview. This is standard practice and courtesy.  If you love a program, you should follow up with them in some way. Write another letter explaining why that program is number one. Be specific. Schedule a second look with the program and try to see if you can get a 5 minute meeting with the residency program director/chairman when you go back. Explain to them in person that you really would like to join that team. When I went for an interview at my top choice, the chairman was out of town that day. Therefore, I asked to do a second look and asked nicely if I can interview with the chairman since I missed him during the first visit. They accommodated me and I was able to have a really good talk with him. I matched into my first choice. 

Take a vacation

After the match, you need to take a vacation. Get out of medicine for a bit. Travel. Do something other than medicine! You’re about to embark on an amazing but stressful journey. This will probably be the last time you have a carefree break. Take the time to reconnect with family and friends. Enjoy your life. 

But don’t get arrested. This will not look good during the credentialing process. 

This is a brief(?) overview of the medical school process. I hope some of this advice will be useful. Again, not everyone will be able to use all of the advice but I hope I have given you a small insight. I hope that all of you become successful, amazing doctors. I hope I can work with all of you in the future! 

Good luck!

Posted by Han Lee, M.D.

Dr. Han Lee, M.D. is a neurologist and movement disorder specialist. He has trained at UCSF, Harbor-UCLA, UCLA and USC. After completing his neurology residency at Harbor-UCLA/UCLA, he has completed two fellowships in Neurophysiology and Movement Disorders. He is interested in Parkinson’s Disease and Deep Brain Stimulation research.

© Copyright 2015 NotesFirst Inc. , All Rights Reserved

Perils of USB

The Universal Serial Bus – commonly called USB – standard was developed in the 1990s in an effort to make it easier to connect peripherals to a personal computer.  One of the most widely used USB devices is the portable flash memory device, commonly called a “thumb-drive” or “USB drive.”  USB drives have become the ubiquitous “offline” method of sharing data – with roughly eighty (80) million sold each year.

Now, 20 years after the genesis of the USB drive, we are starting to identify some very major concerns about this method of data storage and sharing.  Most notably, recent news reports have documented the very serious risk of malware which can take advantage of USB drive firmware to spread easily via the common practice of sharing USB drives.

Aside from the very real threat of USB drive malware, another concern exists in the realm of health information.  According to data collected by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse – there have been 11 reported instances of lost or stolen USB drives containing protected health information (PHI).  These 11 instances could have potentially exposed the PHI of nearly 30,000 patients.  Very often, data saved on USB drives is unencrypted – which, if the drive is lost, can often lead to serious governmental fines.

Simply put, USB drives represent a very real threat to healthcare providers.  They are not a safe way for providers to store or transfer data.  But why is data being put on USB drives?  Very often, this is done as a way to facilitate the necessary exchange of information with contractors or consultants.  Additionally, many practicing physicians store such sensitive data for their research endeavors.

In this day and age, better tools for physicians and researchers to share or examine data are available.  One such tool is the NotesFirst app and cloud portal.  Importantly, tools like NotesFirst, which are encrypted, provide a safe environment the exchanges of such data to.

N. Nedim Halicioglu is an experienced healthcare lawyer specializing in the analysis of medical privacy concerns, startup companies and general civil litigation. He is a consultant and advisor to NotesFirst, Inc, and sits on their Board of Directors

Mission to Inspire

How medical missions inspire, treat, and change people's lives

Working in healthcare can be a physically and emotionally draining profession.  We all have tough days that force you to wonder if your job is really worth continuing. I think about whether I have indeed changed anything in anyone's life, or even made any impact in this profession. I inevitably start sorting through in my mind the days past and wonder, “was there any time in my life when I could be sure I changed someone’s life for the better?”

This question, of course, is impossible to answer. In my opinion, gauging one’s success in “changing lives” is a futile and self-serving exercise. But when I think about moments in life that were most meaningful to me, I fondly think back to the days working with medical missions and the life altering lessons learned. I think about the healing and inspiration I received while watching my mentors attempting to do the same for others.

If you have ever met or have had the privilege of knowing someone working for a medical mission, you would probably agree when I say these men and women are a special breed. All of these individuals work tirelessly in other jobs and like most people, have a chaotic schedule in their personal lives. And yet many of these providers, instead of taking a vacation from this work, utilize their free time to continue their service abroad. So why would they fly halfway across the globe to work long hours in unfamiliar environments and immerse themselves in cultures that are dramatically different than ours?

When I ask this question to the people I have worked with, I understandably receive a variety of answers. Some feel it’s just the right thing to do. Others say that they feel like they’re actually doing something good for a change. What I have observed though, is that when providers go abroad to treat patients in this unfamiliar environment, they return with more energy and enthusiasm for the profession than they had before.  Through this process of treating, healing and changing the lives of those around them, they themselves become inspired to continue their work at home and become changed as well.

When volunteers head off to these countries, our providers bring a different kind of service to healthcare in the regions they visit. On the surface it may seem as though these missions only provide a skill set and medication that a region may be lacking, but these missions also provide education and medical perspective to local individuals so that the healing process may continue long after the mission is over. In return, these providers earn precious knowledge of local culture and gain new perspective of lives in a region. It is this enriching give-and-take of ideas that are so meaningful. Patients come to realize that there are people in this world that do care and want to understand their struggles. By witnessing their patients’ resilience in the face of declining health, providers find renewed inspiration. Cynicism and self doubt melt away and are instead replaced with an increased dedication to the craft.

Recently an elderly patient tugged gently at my white coat, pulled me closer to her bed and whispered into my ear, “when you change someone’s life for the better, you change yours too.” I think of all of the people I’ve met over the years working with medical missions.  These missions are not just about changing other people’s lives. It’s also about changing ours too.

Posted by Han Lee, M.D.

Dr. Han Lee, M.D. is a neurologist and movement disorder specialist. He has trained at UCSF, Harbor-UCLA, UCLA and USC. After completing his neurology residency at Harbor-UCLA/UCLA, he has completed two fellowships in Neurophysiology and Movement Disorders. He is interested in Parkinson’s Disease and Deep Brain Stimulation research.

© Copyright 2015 NotesFirst Inc. , All Rights Reserved

7 tips to get you into medical school


Getting into medical school and succeeding is getting harder and harder. The MCAT is changing. All you hear about are the successes (which can be annoying). You never hear about the countless number of students who fail to make it.

No matter what anyone says, the education you receive, all of the formulas you remember, and all those books you read as an enthusiastic undergraduate pre-med student actually matter in medical school. “Classical education” does not suit everyone, but it is my belief that this path is the correct one for those entering medicine as a physician. While you may not necessarily use a particular physics equation from your 2nd semester of "physics 101", or run gels in your outpatient clinic, it shouldn’t be a surprise that you need to have a strong understanding of these concepts to become an excellent doctor. I believe that the amount of knowledge you retain during these formidable years determines whether you will end up a passable doctor or become an extraordinary one.

For example, you may not remember the exact formula of Bernoulli's equation, but it's imperative in Cardiology or Vascular Surgery to understand what this means when you're talking about hemodynamic pathologies. You may not remember everything from your biochemistry classes but you need to know the fundamentals to understand why "hook effect" may affect the outcome of a study a patient had 10 years ago. These little granules of knowledge will consciously or unconsciously factor in during your formulation. 

So it makes perfect sense to me why there is a "pre-med" requirement and why one needs to excel (not just be good) at these classes that lay the foundation for your success. It is grueling, and at times nerve racking, trying to navigate your way through college to have the opportunity to practice medicine. And so I will try to provide my personal opinion on this process. My path may not be a perfect match for you, but I hope you may pull a few nuggets of wisdom from my thoughts nevertheless.

I will give you seven of my personal tips: 

Tip #1


You need to figure out and decide how much you are going to sacrifice in pursuit of this profession. I apologize if this sounds a bit ominous but this is an important decision you have to make. Some make it unconsciously, while others consciously set aside their time and plan out the choices they make. Anyone you speak with at my stage in this career will speak of all the sacrifices they made at your stage of this journey. 

When I mean sacrifice, I of course mean how much time you will dedicate to the craft. How many hours will you put in? How many rain checks do you have to write? How will you find work-life balance?

Excelling in Organic Chemistry doesn't happen magically. You have to study. You have to put in hours. If it means you can't go to one or two parties over the weekend because you have to figure out how all of these cursed reactions work, so be it. I really struggled with Biochemistry. It was my weakest subject. It did not come naturally to me because it required a lot of rote memorization (which I abhor). But I spent every Sunday learning it, and I eventually received a degree in it.

Tip #2 

Plan your vacations wisely

For my part, I had already planned that for every spring and summer break, I will be doing something to enhance my resume for medical school and beyond. To maintain sanity however, I wanted to do things that served dual roles; that is, do something academic but also give myself leisure time. During my freshman spring break, I started making of list of research opportunities that interested me...while traveling abroad. I went on a medical mission and observed the people living in different countries and their access to medical care. During down times, I emailed all the potential internships or shadowing opportunities for the summer.

During the summers, I volunteered in fields that interested me. First summer, I worked in an Organic Chemistry lab that focused on synthesizing compounds used in medicine. I worked 3-4 hours in the morning, then had fun in the evening. Second summer, I worked for a Neurologist researching hydrocephalus. Third summer, I was hired by said neurologist to run clinical trials on multiple sclerosis drugs.

Tip #3

Letters, Letters, Letters

Get as many letters of recommendations as humanly possible. It is hard to get great recommendations. Therefore, get as many as you can so when you're ready to apply, you can "choose" the best. Yes, you have to waive your rights to see most recommendations but trust me when I say you'll know by the time you're applying which ones will be stellar and which ones will be total crap. By the time I was ready to apply, I had 9 letters ready to go. Out of the 9, 2 of them were incredible and 1 was stellar. I never got to see the letters, but my guidance counselor guided me on this. 

Tip #4


Study for the MCAT starting in your freshman year. If you are pre-med, you probably have the "brain capacity" to learn the stuff you need to learn right out of high school. More often than not, you have taken AP classes already and are ready for the material. There are a LOT of subjects to cover, so start early. 3 years will pass you by really fast.

Tip #5

Learn how to write.

If you took my advice under Tip #2, you should have a lot of things you can talk about.
This is where your classical education will come in handy. You need to write a good essay. You'll be writing a lot of them. You'll be writing one to apply to medical school. You may be writing one for your internship.  You'll be writing one for residency. You'll be writing one for your fellowship(s).

Start reading short stories written by a variety of authors from different walks of life. This will be the key to your essays. Learn their styles. Look at how they engage their audience. If you can write ONE page and convey your passion like these authors have done, you’re in. Read opinion pieces in the New York Times or New Yorker.

I have read so many medical school, residency and fellowship application essays where the content is total crap. Every one of them sounds the same. You need tell your story. Make it compelling. Everyone wants to help people. How are you different? Tell me your motivation and why you can't live without being a doctor.

Weave me a tale. 

I would argue 70% of essays for medical school sound pretty much the same. 20% of them are cringe worthy. 10% are truly unique.

One or two of your experiences during your spring and summer breaks will provide you that perfect scenario to build your story around. I don’t want to read your resume in prose form (PLEASE don’t do this). If the admissions team is reading your essay, we already know you are academically capable of getting through the rigorous curriculum. What we want to know is who YOU are. We want to know what kind of person you are. We are trying to determine if you fit into our culture. We want to know your motivation. We want to know what personal experience(s) will keep you going during the sleepless nights so you can push on and graduate. I want to know why you would be willing to work 36 hours straight, neglect your family and friends, to contribute to our profession. 

Just because everyone asks, for my medical school application, I wrote about almost dying in the Grand Canyon during a nasty snow storm. For my fellowships, I wrote about my Grandmother's life. 

Tip #6

Put money where your mouth is

Plan your participation in clubs and activities carefully. Everyone is in all the pre med societies. Frankly, most people just gloss over that part of your resume. But if you write in your essay that you want to help people with Parkinson Disease, I want to see that you actually tried to help people with Parkinson Disease. You would think this is a no-brainer, but many applicants fail to make this connection.  I’ll be honest with you, I never joined any of the pre-med clubs. I just spent most of my time talking to Parkinson’s Disease patients that visited the neurology office I worked at to try to understand what they went through. This really helped me with not only my essays but it helped me during the interviews.

Tip #7

Rock that Interview

I loved the interviews. For me, this was the easiest part of the whole process. However, some people find it daunting. Relax. We just want to get to know you. We want to know that you’re not crazy (yet) and won’t be a problem to your fellow peers during the stressful times in school. I had 3 “ethics” type of interviews. I’ll tell you the answer to all these scenarios right now. There is no perfect answer. We want to see you think and justify your answer. “Just because” is no longer an acceptable answer. It’s like the Kobayashi Maru.

One school provided this scenario:
You are the head ER doctor. A 90 year old frail male with multiple medical problems enter the ER who is decompensating fast. You start working to stabilize this patient when a second trauma patient comes through the door. This second patient is the Governor of your state. He is in his 50s with no major medical problems but has been gravely wounded. Your resources are limited and you can save only one patient. Which one would you save?

We watch our students struggle through these types of scenarios but what we’re really interested in is your thought process. We want to see if certain biases or prejudice comes out in your thought process. Build your case. Be humane. 

Finally, interviewers will ask you, “tell me about yourself”. BE READY. Give a quick background of your life and tell your interviewer your passions and your motivations. Tell me about your surfing and how it relieves your stress. Tell me about your family, friends, and mentors and what they mean to you. 

This was my brief overview for our pre-med students. If you see me around at conventions, come and talk to me. I will try to give you as much advice as possible. You can also find us at Facebook and ask me your questions!

Have a comment, question, or more tips? Join our conversation on Facebook and Twitter!  Don't forget to Like and Follow us!


Year 1

During breaks, explore the different professions in medicine and get a feel for the culture.  Open up the MCAT prep book. Look at how the questions are worded. Start solving the book. Think about your motivations.

Year 2

Find a mentor and get involved. Think about what you want to write for your essay. Continue to study the MCAT prep book. Get some letters of recommendation specifically for medicine.

Year 3

Hone in on your interests and get involved. Crunch time for MCATs. Get those letters of recommendation. Prep for interviews. 

Year 4

It’s time for you to shine. Get your life together. Finish up your applications and get ready for those interviews.

Good Luck!

Posted by Han Lee, M.D.

Dr. Han Lee, M.D. is a neurologist and movement disorder specialist. He has trained at UCSF, Harbor-UCLA, UCLA and USC. After completing his neurology residency at Harbor-UCLA/UCLA, he has completed two fellowships in Neurophysiology and Movement Disorders. He is interested in Parkinson’s Disease and Deep Brain Stimulation research.

© Copyright 2015 NotesFirst Inc. , All Rights Reserved