How I Got Accepted to St. George’s University School of Medicine
This is just one in a series of blog posts that will feature medical students telling their stories of how they got accepted into medical school. Today, Shivani Amin shares with us the story of her acceptance to St. George’s University School of Medicine.
Shivani, give us a peek into your life. What initially attracted you to pursue medicine?
Some people know for sure that they want to do medicine. For me, it took a while. Pursuing medicine was always a possibility in my mind; I certainly knew what I didn't want to do, but medicine was never on that list. In 2013, I went on a trip through my university to Honduras, and while we were there, we worked at a children’s home. When we were volunteering, I remember walking into the room where all the kids with mental disorders were staying, and it shocked me. I had always liked psychology. This, combined with that experience, made me realize that medicine was what I wanted to do. I've always liked the brain, and for me, psychiatry was a way to mix the science and psychology that I liked. I remember thinking about it on the flight home from Honduras. I had really enjoyed what we’d done, and realized that I had found ways to integrate everything that I liked.
Why did you choose to apply to St. George’s University School of Medicine?
It has gotten harder to apply to medical school, so I kept my options open and applied to all D.O. schools in the U.S. and St. Georges, Ross, and American University as well. I got into all three of the Caribbean schools. I have friends who have gone there, and know friends' parents who have gone there. Also, I'm not a great test taker, so I think my MCAT score is what really kept me from getting into schools in the U.S.
What are three reasons why you think you were accepted?
Firstly, I wasn't a cookie cutter applicant. I majored in psychology, and although many people are starting to do majors outside of biology, most people don't. After undergrad, I did a post-bac to get all my pre-med requirements in, and then I did a masters program. It was a long journey, but I believe one of the reasons I was accepted is because I stuck with it.
I also interview well. I'm a people person, and they saw that in me. I interviewed in New York with a grad who is now a doctor at NYU, and I remember that he responded well to what I told him.
Finally, I did a variety of different medical and non-medical work and volunteering, and I think that made the school interested in me.
How do you think the Atlantis Fellowship influenced or impacted your acceptance?
I think my Fellowship influenced my acceptance in a positive way. The admissions committee saw that I had shadowed not only doctors, but doctors outside of America. My interviewer really focused on that and drew parallels between my experience and opportunities I could have at St. Georges. I remember that he looked at me and said: “Oh you'll definitely like these programs we have, because you seem like that kind of person.”
Now, as an international student, I realize that experiencing medicine abroad also helped me expand my view of medicine beyond the United States. I resonated with many of the medical students and residents I met in Spain. Because they study medicine from the start in university, they were around my age, if not a bit older, and we were really able to connect. And I did use some of my experiences in my application.
I don't know if St. George’s or any other school I applied to looked at my Atlantis Fellowship and thought: “She’s definitely a good candidate.” But when I was able to verbalize my thoughts and experiences to them, they realized what I had gotten out of it. And I’ll just say here that as a future medical student, you need to show true interest during your Fellowship. There were people in my group who wanted to get out of the hospital at 3 o'clock on the dot because they were tired. But if your doctor wants you to stay until 4, stay.
Finally, Atlantis helped me become aware of what I like and don’t like. After my rotations in the hospital -- internal medicine, general surgery, neurosurgery and OB/GYN -- I knew I definitely was not going to become a gynecologist. And that’s important to know.
How did you feel after the interview?
I felt really good about it, although I was nervous going in. The setting was more casual than the other ones I've done -- we met at a coffee shop after my interviewer’s shift at the hospital. It was pretty conversational, and although I was nervous, he seemed to like me. He responded well to everything that I'd done, and seemed to appreciate the failures and hardships that I'd had in my journey. No person is 100 percent perfect, so everyone is going to have a challenge here or there. When you're interviewing, own up about all the struggles you’ve had, but also highlight the good things.
Walk us through the moment you found out you got accepted.
I'm pretty sure I received a call, but missed it, and got a voicemail asking me to call back. I feel like I should have been more excited -- not that I wasn't excited -- but it was really just a sigh of relief when they said I was accepted. Through stress after stress, that's what everyone waits for. It could be from the last school on your list, because it is getting harder and harder to be accepted to med school, but getting in somewhere is the goal.
Last question: How can others imitate your success?
It takes a lot of commitment. For me, it took three years between graduation and medical school, and there were two years in between when I actually finished all my requirements and began at St. Georges. So the bottom line is: keep trying. Get as much experience as possible. For example, I volunteered at a foster home, a bit like Make a Wish Foundation, and my school really liked that.
Be sure that you want to do this, but know that you're going to make a lot of sacrifices. It's OK to not know what kind of doctor you want to be. That's what rotations are for. Get as much experience and understanding of the field as you can before you apply. That will really help you in the long run.
A New Jersey native, Shivani Amin is a second year medical student at St. George’s University School of Medicine on the Caribbean island of Grenada. She graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in psychology and a minor in biology, and traveled to Spain with the Atlantis Fellowship in summer 2015. Although she is uncertain about her future medical specialty, she is interested in both child psychiatry and orthopedics. In her spare time, she enjoys the beach, hiking, kickboxing and travel.
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