I'm a first generation American. My family's from Mexico. I actually never planned on becoming a physician. I actually didn't even plan on really attaining any higher education. Really medicine wasn't at all on my radar up until I was probably in my mid, early 20s. Around that time, I had my first experience with medicine. I had a family member that was in the hospital and was in an intensive care unit for about 10 days. I just remember that 10 days, you know, the way these medical professionals came in and the level of etiquette of caring that they displayed towards the family members, knowing that it's a difficult situation. It was sort of this unreal level of customer service that I had never really seen before and I think it was really the patient physician etiquette and just overall knowledge of helping people was kind of something that sort of captivated me and being a young person and never having thought about pursuing college or becoming a physician was a very very exciting but also very very terrifying and daunting position to be in because I had nowhere really to, I had no idea where to start. I enrolled in a local junior college. I spent three years there. I studied basic general education as well as a lot of science courses, a lot of courses that were general chemistry, anatomy, biology, physics, calculus, things of that nature and then after three years at a junior college I had applied and was accepted to UC Berkeley, so I attended UC Berkeley for two years as I finished my upper divisions and so across the bay is UCSF, one of the most world-renowned biomedical and research institutions in the world and I was very fortunate to have an opportunity to go work along with a future colleague of mine that doing a research project really looking at neurological diseases. So, after I graduated from UC Berkeley I was invited to stay at UCSF during a research fellowship to continue to do biomedical research in neuromuscular disease for the next three years. Eventually, applying to medical school was my main goal and in order to do that there are a number of things that you need to do. You need to study for the MCAT, which is the medical test that's comprehensive in order to gain admission to med school. You need letters of recommendation, a personal statement, an overall application and you need to save up money to apply for such a thing. So, you typically get your application ready to submit sometime in June, maybe July. That would be your primary application. Something known as a secondary application may be offered to you. A secondary application usually is additional essays that are unique to that program, unique to their admission and maybe they want a little more reflection of you as a person, so secondary applications usually come out anywhere from August, September, October, November and then after a secondary application if the admissions committee is interested, then they would offer you an interview. You travel to the hospital and to the program. You meet the admissions committee and you interview there and then usually after the interview you wait some time. Usually it can be anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple of months before you hear whether you were accepted to the program or you could be waitlisted or you could also be rejected from the medical school program. That whole process is something that happens within a 12-month period, so from starting med school is four years itself. Internship is one year in internal medicine, three years in neurology residency and then potentially one, maybe two years as a fellow, so at the very least, from starting med school to finishing fellowship, it'll be a nine year clinical training endeavor. So, currently doing my internship in internal medicine at UCLA. After this year of training, I'll be heading to Harvard over at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women's Hospital where I'll be doing a neurology residency, so that'll be an additional three years where I'll be studying diseases involving the brain and spine and peripheral nervous system. So, my advice to the next generation of physicians is I would say some of the most important things is to have a really good support system and that's family, friends and then also having mentors is part of the support system because it can feel like a long road. There are a lot of classes you take as a college student. There's a lot of tests you're gonna take and I think the journey itself can be rather long, but the journey itself is incredible and most people who have done it would say it was one of the most exciting and gratifying things of their life, but my advice would be that when times are tough to reach out to those around you and there'll be mistakes that will happen. There'll be setbacks that will happen. I think that's part of the process itself. I think a lot of students think that they have to be perfect the entire time, but the reality is you're a human being and you have to learn from your mistakes and that really delivers a lot of personal growth along the process. Very rarely in medicine is it a one person job. It's a whole collaborative team effort. It's a team effort to get you into med school. It's a team effort to train you to get ready for residency and it's a team effort when you're delivering care and so that really doesn't change and so I think my advice in general to the future physician students is to be ready. It's gonna be a long ride, but it's gonna be a really fun ride and it's gonna be a unique ride. It'll be unique for everyone.
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