The student spotlight is an opportunity to recognize our students and hear their story and experiences as a post-bac pre-med student. The spotlight is shining on Alan North, a recent graduate from our program.
I remember when I first met Alan as a prospective applicant during the fall of 2010. He came to my office to learn more about our program. He followed through and applied and ultimately was accepted. Alan
completed the program this past May, got married in June and started
his first year of medical school in August at the University of
Louisville School of Medicine. Though the road to medical school isn’t
always smooth, Alan has been optimistic and positive the entire time. He didn’t give up hope and felt that if it was meant to happen it would. I’m glad it did! Please read his story and be inspired.
Please share what your original academic and career plans were in undergrad.
I began college with the intent of taking all of the classes for medical school and majoring in Biology, but I was on a full athletic scholarship to play basketball and our coach wouldn't allow any of the scholarship players to major in anything that required a lot of outside time in labs such as the sciences. At the time, academics were not my first priority and so I agreed to change my major to business with an emphasis in marketing. In hindsight, this was a blessing in disguise and allowed me to get to this point today. Had I majored in biology and played basketball with mentality that I had at 18, I would have struggled mightily.
At what point in your life did you decide that you wanted to become a physician?
My interest in medicine began when I was around 10 years old in the Philippines after seeing the impact that free medical clinics had on those with no access to quality healthcare. I have always loved how universal medicine is in spite of potential language and cultural barriers.
How did you find out about this program?
I discovered the post bac program through google and immediately called Tonia. After speaking with her on the phone, I knew this was the place I needed to be.
Now that you've graduated, looking back what was the biggest adjustment or challenge you faced while in the program? How did you cope?
In hindsight, the greatest challenge was just getting back in study mode and discovering a new level of academic work ethic that had not been there in my undergraduate career. Confidence in my academic ability was also lacking in the beginning and once I realized that I would make it after that first semester, the following semesters were much more of a formality of knowing that "I'm going to do this" and not "I wonder if I can do this?" I was very blessed to have a great cohort of post bacs who were going through many of the same struggles and they were incredibly supportive and encouraging. They are by far your greatest asset.
Is there anything you would have done differently in preparing for medical school? If so, please share.
If I could do it all over again, I would have made sure that I finished my pre-requisite classes before taking my MCAT. I was in a hurry to take my MCAT and ended up taking it before I was finished with my organic chemistry courses, which definitely made an already challenging exam that much more difficult.
How did you remain motivated while waiting to find out if you were accepted or not?
It was easy for me to remain motivated because I am motivated by the fear of failure, so not knowing if I was in or not was a great motivator. Had I been accepted before I was finished with all of my classes I wouldn't have had as much to prove and would have been tempted to relax a little bit, knowing that I was already in.
Describe the feeling you had when you found out that you were accepted to medical school? Who did you tell first?
Getting the acceptance letter to medical school was the greatest feeling of my life. I called my wife first and then all of my family and friends. It had been a crazy journey to get to this point and I was so grateful to finally get in. There are hundreds and thousands of deserving people who don't get in every year and I felt really blessed.
Please share some advice or words of encouragement for our current and prospective pre-med post-bac students.
The best advice I have is to listen to the advice of others, but ultimately you are different and you have to do what works for you. Everyone has a different trick or fail proof plan that works for them, but it may or may not work for you. Finally, have the confidence to know that you are absolutely going to make it, you wouldn't have been chosen for this program if there was any doubt.