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Gifts & Works: The Most Important PreMed Mondays Episode Yet!

Week 33 of  the PreMed Mondays book covers Gifts & Works.  Most people don’t know the difference between their job and their work.  Your job is NOT your identity.  A proper understanding of this can change your life!  In order to know your work, you should know your gifts!  In this episode, I’ll help you understand Gifts & Works!

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Congratulations to Shannah! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello! I’m Shannah Avila from Palestine, Texas. I am currently a Sophomore at the University of Texas at Dallas majoring in Healthcare Studies as well as minoring in Public Health.

Growing up in a small town, I’ve always longed for adventures and challenges, making my own world of enjoyable experiences with the places and people around me. I’ve enjoyed the arts of dance and music since I was about four years old from taking classes in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, and learning to play the saxophone.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?
My favorite teacher was from my high school, Mrs. Magee, who taught Pre-AP Algebra and Geometry. I never truly appreciated or enjoyed math until I reached her class. Although she challenged us with difficult assignments and projects, it made math easier to understand and apply it to the real world. She always reminded me to chase what I truly wanted and was always there for me when I needed advice, not just for problems related to school, but to life as well. She taught with passion and truly cared about the education for all her students, and being able to see that through her inspired me to not only be just a physician but a teacher of health for the community I will one day serve.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?
When I was in my senior year of high school I took Dual-Credit/AP Anatomy and Physiology, and I fell in love with learning about our body system and their processes. To me, the body was the realistic art of life and that with every person, the body was different yet similar at the same time. It wasn’t until the second semester of my freshman year of college that I decided that medicine was definitely the career path I wanted to take. My second semester left me with anxiety and fear about my ability to become a doctor, but it also strengthened my determination and passion at the end. Why? Biology II consisted of our body systems and when I tutored others, I found enjoyment in what I was learning and explaining to the point that I lost count of the hours that passed by. I also found myself connected to the people I helped whenever I volunteered with a medical foundation I’m in. Another determining factor was due to the passing of my grandfather the previous fall semester and shadowing physicians within the East Texas area. Witnessing the length and type of care my grandfather received and understanding that the East Texas area’s health is not at its optimal level, I was moved by my desire to continue forward towards a career as a physician.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?
As of right now, I am interested in Family Medicine because I would like my work to focus on the preventative sides of health within all age groups, especially within rural and underserved communities. Growing up in a small town, especially in East Texas, health patterns are not the best, affecting loved ones and many close people I’ve known. Also, I would like to fill the gap with the lack of primary care physicians, especially in rural communities. Later in my career, I would like to serve in a teaching hospital to make an educational difference in the lives of future/aspiring physicians. I hope one day to run a clinic that provides care to those who lack health insurance or Medicaid/Medicare in order to serve those who cannot obtain the health services they need in order for them to live healthy lives. Although it is to early to make a definite decision, this is where I stand as of right now, and I am open to any other interest that I may gain in other specialties.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?
The coolest experience I’ve had so far was being able to shadow an inpatient family medicine resident at the UT Health Hospital in Tyler, Texas. While I was shadowing, the resident didn’t just let me sit in the corner to watch. She showed me scans, explained the processes and problems going on with each patients body, and even allowed me to listen to the heartbeats and lungs of the patients. Everything was very interactive, and although I may not have known much beforehand, she was great in explaining everything so that I could understand. What I enjoyed was that fact that all her patients were of different ages with different cases and that she had general knowledge about every body system so that she could properly refer her patients to a specialist.

6. What is your favorite book?  

One of my favorite books I’ve read was called “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliba” by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai. It is a true story of a girl named Malala and her struggle and sacrifice to gain an education for girls and women in Pakistan. Her story is a voice to the millions of girls and women who now have the ability to get an education in areas all over the world who lacked it before. Her passion to fight for something she truly loves is greatly inspiring and I suggest this book to anyone who enjoys reading historical and true stories.

7. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do?
If I couldn’t be a doctor, I would want to continue my career in dance, especially hip-hop. I remember I first became interested in hip-hop from the TV show America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC) and So You Think You Can Dance. Teaching others to dance always gets me excited to not only be a part of the process but to watch others also learn the moves.

8. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it? 

My biggest obstacle as a pre-med is the comparison of myself to others. Whenever I compared myself, it brought a negative mentality that “I wasn’t good enough for medical school” or that “I couldn’t get in.” This not only destroyed my mentally but emotionally as well. I overcame this struggle by changing my mindset about who I was and stopped comparing myself to others whenever the thought arose. I realized that everyone has their own unique ability that makes everyone a candidate to become accepted into medical school. I would say my spirituality in my faith carried me through my hardest obstacles of comparison during my freshman year of college, and today it has transformed me into a more positive and optimistic person.  

9. What do you like most about PreMed STAR?What I like most about PreMed STAR is the ability to make connections with other pre-meds around the world and to learn and support each other’s pre-med journey to medicine. There is also an ability for not only pre-meds but students interested in different fields of healthcare to gain insight and assistance through PreMed STAR.

It’s the 3rd Quarter: Go time!

It’s the beginning of the 3rd quarter. You’ve regrouped after your halftime break. You step back on the court…


If you are a fan of basketball you know that the first few minutes of the third quarter are the most important of the game. Simply watch the Golden State Warriors and you will learn this lesson. They come runnin’ and gunnin’ out the gate. At this point in the game, you have had a chance to learn your opponent. You’ve battled with them the half and no matter if they kicked your butt or you dominated them, you must view the score as zero-to-zero. You cannot hold your head down in defeat nor can you become overconfident. You’ve now hopefully had a halftime break which may have consisted of a pep talk from your coach/mentor and peers. You’ve had time to catch your breath and clean up any first half wounds.

[Cue Eminem “Lose Yourself” song as students walk back on campus]

You may, not be an athlete but it is YOUR GO TIME! This is your one moment to get your perfect GPA, MCAT score, or to apply to medical school. Premeds who do not recognize that the first few weeks of this semester are crucial will fall behind. There are key things you must do and prepare for during this time. Year after year, I have premeds tell me they were not aware of something or missed a crucial deadline. Some think that they didn’t need to know these things since they are just freshmen or sophomores but it is never too early to prepare. You need to have your game plan ready so you can finish the year strong and become the best applicant you can when it is time to apply. Here are a few key things you should accomplish over these next few weeks:

1. Set your goals

This is always step one (remember to G.R.I.N.D.). If you do not have a GPA goal or MCAT goal then please get on this. Maybe you have a goal to become a leader in 2 organizations this semester. Maybe a goal to shadow a physician. You’ve got to know what you are aiming for. Set those goals early and post them up so you can easily. Share the goals with your mentor or another accountability partner.

2. Solidify your summer plans

Summer time is a great way to get medical experience, study for the MCAT or do something unique. Every summer break should be used wisely. Many summer program application deadlines are in January and February, so if you are interested and haven’t yet applied for one, then get on it ASAP.

3. Ask for letters of recommendation

For those applying this application cycle, I hope you have warmed up to a few professors or other potential writers by now. If you have not yet asked them, it would be a good idea to meet with them during office hours before the semester gets very hectic. You can thank them for teaching you and let them know your intentions on applying this cycle. This is another great opportunity to share your PreMed STAR profile link with them so they can learn about your journey. Take advantage of this.

4. Prepare for the MCAT

If you have are taking the MCAT this year make sure to have your study plan mapped out. Once the school year gets going this can be a tough thing to do. There will be many distractions you will face. If you need help planning you may consider checking out Megan’s MCAT study plan.

5. Plan your extracurricular activities

School organizations, hospital volunteer opportunities, leadership roles. This is the time to plan out what you will join. Do this before the semester gets hectic and do not overcommit yourself. Update your CV or PreMed STAR profile as you add more activities and leadership positions. 

6. Familiarize yourself with the application process

Even if you are a freshman, it is wise to be educated on the application cycle. Knowing what is expected of you on the application early will allow you to prepare better for it and optimize your candidacy. Like every other year, PreMed STAR (alongside SNMA/MAPS) will hold the Application Bootcamp Series in a few months. You will not want to miss out on this. In May, the applications will be open. Keep your PreMed STAR profile updated to make this process easier.

There goes your pep talk. Now, are you ready?

5 Must Know Dates

As a premed, there are certain key dates that you must know.  These are dates essential to you getting accepted to medical school. Week 32 of the PreMed Mondays book covers 5 must know dates for premedical students.

Premeds, find affordable services designed to help you get accepted into medical school at

And join the online community of premeds at

A Day In the Life of an M*Modal Scribe: Sarah

My daily routine scribing for Dr. Farooqi consists of the following (and I am a creature of habit):

Wake up with enough time to not feel rushed, meaning that I can wake feeling refreshed, I have my computer turned on and ready to log on for my shift, my pets are fed, breakfast is made, lunch and snacks are ready for the day, and beverages are by my side before I sit down in my comfy chair and prepare to clock in.

Upon clocking in, I document all the patients we are seeing for the day in M*Modal’s Fluency For Scribing. Then I review the patient list to get an idea of how our day will go; will it be a day of physicals and followups or is it going to be a day of acute visits? If the visits are physicals, I’ll go in and review what their histories are and review their labs so I have an idea of what I will be updating in the Assessment and Plan. If the patients are being seen for hospital followup, I will review why they went to the ER and make notes so I do not spend the encounter gathering data. If the patient is here for medication followup and/or refill, I will review what medication they’re coming in for and make a note so I can go through their chart quickly during in the encounter as those last about 5 minutes. For all other appointments, I just have to be prepared with my quick phrases that are saved in Cerner for URI or UTI or muscle pain, which are our most common acute visits.

After each encounter, I ensure that each chart is completed fully for the physician to review and close. If I have any questions regarding what he would like in his Assessment and Plan or the results of a musculoskeletal exam, I ask the physician.

At the end of shift, Dr. Farooqi and I make sure that we have all charts saved for his review if he has not closed them all through the day and answer any questions that may be lingering.

The most important advice I can give is wake refreshed, make sure you have your beverages and food by your side so you are not thinking about how thirsty or hungry you are, and if you need to take a restroom break, let your physician know in between encounters…Most likely, they will wait the few minutes it will take for you to go.

(Sarah lives on the East Coast and scribes remotely for Dr. Farooqi of BayCare Medical Group, which is located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.) 

Getting The Most Out Of Online Recruitment Fairs

Online recruitment fairs are the new thing to do. These are great events because everyone with internet access can attend. But with so many people logging in to chat with admission directors nationwide, how can you make the best use of your time during one of these events. Here are 3 must do’s!

1) Share your PreMed STAR profile. This should be a no brainer. These recruiters are busy and many are trying to chat with as many students as possible. Many premeds will begin a chat, ask a few questions, then leave. The mistake these students make is thinking that the only purpose of these fairs is to gain information about the school. That’s the secondary purpose. Your job is to make sure the recruiter remembers you, and you do that by sharing your PreMed STAR profile (use the blue share icon in the upper right-hand corner of your profile page). Your profile page will allow the recruiters to put a face to the student and quickly review all your great accomplishments. Rule #1 for these fairs: Make sure to share your profile so they can get a quick and holistic view of who you are!

2) Have deep conversations. The deeper the conversation the better. Many students are simply trying to breeze through the various schools and get as much information as possible. That’s not the right thing to do. You can get that information by visiting their website. Your job is to begin building a relationship. Recruiters will remember the people they have meaningful discussions with. Sometimes it only takes getting that one person to like you for you to receive an invitation to interview.

3) Follow up. This is a biggie! Just because the online event ends doesn’t mean your job is done. You need to build a solid rapport with these recruiters and at minimum send each one a follow up thank you message. Show your gratitude for the time they took to answer your questions and let them know if you are truly interested in their institution. This can open tons of doors for you in the future.

Now you’re equipped to make the most out of online recruitment fairs. I challenge you to do your research and add these events to your calendar, so you don’t miss them. These can be game changers….take advantage!  

Make sure to share your PreMed STAR profile with recruiters at the OSTEOPATHIC MEDICAL SCHOOL ONLINE RECRUITMENT FAIR ON JANUARY 17, 2019.

Congratulations to Armelle! Premed of the Week!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
My name is Armelle, and I’m from Cap-Haitien, Haiti although I came to New Jersey when I was eight as an international student. I am a junior at Georgetown University double majoring in Biology of Global Health and French. My hometown is the biggest influence on my career as I plan to return to Haiti as a general surgeon, and I also have hopes of informing health and hospital policies there. I enjoy sleep, food, languages, and the outdoors; fun fact, I binge watched bushcraft videos all winter break, and I totally feel like I can survive a deserted island now.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?
I’ve had many favourite instructors, but, after reading this question, my fourth-grade teacher came to mind immediately…so we’ll go with her. My time with Ms. Pijack was the first time I remember actually LEARNING as opposed to simply following along with assignments. Each day, she would have someone in the class pull from the “word jar” so that we could learn big words each day. I learned words like poltergeist and -to tie it back to pre-med- deoxyribonucleic acid (later in college, I would learn the chemical structure that led to this name). Ms. Pijack challenged our class immensely, giving out prizes to students who did things like memorizing all 206 bones of the body (guess who won that challenge). While I had decided to be a doctor well before meeting her, my love for science deepened in Ms. Pijack’s class. I am constantly finding that the new knowledge I acquire in college ties back to her class, and each time I am thankful I had the opportunity to be taught by her.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? 
In my head, the memory is of a Sunday on our way to church, but I know that the day I remember is, in fact, a compilation of many such Sundays. Actually, every Sunday until I was eight. 

Our church was only three blocks away so my family and I would walk to mass. On the way, we passed a raised sidewalk where a number of homeless individuals slept, and each time I scrunched up my nose at the foul smell that surrounded them (and that I still remember vividly). We’d cross the street and I’d forget about them and their cracked feet that peeked from makeshift blankets that were too short. On the way out of mass, many more, often the same ones from the sidewalk, would gather on the steps of the sanctuary, hoping that the Good Word had inspired churchgoers to be generous. I began saving the change my parents gave me for offering to pass out to them after church. Of course, it was never enough, and I carried their begging eyes and low murmurs home with me until the next Sunday. 

There were many people in my life who were in the medical field including many aunts who were nurses, an aunt who was the director of a nursing school, a cousin studying to be a doctor, and family friends who were doctors. Perhaps this acted on my conscience when I looked for a solution to the heartbreaking conditions I was witnessing. I thought that if anyone, physicians would be able to improve the living conditions of the poor, and I had resolved to be that doctor. Although, I have since learned that the lack of health care was not the cause of their homelessness and poverty -but that relationship between the two is more so reversed- my resolution to become a doctor remained.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?
As with my decision to become a doctor, my area of interest is highly influenced by my desire to work in Haiti. Right now, I would like to be a general surgeon although I have strong interests in health policy as well. 

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?
I was able to practice sutures a couple months ago, and, while I found it frustrating to open the needle holder, I was elated about the experience. I was even able to keep the sample I sutured! 

6. What is your favorite book? 
Can’t say I read much for leisure anymore, but this past Winter break I did manage to sneak a book in. I believe there might be an English version to the book, but it’s titled “Les Identités Meutrières” by Amin Maalouf. The book speaks of the clashing of identities, particularly for expats, and I was able to resonate with much of the text. It has given me a lot to think of concerning my identity as well as the language to express how I feel about it. Highly recommend!! 

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.
Most people would actually know that I am very picky about my food. A little less known fact is that I like bananas but not anything made of bananas. Same thing with peanut butter. But the relationship is reversed for watermelon – I like watermelon flavoured things, but not watermelon. 

8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do?
Nothing! But, practically, probably something related to medicine and public health. I could also potentially see myself following in my mom’s footsteps in real estate, but I can’t imagine being happy being so far from medicine.

9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it?
The older I’ve gotten, the more uncertain I feel about my future and my ability (both innate and circumstantially) to follow through with my goals. I’m not one that likes to ask for help much, but my goal is to be frank enough with myself to do that. 

10. What do you like most about PreMed STAR?
I love the communal feel of PreMed STAR! The premed coursework and path can often feel lonely, and even when there are other premeds around you, the underlying competitive sentiments keep us from being honest about our failures (and successes) sometimes. Love having other students and professionals in the field with who to interact.

5 Tips to Create an Amazing Curriculum Vitae

You’ve probably done a LOT of great things as a premedical student and your Curriculum Vitae is your opportunity to document them and share them.  Week 31 of the PreMed Mondays book covers 5 tips to create an amazing curriculum vitae.  This is your opportunity to shine and you want to do it right!Premeds, find affordable services designed to help you get accepted into medical school at join the online community of premeds at


A friend once told me that when her PCP retired she went to establish care with a new physician, and as he looked over her records, he asked if she had ever been worked up for her infertility. Startled, she asked what made him think she was infertile. It turned out that the PCP who had treated her since childhood had recorded that she and her HUSBAND had been married for 5 years, did not use contraception, and were childless. In fact, my friend and her WIFE were discussing conceiving and raising a child together.

Johns Hopkins published a study in 2016 (URL shown below) estimating that more than 250,000 deaths per year in the U.S. are due to medical error. This would make medical error the third leading cause of death, following only heart disease and cancer. How can careful charting help minimize errors?

One of the easiest ways to reduce the introduction of inaccurate information into a patient’s medical record is to verify that you’re entering information in the correct chart! When working in a fast-paced, real-time environment, it’s not uncommon to have multiple charts open at once and possibly several notes you’ve jotted down to go back and enter when you get a chance. PRO TIP: Develop a strategy in your workflow that allows you to keep track of which chart you’re working on, especially when you go back later to enter or revise information.

Information bloat and overdocumentation can often be barriers to providing the best possible care. Busy physicians aren’t inclined to wade through huge paragraphs of prose, no matter how lyrical or beautifully written they are. A January 2017 publication (URL shown below) by the National Institute of Standards and Technology pinpoints “copying and pasting” as contributing significantly to overdocumentation and even illogical content. As useful as this function is for allowing the easy and efficient reuse of information without having to retype it, how much of the information is relevant? PRO TIP: When copying and pasting, ALWAYS review and update the text and remove any extraneous and irrelevant portions.

Faulty assumptions can lead to mistakes when documenting a patient’s complaints and/or history. A common error can be to rely on what the receptionist has entered as the reason for the encounter or on what the medical assistant lists as the chief complaint. Sometimes the patient has misrepresented their reason for presentation, or the medical assistant has entered the patient’s (incorrect) self-diagnosis as the chief complaint. PRO TIP: Always rely on interaction with the patient to establish the facts of the encounter.

What are some tips you have for avoiding medical errors in the EHR?  (This site is temporarily unavailable due to current government shutdown) 

5 Ways to Spend Your Summer

Summers are critical to your success as a premed!   Week 30 of the PreMed Mondays book covers 5 ways that premeds can spend their summers.  My summer experiences provided excellent experiences for me and played an essential role in my matriculation to medical school.  The same is true for a LOT of now doctors.

Premeds, find affordable services designed to help you get accepted into medical school at

And join the online community of premeds at


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