How I Got Into UT Southwestern Medical Center
This is the fifth in a weekly series of blog posts that will feature medical students telling their story of how they got into medical school. Last week, we heard from Selena about how she got into Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine . Today, Jessica Fults shares her story with us, including how she got accepted to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Jessica, tell us more about yourself. What initially attracted you to pursue medicine?
I am originally from Lebanon, Tennessee, which is right outside of Nashville. Our claim to fame is that it is the home of Cracker Barrel. Growing up I was very involved in school and my community. I played varsity sports through my junior year of high school, but I decided my senior year to focus on HOSA-Future Health Professionals. HOSA is an student-led organization for students wanting to pursue a career in medicine. I felt like it would open the most doors for my future, and it definitely did.
My senior year I served as the State Secretary-Treasurer in Tennessee, and my freshman year of college I served as the National Region II Vice President. Those positions kept me very busy, but in my free time I played the saxophone in a community band as well as volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“From an early age, I was mesmerized by the human body and its ability to adapt in the face of unforeseen circumstances.”
For me, going into medicine is a decision I made when I was very young. From an early age, I was mesmerized by the human body and its ability to adapt in the face of unforeseen circumstances. My father lost his leg in an automobile accident when he was seventeen years old, but that never slowed him down. He was able to adapt largely in thanks to the medical professionals who helped him recover after his accident. Watching my father thrive, even in the midst of the obstacles he faced, drove my desire to learn more about the human body. My family history sparked my interest in medicine and motivated me to work alongside the individuals who saved my father’s life all those years ago.
When and why did you apply to UT Southwestern?
I applied to UT Southwestern in early June before my senior year of college. I had my personal statement and essays written before the application even opened. Once it did, I was able to input everything into the system pretty quickly and submit very early on in the application cycle. I chose to apply to UT Southwestern because I had heard great things about the school.
HOSA's international headquarters is located close by, so I initially heard about it through some people involved with HOSA. Once I looked into it more, I realized they had a four year MD/MPH program, which was something I really wanted to be able to do in medical school. Through opportunities with HOSA, I have worked with the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and public health at the national level for a number of years, so being able to get my MPH while in medical school was very important to me. Also, the pre-clerkship curriculum is accelerated here, meaning we do it in one and a half years instead of the traditional two years. This allows students to spend more time in clinical settings exploring various fields, which is also something I valued in a medical education.
“My family history sparked my interest in medicine and motivated me to work alongside the individuals who saved my father’s life all those years ago.”
What are three 3 reasons why you think you got accepted?
I think the biggest reason I got accepted at UT Southwestern was that I applied early. I interviewed on their first interview day, and I was also accepted during their first round of acceptance offers. Getting your application in early makes a huge difference. I think my unique experience within our health care system at the federal level also helped me stand apart.
As I mentioned previously, I have worked with the U.S. Surgeon General and various other agencies for several years now. Being able to see a different side of health infrastructure and help influence future direction in our nation's healthcare as a student continues to be an incredible opportunity. This is something I am also very passionate about, and I think that was evident in my interviews, which also helped me get accepted. I felt that I was able to successfully convey my passions during my interviews and show my interviewers who I am beyond my paper application. I think it is really important for them to see the person on the application come to life, which is why it is so important to be yourself during interviews.
“I felt that I was able to successfully convey my passions during my interviews and show my interviewers who I am beyond my paper application.”
How did you feel after your interviews, specifically after your interview at UT Southwestern?
I felt like all of my interviews went well, including the one at UT Southwestern. I used that time to share my passions with the admissions committee members and not only let them get to know me, but I also took time to get to know them. The interviews were very conversational and were just as much about me trying to decide if the school was a good fit. At the end of the day, I knew UT Southwestern felt like I second home to me, so I was really hoping to hear good news from them once they started sending out acceptances.
Take us through the moment you got the acceptance call.
UT Southwestern starts sending out acceptances later than a lot of schools, so that was one of the last schools I was waiting to hear from. I was in Washington, D.C. at an interagency roundtable the night I expected to hear from them. I went to bed since I had to be up really early the next day, but I woke up in the middle of the night at 2 am, which is not normal for me. I remembered in my groggy state that I could possibly have an email from UT Southwestern, so I fumbled through the dark hotel room looking for my phone. I checked my email and was thrilled to see an acceptance offer waiting for me in my inbox.
How can others imitate your success?
Like I said, I think applying early is one of the best things a student hoping to go to medical school can do. It gives the admissions committee more time to look at your application, more time to offer you an interview, and consequently more time to consider you for a spot at their medical school. If you do that and remember to be yourself during interviews, I think you will have a great chance at finding the success you are looking for.
“I think applying early is one of the best things a student hoping to go to medical school can do.”
Jessica is from Lebanon, Tennessee. She previously attended the University of Alabama where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She is also a student at UTHealth School of Public Health pursuing a Master of Public Health as part of a dual MD/MPH degree program. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing.