This section will spotlight a student who has come through the Health Professions Advising office at CSUF on their journey to professional school, and wishes to share his or her experiences and advice with current and future students.
Hannah Endicott- Future Physician
My name is Hannah Endicott, and I’ll be moving to Brisbane, Australia in January of 2015 to earn my MD from The University of Queensland School of Medicine and Ochsner Clinical School. Before committing to medicine I pursued a variety of other paths, among them performing as a dancer and actor, working for a private investigation firm, and teaching in various capacities. Growing up I loved to read fiction and write, perform and play music, and talk. The talking thing is important, because over time I’ve realized that this was indicative of my interest in other people. Making connections with others has always been a key part of my personality, and why I chose psychology as my undergraduate major at the University of California, Davis. I enjoyed what I learned as an undergraduate, but found a certain amount of it, for me, to be unsatisfying. As I learned the principles of cognition, human development, personality, and pathology, I was constantly thinking about the deeper physiological and biochemical processes at work that contributed to behavior and development. In other words, I could see a relationship between two facets of what makes human beings who they are, and felt frustrated that I only had a clear view of one. After earning my bachelor’s degree I started reaching out to advisors at different schools and eventually learned about the post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at CSU Fullerton. I applied and was able to get a spot in the program for the upcoming fall.
My time at CSUF was, in a word, transformative. I completely changed the way that I studied, developed better focus and stamina, and learned to be comfortable with the necessary solitude that comes with fully committing one’s self to a single goal. I used my time at Fullerton to strengthen parts of my resume that were weak. While I had a good amount of research experience and involvement in campus organizations as an undergrad, I had no clinical volunteer experience. When I wasn’t studying (the most important objective, never forget) I spent my time volunteering at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County and American Red Cross, as well as shadowing a pediatric hospitalist. Shadowing was incredibly helpful for two reasons. First, I was able to observe not only her day-to-day responsibilities, but also those of the residents, interns, med students, and other personnel under her supervision. It gave me a realistic view of the hours I’d be keeping, and the volume of work that would be expected of me. Second, I was able to talk to multiple people who had been through everything I had yet to face, and had emerged loving their jobs, believing in the work they were doing, and willing to tell a green pre-med like myself that all of the ridiculously hard work is worth it. By the time I completed the CSUF program and MCAT, I was stronger, more patient, and more confident in my abilities than before. Staring down Dr. Goode’s biochem class or the verbal section of the MCAT is scary, but the good news is, if you give it everything you have, you will emerge on the other side completely fearless. Someone once told me that after he made himself go skydiving, he was able to look at everything else a little differently because he had already jumped out of an airplane. It’s a little like that, except with more books.
I decided to go international for med school because I have lived in California my entire life, and see global education experience as an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. After sending some applications to US MD programs, I wasn't feeling particularly drawn to any of them, and began to consider what my options would be for going abroad. I took several factors into consideration when deciding where to apply: location, the type of degree offered, the structure of the program, USMLE pass rates, residency match statistics, and financial aid available. I chose the MD program at UQ because of their students' impressive overall performance on the USMLE and matching with first choice residencies, the reputations of both UQ and Ochsner as research and teaching institutions, my ability to apply for US Federal Student Loans, but most of all, how and where I will be learning. I will complete years 1 and 2 of my program in Australia at UQ, and then years 3 and 4 in New Orleans, Louisiana at Ochsner Clinical School. The program has a diverse range of remote and rural medicine opportunities, both in Australia and back in the US. I can learn what it's like to practice medicine in a large city hospital, but also what it's like to work in the Australian outback and the Louisiana bayou. UQ also begins training its medical students in hospitals from day 1. Many of their students highlighted their comfort and familiarity with basic clinical exam procedures as a huge help when starting their clinical rotations in years 3 and 4. Finally, I am excited to be a part of a program that is relatively new. The UQ Ochsner program is only a few years old, much like the CSUF post-bacc program was when I joined cohort 4 in 2011. It’s exciting to be on the ground floor.
So before I close, I was asked to impart any advice I have for students at CSUF who are preparing for med school. The only advice I have is advice you more than likely first got in kindergarten, but if you’re anything like me, you often have trouble following it. Shakespeare (not surprisingly) worded it best when he said, “this above all, to thine own self be true,” but I’ve had the most success with three simple words: do your thing. It’s difficult not to compare yourself to your peers, it’s even more difficult when your peers are also trying to get into med school. Your colleagues are impressive people, they are smart people, they are disciplined, and you’ll never be better at doing it their way than they are. Observe the strategies of others, listen to advice, but at the end of the day do what you need to do to have the kind of medical career you feel passion for. Of course you won’t always do this, and I’d be lying if I said this isn’t a competition. Of course it is. Some of your professors will grade on a curve, your MCAT score reflects how you performed compared to everyone else who took the same test, and medical schools will absolutely compare you to other applicants to decide who gets a spot, but try to remember that of all the races you’re running, the most important is the race with yourself. You don’t have to study like other people do, you don’t have to gun for the program everyone else wants, and you needn’t have what other people have to be a huge asset to the right school. You just have to do your thing the way that only you can do it.
Also, a little yoga never hurt anyone. Good luck.