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Ask A Question!

The journey to become a physician is difficult, and although I’m still a resident, I’ve garnered substantial experiences during my undergraduate and med school careers with the admissions process, curriculum committees, roles of leadership, and spearheading new organizations. I’ve met and interviewed countless applicants from all walks of life and feel I have a lot of advice to address common concerns posed by aspiringΒ healthcare professionals.

Drop me a comment below with your question! Also be sure to check out the frequently asked question (FAQ) page! πŸ™‚

 183 comments

  1. Why did you want to be an MD instead of a CRNA?

  2. Hey Rishi

    Do you ever believe Anesthesiologists will have trouble finding a job in the future with the increase amount of CRNAs practicing in this field.

    Do you know whether Baylor Medicine accept/discriminate to DO students. Step 1-235 I would like to attend Baylor for residency in the future.

    Do you believe research is needed to match into any anesthesia residencies.

    Thanks πŸ™‚

    • Hi there!

      You refer to a growing concern among med school applicants considering anesthesiology. While there is a movement towards a team-based anesthesia care model (ie, perioperative surgical homes) where physician anesthesiologists, CRNAs, etc. have well defined roles, there are still many practices where anesthesiologists basically serve as supervisors for CRNA-run cases.

      I constantly remind more junior residents the importance of distinguishing ourselves as physician. Pursue additional enrichment (fellowships, research, etc.), read the “big textbooks”, ace the exams, and focus on becoming the most polished perioperative physician one could be.

      While research certainly helps, I think a strong clinical background, extracurricular experiences, and stellar test scores are just as important. I have a classmate who is a D.O., so BCM has definitely accepted applicants with osteopathic backgrounds in the past, but I’m not sure what kind of objective data (namely USMLE scores) the admissions committee faculty look for.

  3. Hey Rishi!!
    I’ve been rolling you blog for awhile now and I must say it’s extremely fascinating. I really like that fact that people like you share you experiences with the rest of us trying to get there. Nonetheless, I see that you will be in Boston for Fellowship… I will be attending MCPHS for my undergrad!!!! Hopefully we can connect!

    • Thanks for taking the time to reach out, Kenneth! Best of luck in undergrad, and indeed, I hope we can meet each other soon! πŸ™‚ Stay in touch man!

  4. Hi Rishi!

    This is Prem – TAMS grad, and current UT student.

    I am graduating in three years (two more) and I know you went about HBU in a similar fashion.

    In regards to timing my medical school applications, I was wondering if I can contact you. My case is a bit unique in that next summer, I will not be able to dedicate to MCAT as I am biking across the country to raise money for MD Anderson.

    If you can provide a way for me to contact you, I would greatly appreciate it!

    Thanks for your continued support!
    Prem

  5. Hey,

    How long did you study for STEP 1? I hear a lot of people say not to start early so you don’t burn yourself out.
    And Hindsight being 20/20 do you have any other all around advice or tips for medical school? Things that you wish you would have done or things you wish you would have taken advantage of?

    • Hey AJ!

      I took roughly two months off but studied just under six weeks for USMLE Step 1. I used some time at the beginning and end of that two month stretch to unwind. πŸ˜€

      Many of my colleagues who spent more than 6-7 weeks studying for the exam felt that they peaked earlier than they anticipated and regretted waiting longer to take the exam. That being said, once you sit down to start studying, that’s your full-time job, and you should take it very seriously. To a large degree, this exam will determine your future career options.

      A few nonspecific tips I have about med school:
      – There’s plenty of time to study, so don’t try to get a “head start” for the next block or semester. Just be diligent every single day, but also learn to balance life with your studies.
      – Don’t be too serious. Med school is difficult but will also be some of the best years of your life. Take each day as it comes and be grateful for the opportunity. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
      – ALWAYS remember what got you to this point in life. It’s those hobbies, people, and experiences which will continue keeping you sane.

      Other than that, hang on for the ride. It’s incredible. πŸ™‚

  6. Hello Rishi,

    I was offered Preliminary IM residency and I took it. can you guide me, what is process of finding PGY2 position in IM?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Gurbinder!

      Congrats on the prelim spot! You’ll need to either be offered an advanced spot for the rest of your residency at the program where you’re doing your preliminary, or apply through the ERAS system this coming application cycle for the rest of your internal medicine residency. I’d strongly recommend talking to your program director sooner than later to discuss this issue and options he/she might have to offer.

      Good luck! πŸ™‚

  7. Hi Rishi,

    I am finishing up my second summer of undergrad research, with no publications, no posters, and no LOR (different labs)

    I feel like I need more experience to make it worthwhile, but I do not enjoy research as much as clinical opportunities because frankly, I’d rather be talking to people, not working with mice.

    That said, how many semesters of research did you pursue, and what did you get out of it (posters, publications, skills)

    Thanks!

    • Hey Ajay!

      I did a few months of research during undergrad (through opportunities within the science department), but overall found that I didn’t like many aspects of benchwork. I didn’t have any major publications as an applicant (only posters/presentations) but did gain valuable insight regarding the research process (IRB funding, ugh!), lab skills, etc. My med school application was very heavy in clinical experiences given my limited research.

      • Thank you for your reply!

        It seems that I like clinical work a lot more than bench work as well!

        I did hospital volunteering in high school, but my official “pre-med” clinical experience will start with a shadowing program at my school, where I will get 80 hours of shadowing in various specialties like pediatrics, general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery.

        I feel like I will need more to be more competitive.

        What kinds of clinical experiences did you enjoy?

        • I think my favorite experiences involved quality improvement. After you spend time shadowing and rotating around various places in the hospital (floors, EC, OR, etc.), you’ll begin to see areas which are in need of more efficient, streamlined processes to improve patient safety and reduce wasted expenses. πŸ™‚

  8. hello?

    just wondering your thoughts on crna…

    i was dismissed from med school, then got a bsn at uth, 2 years icu after that, and now graduating from crna school. is this wrong?

    thank youl

    • My thoughts about CRNAs? To be brief, they’re important members of the anesthesia care team model, but they’re not a replacement for physicians in perioperative care. Plain and simple.

      We all have different career paths, so there’s nothing wrong with yours.

  9. Rishi,

    I understand the importance of the MCAT, and am determined to work effectively to prepare for the exam.

    I am going to start my preparation now, and am wondering what the optimal strategy is to prepare for the exam.

    I purchase the EK review books, and am thinking of reviewing the Biology book (subject I believe I am weakest in), and then progressing through all 7 books.

    However, I feel that this is a waste, as I may review too much and have it forgotten.

    any thoughts on your strategy?

    Thank you so much.

    Prem

    • Obviously everyone’s study habits vary significantly and the exam has changed considerably since my undergrad days, but I focused on fewer resources (just the EK books for me) and doing hundreds of practice questions. Literally any question book I could find, I tried to complete in its entirety. This included old MCAT exams.

      For this exam, there’s no such thing as “reviewing too much.” It’s important to maximize your efficiency, but that’s why I’d recommend a quick review of the EK books and then spending the majority of your time completing practice tests/questions. Really try to simulate the actual exam by taking the questions in blocks too. πŸ™‚

  10. Hey Rishi!

    I’m planning on acquiring clinical exposure in terms of shadowing through a program offered at UT.
    I was wondering what kinds of clinical experience you gained at HBU, and anything unique I could look into.

    I am very interested in clinical exposure with Spanish speaking populations, and am also interested in medical technology.

    Thanks!

    • Hey Prem!

      At the time I was at HBU (2005-2008), the campus was much smaller than now. We didn’t have an organized way of providing students shadowing experiences, so they were left to find them on their own. Fortunately, the campus is walking distance from Southwest Memorial Hermann Hopspital, so I had some opportunities to work around the various departments (EC in particular). Additionally, a colleague of mine had found some opportunities at St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown Houston to scrub into neurosurgeries.

      Wherever you go, it’s all about taking initiative making the phone calls/emails/visits to various hospitals to see if any faculty are willing to accept a pre-med. πŸ™‚

      • Awesome, thanks for the guidance, Rishi. On another note, I am interested in rekindling my interest in technology from high school by pursuing mobile app development as a hobby. Did you have any experience with this and have any pointers on getting started?
        Thanks a ton

        • I’d first pick the platform you’re more comfortable with (namely Android or iOS). Android offers Android Studio and iOS is shifting more towards the Swift language set on Xcode. I’d go to a book store like Barnes and Noble to peruse different manuals about beginning a programming endeavor in one or both platforms. Find what kind of book layout you look, set up your programming environment, and have at it!

          I’ve also found that online forums are an incredible resource for code samples. Don’t rewrite code that’s already out there! πŸ™‚

  11. Hello Rishi!

    I just found your profile through SDN, and wow, does it amaze me to finally find someone that is very similar in some aspects. I also trade stocks and manage my portfolio on a daily basis, I started at 18 and it’s an integral part of my life. I’ve amassed thousands of followers on social media platforms that I can teach by posting informative charts, in addition to managing my own LLC. Not only that, I self learned how to proficiently code Java and Swift (for iOS) and now make my own medical based apps. It’s so cool to see an inspirational figure like you. My first question: what or how is the best way to bring this up during med school interviews? I keep trying to think of ways to tell admissions committees what this all truly means to me and what I’ve learned but I just can’t figure it out!

    And secondly! I am about to apply to medical schools in TX through TMDSAS, and I may have hit a bit of a wall. My GPA is a 3.78, however, my first MCAT attempt was a 505 (28.5 equivalent) and then my second attempt was a 504 (28 equivalent). The odds are stacked against me at this point. Do you think I have a real shot at MD in TX? I have been very active with research and have a first author publication, with very strong LORs, one from the undergraduate department chair of chemistry whom I have gotten to know for 3 years personally, and another from a retired UTSW adcom member.

    Of course, I can’t type out everything on my CV because I know you’re a busy person! I just don’t know what to do, it really disheartens me to think my chances are so slim.

    • Sounds like we have a lot in common man! πŸ™‚

      A lot has changed since I applied (especially the MCAT), but back then, an overall score of 30 was considered “competitive” in Texas. As you know, the pool of applicants becomes increasingly competitive each year and skews that average upward. You certainly only want to apply to med school at your absolute best because, statistically, it’s VERY difficult to get accepted the second time around. I’m going to be honest – if I were in your shoes, I might consider taking the MCAT a third time or apply to DO schools as well since you didn’t improve with your second attempt. Your application sounds really well rounded, but at the end of the day, numbers matter a lot. πŸ™

      As far as conveying your other experiences, there are multiple ways to do so on the application and especially during the interview process. I often asked my interviewees what they like to do in their free time, or to tell me about a non-medical project or hobby that’s important to them. Don’t worry about that. Just focus on making your experience in technology and business the cornerstone of your application in terms of “unique traits” you can bring to a particular program.

  12. Hey Rishi!

    My name’s Matt, and I’m a third year Biochem major at UTD. From my talks with current med students, I get the impression that crafting a coherent application is critical – you need to have a “theme”.

    I’m guessing your theme was your interest in tech and IT and how it plays into medicine. My question is, I know I want to be a doctor, but I want to discover what area of healthcare I want to fit into. You pride yourself as a techie, with that skillset. What kinds of activities did you list on your app to reflect this character you have attained?

    Thank you!

    • Hey Matt!

      Although I listed programming, certifications, code contributions, and freelance projects on my CV, the tech thing is primarily just a hobby. Whenever the topic came up during medschool, residency, or fellowship interviews, I enjoyed talking about how I envision technology to advance medical education, bedside teaching, and patient safety.

      The cornerstone of my application was my experience in business. I rarely talk about my stock portfolio or small business ventures on this blog, but they were instrumental in teaching me people skills, leadership, delegating tasks, identifying the strengths of individuals, and dealing with all the logistical aspects of entrepreneurship from an early age.

      You are absolutely correct in having a theme to your application. It’ll keep your interview focused and remind the admissions committee about what uniquely qualifies you as a candidate to their program. Best of luck man! πŸ™‚

      • Thanks for the speedy reply Rishi!

        A theme I’m trying to follow is the entrepreneurial spirit, I’m working on organizing a community health project using mobile Health pedometers and curriculum to teach people how to be healthy.

        The eventual problem I run into is how will this look to Adcoms? It’s something im interested in pursuing, but im afraid I may be listed as “not devoted” to the practice of medicine if I portray myself as a health_tech innovator

        • Quite the contrary! I’d argue that it shows your desire to stray from the mainstream application (good GPA/MCAT, some shadowing, etc.) Do it! πŸ™‚

  13. Hey Rishi,

    I am a junior at HBU, with a solid GPA, but I have not inmersed myself in premedical opportunities yet. I was wondering what clinical/research/ leadership you recommend.

    • I’d definitely try to get involved ASAP. Back when I was a student (~8 years ago), I was heavily involved with Alpha Epsilon Delta, Alpha Phi Omega, the South Asian Student Association, and several honorary membership societies. I did some Welch scholar research through the chemistry department over the summer and shadowed between Southwest Memorial Hermann (next to HBU) and St. Joseph’s Hospital (downtown).

      I’m sure the opportunities have significantly changed, but having served on the med school admissions committee at Baylor Med, I know that extracurriculars are super important. Your numbers (GPA/MCAT) will land you the interviews, but your face-to-face conversations will revolve around things you’ve done in your undergrad career.

      I can’t tell you the number of times I sought guidance from the wonderful COSM faculty. They were paramount in steering me towards my goals. Stay focused and get involved in anything you can!

  14. Hey Rishi,

    Should I write a love letter to Baylor saying they’re my number 1 choice for anesthesiology? I’m thinking that it’s kinda late being that it’s February and programs have probably decided their rank list already…

  15. Hi Rishi,

    I’m an MS4 who is currently applying to anesthesiology with intentions of doing critical care/cardiothoracic fellowships. It’s weird reading your blog because often it seems like you’re writing down my thoughts.

    Anyways, I was wondering what your thoughts are on Interventional Radiology? I just recently discovered it and it seems like a field that occupies a novel intersection between technology and medicine and allows for many of the more direct life-saving interventions (e.g. pelvic embolization, GI stenting) that anesthesiology generally lacks. I was wondering if you ever considered the field and what your thought process was if you did.

    Thanks,
    John

    • Hey John! Thanks for the comment! Glad to know I’m not the only crazy one out there pursuing this dual fellowship thing. πŸ˜‰

      Interventional radiology was always fascinating to me for the reasons you mentioned, but I’d argue that anesthesia (especially critical care and cardiovascular) incorporates a great deal of technology through emerging standards in monitoring (TTE, TEE, hemodynamic monitors, evoked potentials, etc) and patient safety. Combine that with the acute care aspect and incredible pathophysiology/pharmacology we must know… and that solidified my decision to pursue anesthesia. πŸ™‚

  16. Hey Rishi,

    Now that I’ve taken Ochem 1, Physics, Bio, Chem, and Psych/Soc, I’m going to start studying for the MCAT.

    What sources do you recommend for beginning to self study the content?

    Do you recommend starting with a conceptual overview of all the subjects, then take practice testS?

    • Hey Nathan! Although the MCAT has changed since I took it, I strongly recommend Examkracker’s manuals. They strike a balance between being concise yet comprehensive. Take preparatory courses (Kaplan, Princeton Review, etc.) if you do better in a more structured environment. The most important part in studying for this exam is doing tons of practice questions. There’s no substitute for this. And make sure you read all of the explanations (even for the questions you answer correctly).

      Best of luck man! πŸ™‚

      • Thank you Rishi, I will look into EK πŸ™‚

        Did you start with a general content review of all subjects, ie, reading the material again? Or did u start directly hitting problems and assessing your weaknesses from there?

        • I went through each manual once, then started doing practice questions, and then went back through each manual as many times as I could while doing 50-100 practice questions each day… until I couldn’t take it anymore. πŸ˜‰

  17. Hi Rishi! this may be random but I seen you crossing the street from TCH going towards the O’Quinn medical towers. I wanted to say hi but I didn’t want to catch you off guard lol.

  18. Good afternoon Rishi!
    I just wanted to say that I would hope to be a cool anesthesiologist like you when I cross the undergraduate bridge. What made you want to specialize in anesthesia? And do you think that it’s too early for me to say what I want to specialize in (anesthesia)even though i’m an undergrad?

    • Hey Alexia!! I wrote a post a while back outlining why I wanted to pursue anesthesiology: link to post

      It’s never too early to have something in mind, but it’s also important to understand that people change their minds in medicine all the time. I came into med school wanted to do neurosurgery, and between undergrad and the basic science portion of med school, that’s all I tailored my extracurriculars and research for. It wasn’t until the very end of third year that I discovered anesthesiology and saw the proverbial light. πŸ˜‰

      I’ll be publishing a post in the coming day highlighting how my perception of anesthesiology has changed since my undergrad days. Stay tuned! πŸ™‚

  19. Good Evening Rishi!
    I am a student at Houston Community College, and I just declared that I wanted to become a doctor. I was doubting. myself because I was starting from a community college. I know that it’ll be a long road ahead of me but I am very determined to become a doctor. Have you came across any doctors that attended a community college? Any advice?

    • Hey Jasmine!

      Thanks for the comment! Although I don’t know anyone off the top of my head who went to a community college, I went to a small undergraduate college but had wonderful faculty mentors who pushed me to succeed. I participated in many leadership activities, research, opportunities to immerse myself in the healthcare environment, and did well academically (GPA/MCAT are incredibly important). The MCAT sort of standardizes things since everyone takes the same exam regardless of your undergrad. For this reason, I’d say it’ll be one of the most important things to focus on as you begin your journey.

      The road is long and filled with many exits. Stay focused and let your desire to serve your future patients guide you! Best wishes! πŸ™‚

  20. Hello Dr. Kumar,
    I was wondering if you are single. πŸ˜›

  21. Hi Rishi,

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. As an IMG, I would like to get into Anesthesiology residency. I would like to ask you what would be your recommendations for me ? Are there any advices or tricks to catch the attention of program directors as an IMG ? Would you advise me to send an email to every program director ?

    Thank you so much

  22. Hey Rishi!

    This is Prem, TAMS grad currently finishing up undergrad @ UT Austin. I am starting a blog to journal my pre-med journey and this new experience I will be a part of:

    I recently was accepted into an organization on campus, the LIVESTRONG Texas 4000 for Cancer team. I will be biking from Austin to Alaska to raise money for cancer research. I’d like to blog my preparation and the stories of cancer patients I’ll hear as I volunteer, train, and fundraise towards the disease.

    I was wondering what platform you suggest blogging with and any other words of wisdom.

    Thank you Rishi, and keep up the good work on RK.md!

    -Prem

    • Without a doubt, WordPress. My advice for new bloggers is to blog about what matters to you. You don’t need to make formal essays out of all your posts. Have a voice and let your personality show.

      That being said, blogging is becoming an invaluable way for employers, your colleagues, and the general public to find you online. Be careful about controversial issues, and especially in our case, about compromising patient confidentiality (HIPAA). If you have even the slightest doubt that someone may be rubbed the wrong way, don’t publish it.

      Have fun and be sure to share your blog URL. I’d love to read it! πŸ™‚

  23. Hey RK,

    BCM is a dream school of mine. I’ve got a good undergrad GPA, the general set of good ECs, and am currently a senior completing a honors thesis. I’ll apply in May 2016 for entry into 2017, so I will have a gap year which I currently plan to spend doing research in the TMC.

    However, my biggest weakness is my MCAT. I scored a 26 the first time and the equivalent of a 28 on the new MCAT recently. Do you have any suggestions for me? If I take it again and score well, do I still have a shot at BCM?

    • While it’s sad how important your GPA and MCAT are for consideration to med school, it’s just the reality of things… and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. πŸ™

      I’ve always advised pre-meds to apply only at their best, so if you can afford it, I personally would retake the MCAT again after seeing where your pitfalls were with the first two exams. Was it the same section that hurt you? Was it an issue of finishing the questions in time?

      Yes, BCM has definitely accepted applicants with MCATs less than 30, but it just seems too risky (this applies for all Texas medical schools) given how competitive the applicant pool is becoming.

      • It was the new psych/soc section that hurt me. I scored the equivalent of a 12 in PS, a 8-9 in VR, and ~10 in BS. But the psych score brought me down and hurt me. So I do feel that retaking with an improved psych score would increase the overall score. But would having the three attempts hold me back at a place like BCM? I’ve got an excellent GPA and ECs otherwise. It’s just the MCAT thats holding me back

        • That’s a tough call. I retook it twice because of a low verbal score and because I thought the MCAT really was that important. Come to find out… it is. If you think about it, GPAs can vary so much depending on the institution. The MCAT, on the other hand, is much more standardized. In my opinion, having a good score on the MCAT matters more than a good GPA (although both are important).

          If I were in your shoes, I’d take it again with the focus of completely destroying it and leaving no red flags in your application. I think as long as you’re making progress with each attempt, it isn’t necessarily a huge problem.

  24. Hey Rishi,

    I’m a current Bio major at UT Austin & I have the opportunity to switch to Public Health, which it a new, interesting major here. In terms of medical school/MCAT preparation, should I make the change to public health? Will it be advantageous?

    Thanks!

    • The advantages to being a science major are obvious – exposure to some of the topics you’ll cover in medical school as well as fulfilling a lot of the med school prerequisites while simultaneously fulfilling your degree course requirements. However, with the way medicine is heading, I certainly think public health will become an even more important issue.

      At the end of the day, people from all backgrounds (social sciences, arts, sports, biological sciences, theology, etc.) can do well in medical school. It’s just an issue of being dedicated. πŸ™‚

      Best of luck man! Stay in touch and thanks for the question!

  25. Rishi,

    Are you using Exparel off label for nerve block or do you have to wait for FDA approval? Also, what do you think the odds are of FDA approval? Thanks,

    Jonathan

  26. Hey Rishi,

    My name is Shawn, and I am a current premed at UTD. From my volunteer experiences in the hospital and health situations of my family, I have become more and more interested and working as a physician to fight obesity. I know this is a tall task, but this field, which I presume is public health, is in dire need. I was wondering if you could suggest any organizations or internships that are related to my interest. Also, in an admissions point of view, when I interview for med school and focus on my application, would it hurt me by stating my interest in public health and work towards making America healthier?

    • Hey Shawn!

      That’s a great cause, but off the top of my head, I’m not familiar with any special interest groups aimed at combating obesity. πŸ™ Ask around, find people doing research on obesity, or just ask people who deal with it every day (bariatric surgeons, primary care docs, etc.).

      Definitely mention it in your med school application and interview; however, place the emphasis on HOW you want to make America healthier (no easy task, as you alluded to). It’ll be a good way to show the admissions committee how you’ve thought about the challenges and current situation facing American healthcare.

  27. Hey Rishi,

    How many semesters of research did you pursue in Undergrad, and did you present any posters, or publications?

    What is more valued at UTSW/ Baylor for MD, a heavy clinical applicant or a research heavy applicant?

    • I had a few ongoing research projects spanning several semesters in undergrad (poster presentation worthy), but never went as far as publishing anything. My sincere interests were and continue to remain in clinical medicine, so the majority of my extracurriculars were focused on unique shadowing and enrichment experiences.

      Obviously if you’re going for an MD/PhD track, research is going to be a cornerstone for your application. The majority of MD-only applicants I interviewed had some sort of balance between clinical and research experiences. I wouldn’t say one is more valued than another – just depends on your career goals and how meaningful these experiences were. Focus on achieving stellar numbers (GPA and MCAT), good recommendation letters, and meaningful extracurriculars (research, clinical, leadership, etc.)

      Thanks for the comment, Steven! πŸ™‚

  28. Hey Rishi,

    Prem, TAMS graduate here. I’m closing in my start to UT Austin and had a few questions regarding my transition into the premed curiculuum.

    With my TAMS credits, I’ll be taking 15 hours first semester classes:
    Ochem, Genetics, Poetry, Sociology, and Medical Terminology.

    In the past for my Bio, Chem, and Physics pre-med classes, I usually supplemented my learning with a “For Dummies” book. Now that I’m taking Ochem, I think i should prepare for the MCAT ochem portion while taking the class. Do you recommend any resources for going through Ochem with the MCAT in mind?

    Thanks,
    Prem

    • Before I even finished reading your comment, I was already thinking about the ExamKrackers books. Its been quite some time since I took the MCAT, but they do a great job of having easy-to-read manuals for each subject. You’re obviously going to learn a lot more in your organic chemistry course than you’ll need to know for the MCAT, but you’ll at least know which topics are “high yield” (SN1, E1, basic mechanisms, functional groups, etc.)

      • Thanks Rishi, will definitely look into EK for Ochem.

        Also, since you’ve spent time on medical school adcom, I figured I’d ask you this:

        My courses for first year @ UT are:
        Ochem, Genetics, Poetry, Intro Sociology, and Medical Terminology.

        However, the sociology prof I am signed up for has a bad rap for assigning too much readings and making tests cover the most minute of details, unlike most other intro classes.
        I am considering dropping the sociology and simply taking 12 hours of Ochem, Genetics, Poetry, & Med Term.

        However, I am afraid that this would look unfavorable to admissions because it seems like I am not “challenging myself” by taking 12 hours. In reality, I am new to UT, Austin, and Ochem so I want to devote my main academic time on Ochem and Genetics. Also, sociology is a course I can easily take in CC, it is not mandatory to take it and stress out unneccessarily.

        What do you recommend? Is 12 hours my first semester a good idea? What would you do?

        Thanks as always. (and sorry for the long post)

        • I went to a school that was based on a quarter system (instead of semester), so semester hours are difficult for me to gauge. That being said, taking “challenging” courses is always something health professions advisors encourage mentees to pursue.

          I’ve interviewed applicants from countless undergrads across the country which offered all sorts of courses. How am I supposed to know which ones are more challenging than others? Honestly, it was the GPA (science and overall) which mattered more for most people.

  29. Hey Rishi,

    I’m a rising pre-med Sophomore at UT Austin. I have made a 4.0 GPA at UT my first year completing the majority of my premed reqs besides ochem, biochem, and genetics. Despite my high GPA, I have had no extracurricular experiences during my first year besides a summer research position the summer before college. I KNOW that I need to step up my extracurricular game in order to be a competitive applicant. However, I do not enjoy research. I will do it because it will get me into med school, but I see no career for me out of it. I enjoy volunteering and will be doing that. However, I feel that I will be a cookie-cutter applicant in the end if I dont pursue those “wow actitivities”

    I was wondering any experiences you suggest that will help me in my medical journey.

    My hopeful list during my college years is:

    Study Abroad in Europe
    -continuing my interest in running marathons and weight lifting.
    -Maybe starting app dev ( I dabbled in windows phone development in hs but don’t know if it is worth it as a pre-med. But it was FUN)Mission Trip
    -Research for one more summer
    -Setting up a non profit summer program in my home city for underprivileged students in DISD

    Any feedback?

    • Honestly, research is not an absolute “must” for medical school if you have a significant amount of clinical experience. The amount of research on my application was meager at best, but my clinical experiences in terms of shadowing, doing health-related workshops, med-tech projects, leadership, and just promoting the health professions likely made up for it. To this day, I consider myself to be 95% clinical and 5% research. πŸ˜€

      I can’t stress this enough – the MCAT will be incredibly important. Keep that GPA high and ace the MCAT, and you should have a great shot (even if you feel like you have a “cookie cutter” application). Also, why don’t you take some time to reflect on why you want to go to medical school and start drafting a personal statement? It’s never too early, and it’ll undergo many revisions before you submit it. Start early! πŸ™‚

      Clearly you’re off to a great start. Get involved in extracurricular programs on campus, work with colleagues to find shadowing/research opportunities, and just enjoy your time in undergrad! Keep up the great work man!

  30. Hello Rishi!
    I’m getting ready to start college, and because of the amazing opportunities that my high school offered, I will be starting as a college sophomore. I’m going to embark on a career in medicine, and I’m very excited to get started.
    I’m aware of the types of grades that I need to make to get into medical school. However, a couple of grades that transferred from the dual enrollment institutions are not so great (passing grades, just not in the eyes of a medical school). I spoke with my advisor about them to see if I should retake them, and he told me that he thought that I should wait to retake them after hearing what my pre-med advisor says about them. I took these classes when I was in the 10th grade, so it certainly doesn’t show how dedicated I am now about pursuing medicine. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

    • Hi Erin!

      First of all, congratulations on finishing high school and getting ready to embark on the next chapter of your education. I was in a similar situation having accrued enough AP credits in high school to start college as a second semester sophomore but have little knowledge regarding dual-enrollment courses. My biggest concern is how “passes” will affect your college GPA. Obviously you’re aware of the importance of numbers (namely the MCAT and GPA) when it comes to applying to med school, but depending on how well you do with the rest of your college courses, it may or may not be worth the extra cost to retake those courses.

      You’re going to end up finishing college early, so you have less time to get involved with clinical shadowing, research, and extracurriculars. Jump on any opportunities as soon as you can!

      Best wishes. Let me know if there’s anything else I can assist with! πŸ™‚

  31. Hey Rishi,

    Whats your opinion on the Deandre Jordan fiasco? Do you think he was in the wrong? As a Mavs fan for over 15 years, this is complete heartbreak.

    -Prem

  32. Where did you get the furniture to your apartment and how much is your rent apartment??

  33. Hey Rishi!

    I recently graduated the TAMS program, and will be an entering sophomore at UT Austin. I plan on graduating college in 3 years (similiar to what you did at HBU) as a Bio Major. Regarding pre-med activities, do you recommend conducting research during the school year (10 hrs/wk) or during the summer (40 hrs/wk). Also, when do you recommend studying for MCAT? I am straight out of high school, but I will only be at university for 3 years, thus I know you were on a simliar path, and would like to know you insights.

    Thank you!
    -Prem

    • Hi Prem!

      Congrats on graduating from TAMS! πŸ™‚

      Your goal of graduating from college in 3 years will likely mean a lot of summer classes and full course loads during the regular semesters. That being said, try to find research projects early (talk to seniors as well as professors in the bio/chem departments), so you can contribute throughout your time at UT Austin. Hours don’t matter as much as quality involvement.

      For the MCAT, don’t worry about it during your first year. Get adjusted to the college dynamic by pursuing extracurriculars and ensuring your GPA remains strong. A lot has changed with the MCAT since I took it, but I’d imagine that starting to study for it after you take some basic general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and biochemistry courses will be prudent. Personally, I used ExamKrackers and did whatever question banks I could get my hands on with great results! Take the exam well before you apply, so you get a score back and have the opportunity to retake the exam without delaying your application.

      In hindsight, graduating early from both high school and college was extremely challenging (just a logistical nightmare, especially for high school), but it kept me driven and focused on the goal of becoming a physician.

      Best of luck bro. Keep in touch! πŸ™‚

  34. What is the future of anesthesiologist? as more crnas are coming into the field

    • This is obviously a hot topic among prospective anesthesia providers, but in my experience thus far as a resident, the future looks bright for both careers. In the majority of states, anesthesiologists still supervise CRNA cases. There are no good studies showing that CRNAs provide equal levels of care to physician anesthesiologists across all patient groups, so many fellowship trained physicians are still preferred in niche specialties (cardiovascular, pediatrics, obstetric, chronic pain, regional) as well as supervisors of CRNA elective cases in academic centers. Additionally, many of the seniors who are graduating and going straight into the work force are joining physician-only groups without any difficulty.

      I train at a residency program which also has a top notch CRNA program – our relationship with the nurse anesthetists is remarkably good, and I feel like we implicitly know our roles in the grand scheme of things. As with the rest of healthcare, who knows what the landscape will look like in the coming years?

  35. Hey Rishi!

    I am a junior at the University of Houston, and am wondering what the best way to get a job shadowing experience is. I just moved to town, so I have a small network of contacts here. I’ve spoken to most of the people I know, and they don’t know anyone in the medical field. I also read some blogs on the internet, and cold calling people seems like it not be the best idea. What is the best way, in your opinion, to secure a job shadowing in the field of my interest (pediatrics)? Thank you!

    • Hey Heli! Welcome to town!

      Since you’re already a junior, I’d get in contact with counselors or health professions advisors at the university and ask for recommendations based on what routes successful alumni took during their undergrad careers. U of H is a huge campus, so I’m sure the professors have connections with physicians and/or hospitals in some manner.

      In reality, calling the human resources department at various hospitals might also not be a bad idea. At least you can say you did your due diligence in pursuing shadowing experiences.

      Since you’re interested in pediatrics, I’d start with Texas Children’s Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. Don’t be disappointed by rejection… it’s expected! Just move on and keep looking!

  36. In your professional opinion, does the college that you attend for undergraduate studies make a difference when it comes to applying/being considered for medical school? The college that I am going to is on the smaller side, not TOO well known, but I can’t see myself anywhere else. I’m just worried that the collegiate decision that I’ve made now will hurt me in the future.

    • Great question, Erin! In my senior year of high school, I turned down an acceptance from MIT to attend a very small school in my hometown. In retrospect, this was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made in my life; however, it was also one of the best. I was able to make the most of my experience, do very well in my coursework and MCAT, and accumulate virtually no debt due to scholarships.

      My advice is go where you’re happy, excel in difficult courses, get involved with extracurriculars, and destroy the MCAT! When I interviewed med school applicants, their undergrad had ZERO influence on what I thought of them. Make the most of the opportunities your college presents you with. πŸ™‚

  37. Hi i am currently a student at university of houston. Im doing Pre-med i was wondering what is your take on taking some science classes at community college? And how bad will it effect my chances to get into medical school?ο»Ώ

    • Hey Jack! Thanks for the inquiry.

      In general, you want to convey the strength of your academic ability to med school admissions committees. If they see you taking many pre-requisite science classes at a community college (typically “easier”) just to get better grades, that will definitely be a red flag. I took a lot of summer classes at my undergrad to knock out credits to graduate earlier, and I know a few others who did that at Houston Community College for enrichment and since classes were often times cheaper. I’d say that these reasons are more inclined to show your dedication towards academics.

      No matter what people say, numbers (namely your GPA and MCAT) really matter! Take classes which show your scholastic ability and will prepare you well! Own the MCAT!

      GO COOGS! πŸ˜€

  38. Hey Rishi – I am going to be a Biology major/pre-med student this fall in a university. And my end result is to become an anesthesiologist!(But thats for another story). My main question is that because I’m not that smart(I have decent grades but I had a really low SAT score) and I probably won’t have a good shot at medical school, do you have advice for achieving good grades as a pre-med and any suggestions? Are there any mistakes you made in pre-med that I can benefit from(sorry if that sounds mean!), just like any things you would’ve changed? Thanks Rishi.

    • Hey Jason! Sorry for the delayed response!

      Undergrad is your chance to start over and establish your mindset for the coming years of rigorous pre-med and medical training. Really spend some time and focus on where your weaknesses were in high school. Did you procrastinate? Did you spend too much time doing recreational activities? Did you just not prepare enough?

      There’s no guaranteed way of success in terms of achieving good grades as this is highly dependent on the individual. Personally, I studied a little each day and really ramped up before exams with good outcomes. A lot of sacrifices have to be made, of course. I can’t tell you the number of times I turned down invites to dinners or get togethers just so I could focus on studying. In retrospect, my undergrad experience was exceptional, and I made a lot of good friends at the student and faculty level which only helped me become a competitive applicant.

      With that said, I may have not had the typical “college experience” going to a small, primarily commuter undergrad; however, the curriculum helped me tailor my knowledge base, graduate in three years, get involved in extracurriculars, and have no significant regrets along the way! πŸ™‚

  39. Hey Rishi,

    Do you hope to one day open a private practice?

    • Hi Amit!

      Honestly, I’ve never really been interested in private practice (of course I say that now as a resident, lol). I LOVE teaching and can only foresee myself in academics working with medical students and residents. At the same time, I know I want to do a fellowship, but I’ve been bouncing around between so many options!! Hopefully the next few months will bring more clarity.

  40. Hi Rishi,

    My name is Alex and I’m a rising freshman at UT-Dallas. I am currently registered as a premed Biology major, but am looking to change majors. I am looking to change because I believe that medicine is more than science. I want to major in something that gives me practical knowledge that will help me as a doctor. I was wondering what your $.02 are on majors.

    I know that “what you major in doesn’t matter” but I want to know, if you had to choose again, what would’ve helped you the most.

    My options thus far:
    Psychology/Sociology: understanding people, in clinical settings
    Econ: private practice
    Biology with BA in Healthcare Administration: UTD has this cool option. Don’t know how useful it would be though.

    • Another cool option:

      Major in Sociology, Minor in Public Health

    • Hey Alex, I was actually reflecting on this not too long ago. At the time, my college made undergraduates select two majors. I chose chemistry and biochemistry molecular biology (BCMB) as both really nurtured my analytical thinking skills in the context of my future medical career; however, since grade school, I’ve always had a deeply rooted passion for physics and mathematics. In retrospect, neither would have really helped in med school, but I would have enjoyed expanding my mind in areas which I won’t get to necessarily visit as a physician.

      My advice is simple – major in what interests you and take difficult courses. Don’t try to pursue things with the intent of preparing yourself for med school. There’s PLENTY of time to learn the med school material, and as far as the social/business aspects of medicine, many of my classmates took electives and/or dual degrees (MD/MPH, MD/MBA) for the extra enrichment.

      Some of the most interesting applicants I’ve interviewed had studied the fine arts, mathematics, social studies, etc in college.

      That being said, keep up the great work and always have your goal in mind. πŸ™‚

  41. Hello,

    What are some of the park&ride options? Thanks!

  42. Dear Rishi,

    Greetings….!

    We are interested to offer Online Short Study to current Medical Students of your organization so if you can forward us the details of the current students in Xl format so we can contact them for the online short surveys.They will be paid very good “Honorarium” as soon as they finish the online study.

    Full Name :
    Contact No:
    E-mail address:
    Which Year Students:

    With Warm regards,
    Suhas Joshi

  43. Hi Rishi,
    My name is Prem. I am a TAMS Senior and avid reader of your blog. Deciding which college to attend is very stressful, and has major implications on my future as a doctor. I was hoping you give some guidance:
    ***I am deciding between a full ride @ UT-Dallas, no aid A&M, or no aid UT
    I know that UT-D is the best choice financially, and as a Dallas native, close to home.
    However I feel that part of growing as an individual is also not found at UTD. I am an introvert and hope to break out of that shell in college, but feel the social life at UTD will not benefit me and actually worsen me off for med school. The last thing I want is to go to med school with no real friendships.

    In a sense I prefer smaller class sizes, but am at a tough decision for my future growth as a person.

    If you were in my shoes, what decision would you make?
    Thank you
    -Prem

    • Hey Prem!

      I was in a very similar situation going into college, but opted to attend Houston Baptist University (HBU) in my hometown. It’s well reputed for its pre-med program, and between living at home and scholarships, I saved a TON of money. I’d highly recommend attending UT Dallas and saving all that money with your full ride – this will make you incredibly happy down the road.

      As far as the social aspect of college, it’s really what you make of it. HBU was mainly a commuter campus, but I had an incredible experience between my extracurricular activities and roles of leadership. Going to college anywhere is already a chance to sort of start a “clean slate” and break free, so save money while you can, stay on top of your studies, ace the MCAT, make friends, and enjoy the journey! πŸ™‚

  44. Cousy you write a post about you study plan for the basics?

    Have you used trulearn vs m5? Thoughts?

  45. Hey Rishi, as I plan for my activities this upcoming year I have a couple of questions:

    1) as a pre-med how did you get involved in education and meded? I LOVE helping other people about the process of becoming a doctor, and hope to eventually sit in a admissions comittee like you. What activities can I pursue that help me gain this activity. Other than teaching or supplemental instruction.

    • Hi Jason!

      As a pre-med, it’s pretty hard to really be a good mentor to anyone since you yourself are still trying to get into medical school; however, I took up opportunities to teach wherever I could (namely by serving as a tutor and lab teacher’s assistant). Once you’re in med school, ask the admissions committee deans how a current student can actively get involved with admissions. Some schools are better about this than others, so it’s better to ask well in advance to not miss an opportunity!

      Another thing my undergrad did for recruitment was periodically having “open houses” for potential pre-med applicants and their families. I served as an ambassador for our department and shared my experiences with the coursework, research, and extracurriculars essential to become a competitive applicant. πŸ™‚

  46. Hi Rishi,

    I read your post about taking step 3 before residency. Were you able to sign up and take it in the limited time between graduation and residency orientation? I have about 4 weeks between graduation and residency and was wondering if that’s enough time to be able to sign up and find an open date to take it.

    • Hi there! Unfortunately, by the time I got my registration token, the only available dates to take Step 3 were after starting my intern year (which sort of defeated the purpose of taking it early). I ended up taking it towards the end of my intern year.

      In retrospect, this was a totally unnecessary pursuit, and I shouldn’t have wasted so much of my last summer break studying for this exam. πŸ™

  47. Great stuff Rishi. I have an medical admissions related question. Most med schools want different “crafts or niches” of applicants. They may want the next Nobel laureate in medicine or the next surgeon general. They want you to be the best applicant for you goal in medicine. That said, how did you craft your application into a niche and what was your goal as a physician?

    • I tried to make my experiences with business and technology the cornerstone of my application – their harmony with medicine provides me with insight and innovative thinking. The further I’ve gone into my training, the more I’ve encountered instances in which having a “tech-savvy” background benefits me, my patients, and my future practice in anesthesiology.

      Currently, my ultimate goal after residency is pursuing a fellowship and staying at a large, tertiary academic center to teach residents and medical students. This may obviously change in the coming years, but I think I’ll be the happiest in an environment of teaching. πŸ™‚

  48. Are you considering fellowship?

    • Absolutely! Possibly two. If you asked me in med school, I would’ve said pediatric critical care. Now I’m considering pain too. Cardiovascular is neat as well. Too many choices, but dead set on doing at least one fellowship after residency.

  49. Did you find barash easier read than miller?

    How did you get better at PIVs? Everyone expects anesthesiologist to be the best but I have minimal experience with place IVs. I feel I’m more likely to place a central line.

    • It depends on the chapter – some of the chapters in Miller are unquestionably better (neurophysiology comes to mind). It also depends on how you like your textbooks structured, so personally preference plays into it. Just read parts of both and see which one you like better for a given topic.

      PIV skills are just like anything else in anesthesiology – mastery comes with experience. I was horrible at first (my arterial line skills were WAY better), but I’ve improved considerably with more practice. That being said, there are definitely patients who have difficult peripheral access for various reasons (obesity, collagen vascular disease, etc.), so that’s when our skills with ultrasound-guided IV placement come in handy. πŸ™‚

  50. AKTs count at my program. What’s the best way to prepare for it since you’ve been through 0,1,and 6 now.

    • Doing lots of practice questions (Hall, ACE questions, M5 Review) after having a decent foundation (reading M&M). Even if the scores count, it’s gotta be scaled to other people at the same level in their training. Thanks for the comments!

  51. When you started CA1 year, why did you decide on barash as your main text? Is there a reason you didn’t pick miller or MM? Trying to pick one to go with.

    • Our didactic series has references to Barash chapters – plus it’s considered one of the “Bibles” of clinical anesthesiology. The further I got into CA1 year, the more I began to appreciate Miller as well as a reference text. I read M&M during intern year as a good primer for CA1 year. I honestly think it gave me a great yet incomplete knowledge foundation which Barash/Miller have rounded out.

  52. Hey Rishi, nice website makeover! Are you using a WordPress theme or anything of that sort, or is this just you HTML/CSS skills at work?
    Cheers,
    Arun

    • Thanks Arun! I’m using a version of the Sahifa theme which I’ve heavily modified. Don’t have time to make themes completely from scratch anymore! =(

  53. I want to start start a wiki. I was running one for my fellow residents but unfortunately the host is shutting down the service. To avoid this happening again I wanted to actually go about hosting the service page myself. Any suggestions on how to go about signing up for a domain, getting a server, running wikimedia on it, etc? Inexpensive at this time is a plus.

    • Hey Gabe! What kind of traffic volume was the Wiki receiving? If you look into any of the large shared hosting companies (iPage, Bluehost, Hostgator, Justhost, etc.), all of them offer some form of easy installation for a Wiki page. They all also offer domain name registration too, so you can get your domain and hosting through the same company. Personally, I’ve been using Bluehost for the last 5+ years without many issues (but it comes at a price of about $10 per month).

      I’d be more than happy to help you get the site on its feet – send me more information using the contact form (click “Contact” in the navigation bar).

  54. Hey Rishi,
    How did you list your blogging on your AMCAS/TMDAS?

    • Great question, Jin! I honestly didn’t directly include it, but I talked about my interests which have stemmed from blogging and web development (namely programming). I know some people include their domains on their official CVs (which I do too), but I excluded it from my AMCAS/TMDSAS.

      Interestingly enough, some of my interviewers had “found” me online prior to my interview. It was a great way to break the ice and open up discussion.

      • What interests did you develop from blogging?

        • The concept of intellectual, social-media based conversation. I was blogging before Facebook and Twitter, so that interest just carried over to other platforms. I’ve connected with countless other people in and out of healthcare discussing topics ranging from med school admissions and politics to abortion and the death penalty. Bouncing ideas off each other is always a great thing. =)

  55. Hello Rishi,

    I am a current senior in high school, and am contemplating starting a blog like yours to serve as an outlet for my thoughts on medicine. How helpful was your blog to your professional development and when did rk.md start?

    • Hey Ayush! I’d say go for it! Keeping a journal is a wonderful way to reflect on your own life while sharing experiences with others who might be interested in similar life journeys. I’ve had the privilege of meeting countless healthcare professionals, students, and even been offered job opportunities because of my site. Plus, it allowed me to grow my knowledge of web programming. =)

      I started blogging back in 2005 (wow, 10 years ago!) and changed my blog topics as I started undergrad, medical school, and most recently my residency training.

      Good luck with your blogging endeavors! Be sure to drop your link once you get situated. Let me know if you need any help!

      • Thanks for your thoughtful insight Rishi.

        I am going to start my blog soon. When you started out, what ideas did you try to reflect on? I am considering writing about my methods of productivity, studying, and premed things. Also my interest in my Dallas sports teams

        • I wrote about my coursework and special interests (namely technology) interspersed with thoughts on headline news throughout the years and anything else which crossed my mind. That’s the best part about blogging – it’s your journal and your own voice. Some posts will be purely for self-reflection. Others will be useful for many others.

          My only word of caution – be careful when your express your opinions on highly controversial topics or discuss issues which are even remotely a violation of privacy. When you hit the “publish” button, make sure the content is something your closest friends and mentors would approve of. If you start your blog with this sort of mindset, it’ll save you countless troubles in the long run.

  56. Hey Rishi, weird question, but what do you do at
    RK Creations LLC?
    And do you suggest as an undergrad premed to learn how to code? I did Compsci in high school and don’t know if it is worth continuing.

    • Hey Lucy, the LLC is basically an umbrella for several small business ventures my family has undertaken. My brother and I are managers for it. =)

      As far as coding, I think computer proficiency is undoubtedly becoming increasingly important in our digitized society. Knowing the basics of coding will give you a foot in the door to a growing number of jobs in the booming tech sector! Plus it’s a valuable skill in any field. I can’t tell you how many times being the “tech support guy” has helped me have a niche among social circles, haha.

      Thanks for the comment!

  57. Rishi, I remember coming across your blog before med school and thought it was pretty helpful and neat. I’m now an MS4 going into anesthesia and had a couple of q’s for you if you had the time. Not sure if this is the right place to ask them so if I can contact you via email, let me know. Thanks!

  58. Hey Rishi. .Any suggestions for AKT 6? Was it similar in subject content to AKT 1?

    • Didn’t take the AKT-1, but our didactic series really helped prepare us for the AKT-6 (high yield chapters from Barash) supplemented with sections from Miller (it has an excellent neurophysiology chapter). I feel like most people read through M&M for a foundation and did questions (Hall, ACE, etc.).

  59. Hi Rishi!
    My name is Anand, and I am a 4th year Bio major at U of H. I am taking a gap year to apply to med school and am starting to write a “resume or application” to narrow down my experiences. Do you mind sharing a sample of a premed resume so I (and many other students) have a taste of what to include, not to include, what I should fit in before my application, etc.
    I would really appreciate it!
    -Anand

  60. Hi Rishi!! I’ve been following your blog for a long time now and was recently accepted to BCM πŸ™‚ I’ve heard that there’s a diagnostic exam around time school starts, is it something I should study a bit for? Also, do you suggest brushing up on certain topics? I graduate this May and have a light course load so wanted to make some solid use of my extra time (besides watching tv shows LOL).

    • Congrats on your acceptance and making the EXCELLENT decision to matriculate to BCM! =)

      If this “diagnostic exam” is the one I’m thinking of, it’s given a few weeks into the first block and covers the lectures you learned to that point. Under no circumstances should you spend the next few months trying to prepare for this exam (it’s a DIAGNOSTIC, first of all).

      One thing you’ll quickly learn in med school is that yeah, there’s a lot of information to learn… but you have plenty of time to learn it! By studying in advance, you’ll likely cover topics in an inefficient manner. Trust in BCM’s curriculum and enjoy your time before med school! I really can’t stress this enough!

      Hope you have a great start to the new year, and thank you for your readership! =)

  61. Hi Rishi,

    For a premed who’s taking their MCAT exam in 3 weeks, what advice and tips would you give?
    Thanks!

    • Three weeks is still plenty of time to review material! Hopefully by now you’ve taken some practice tests – spend this time reviewing the topics which you struggled with the most. Definitely review all the relevant chemistry/physics equations and do some verbal passages every day to stay focused. The key for me was doing hundreds upon hundreds of practice questions.

      I’ve found very little new information is learned in the last 2-3 days before an exam. You already know how important the MCAT is, so instead of being nervous, be confident and mentally focused on the task at hand!

      Good luck and have a happy new year! DESTROY THE MCAT! =D

      • Thanks so much, Rishi! So my concern is that I’m only at a 20 on 3 practice tests. There’s time to learn and improve on the areas that I’m weak in (like physics, o chem), which is what I plan to do. Have you heard anything about the new 2015 MCAT? It is my backup plan if I take the current test and get a not-so-good score, or if I’m not prepared by 2 more weeks. Happy New Year!

        • So one of the caveats to my previous comment – take the MCAT only once, and when you’re fully prepared for it. It’s an expensive and exhausting exam which should not need to be repeated (and risk a lower score). Med schools do note how many times you’ve taken the exam and your score trend. Have you thought about postponing the exam and continuing your preparation?

          I honestly don’t know anything about the new 2015 MCAT besides the addition of a social and behavioral sciences section, so I won’t comment on it, haha.

  62. Hi Rishi,

    I am a MS3 that just finished OB, Pediatrics, and FM and am currently on Medicine right now. I’ve been getting great feedback about my clinical performance but I’m feeling a bit discouraged because my shelf scores have dragged down my grades and I’ve gotten 3 Passes so far. My rotations are graded on a scale of Fail, Pass, High Pass, and Honors.
    Do you have any input on clerkship grades and how much weight “passes” are on the competitiveness of my anesthesiology applications? I’m worried that I am just not competitive enough.
    And given my grades, what do you think is the best time for me to take my Step 2 CK?

    Thank you so much for any advice that you have!!

    • Hey Laura!

      I feel like the overwhelming majority of clinical medical students receive positive feedback from residents/attendings and are evaluated similarly, so the only grounds for stratifying “honors” from “fail” is, unfortunately, the shelf exam… no matter how small of a percentage it counts towards your grade for a given rotation.

      That being said, I think many will agree that USMLE Step 1 is a fair assessment of the basic sciences, while your core rotation grades and Step 2 CK reflect your clinical science knowledge. Doing well with the remainder of your rotations will become increasingly important as too many “passes” will be red flags on your residency application. Furthermore, I’d advise taking Step 2 CK (and having a score) prior to residency applications. You’ll have to take it before graduating medical school anyways, so use it to your advantage! Maybe August of your MS4 year?

      While there’s no magic formula for getting into residency, you want to minimize the amount of red flags you raise with an admissions committee. Focus on your shelf exams and study harder than ever before. Doing tons of questions helped me more than any review book, but everyone is different. =)

      Trust me, I know shelf exams are difficult and it’s discouraging after a great rotation with wonderful feedback from everyone to only “pass”, but this is just how it goes. Fix what isn’t working, seek advice from your classmates who have already completed the rotations and did well, and always keep your career goal as a motivating factor. Knock that medicine shelf out of the park!! =D

  63. Hey Rishi, thanks for your awesome website! I love it. I don’t know if you’ve already answered this somewhere, but I’m wondering since you’re a very tech savvy guy, why you chose anesthesiology over something else like radiology? Just curious, but either way keep up the good work dude! πŸ™‚

    • Hey Patrick!

      This is a question I receive all the time… even from anesthesiology attendings! Truth be told, radiology (specifically interventional radiology) was something near the top of my list of potential career paths during the clinical years of med school. I’m fascinated by the physics and mathematics of imaging modalities like PET and MRI, and the prospect of being able to work from anywhere by remotely accessing PACS databases and whatnot. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. =D

      In the end, it really was the application of physiology, pharmacology, and procedural skills in an acute setting (the operating room) which drew me to anesthesiology. While we may not get reputation of “high tech” compared to radiologists, there really are a number of neat gadgets we routinely utilize in the operating room which I get to tinker with. No regrets at all about pursuing this field!

      Hope you have a great new year, and thanks for the comment!

  64. Have you ever encountered bullying by surgeons in the OR? If you have, how do you deal with that? That’s one thing that scares me about becoming anesthesiologist and why I don’t like surgery! But anesthesiology seems so cool so maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about interacting with surgeons.

    • Fortunately, most of the surgeons I’ve worked with have been extremely cordial in dealing with their residents/fellows and other operating room staff (anesthesia residents, scrub techs, circulators, etc.) From time to time, I’ll be in a room with someone who, to be politically correct, woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You’ll quickly learn how to deal with these personalities… especially as an early trainee where you’re making tons of minor mistakes and are relatively slow in turning over rooms.

      My advice is simple – people who go into anesthesiology should have a short memory. Take constructive criticism and leave the rest… placing patient safety ahead of anything else. I’ve never had a surgeon chastise anything I do in pursuit of improving safety. Don’t take anything personally. Use it to enhance your skills!

      Also, to address the last part of your comment, interacting with surgeons is an absolute MUST to be a good anesthesiologist. We need to work in tandem throughout the case and even more so when things go awry. I’ll routinely ask surgeons how things are looking in the field and if they’re in agreement with administering certain medications. This helps tailor your anesthetic accordingly.

      Any healthcare provider should leave their ego at home and come to work with patient safety at the forefront of their goals. Sometimes this isn’t the case, but you learn to deal with it – the more competent (and confident) you become, the more surgeons will trust you.

      • It seems to me a lot of the older surgeons are more like curmudgeons, but the current or younger generation of surgeons are more respectful and less given over to the uglier sides of what we are used to seeing in surgeons. Do you find this is true in your place too?

  65. Hey Dr.Kumar,
    So I recently finished my first semester of MS1 a couple days ago. It turns out I didn’t do as well as I planned and it looks like I’m going to have to step it up for next semester. I’m just a little depressed because I feel like I worked so hard and didn’t accomplish much. Do you have any advice or tips that you can share or is there anything that you can relate my situation too?
    Thanks,
    George

    • Congrats on finishing your first semester! Much of it was undoubtedly spent learning how to learn from the often cited “fire hose” of medical knowledge!

      I completely understand where you’re coming from – I often felt like I was under-performing on exams relative to the amount of effort I spent studying. In the first few weeks, I tried so many different approaches to studying, and what ultimately worked for me was ignoring the associated lecture slides and actually LISTENING. I would either attend lectures or stream them at 2.5x the speed without having the PowerPoint open. Instead, I hand wrote notes as the lecturer gave his or her presentation.

      Writing is a much more active process than simply reading, so I felt more engaged with the material. I was able to retain things much easier and had a general “feel” for what certain lecturers considered important teaching points (high yield exam questions!)

      Above all else – please understand the magnitude of your accomplishment! It’s only your first semester of med school. It’s completely normal to feel this way. Enjoy your time off and hit the next semester hard!

  66. What are your views on the future of anesthesiology ie CRNA vs anesthesiologists?

    • This is definitely a hot topic among current and future trainees. In fact, a quick Google search for “anesthesiologist vs crna” shows the top two entries already comparing the quality of care provided by each provider. Training in a residency program which also has a top-notch CRNA training program has allowed me to work with student nurse anesthetists (SRNAs) for the last six months; I’ve never encountered any friction with them or the experienced CRNAs working at our VA hospital. Maybe it’s just my juvenile, happy-go-lucky CA-1 mentality? πŸ˜‰

      I’ve rarely heard patients strike a comparison between physician anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists. They probably don’t know the difference… or don’t even care. We could debate all day about the merits of our respective training paths, but at the end of the day, roughly 30% of the states have already opted out of the law mandating physician supervision for CRNAs. This permits them to practice independently. Sounds scary for job security, no?

      With the emerging “perioperative surgical home” (PSH) model of care, perhaps our roles will become more defined? We’re still forced to deal with a group which is constantly lobbying for more autonomy. Texas happens to be a strong advocate of physician anesthesiologists, and our political action committee is well-supported at the state and national levels, so nurse anesthetist lobbying efforts have been countered thus far.

      To directly address your question, I think the future of anesthesiology is strong for both groups. Physicians are pursuing fellowships to occupy specialized niches; however, a large number of graduating residents are also being employed by “MD only” practices. The reality is CRNAs are going no where. Oh, and if you want autonomy, go to medical school and complete a residency.

      Sorry for the disorganized response – I might write a much more comprehensive opinion in the future.

  67. Hello, im really impressed doing my homework in your page. I wanna to ask you, if you know about the preparation for the steps for the exams. Im IMG and i love also tech, so i wonder if you know something interesting.

    • Hi Cato! Thanks for the comment! If you’re interested about preparing for the USMLE exams, check out some of my posts: link here.

      If you’re looking for a structured preparation program, some of my classmates used Pathoma and Doctors In Training with great success!

  68. Hey Rishi, great post! My name is Arun, and I am a senior at high school at Clements (Houston). I am interested in staying instate for premed coursework and am looking at either UT Austin or HBU. I was wondering how the social life is at HBU. Did u live on campus? How were the research opportunities? I know UT has plethora of research opportunities and social life with the indian student organizations; but I am seriously considering HBU, because I think I can get good recommendations and develop more in a small achool

    • Hey Arun!

      When I was an undergrad at HBU, it was primarily a “commuter campus” with the majority of students living 10-20 miles away – I had a lot of friends who lived in the Sugar Land area. Despite the distance, we still managed to have a lot of active organizations dealing with pre-health, service, and culture. I wasn’t a huge researcher by any means, but a few of my close friends would make the short commute to the Texas Medical Center to take part in projects at Texas Children’s, MD Anderson, or Baylor Med.

      By virtue of HBU being such a small campus, we grew close to our professors, and they always put forth excellent recommendations for applicants. In retrospect, being sort of a shy guy, I feel like HBU’s size was much more conducive to providing me with a learning environment I could grow in.

      Speaking of growth, the campus has since grown significantly and now offers multiple housing facilities on site. Unfortunately I don’t know the details nor how this has affected the student-to-teacher ratio, but I’d surmise it’s still an excellent institution with continued success in placing applicants in health-related professions.

  69. Hi Rishi,

    I was wondering what activities you pursued outside of school that

    1) made toy more informed of current state of medicine
    2) interested you (hobbies)
    3) gained leadership skills

    Thank you!

    Ravi

    • Hey Ravi!

      1.) I talked to my classmates and professors about issues in medicine. It’s always interesting to learn the perspectives of others as they will help sculpt your own outlook on certain issues. National news has recently become a joke by instilling unsubstantiated hysteria and fear about ebola to the masses; however, there are a lot of good YouTube videos outlining the Affordable Care Act and healthcare at large.

      2.) I’ve been a tech geek forever but became more interested in investing over the last decade. Most of my free time is spent programming or watching the public market sectors.

      3.) Most of my “on paper” leadership skills were gained in undergrad and med school by leading extracurricular organizations or spearheading new initiatives. Learning how to maximally utilize your resources and delegate tasks to your colleagues are invaluable skills, but the most important lesson I learned is to “begin with the end in mind” (a la Stephen Covey’s novel).

      • Speaking of being a tech geek, do you have any recommendations for a med student who wants a good tablet to read books on (e.g., pdfs) and also take notes on? I know everyone picks the iPad but the iPad is so expensive and I’m not sure Apple is that much better than Android? I was hoping for something around $250-$350. But maybe it would be best to get an iPad since they’re so popular and people seem to use Notability and it looks nice? But I’m hoping for other options. Thanks Rishi! πŸ™‚

        • Personally, I’ve not been able to hang on to Apple mobile products for very long. iOS is simply way too closed off for me. In fact, I wrote an entire post outlining why I exchanged my iPad Air for an NVIDIA Shield, a decision I’m incredibly happy I made. The Shield Tablet is much cheaper, has expandable storage, and is getting very frequent updates (it’s already slated to receive the latest version of Android only weeks after its release).

          I’d recommend checking out the Nexus 9 or NVIDIA Shield, but honestly, most people will find the array of note-taking/PDF apps on iOS to be more suitable for their needs. If you’re going to get an iPad, Apple usually has Black Friday deals, so wait till then!

  70. Hey Dr. Kumar,
    I know that medical schools value strong GPA and MCAT scores first, but once at the interview, your personality shows. What kinds of extracurricular activities do you recommend pursuing that adds value to an application. Currently, besides studying, I run marathons and just do regular premed activities (volunteering, clinical exposure, Cancer research). I feel that I will not stand out.
    I have always been interested in entrepreneurship, and I am thinking of starting a health and wellness startup during my undergrad. This will allow me to do something unique and also develop my leadership and management skills.
    Do you recommend pursuing an activity as far fetched as starting a company/nonprofit?
    Does it look insincere if my goal is to only become a MD, not MD/MBA?
    Thanks,
    Akash

    • Hey Akash! I think you’re taking the wrong approach – don’t pursue activities just for the sake of “standing out” to medical schools. This is your life. Do the things you want to do, and you will *always* have unique experiences. It looks like you’ve already got a well-balanced extracurricular portfolio between research, clinical experience, and other hobbies… keep it up!

      I’ve interviewed applicants who had stretched themselves between 10 organizations but had very little to talk about, and others who had 2-3 extracurriculars which they were passionate about and could therefore discuss in depth. In this sense, less is more. Interviewers want to see your commitment to a particular activity,

      As far as dual-degree options (MD/JD, MD/MBA, etc.), you can always decide to apply once you’re already in medical school. It might not be something you’re interested in now, but who knows? The exception to this is of course the MD/PhD route where you have to apply for MSTP funding ahead of time.

      If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, by all means go for it! It’ll give you something to do for self-enrichment and life experience, but please don’t do it for the sole purpose of having something unique on your application. Marathon running is unique. Not all types of cancer research are the same. You’ve already got two examples right there. =)

      Thanks for the question!

  71. Dear Dr. Kumar,
    Thank you for the great content on this site.
    My name is Prem, and I am a current senior at the Texas Academy of Math and Science (TAMS) program at UNT. TAMS is a two year early college program for high school students go complete two years of their undergrad degree during their junior and senior years of high school. At TAMS, my credits in Bio, Chem, Physics, English, and electives will transfer to any Texas public university (and some private) so I can graduate early and save money on education.
    I am applying to college and considering the following in-state options (in order of preference)
    1) UT-Dallas – good financial aid, can graduate in two years
    2) UT Austin
    3) TAMU
    4) Austin College
    5) HBU
    From what I understand, premed undergrad doesn’t matter as long as I get good GPA and MCAT scores. I would fit in best at a small college like HBU or UTD. My goal is to ultimately become a great clinician and practice in TX and attend UTSW or Baylor Med.
    Does it make sense to attend UT or TAMU? What are the pros and cons of HBU?

    • Hey Prem! Congrats on TAMS! I had a few friends go through their program, and all of them really enjoyed it!

      I think scholarships and grants are undervalued at the undergraduate level, so with all things being equal, go with the less expensive route… especially if you plan on finishing early. I spent three years at HBU with some funding, and feel like I received an excellent education which prepared me for Baylor Med. While it might not have the “college experience” that much larger schools do, I really didn’t care for that kind of environment as I knew my long-term goal was to stay in Houston for my medical training and beyond. I grew fond of my classmates and professors, and because it’s such a small school, the transition from high school to college wasn’t as drastic. I had plenty of opportunities to explore careers, get involved in extracurriculars, develop my skills, and pursue hobbies outside of medicine.

      That being said, does your undergraduate name really matter? Does Harvard University look better than UT Dallas? Perhaps, but in the grand scheme of things, your own personal drive is what guides your success in medical school… not your alma mater. You want to attend an institution that’s affordable and has a track record of people achieving their goals. Having a stellar GPA/MCAT is becoming increasingly important to remain competitive, but again, I feel that’s more up to the individual than the institution.

      Think about what kind of environment and extracurriculars each campus will afford you in the coming years. Think about the financial implications of attending each. And regardless of wherever you matriculate, focus on your studies!

  72. Any advice on choosing the order of your clinical rotations? I am interested in almost every specialty but am also worried about starting off with a difficult core rotation (e.g. surgery, ob gyn). Thank you!

    • So there are three schools of thought:

      1.) The order doesn’t matter since you have to do all the core rotations anyways.
      2.) DON’T do what you’re interested in first, because you’re going to “look dumb” at the beginning of clinical rotations which might hurt your evaluations.
      3.) DO what you’re interested in first, so you can establish whether or not it’s the right field early during your rotations and adjust your career goals accordingly.

      First of all, being interested in many specialties is a sentiment shared by many medical students, so don’t worry! I’d recommend starting with Internal Medicine as you learn many of the basic aspects of clinical medicine – performing a thorough H&P, presenting patients, writing notes, diagnostics, formulating a plan, etc. It essentially lays the framework for other rotations.

      I vaguely recall our clerkship director also saying that students who start with internal medicine do statistically better on all their subsequent shelf exams; in retrospect, this makes sense since you get to practice so many basics.

  73. Amanda Huggenkiss

    Hello Dr. Kumar,
    I was wondering if you were single. I am looking for nice indian doctor man to bear my children.

  74. Hey! My husband is also an anesthesiology resident and has been searching for a good OR jacket. Can you tell me who makes yours or how I can possibly get one for him??

  75. Hi Rishi..Did you ever have second thoughts in MS1 ? How did you manage your time, how many hours did you spend studying ?
    Did you ever have free time in med school for personal hobbies ?

    • Wonderful question, Reya! I feel like more and more people are finding reasons NOT to go into medicine these days, and when the rigorous curriculum becomes a reality as an MS1, people definitely have second thoughts.

      The curriculum at Baylor Med provides MS1s with PLENTY of time in the afternoons and on the weekends to divide between studying, personal hobbies, etc. Plus with our block system, we had anywhere from 4-6 weeks before exams. I usually spent 10 hours a week in the anatomy lab, ~8 hours each week reviewing histology, and maybe 1-2 hours per day reviewing lecture material. Closer to exam time, my daily studying time lengthened.

      I never had second thoughts as I tried to make all my “plan B” options part of my personal hobbies. I spent my days trading stocks, playing computer games, going to the gym whenever I could, and playing basketball with classmates each week. My classmates would periodically have get togethers which I’d try to attend as well. The MS1 year is nice because your entire class has virtually the same schedule which makes it easy to schedule group events and vacations together. =)

  76. im prep for step 2 ck ,,any tips,,,want anasth as a branch

  77. icame to know ur site incidently its nice

  78. from where did you order your o.r. jacket

  79. Why are you such a baller??

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