Mise en Place

Mise en Place is french for ‘everything in its place’. A bit of a throwback from my culinary days, it basically means that before you start cooking, you should read the recipe all the way through and get all your ingredients prepped before you start. It is a saying that has been rather apt these months leading up to the start of school.

ARCOM emailed me awhile back with all my requirements for the start of school; basically a mass of shots, a background check, and a drug screen. Thankfully I had most of the shots covered from my Army days and my travel job, but I still needed a TB test, MMR titers, and a Varicella booster. Good news, I’m finally immune to Varicella(Chicken Pox)!

The biggest pain was actually the drug screen. At the time I got the requirements, I was working on the island of Nantucket, 30 miles out to sea. Of course, the closest Quest was back on the mainland, but I finally got that done this month.

So check, check, check on those requirements. Next was the dreaded ‘Supply List’.

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According to the previous class, the must buys are “Netter’s Atlas” and “First Aid USMLE Step 1” with the rest being available through the library and on PDF. I bought physical copies of the two, but I’m going to try sticking to the PDF’s for the rest. I’m just a little hesitant to pay $1500 in books if I can just read them in the library when I need them, but we’ll see.

Last, but not least, is housing. As I’ve mentioned before, pretty much the day after I got accepted, I applied for the school’s housing ‘The Residents’. Though I just got my confirmed move-in date for July 5th. I have an early move-in because I’m taking the Summer Anatomy Course. As far as I know, they haven’t released the move-in date for the rest of the class yet. I can’t wait to get settled in. After the move-in I’ll take some pictures and do a review, but for now, check out The Residents official facebook page here.

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Acceptance

So here’s the thing about medical school interviews, you are interviewing the school as much as they are interviewing you. Each school is vastly different and some will be a better fit then others. Everyone looks for something different in their school, but this is what I looked at.

Location wasn’t much of a concern to me. I’ve lived in 10 different states and 4 different countries, I can stay pretty much anywhere and be a happy camper. Though the fact that ARCOM is only a 10 hour drive to my Mom’s house and that my brother lives almost smack in the middle of the route, didn’t hurt.

I know many people were leery that ARCOM is a brand new school, which means they have no board scores to back up their teaching, but that isn’t really a concern of mine. New school says new equipment to me, and it also means they aren’t set in their ways. New schools are more likely to change as their students need them too. It also means that they are cheaper. Since they are untested, the tuition costs are lower than a lot of older universities.

Another plus for ARCOM is their housing. None of the schools that I interviewed at had housing (Though PNWU did have an apartment complex nearby that they were affiliated with). While Fort Smith has affordable housing options, you can’t beat having apartments right across the street from the school with all utilities included. As soon as I got accepted, I applied for housing.

While I have found DO schools to be generally friendlier than MD schools, the administration at ARCOM is exceptionally friendly. Part of that is probably southern hospitality, but I think a lot of it is just a genuine belief in their mission. It also helps, that as a new school, they are fully aware of how important their students are, where some of the older schools seem to forget that.

Overall, I am excited to call ARCOM my new home and look forward to starting. I’ll be taking an Anatomy refresher course on July 9th to kick off the term. Class of 2022, here I come!

 

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The Journey to Acceptance: Fourth Time’s the Charm

I was waitlisted at BCOM right before my interview at ARCOM. I was understandingly bummed. This was my 3rd time being waitlisted. I was desperate. I drove out to Fort Smith on the 27th of August, not in the best of moods.

I stayed from the 27th-30th at the DoubleTree downtown. It is about 20 minutes from the school, but I’m a Hilton member so I tend to pick their hotels if I can. It’s a really nice one and in walking distance from a lot of the downtown shops without being too busy.

I was not as adventurous this time as I had been at Las Cruces, but I did enjoy walking around. The downtown area is weirdly quiet, but you can tell they are rebuilding. There is an art movement going on in the area called ‘The Unexpected‘ where artists are painting massive murals on the buildings.

My first day there, I wandered around and looked at the murals. I also ate dinner at this fantastic Indian restaurant, R and R’s Curry Express. I know, I know, Indian food in Arkansas!? I was a little skeptical too, especially when I walked to the place and found that it was attached to a gas station, but the food was actually really good and their Samosas are cheap.

I interviewed on the 29th. As per my usual interview habits, I woke way too early and I was at the school a good 30 minutes before I needed to be. The Dean greeted everyone at the door and the staff was friendly and welcoming. We got to spend some time chatting with the admission’s crew and each other before we were swept into the conference room. There, Dr. Fudge gave a presentation about the school, rural health care, and how he wound up with ARCOM. There was also a quick written assignment. The topic changes every time, but they asked us an opinion question and gave us ~10 minutes to write everything we wanted about it. They also took our pictures for our future name badges and gave us a tour of the school. It is a beautiful building, still brand new and shiny. I really fell in love with the place and the helpful staff.

The actual interview was done by two people, one staff member and one member of the local community. I was horribly nervous, but they were both easy going. I really felt that it went well, though I have thought that before.

I spent my last day walking around town again. Looking at more art and visiting The Savoy Tea Company, which involved the largest Red Velvet Rooibos Latte I have ever seen and a fabulous raspberry scone. I also spent the day having a small heart attack. Here’s why; so ARCOM requires a letter of recommendation from a D.O., but I got invited to an interview without one. I just assumed they had changed their mind, but no, they just wouldn’t look at my interview until I sent them one.

I had not been having any luck finding anyone to shadow back in McDonough, GA, so I went all or nothing. I emailed a D.O. that I knew worked at my old hospital in Newnan, GA. I had never actually met the man, but I explained what was going on, that I used to work there, and asked if he would mind me shadowing him. He agreed with ease and I showed up the next day. I will forever be grateful for his help, because I called ARCOM the day the letter was sent through Interfolio, and that very night I got the call. Accepted!

If you have any questions about the ARCOM interview or Fort Smith, feel free to comment or email.

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The Journey to Acceptance: BCOM

After a whole year of applying and anxiously waiting, it looked like I wasn’t going to be joining the class of 2021, so it was time to change tactics. In May 2017, I started the reapplication process, but this time I decided to go strictly Osteopathic.

After updating my application, I went through every school AACOMAS has listed and applied to each one that I qualified for. I ended up applying to 25 schools. This was ridiculously expensive, and was really only possible because I was working full time, but it was worth it. I got about 20 secondary applications back and spent the beginning of July getting them all filled out.

On July 20, 2017, I got an interview invite from the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM). I signed up for the first interview of the year, August 21st, and got ready to go to Las Cruces, NM.

I flew into El Paso, Texas a few days before the interview and rented a car to drive out to Las Cruces and explore. BCOM is actually on the New Mexico State University campus and is a bustling college town. The city itself is sort of in the middle of nowhere, but is close to White Sands National Park and has a huge selection of walking/hiking trails to choose from.

The day before the interview, I drove out to White Sands. It’s about an hour away from Las Cruces and is a beautiful drive. There are mountains on the horizon and the endless stretch of desert. It reminded me a lot of when I lived in Colorado, just with less trees. I got to the park in time to walk around and to take the Sunset hike with one of the Park Guides.

A thunderstorm was rolling in at the time and it made for a phenomenal backdrop. The sands are lovely, stark white and cool to the touch, it’s like the best beach sand on the planet, but without the beach. I spent the whole time expecting to see ocean in the distance.

My next exploration of the city involved food. I’m a big foodie – I went to Culinary school, I can’t help it – so I was excited to try all the local Mexican food. It was fabulous. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so many tacos.

   

I also went to the local Farmers and Crafts Market, which they have every Saturday on Main Street and on Wednesdays at the Plaza. This was a lot of fun, and a great way to get a sense of the local community. Everyone was really friendly, and it was great to look at all the local craftsmen. I was only in Las Cruces for four days, but it is an amazing city.

The interview itself went pretty well. The school is brand new, and looks it. The staff were friendly and welcoming and very upfront with their mission. The school is in one of the biggest physician shortage regions in the country. They want to teach students that will stay and support the community. New Mexico is a poor state and the people suffer for it. The lack of physicians in the region is devastating and the current doctors are years past retirement, but are still working because there is no one to replace them.

Their interview and the questions asked reflect this mission. I was a bit of a nervous wreck, but I thought it went well. Unfortunately, three days after returning to Georgia, I was waitlisted, again.

 

Restaurants visited during the trip: El Jacalito GrillMilagro Coffee y EspressoThe Pecan Grill and Brewery, A Bite of Belgium, Paisano Cafe, The Kitchen @ 150 Sunset

If you have any questions about the BCOM interview or Las Cruces, feel free to comment or email.

 

 

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The Journey to Acceptance: Waitlisted

I started applying to schools in July 2016. I had just finished the last of my prereqs and the MCATs. My GPA was pretty good and I had a boatload of experience (Army Vet, 8 years in healthcare, volunteer work, etc), but I had an MCAT score of 497. For the non-medical people out there, this is a terrible score, but I was determined.

I applied both MD and DO, spending days getting both applications in tiptop shape. I got a bunch of secondaries and was walking on cloud-nine before I found the Student Doctor’s Network (SDN). SDN is a great forum filled with information about the application process, but it can be bad for your self-esteem. People post when they get interview invites and it’s a bit nerve-wracking to watch the invites roll in for others while all you hear is crickets.

Thankfully, I got an invite to Pacific Northwest University (PNWU), a DO school in Yakima, WA. At the time I was working in Kennewick, WA an hour away, so it was a perfect first interview. The staff was super friendly and we had a few group interview/games that helped calm me down. Though the one-on-one interview is a rapid-fire set of 4 interviews with only 8 minutes apiece. I did well on 3 of them, but bombed the last 1. Two weeks later, I was waitlisted.

With no news from any of my other applications, and halfway through December, I applied to 6 more schools. People get nervous about applying so late in the season, but really you never know until you try. In January, I got an Interview invite to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine: Georgia Campus (GA-PCOM).

I felt a lot better about this interview. It was a two-to-one interview with a professor and a 3rd year student that lasted about 30 minutes. I was less nervous about this one, and being a Georgia resident helps. About two weeks later I got a letter in the mail, waitlisted.

This hurt, but I was not deterred. I was on 2 waitlists, I should be fine, right? Not so much. I sent a letter of intent and a letter of interest, but neither seemed to do me any good. By May 2017, I had come to terms with applying again. This time, I decided, I wasn’t taking any chances.

If you have any questions about the application or interview process, feel free to comment or email me. 

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