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With my sixth interview behind me and no more on the horizon, I declare this post to be the first (and likely only) Cura Te Ipsum Medical School Interview Superlative Awards.

Category 1: Interview Experiences

The award for most exhausting tour goes to: The University of Pittsburgh for their epic hill that I walked up and down four times over the course of the interview day (in heels!) It was the only interview where the (male) tour guide asked if I had comfortable shoes before the tour even started.

The award for snazziest admissions office goes to: The University of Virginia for their ultra modern waiting area featuring soothing bird sounds, bowl of chocolates and wind chimes on the door. Everything a nervous student needs to feel like they are possibly applying to a spa.

Best interview meal also goes to The University of Virginia for the Garden Room, where the dessert menu featured everything from blueberry tart to snickers cheesecake.

Category 2: Hospitals

The award flashiest hospital goes to: The University of Chicago for their children’s hospital. Highlights included color-changing lights in the elevators, monster statues in the hallway, and an elaborate ball maze in the waiting room. If nothing else, the sick kids (and possibly stressed-out medical students) will be too distracted to realize they’re miserable.

The award for cutest hospital goes to: Chicago Medical School (Rosalind Franklin University) for their tour of the neighboring VA. Standing in one spot on the second floor one could see the neurology, cardiology, gastroentrology, optometry, podiatry, psychiatry and family medicine wings.

The award for most pride in their hospital goes to: New York University for Bellevue, which I was told at least eight times was the oldest hospital in the city. It also boasts the first ambulance (which was a horse and carriage ensemble) and had so many multicultural patients that there was a translator phone in every room.

I would like to thank all of the institutions for their hospitality. I hope that if any somehow run across this entry and are able identify me that they have a decent sense of humor and believe that I thoroughly enjoyed every interview experience I have had thus far.

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Here is a funny video our director sent out to us. It was made by a postbac student from another program and I think it pretty accurately depicts my life as of right now.

The current stats are as follows:

I have been invited to a total of seven interviews.

I have interviewed at six of those schools.

I have been told by one school that they do not yet know if they would like to interview me.

I have heard back from four of the schools where I have interviewed. Two are acceptances. One is “continued,” which means that they will continue to discuss me as the admissions cycle moves along. One school has me on their wait list.

My top choice is the school that continued me, which means I am in limbo for the next several months. It’s an active limbo; I can send them any information to help make my case, but that is a mixed blessing as I had planned to continue my glide year doing what I have been doing thus far. I have a slight plan of attack, but it may come down to the wire.

I sent off my last thank you letter today. It is possible that I may hear from other schools for interviews, but I am a bit worn out by the process by now. One of my acceptances was at one of my top choices, so I can afford to be selective from now on.

Which leads me to my final point in which hold @$#% I got into medical school? I got into TWO medical schools! I got into two GOOD medical schools! I. Am. Going. To. Be. A. DOCTOR!

So yes, I am waiting. And yes, I still don’t know exactly where I’m going to be come September. But I do know that I am going to medical school and right now that’s enough.

Here is an article that seeks to find a connection between depression and the body’s immune system. It’s short and worth a read. One particular quote stood out to me.

“When proinflammatory cytokines are administered to animals, they elicit “sickness behavior”: The animals become listless, lose interest in eating, grooming, socializing and sex, and show increased sensitivity to pain, changes strikingly similar to those in humans with major depression.

Loss of interest in food and ability to take pleasure in eating make sense as short-term response to infection — it frees up energy used for digestion and makes it available for immune defense.”

The inflammatory response is such a mixed blessing. For all that it is one of the most basic means by which our body heals itself, doctors and patients spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to counteract its effects. As a massage therapist we learned (and I often use) techniques that bring “healing inflammation” to an area, only to suggest to my client that they later put ice on the area to reduce that very response.

Thus it makes an instinctive sense to me that the inflammatory response might play an equally mixed role in mood. It makes sense that while sick we could lose interest in activities that normally bring us joy because our body must turn that energy inwards to promote healing. It makes further sense that in a society where autoimmune diseases are becoming increasingly prominent, emotional effects of our immune system might be stretching outside the realm of helpful.

I want to add a disclaimer: I have not researched the claims made in this article and simply because a rational “makes sense” does not make it true. But I am interested to see what other research is done in this area and what sort of success treatments based on this philosophy might have.

It takes the better part of a year to apply to medical school. First there is the primary application in June, then secondary applications all summer. Fall begins the interview season, which can go as late as March. And finally decision time; May 15th after which a prospective student can only hold a single acceptance. Of course for any prospectives on the wait list, the game continues almost until the matriculation in the fall.

For “traditional” students, this year is also their fourth year of undergrad. They’ve taken all or most of the prerequisites during their first three years, and the MCAT some time during their third year. For postbacs, though, this is completely impractical. We cannot even dream of taking the MCAT until we’ve finished with the program, and by the fall, when medical schools would be deciding who to interview, a postbac would have only taken a single pre-requisite. Not really much for the medical school to make a judgement about.

Thus the glide year. Also known as a gap year, this amazingly awkward time in our lives is the in-between stage where postbacs (or undergraduates who don’t necessarily want to juggle interviews and their final year of college) hold temporary jobs and spend their last penny traveling from one end of the country to the other.

Some postbac programs, including the one I went to, also offered linkages. A linkage is a relationship between a postbac institution and a specific medical school that allows a student to skip the gap year. If the postbac program has a linkage with Brown, for example, and a student really wants to go to Brown more than any other school, that student can apply for the linkage. The understanding Brown has is that if the student has made it to a certain point with a good GPA, they trust that said student will keep up their grades and do well enough on the MCAT to be worthy of acceptance. Thus the postbac student is accepted before they have even finished the program and matriculates the next fall.

The trouble with linkages is that you can only apply to one, and if you are accepted you must attend that school. There is no chance to play the financial aid game, or decide another school might be the right one. Plus they often have cutoff MCAT scores (pretty high ones too) so if you don’t make the cut, they rescind your acceptance when the scores come out. Ouch.

I’ve already waxed poetic on the troubles I had finding a glide year job. Ideally one works in a research position or something similarly temporary and well-paying. Failing to do that, I have ended up with three jobs. One is as a tutor in biology for the current postbac class, one is teaching anatomy and physiology to massage students, and the third is actually performing massage at a spa in town. I’m also keeping up with my volunteer work at Planned Parenthood as much as possible.

Thus far my glide year has been a lot less of a glide and a bit more of a slog. For all that I don’t regret skipping the linkage track, I rather resent this dead time as I wait to start school again. I feel like a car at the starting gate, revving my engine and moving nowhere. Still, progress has been made, and each new interview only serves to whet my appetite for the future. So bring it on, glide year…you’ll only be a blip of my journey in the end.