Featured Students: M.D./Ph.D.
My name is Simona Bor and I'm a recent alumna of CSUF planning to become a physician scientist. Long story short, of all the subjects I've encountered I've had the strongest affinity for basic science so I chose to major in biochemistry and loved (almost) every moment of it! But while I find basic science fascinating, I like the idea of applying it in a medical setting to alleviate pain in others even more. As such, I'm on my way to becoming
My biggest piece of advice is quite cliché but can never be understated: be curious and do what you love. That's it. Simple. Don't feel pressured to do X, Y, Z because you think you need to get into X, Y, Z profession. Do things because you're curious about them, sincerely interested in them, can help others through them, and/or will learn a great deal through them.
In my case, my curiosity motivated me to volunteer in clinical settings since I was 18; all the hospital experiences not only opened my eyes to what disease and the world of medicine are really like but also confirmed that I enjoy this application of science and that I'm not squeamish when it comes to things like blood and surgery. Meanwhile, I was also curious about research so I started out in a molecular biology lab, got hooked, participated in the Research Careers Preparatory (RCP) and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) 2-year Undergraduate Research programs, and realized that it would be an amazing honor and challenge to change the way we understand and treat disease by carrying out medical research. After a lot of thought and personal questioning, I've decided to pursue an MD/PhD (which will consist of ~8 years of graduate training). After that, I have no idea what the future holds in store.
A quick note on the application and interview processes. The processes themselves are pretty long and arduous, depending on how many schools you apply to. For ex., MD applicants last year applied to about ~18 schools; that involves a lot of time, money, emotional investments, etc. So while you're applying just take it easy, pace yourself, and realize that at this point all you can do is present yourself in the best light by talking about what you've already done and discovered about yourself. The key to being successful during interviews and being a successful applicant in general is preparation. I'm referring to preparing for the interviews by taking advantage of mock interviews offered by the Career Center on campus to reading previous years' interview questions on websites like studentdoctor.net to actively participating in organizations like the Student Health Professions Association (SHPA) to having your primary essays read by professors, professional students, and experienced essay readers (also on studentdoctor.net ) to getting clinical/volunteer experience to simply being yourself (by pursuing your passions, hobbies, and interests) Š and the list goes on and on Š Basically, as soon as you start thinking about a certain profession, do everything you can to investigate what the profession is about and what it takes to get into the appropriate training programs.
Ultimately, I cannot stress it enough: be yourself. Keep an open mind; learn from everything and everyone. Don't be bogged down by societal stereotypes or other pressures; life's too short to purse one profession or another just because you think you have to or to stress over institutional rankings. Even if it takes you a while to figure out what you want to do, that's fine! It's all part of your story/journey, a journey that is by no means standardized. Honestly, if you really want to become a certain kind of health professional, you'll make it happen! Rest assured that your sincerity and hard work will carry you past the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. :)
Best of luck, keep on going, and let me know if I can be of any assistance!
Future healthcare professional