Medicine

COVID & The MCAT

May 24, 2020

Meredith Grey once said, “Change; We don’t like it, we fear it, but we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change, or we get left behind. & it hurts to grow, anybody who tells you it doesn’t is lying. But here’s the truth: the more things change, the more they stay the same. & sometimes, oh sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is everything.”

I remember December 31st, 2019 so vividly. I remember how excited I was for the new year, ecstatic & anxious to apply to medical school. Hopeful, that my mom will stay in remission. 2020 was the start of a new decade – a good decade – I needed that. Unfortunately, I was only able to enjoy two months of what I deemed to be the greatest decade of my life. In early March I had to say goodbye to my childhood dog – he had to be euthanized & although I know it was the right decision to make because he was suffering. I’m still feeling the loss as I’m writing this. Not much longer after Charlie passed away did Covid-19 reach NYC & completely obliterated the rest of this year for all of us. NYC was the toughest hit area in the entire U.S. & I unfortunately had a birds eye view of it unfolding. I live across the street from a hospital & a morgue truck was placed there for the excess bodies. I cannot explain to you how heart-wrenching it was to see bodies after bodies come out from the hospital & being loaded into that truck until funeral homes claimed them. & When I didn’t see bodies, I heard the hum of the refrigeration unit all day & night long. Life has changed as we know it & I’m not sure if it will ever be the way it was prior to Covid.

Covid affected us in so many ways & it changed my medical school application plans as well. I intended on taking the MCAT in the spring & applying this cycle. But, my test date was cancelled, & I did not want the excess Covid stress affecting my application cycle. The process itself is already very expensive & very stressful. So I decided to apply next cycle. Due to all the cancelled test dates, AAMC opted to add a few new test dates, shortened the exam from 7 and a half hours to 5 hours & 45 minutes, & now they offer the exam 3 times per test date. The change alone was enough to make my head spin. They are also releasing score reports within 2 weeks up until August for the examinees that are applying this cycle. According to AAMC, the changes that were implemented were: removal of trial questions, tutorials, the surveys, & the time alotted to decide whether or not to void, & the break between CARS & B/B sections that were originally 30 minutes will now be 10 minutes. All these changes are in effect for the rest of the 2020 testing year.

Change is scary – Covid or not. We are living through unprecedented times. Some days feel like seconds, & some days time drags on. A lot of people have lost their jobs, & even more scary, many people have lost loved ones. Do we take the shortened MCAT? Or do we wait to see what happens next year. Everyday you make choices that will affect you. When we make these choices we do not know what implications they pose on our lives, but what we do know is that, in that specific second when you made up your mind, you made the best choice you could of with what you were given. So, if something does go wrong in the future, there will be a way work around it – there always is. I have decided to take the shortened MCAT. I know it may bite me later, because I’m sure that adcoms will see 518 shortened MCAT vs. 518 regular MCAT as different test scores, or something along those lines. AAMC stated that the shortened exams will not be easier, or scored differently, that they are essentially equivalent to the regular MCAT exam. But, the truth in the matter is we don’t know how adcoms will view it. I’m pretty sure they do not even know yet. What I do know is, Covid will likely be around next year, & there will probably be more changes. I cannot rely on what if scenarios. That is not realistic. So, what I am doing is studying real hard, taking this exam to the best of my abilities & keeping an open mind as I wait to see what the future brings.

One final note; If you are taking the shortened MCAT exam. I would like to bring your attention to Blue Print (http://www.blueprintprep.com) – formerly known as Next Step. They have outdone them selves & are offering practice exams for the shortened MCAT. The regular length exams are still there as well if you much rather use those. I’m not sure if AAMC will shorten their practice exams for examinees testing this year, but as of right know they are still 7.5 hours long.

Always remember, whatever you decide. You’ll be fine. You’ll be resilient. You’ll make your dreams come true. Just stay positive & believe.

Thank you for reading!

x0x Chanush

Medicine

Hello, World!

May 14, 2020

Meredith Grey once said, “They make it hard on purpose… there are lives in our hands. There comes a moment when it’s more than just a game, & you either take that step forward or turn around & walk away. I could quit but here’s the thing, I love the playing field.”

Now I’m probably one of the very few people who has never seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but I do like some of their quotes. This quote speaks to the difficult journey that is medicine.

Medicine is notoriously known to be hard, whether you are embarking on the path to becoming a physician, or you already are one. It is a career of life long studying, fatigue & sacrificing yet in any given year there are hundreds of thousands of applicants. Now, I know on several instances I have complained about how hard it is to get into medical school. The perfect applicant has to maintain a high grade point average, volunteer, shadow, build relationships for future letters of recommendations, research, take the big bad MCAT exam & after all that compete with hundreds of thousands of applicants. It’s enough to make your head spin. Especially if statistically you do not measure up to the perfect applicant.

I am not the perfect applicant & I have not been for a very long time. Life made sure of that. Since my detour, I was the person who complained about how hard it is to get into medical school & how unfair it was that one mistake could hold you back from your dream career. Now, sitting here writing, I’m happy to tell you that my viewpoint has changed. Reading that quote has really put everything in perspective for me. Becoming a physician should be hard because you’re standing on the precipice of life & death with someone else’s goals, dreams, failures in your hands. That someone who has entrusted you with their most prized possession – their life, every – single – day. On that scale – one mistake is one too many.

I agree, we are expected to be perfect, we are only human & it is extremely difficult to be perfect. It is easy to get discouraged, or to shy away from an opportunity because you’re afraid of failure. All that being said, I would not have it any other way. Physicians are entrusted with many lives & we all need to earn that honor. Once that honor has been earned, we serve to maintain it to the best of our abilities. Being premed is hard; it is hard to make sure that the right people go into the field. Now, I don’t know about you, but I do know that I am the right person for the job & I will work as hard as I can till I can utter that oath & after I do, I’ll work even harder to make sure I’m worthy of the title.

You’ll never hear me complaining again.

x0x Chanush

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