My name is Rachel Kaplan and I graduated from CSUF with my BS in Biochemistry in May of 2008. My best advice to anyone that wants to go into medicine is that you are sure this is the field you will enjoy pursuing for the rest of your life. One beneficial way to determine this is to volunteer in a hospital for at least one year. To truly find out if you want to follow this field for the rest of your life, you need to witness the blood and guts of a hospital setting, enter that fast-paced environment, and experience the blessings and sorrows of this profession. For the 4 years I volunteered as a Clinical Care Extender at St. Mary’s Medical Center, I solidified my dreams of becoming a physician. I have experienced just about every floor of the hospital, and have had many life changing experiences that have truly helped me discover my calling to medicine. Although grades and the MCAT are important, volunteering is the key to determining if medicine is for you.
Now that you have received a little advice, I will tell you about myself and my journey to the place I am in today. While doing my undergrad at CSUF I worked in Dr. Chandra Srinivasan’s research lab for 5 years, I was the president and vice president of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club at CSUF, I have shadowed an osteopathic physician in his family practice, I volunteered at St. Mary’s Medical Center, and served on the leadership team at St. Mary’s as an Assistant Director of the program. Another bit of advice, get involved as much as you can in school and health related avenues. This will show medical schools that, one, you can handle a heavy load of responsibilities, and two, you care enough about the field you are entering that you will dedicate your free time into learning more about it. Once I graduated, I took a year off of school and became a general chemistry lab instructor at CSUF. This experience has been very worthwhile because now I know I can take a subject that I am familiar with and explain it to others. That is, essentially, what doctors will be doing on a daily basis and being able to practice these techniques has been invaluable.
On top of being involved and looking good on an application, my last bit of advice for a premed student is to do something that you enjoy outside of the science and medical realm. Pick up a hobby, exercise, read a book for fun; something that allows you to relax and focus on yourself. This activity for me has been singing. Since childhood I have been singing in choirs, musicals, and other various arenas. I am currently in a Christian rock band at my church called Ablaze, where I am one of the lead singers. Each week, no matter how busy I get with school and extracurricular activities, I set aside time to practice with my band and perform each Sunday for church. It is something I love to do and allows me let loose and have fun.
My path to becoming an osteopathic physician has been a growing experience and has taken many turns, but through persistence and hard work, I was able to make my dream a reality. In August of this year I will be attending Touro University, an osteopathic medical school in Nevada. I am very excited to begin my career and hope to become a family practitioner.
I wish everyone good luck on their future goals and remember to keep working at that dream!