Hey guys! Kicking off the MDW with the second-to-last Match Series. This time, featuring the amazing Rebeca who is going to be starting Obstetrics and Gynecology residency soon! Enjoy the long weekend, and thanks for reading 🙂
Name & Age: Rebeca, 31
Hometown/State: Born and raised in the brazilian coast, have lived in Michigan for the past 10 years.
Medical School: Wayne State University School of Medicine (WSUSOM)
Specialty and Residency Location: Obstetrics and Gynecology – Hutzel Women’s Hospital, Detroit Medical Center
What made you decide to apply to your school? Did you consider other program types?
Throughout my childhood my parents did a lot of missionary work in an underserved area of Brazil, so from early on I knew that my calling was to serve people. As there were no physicians in my family, medicine never seemed like a possibility until I moved to the US at the age of 22. I had completed 3 ½ years of college in Brazil which did not transfer, so I started my undergrad all over again (talk about a blessing in disguise, ha!). During the first semester of my Junior year at the University of Michigan I began to volunteer at the Veterans Hospital Psychiatry Department. I fell in LOVE with the patients and the work we did! I knew right then that medicine was in fact my calling in life. The following year was crazy exhausting as I tackled all of my pre-med courses prior to graduation. When it was time to apply to medical school, location was a big determinant factor for me. My husband’s career was taking off here in Michigan and I did not want him to experience a professional setback because of me. I took a huge leap of faith and only applied to three MD programs in the area (including the University of Michigan and Oakland University School of Medicine), all within reasonable distance from my house. The moment I walked into WSUSOM I knew right away it was the right place for me!!! Training to serve the underserved in an inner city has always had a special place in my heart. I was very fortunate, blessed or maybe lucky to get in the first time I applied!
How were your pre-clinical years?
My medical school had a traditional curriculum (although it is currently under changes). The first two years of medical school were taught in the classroom and covered courses such as gross anatomy with a full dissection lab (which I LOVED), histology, biochem, neuroanatomy, pathobiology and pathophysiology, among others. We had exams once a month during first year. Second year was so tough, with exams every two weeks! If I can do it, you can do it!
The workload in medical school is crazy intense! I struggled in the beginning with life balance. I did learn that you MUST take care of your body and mind. Even if you feel guilty about taking time for self-care, DO IT. The better you feel, the better you perform. Half of the battle is also emotional. A lot of self-doubt can creep in when you are tired and everyone around you seems to be doing well. But trust me (and I repeatedly said that to myself and to classmates who were struggling): YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH AND SMART ENOUGH! Your med school admissions committee interviewed thousands of people, yet they chose you! They saw potential in you! YOU HAVE IT IN YOU!
Did you do any research during medical school?
I did a ton of research in Patient Safety and Quality Improvement. The projects are easy to do, can greatly impact the quality of care, and program directors love to see that on your application!
Any advice for those who are about to take Step 1?
First of all, YOU CAN DO IT! Many of us did it, so can you! It is a difficult exam, so even if you did amazing during classes, you must have a targeted approach to study for STEP 1. Here is what I did:
- I started annotating FIRST AID along with the respective coursework covered in second year. If I was taking pharmacology, I would read the pharm portion in FA and add notes to it on important topics highlighted by professors.
- I also started using UWORLD along with my classes. Again, if I was taking pharm I would do every single question on UW and read every single explanation, even the ones I got right. When dedicated time came I re-set UWORLD and did the questions all over again! You will not remember them as there are so many!
- PATHOMA! I used it during second year along with classes and transcribed some of the knowledge into FA as well. I used it again during dedicated time to help me read FA. It was grueling for me to go over first aid, but watching the videos for pathoma on nephrology, for example, prior to reading that session on FA made it much easier!!!
- NBME PRACTICE EXAMS: I took my first NBME practice exam on my last day of second year. It was not great, eek! But don’t fret over it, it just gives you a baseline. Take as many as you can during your dedicated study time. I took one every week (although some people say that may not be necessary). Take it as if it was the real exam to get yourself used with its long duration. Treat it as if you are practicing for a marathon! You will get better!
- FINALLY, when dedicated time comes along, pat yourself on the back because you survived two years of medical school! YOU ARE AMAZING!!! Don’t compare yourself with others, rather be so proud of what you’ve accomplished. Now start studying all over again! Do as many UWorld questions as possible and really focus on the details of the explanations. Questions are the most likely to improve your score!
How and when did you decide on your specialty?
I decided at the end of April of my third year. Super late! Ob/gyn was my first rotation of third year and I LOVED IT! But I also enjoyed general surgery. I had the hardest time deciding between the two but deep inside ob/gyn just felt so right. It was literally a gut feeling! I never imagined I would become an ob/gyn. So never say never!
I have always LOVED empowering women and developing long lasting relationships! As an ob/gyn I can impact women’s lives, and by default their families, during one of the most joyful moments of their journey (giving birth to a child), hold their hand and guide them through very vulnerable and intimate aspects of their health (such as sexuality, infertility and high risk pregnancies) and support and care for patients during intricate diagnoses such as cancer. I have a lot of energy and love that I am going into a field that is very dynamic, with lots of surgeries, procedures, opportunities to develop very in-depth patient relationships and multiple avenues towards advocacy and women’s health policy!
Now that you’ve matched, what are some tips you have for third years who are preparing for the interview season?
Here are some tips I used to keep me organized :
- Start working on your personal statement now! On your first paragraph talk a bit about your story and why you chose medicine. On your second paragraph talk about why you chose your specialty (be genuine/creative and if it applies, tell the story of a patient that really impacted you). On your third paragraph you can write about what makes you unique for that specialty and finally what kind of program you are looking for.
- Make an excel sheet with the states and programs you are applying to (I used FREIDA and APGO) and consider some dream programs, mid range and safe choices.
- Organize your CV, it will make much easier for you to write up your application.
- If you haven’t yet, email some of the physicians who you are interested in getting letters from.
- Finally, stay confident, hopeful and always be yourself! You have done some awesome and unique things, let it your personality shine through on interviews!
How many programs did you apply to, and how many interviews did you end up attending?
My medical school suggests we apply to around 40-45 programs if we scored around the average (ortho, derm and competitive fields apply to way more). Looking back I think 30 would had been plenty, but I wanted to be safe! My initial plan was to attend 13 interviews but I got exhausted at the end, so I only attended 11. I checked with an advisor to make sure it was a safe move.
Did you do any away/audition rotations?
I did not do any away/audition rotations, although half of my interviews were outside of state.
I really enjoyed my medical experience! It took me so long to get here that I felt extremely grateful for each moment, even the hard ones. Hey, I get to do what I LOVE for the rest of my life! But I also lived to the fullest as my schedule allowed. I studied hard but I traveled. I still made time for friends and family and enjoyed free time with my husband. Do not isolate yourself and practice being kind to yourself! Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing!
How do you ultimately see yourself practicing medicine?
I would love to pursue a fellowship in gyn onc, breast (a few breast fellowships take ob/gyns) or pelvic and reconstructive surgery! I love the OR. It would be so cool to do a mix of academics with private practice as I love teaching and working with medical students and believe training residents can also be very fulfilling!
Thanks Rebeca! Check her out on Instagram: @rebeca_kelly
Be sure to check out the other guest posts with recently matched fourth years: