Physicians with admission committee experience share tips, strategies, and experiences to help premed students succeed at becoming a doctor. Guest speakers provide insight into applying to medical school, selecting a medical specialty, and applying for residency. The Prospective Doctor podcast is for anyone considering, or on the path to, practicing medicine!
Switching Specialties in Medicine and Advice for Residency Applications with Dr. Jade Anderson
Dr. Jade Anderson discusses transitioning from orthopedic surgery to radiology, and shares advice for residency applications and interviews. Dr. Anderson is a radiology resident at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut.
[01:14] Why Switch from Orthopedic Surgery to Radiology? [05:03] Applying for a Position in Radiology [07:14] Switching Specialties in Medicine [09:44] Transition from Orthopedic Surgery to Radiology [12:25] How to Be a Standout Applicant [15:17] Applying for a Residency During COVID-19 [21:13] Tips for Nailing Your Residency Interview [22:52] Dr. Anderson’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students
Erkeda DeRouen chats with Dr. Jade Anderson, a radiology resident at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. Prior to her current position, she was an orthopedic surgeon for 2 years. Realizing that her true calling was in radiology, she made the difficult decision to switch specializations.
Switching Residencies from Orthopedic Surgery to Radiology
From a young age, Dr. Anderson knew she wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon. As an orthopedics resident, she found that reading and interpreting imaging was what she enjoyed the most. She even taught several radiology classes in her spare time. Looking back, her interest in radiology has always been there. A self-evaluation made her realize that maybe radiology would be a better fit for her.
Dr. Anderson reached out to other doctors who switched from orthopedics to radiology. Their journeys resonated so much with what she was feeling. Her friends encouraged her to make the switch and so she did. It was a tough decision but it proved to be the correct one as Dr. Anderson is currently thriving in her new field.
Most medical students are unaware that that they can switch residencies but it is indeed possible. Dr. Anderson admits that her laser focus on becoming an orthopedic surgeon has blinded her from considering other options. Take a moment to pause every once in a while to evaluate your happiness in your chosen field.
Transition from Orthopedic Surgery to Radiology
Switching specialties will come with new challenges. For Dr. Anderson, she had to build her knowledge and skills in radiology while re-learning past lessons in medicine. She’s an expert in the musculoskeletal system but there are other areas she needed to brush up on.
Thankfully, she was able to adjust to her new specialization fairly quickly. Radiologists are the physician’s physician. Doctors rely on them to interpret imaging results, to identify possible complications, and to evaluate the success of surgeries. A radiologist makes vital decisions that could affect a patient’s outcome.
Applying for a Residency During COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has forced hospitals and schools to cancel in person interviews. Assessments will be conducted virtually. This also means that applicants won’t get the chance to visit the hospital and see its facilities and systems in action. On the other hand, students are applying to more places because they don’t have to attend interviews in person. Programs are well aware of this and are adjusting to accommodate time differences. Interviewers may ask standardized questions as a comparative scale to screen applicants.
Since face to face interviews are not possible, admission committees will have to rely more on documents. Board scores matter but they also consider grades, rotations, and the dean’s letter. All these requirements paint a picture of how you work with others and how you treat patients.
Tips for Nailing Your Residency Interview
Familiarize yourself with common questions and have your answers ready. No need to memorize a script, but instead answer authentically using your outline as a guide. Go with the flow of the conversation, adding or removing talking points as needed. Practicing in front of a mirror helps to build confidence. Ch
Forensic Pathologist Dr. Shanedelle Norford
Dr. Shanedelle Norford discusses her experience in forensic pathology, the effect of COVID-19 on the field, and advice to students in pathology rotations.
[01:33] Why Pathology? [03:02] How to Get Exposure to Pathology [05:29] Tips to Succeed on a Pathology Rotation [06:56] How COVID-19 Has Affected Forensic Pathology [09:09] COVID-19 in Florida [10:12] The Importance of Wearing Masks [13:03] Pathophysiology of COVID19 [14:49] Dr. Norford’s Most Unusual Forensic Pathology Case [18:19] Advice to Pathology Students [19:44] Why Pursue an MBA [22:18] Dr. Norford’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students
Dr. Norford chose to specialize in pathology to have a deeper understanding of diseases. Early on, she realized that clinical medicine is primarily concerned with diagnoses and how to treat them. However, she was much more interested in the why and how behind the development of illnesses. It was in pathology that she found most of the answers to her burning questions.
How to Get Exposure to Pathology
Very few medical students choose to specialize in pathology¾this may be due in part to the lack of exposure to the field. Students must purposefully seek out opportunities to know more about this specialization. Fortunately, most medical schools have electives in general and forensic pathology. Feel free to approach doctors or administrative staff to ask about available programs or rotations in pathology at your own school.
Tips to Succeed on a Pathology Rotation
Show genuine interest by asking questions, arriving on time, and doing more of what’s asked of you. Doctors can tell the difference between enthusiastic and uninterested students. Pathology classes help in building a good foundation in medicine. Likewise, view the pathology rotation as a learning experience to maximize what you can get out of it. As a future doctor, this knowledge may be useful to you someday.
How COVID-19 Has Affected Forensic Pathology
As an associate medical examiner, Dr. Norford has seen an increase in her case load by 50% compared to last year. The sustained influx of cases brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has put a huge strain on the resources and personnel of the medical examiner’s office. Their team has lost staff members from resignations and from the coronavirus itself.
Not much is known about the pathophysiology of COVID-19. What we do know is that the virus can affect several organs and body systems all at once. Its effects may linger months after it has been contracted. This novel coronavirus has taken countless of lives, as seen in the number of cases that Dr. Norford handles every day. She urges everyone to continue practicing safety measures like wearing masks¾a simple precaution that saves lives.
Why Pursue an MBA
Dr. Norford dreams of becoming a chief medical examiner someday. Her pursuit of an MBA degree will help her transition into that role in the future. Currently, she recognizes that she lacks sufficient knowledge and experience in business, administration, and leadership. Pursuing an MBA makes sense because she eventually wants to shift to a more administrative role. It is also worth knowing the business side of medicine because it gives insight as to how it affects her as a physician as well as her patients.
Dr. Norford’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students
Instead of following the trends, go after what you want. Don’t let your decision be swayed by the opinion of others. It takes years and years of medical school to become a doctor. Don’t waste all those periods of training to enter a career path you don’t like. Time is your most limited asset, so invest it in a career you are passionate about. The road to becoming a doctor is paved with challenges, but just stay on course because your hard work will pay off in the end.
Cardiac Anesthesiology and Overcoming with Dr. Max Madhere
Dr. Max Madhere discusses cardiac anesthesiology, Pulse of Perseverance, and the many hurdles he overcame in his journey to medicine.
[00:36] What Inspired Max to Become a Doctor [03:00] Max’s Medical School Experience [04:41] How to Prepare for Tests [08:42] Accessibility of Resources Through Technology [10:35] Why Anesthesiology? [13:34] Fellowship in Cardiac Anesthesiology [15:10] Advice for Anesthesia Rotations [19:03] Pulse of Perseverance [22:04] Importance of Mentorship and Giving Back [26:23] Structural Systemic Racism [28:11] The Community’s Role in the Youth’s Future [29:38] Flawed Education System [37:14] Dr. Madhere’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students
Erkeda DeRouen interviews Dr. Max Madhere, a practicing cardiac anesthesiologist in Louisiana. He is also one of the founders of Pulse of Perseverance, an organization dedicated to helping kids from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed. In this episode, Dr. Madhere shares his journey to becoming a physician despite the many hurdles he faced.
Dr. Madhere’s Journey to Becoming a Doctor
Initially having no interest in medicine, Dr. Madhere volunteered at his local hospital because he needed money to graduate high school. During his time as a volunteer, he saw black doctors in positions of leadership. This inspired him to become a doctor himself. The first two times he took the MCAT, he was not satisfied with his scores. Setbacks did not stop him from trying a third time, which finally produced results that got him accepted into Xavier University of Louisiana.
Preparation for Tests
Tests do not measure intelligence, but rather preparation. Those who are privileged with access to good education and a supportive environment certainly have an advantage. However, success is not solely defined by these factors. It may take a person with fewer resources longer, but with enough preparation, he/she can succeed as well.
Assess the areas you need to improve on and work hard at them. Take advantage of today’s technology to access information and ask for help. Learning opportunities are endless, try different sources until you find what works for you.
Dr. Madhere was originally interested in pursuing neuroscience and surgery. But as he gained more experience during rotations, he realized that these specializations did not suit him.
During one of his surgery rotations, his curiosity was piqued by the anesthesiologist in the operating room. Dr. David took Dr. Madhere under his wing and taught him more about the field. The constant application of anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology in anesthesiology fascinated him. Dr. Madhere found it impressive that anesthesiologists have such a wide skillset, as shown in their ability to administer anesthesia in countless ways.
Fellowship in Cardiac Anesthesiology
While the surgeon operates, it’s Dr. Madhere’s job to keep the patient alive through the management of several drugs and drips. All aspects of medicine are applied in the operating room. Being in this field keeps him on his toes because of the complex issues that may arise in severe cases. Improving the outcome of extremely sick patients is fulfilling for Dr. Madhere as a cardiac anesthesiologist.
Giving Back to the Community
The current schooling system is flawed, favoring the haves over the have-nots of society. This reality is further reflected in the low percentage of practicing black doctors. To help address this situation, Dr. Madhere and two of his friends formed the Pulse of Perseverance as way to give back to the community. Their goal is to empower and inspire young black youth by providing them with resources for success. Scholarships are available for deserving students who are driven to succeed. They have also developed a mentoring platform app to give underprivileged kids a chance to connect with professionals.
The Role of the DO with AACOM President & CEO Dr. Robert Cain
Dr. Cain, president & CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), discusses osteopathic medicine, including MD vs DO.
[01:37] Osteopathy’s Visibility in Current Events [05:53] Differences Between Osteopathy and Allopathy [09:02] Cooperation Between DO and MD Doctors [09:50] The AACOM’s Role in Osteopathic Education [11:35] Statistic of DO Doctors [12:14] Why Ragav Chose Osteopathic Medicine [13:52] Application of DO’s Biomechanics Training [17:12] DO and MD Program Merger and How it Will Affect Medical Students [19:59] Advice to DO Students Applying for Residency [21:29] AACOM’s Position about the COMLEX [24:25] Study Tips for the UMLE and COMLEX [25:37] Future of Osteopathic Medicine [27:28] How to Get Exposure to Osteopathic Medicine
On one hand, both presidential candidates have a DO as their primary physician – President Trump with Dr. Sean Conley DO, and Vice President Biden with Dr. Kevin O’Connor DO. Yet on the other hand, a prominent physician clothing company, FIGS, is accused of publishing disparaging advertisements towards DOs and female physicians – which caused quite an uproar on social media. Add to this that medical television shows, like Grey’s Anatomy, always refer to doctors with an “MD” and not a “DO.”
So why does there seem to be this tug of war between the two? What is the difference between a DO and an MD? Is one practice better? We get to the bottom of this with the president of American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), the organization that supports the 37 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States.
Dr. Sahil Mehta chats with Dr. Robert Cain, a pulmonology specialist. He was also the former dean of clinical education at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Currently, he serves as the president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). Also joining in today’s episode is Ragav Sharma, a 4th year osteopathic student and MedSchoolCoach. He hosts The Preventive Medicine Podcast.
Differences Between Osteopathic and Allopathic Medicine
There is no practical difference between osteopathic doctors (DOs) and allopathic doctors (MDs) they are both licensed to practice medicine in the United States. MD and DO students take up the same subjects, with the exception of biomechanics, which is emphasized more in DO education. In addition, osteopathic medicine emphasizes training students to become physician-servants, and orientation that influences the practice of medicine. Medical students should consider what type of physician they’d like to be before deciding on an MD or DO degree.
Dr. Cain likes to think of MD and DO doctors as complementary to one another. With the US’s complex healthcare system, cooperation between MD and DO doctors is crucial to improving the lives of more patients. When it comes down to it, both types of doctors are working towards the same goal of progressing healthcare.
Osteopathy was introduced to Ragav, a fourth year med student, by his father, who knew that his son had an interest in muscoloskeletal medicine. Ragav proceeded to apply to both DO and MD medical schools. Eventually, he chose to go to Midwestern University Chicago to pursue Osteopathic Medicine. He believes the holistic philosophy and the manual medicine training from a DO education will supplement his skillset as a future practitioner of musculoskeletal medicine.
Application of DO’s Biomechanic Training
To this day, Dr. Cain still applies his DO training in the field of pulmonology. Not many people may know this, but the respiratory system is biomechanical. He cites exacerbated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as an example. Patients with this condition have an increased work of breathing. As a DO physician, Dr. C
Sports Medicine & Building Financial Habits with Dr. Jason Williams
Dr. Jason Williams shares his experiences in emergency and sports medicine, & financial advice for med students and physicians.
[01:40] Why Emergency Medicine? [02:39] Experience as an Emergency Doctor [04:52] Landscape & Business Aspect of Emergency Medicine [09:14] The Role of Finances in Choosing a Specialization [12:12] Tips for Building Good Financial Habits [16:19] Advice to Aspiring Medical Students [17:45] Suggested Reading for Personal Finance
Why Emergency Medicine?
Growing up, Dr. Williams was surrounded by family members who worked in the hospital’s ER department. This familiarity helped develop a favorable bias towards emergency medicine.
His personality was also a better fit for the hectic lifestyle of an emergency doctor. Being confined to a clinic all day long didn’t suit him. But more than that, he enjoyed helping people in their darkest times.
Experience as an Emergency Doctor
For his first job after residency, Dr. Williams worked for a large healthcare system in Texas. This meant working at 3-4 different hospitals, with a regular number of shifts per month. After a while, he moved to a tertiary hospital with academic programs. Teaching residents and students was enjoyable. He was also exposed to many interesting emergency cases. A good portion of his career was spent in a similar setting.
An opportunity arose for him to be a director of the event medicine department in a health care system. The role put him in charge of taking care of people during sporting events. More recently, he is back to working at a tertiary hospital and a few freestanding emergency medicine departments.
Landscape & Business Aspect of Emergency Medicine
Emergency doctors can choose to work in rural hospitals, big hospitals, or free standing emergency departments Each workplace has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Modest, democratic ER departments usually consist of locals who work with a hospital or community. In these rural hospitals, you have to be comfortable handling all kinds of patients. There won’t as many supporting clinicians to help. Most of the time, you will be on your own.
If you work for larger entities such as health care systems or big hospitals, you will be taking in a lot of patients. There are many clinicians you can work and consult with. Severe cases are more common. Majority of emergency doctors work with large health contractors.
The Role of Finances in Choosing a Specialization
Aspiring doctors should first determine what field they are most drawn to and how they want to interact with patients. Choosing a medical specialization based solely on compensation can lead to burnout. The key to a long and sustainable career in medicine is doing what you love. Once you’ve figured out your interests, it’s time to consider your financial situation.
Build Good Financial Habits
If you can't pay for medical school, loans are understandable. However, don’t borrow more than what you need. Always keep in mind that the money you loaned is not yours, so don’t spend it needlessly. Good financial habits early on will help you down the road. If you learn to budget money early on, you don't have to worry about it later.
Advice to Aspiring Med Students
Medicine is a lifelong learning experience. It’s important to do well in school and to maintain good relationships with mentors. Don’t neglect developing good financial habits early on. This will make you a better physician because you won’t be preoccupied with small things. As a student, it can’t hurt to earn a little bit of side income. Learn new skills outside of medicine which can help set you up for your future.
Suggested Reading for Personal Finance
Dr. Williams recommends “The White Coat Investor” by Dr. Jim Dahle. The author is a practicing emergency medicine physician who started his blog and p
Healthcare, Politics, and Advocacy with Dr. Erin Jones
Dr. Erin Jones discusses family medicine clinical rotations and effective patient activism. She serves on the faculty at the University of Southern California and as a virtual healthcare professional at 98point6.
[01:45] Why Family Medicine? [02:54] Tips to Succeed on a Clinical Rotation [05:03] Setting Expectations with Attendings [07:05] How Physicians Can Advocate for Patients [11:24] How Physicians Can Engage in Activism [19:07] Healthcare & Politics [24:24] Advice for Pre-Meds and Medical Students Dr. Erkeda DeRouen chats with Dr. Erin Jones, a family medicine physician who has lots of experience with teaching and caring for students. She is also fellowship-trained in adolescent and young adult care. Currently, she serves on the faculty at the University of Southern California and as a virtual healthcare professional at 98point6.
Why Family Medicine? Dr. Jones is passionate about family medicine because it allows her to engage with the entirety of a patient or person. Her patients share their struggles, such as food insecurity, lack of support for an addiction, and their inability to pay medical bills. She is also interested in the dynamics of family, and how the struggles of parents can be passed on to their children.
Tips to Succeed on a Clinical Rotation First, Dr. Jones encourages students to be excited, eager, well-slept, and eager to work hard for the day. Besides this, they should be willing to go beyond their expertise as physicians — for example, supporting someone through an IUD insertion, or helping a patient with a injury to get to their vehicle. This is all part of an ethical medical system.
It is also crucial for students to determine the expectations of their attending. Students should ask for expectations at the very beginning of the rotation, and also frequently request feedback from their attending.
How Physicians Can Advocate for Their Patients Dr. Jones has a three-step process for physicians to advocate for their patients:
Listen to their struggles. It is impossible to adequately help without first listening. To count means to observe patterns in patients. For example, if there are disproportionately more younger patients compared to older patients, why? Asking this “why” is the third step. Once you can determine the “why” you can begin to advocate for patients. Physicians and Activism Due to COVID-19, there has emerged a slowdown, and an opening for discussing many social issues such as police brutality and climate change. Dr. Jones encourages physicians to use their voices, and to not separate issues like health care from racism and police brutality. Instead, they should acknowledge both systemic and individual oppression. It is difficult for a patient to trust a physician who will not, of their own volition, support basic human rights, and oppose brutality and injustice.
Healthcare is political. Issues like the Affordable Care Act and the absence of universal healthcare in the US, as well as more local healthcare issues are determined by the policies of politicians, even though these should be nonpartisan issues. Therefore, remember to vote, and use every opportunity to encourage others to vote as well!
Check out Dr. Jones’s LinkedIn.
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Best way to find answers to common questions pre meds have about the application process. Lots of guest appearances by physicians who have served on med school adcoms to give expert advice - doesn't get any better than that!
Quite non traditional indeed
What about doing the child of a on OBGYN and dermatologist doing prerequisites as a non science major and then spending gap years doing medical readership while taking science courses makes someone a non traditional applicant?
There are better, honest resources available
The host says “that’s a great question” way too much. Often times questions aren’t answered directly, they’re followed. G lengthy responses probably in hopes you’ll forget the actual question asked. For example, in the latest episode, Feb 4th, the host was actually the interviewee. She was essentially asked if admissions consultants were for people who could afford it and have a great profile. She gave an answer as to why it’s valuable to spend money on a consultant program and didn’t address the second part to the question at all.