Dr. Chan: What is the Presidential Ambassador Program? Why is time management essential to being successful? How does being actively involved in your undergrad student government help prepare you for medical school? And why is it important to be able to talk about your experiences and what you've learned?
Today, on Talking Admissions and Med Student Life, I interview Madison, a first-year medical student here, at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Announcer: Helping you prepare for one of the most rewarding careers in the world, this is Talking Admissions and Med Student Life, with your host, the Dean of Admissions at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Dr. Benjamin Chan.
Dr. Chan: Well, welcome to another edition of Talking Admissions and Med Student Life. Got a great guest today. Madison, how are you doing?
Madison: I'm doing great. How about yourself?
Dr. Chan: Oh, I'm doing fantastic. I'm so glad you're here because you're an incoming medical student.
Madison: Yes, and I'm so excited.
Dr. Chan: All right. Let's unpack this. Okay. So, since you got into medical school, people are probably coming up to you and say like, "How did you do it? What's your secret? What tips do you have?" So let's start at the beginning. At what point did you decide to go to medical school? When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?
Madison: So I have been thinking about this for a very long time. I think the first time that I really decided I wanted to be a doctor was in the third grade.
Dr. Chan: Okay.
Madison: We got a booklet of careers, and there were all sorts of different careers, like banker, lifeguard. I think there was a clown in there, which is kind of funny. And then I turned the next page, and there is a doctor. And it was a picture of a woman and she had a tongue depressor and she was examining a child. And I looked at that and I was like, "Wow! I want to do that."
So I remember my dad picked me up from school that day. I got in the car, and I said, "Dad, I want to be a doctor." And he said, ";That's great, like your pediatrician, Dr. Hurley," and I was like, "Yeah, I love him." So, from then on I wanted to be a doctor. So every time I went to my pediatrician, when I had strep throat, I was always asking him about medical school, why he decided to do pediatrics. And from then on, moving forward, that was my goal.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Awesome. So did you grow up in Utah?
Madison: Yes, grew up in Salt Lake City.
Dr. Chan: And then you decided to go to the U?
Dr. Chan: How did you come to that decision?
Madison: So I went to Skyline High School. I did the IB program.
Dr. Chan: Go Eagles.
Madison: Yes, exactly. I love Skyline High School. And I had applied to some Ivy League schools, and I had actually been accepted to one of them. And so, for a while, I was trying to decide between U Penn and the University of Utah, and I could not make up my mind. I was like U Penn would be an incredible opportunity, but ...
Dr. Chan: Philly cheeesteaks.
Madison: Yes, seriously, Philadelphia love, everything like that, but I don't know, I was just always drawn to Utah. I grew up here. I love this medical school. I loved the program I was thinking of going into, which was bioengineering, and I just felt like it was right. And I could live on campus, I could be in the Honors College, and so I decided, ultimately, to go to the University of Utah. And I don't regret it ever.
Dr. Chan: There's a lot to unpack there. So, Honors College, what is that, and do you live in a dorm just with honor students or ...
Madison: Yeah, so the Honors College is a college within the University of Utah. It's not necessarily like a specific college that houses, like, engineering or biology, or things like that, but they connect with those colleges so you can do sort of an honors track. And part of that honors track is doing a thesis. So you could actually do research in your field of your undergraduate major, and you get to take courses with like-minded students, people who want to engage in the community, people who are really, really dedicated to learning, and people who have perspectives from all different backgrounds. And that's what I liked about the Honors College.
Dr. Chan: And is this the building they built right by those Student Life Center, by the tracks?
Dr. Chan: Okay. So brand new Student Life ... okay.
Madison: So, when I started, the Honors dorms were still in Sage Point, which is one of the dorms on campus, and so I was one of the first students to live in the Honors dorms, and that was a really beautiful building. There are classrooms in there, and I had great roommates. We'd have late-night studying. It was a great place to sort of connect with people, study and be on campus.
Dr. Chan: Okay. Awesome. And so what kind of activities did you do during your undergrad career that prepared you for your application, prepared you to go to medical school?
Madison: So I would say that almost every experience I did as an undergraduate sort of prepared me for going to medical school. The first student group I joined was, as a freshman, I decided I wanted to join a sorority, which I never thought I would do.
Dr. Chan: Did you rush?
Madison: Yes, I rushed.
Dr. Chan: Okay.
Madison: I rushed, and it was such a fun experience for me, because I decided to join Chi Omega.
Dr. Chan: Why Chi Omega?
Madison: This is going to sound really funny, but it's sort of like picking a specialty of medicine, like you sort of find your people, and I felt like when I walked into the Chi Omega house, that the women were a lot like I was. They were dedicated, they were devoted to school, they were a lot of fun, and I just felt like I connected with them really, really well. And so I decided to join Chi Omega, and also they have a really great philanthropy, and their philanthropy is the Make A Wish Foundation, and that really resonated with me, being able to raise money for that incredible organization.
Dr. Chan: Very cool.
Madison: So those were the reasons why I picked it.
Dr. Chan: So Chi Omega, were you able to rush during your freshman year?
Dr. Chan: Okay. Any hazing?
Dr. Chan: Okay.
Madison: No, they do not. They have a very strict no-hazing policy.
Dr. Chan: But if you did get hazed, you probably couldn't talk about it.
Madison: You know, I wouldn't be afraid to talk about it, but I can honestly say I did not get hazed.
Dr. Chan: Because that's kind of in the news now. There's a lot of bad stuff going on.
Madison: There is a lot of bad stuff going on, but I can honestly say that I did not get hazed in Chi Omega at all.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right.
Madison: Totally different experience than I think from fraternities versus sororities, although most of the fraternities, all of the fraternities on the University of Utah campus have a no-hazing policy.
Dr. Chan: I know there's always ... it hasn't been in the news recently, but there's kind of a tense relationship between Greek Row and the Federal Heights neighborhood, but I think it's calmed down. I think they're at peace.
Madison: I feel like they have done a lot to really connect. I remember they would have breakfasts or barbeques or events with the people who lived in that area, just to sort of connect with them and be able to develop really good relations with them. So I think we really worked hard to make sure that they liked us, and we really liked them, because we understand there is a Greek Row right by their home, but it's also ...
Dr. Chan: Yeah, and Federal Heights is a very nice neighborhood.
Madison: And Federal Heights is a beautiful neighborhood, and so being able to sort of share that space with them, and I feel like we've gotten to a really good place with them.
Dr. Chan: Good. So you're in Chi Omega. You're living the life, living the dream.
Madison: Yes, loving it. It's been so much fun.
Dr. Chan: And you were there for three years?
Madison: Four years.
Dr. Chan: Four years. Okay.
Madison: So you do it through your entire undergrad basically, and you do it for four years. What I really liked about it was it connected me with girls I would not have otherwise been friends with, which I think is really exciting. Going to the University of Utah, a lot of kids are from Utah.
Dr. Chan: Yeah, it's interesting because what I know is like a lot of people drive to school.
Dr. Chan: It's known as a commuter school, but The U is really trying to build up dorm life, Greek life.
Madison: Exactly. And I feel like Greek life does a really good job of sort of getting you out of maybe you had really great friends in high school, but when you go to college, you want to be friends with ... you want to meet new people, you want to get new friends. And so I felt like Chi Omega did that for me. It gave me a group of really great new friends, people that supported me, people that studied with me. A lot of them I'm still really great friends with. A lot of them are now nurses, or they're applying to medical school themselves, and so it's really fun to be able to connect with them and stay friends with them through the entire life, because they say that you're in your sorority for life. You may have the experience for four years, but these relationships last a lifetime.
Dr. Chan: So Make A Wish Foundation, what is that? What did you do for them?
Madison: So the Make A Wish Foundation, basically what they do ... they're the most amazing organization. They help ... they give children who have been diagnosed with very chronic illness, oftentimes ...
Dr. Chan: Terminal.
Madison: ... terminal cancer, really difficult illnesses, and it's sort of they have an opportunity to sort of make a wish of something they would like to do. It's like maybe they want to have a masquerade ball, or maybe they want to go to Disney World, or maybe they want to meet their favorite football player. And so what they do is they raise funds for it, and they find a way to connect this child to whatever their wish is. And so, during my time, we were able to grant some wishes for kids. We were able to raise money for them to be able to go Disney World with their family.
One group, actually, there was a girl who was a very, very die-hard football fan of the Green Bay Packers, and they got her a day to spend with the team. She got to go to practice. She got to eat lunch with the team. Their quarterback gave her the sideline hat.
Dr. Chan: Go Packers.
Madison: Yes, and it was just really incredible, because you see what a difference it makes in these kids' lives even if it's just a day or a trip. You can just see the look on their faces, the before-and-after pictures. It just really ... it gives them a lot of hope during a time that's really trying for their family and for themselves.
Dr. Chan: Excellent. Okay. So you're at The U, Chi Omega, Make A Wish Foundation. What other kind of activities did you engage in?
Madison: So I joined the Student Alumni Board, which is in the Alumni Association. I got to work with a really amazing advisor. His name is John Fackler, and they call him the Father of the MUSS. And we got to do a lot of really amazing things on campus. We have an annual food drive that we do around Thanksgiving. It used to be the rivalry food drive, where we would compete with BYU in raising funds and collecting food. Now they've sort of moved away from that, because we actually ended up beating them for many, many years, and I think they got tired of it. So now we just do a University of Utah food drive, and we are able to raise, like, thousands of pounds of food, thousands and thousands of dollars to the Utah Food Bank.
Dr. Chan: Cool.
Madison: We also have the opportunity to work with the MUSS, which is student section during football games, basketball games, all the sporting events, and really being able to connect to campus and sort of make your time here on campus a really unique experience. Like I talked about before, this is a commuter campus. There are a lot of kids who don't necessarily live in the dorms, even though that's changing. Being able to give them a home on campus and being able to give them an experience of attending a university where they feel like they have a space on campus. And I feel like Student Alumni Board did that for me.
Dr. Chan: Awesome. And then I get the sense you got more and more involved, and I think you started to have political aspirations. So let's talk about that.
Madison: Yeah. So I thought the student government was always a really fun opportunity, and I thought that'd be a really exciting thing to do, but I never anticipated that I would be the Student Body Vice President at The U. And I got my start in student government, it was about my junior year. I had some friends who were running for president and vice president, and they needed some people to run with their party. So the way it works at the University of Utah is you sort of ... you develop a party. And it's not like Republicans, Democrats. You make like a name for yourself. So the party I ran with was called The Peak party.
Dr. Chan: Does that have a platform?
Dr. Chan: Okay.
Madison: So they basically, they have a platform of things they like to do.
Dr. Chan: Like climbing peaks, like P-E-A-K?
Madison: Yes, peak, P-E-A-K, their logo was a mountain.
Dr. Chan: They hate valleys, lakes, bad.
Madison: Yes, all of it bad. Yes.
Dr. Chan: Okay
Madison: So they have like some catchy name, and then they have things they want to do, like they want to help get more people involved on campus. They want to help connect people to Career Services, or they had a lot of different things they wanted to do. And they also collect people to be part of the Senate and the Assembly of Student Government, and those are the two groups that allow students to get funding to go on ... to travel to conferences, to big parties and events, or to ...
Dr. Chan: Because there's funds there and the funds have to be used appropriately.
Dr. Chan: But they're always trying to figure out ways to use the funds appropriately, correct?
Madison: Exactly. And so that's what the Senate and the Assembly did.
Dr. Chan: So I know the Medical School has a bunch of student groups that can submit receipts and get reimbursed for certain activities.
Dr. Chan: And there's always kind of this feeling like, "Well, there's just all this money there, and we just need the right forms to be filled out. People just need to turn in the receipts." It's astonishing how many people don't do that.
Madison: Yes, it is. It is amazing how many of the funds go unused. And so I got to be on the Assembly as a representative for the College of Engineering, and that was sort of where I got my start. And so I did that for three or four months, and then during the school year I got approached by two of my really great guy friends who said, "Hey, we want to run for President, Vice President, and we want to make a ticket. Do you want to be part of it?" And I was like, "Wow!" I was really humbled that they would approach me, and at the same time I was like, "Whoa, I don't know. What should I do? Should I do this? Should I not do it?" And I just decided that I wanted to do it, because I thought it was a unique experience because historically not a lot of premed engineering people run for student government. So I thought this would be a really great opportunity to get a new voice in student government.
Dr. Chan: So did you kind of talk amongst your friends about who would be President versus Vice President? How did you wind up on the Vice President?
Madison: Yes. So, originally, I was actually going to be the senior class president, and there were two guys, and one of them wanted to be president, the other one wanted to be a vice president, and they said, "Will you be our senior class?" One of the guys, he had some challenges with his family. His father got really sick and diagnosed with cancer, and he just said, "I don't think this is the time for me to do this" And so he ended up being our campaign manager. And then my friend Justin said, "Okay, Madison, do you want to be president, or do you want to be vice president?"
Dr. Chan: Oh, that's a very key moment.
Madison: Yes, which I was like, "Wow," and I decided I want to be the vice president because I liked the roles of the vice president. I got to work with the Assembly and funding student groups. I got to be on a lot of university committees and work with administrators. I had the opportunity to really do a lot of things, like go to the legislature and advocate for our school as a whole, and represent the university at donor events, and things like that. And so I decided I wanted to be the vice president for those reasons.
Dr. Chan: So I think the hard part is, and correct me if I'm wrong, the student body at the University of Utah is like what, 35,000, 40,000 undergraduates?
Dr. Chan: And I know, because, like, I go down the main campus of Fairmount, I walk around, I give lectures, I give talks, I do my thing, and I always noticed that during, like, this election season time, there's like people out there with like free pizza, and they're just like almost begging people to vote, right? So the student body of 35,000 to 40,000, and I think you guys are, you know, people are lucky to get 10% of the student body that actually votes.
Madison: Very lucky if it's 10%.
Dr. Chan: So is that kind of like the biggest kind of hurdle?
Dr. Chan: Okay. So what are some of your strategies? Like, how do you ... is it the pizza, or what is it?
Madison: So they changed the rules my year, that you couldn't provide incentives, like we couldn't hand out food or pizza of any kind. We could hand out swag. So we did T-shirts and sunglasses, because we called ourselves The Vision Party, because we had a vision for what we thought the campus should be.
Dr. Chan: I thought you were The Peak party?
Madison: That was before.
Dr. Chan: Oh, you got rebranded.
Madison: The Peak party was my first time doing student government. Vision party was when I ran myself on the ticket for Student Body Vice President. Thanks for clarifying that. So, basically, they changed the ruling. So the student government itself, ASUU, would provide pizza if kids showed that they voted, but the parties themselves couldn't provide any pizza. So that made it a little bit harder to get kids to vote. So a lot of my strategies were approaching people that didn't necessarily vote, and a lot of that was the premed crowd, the people that were in mark Nielsen's anatomy class, the people who were in engineering who were there for a different purpose besides being in student government.
Dr. Chan: Okay.
Madison: And approaching them and sort of telling them what I was planning on doing and how I could represent them and getting them to vote that way. So I would say I approached a new group of students that maybe didn't historically get engaged with student government elections.
Dr. Chan: So I think your year, because, again, I go down to main campus, I see the student newspaper, and I just remember your year it was just like talking about some hijinks. So what happened? What was the scandal? Looking back, what did you learn from this?
Madison: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, there were a lot of things that happened. So there was a big conflict, a party that we ran against, he had been planning his campaign for a really long time, and he was accused of recruiting some students beforehand, before the necessary time you could recruit students, because they have ...
Dr. Chan: You couldn't recruit students before a certain time of day.
Madison: Yes, you had some guidelines of, "Okay, you can start telling people to vote for you after this day."
Dr. Chan: So it kind of penalizes people who have been thinking about it for a long time.
Madison: Yes, so it's hard.
Dr. Chan: It's to reward spontaneity.
Madison: Yes, and our party was very spontaneous. So it was like, wow, we were so excited that we won after all that we went through, but getting to what we went through. So we got a lot of grievances. And grievances are basically like somebody reports to the Elections Registrar that you violated ...
Dr. Chan: You were giving out pizza.
Madison: Yes, you're giving out pizza. You were campaigning at a time you weren't supposed to. You left a table out in a certain area that ...
Dr. Chan: This sounds so petty.
Madison: It was petty. It was so petty. And so we were getting a lot of grievances, and some of them were things that people in our party did. There were people in our campaign who sent messages that they probably shouldn't have sent to people, or there were people that were making announcements in classrooms that they couldn't be doing that. Or one time it was really we couldn't figure out what happened. And so I kind of have a conspiracy theory, but there was a table with our poster on it that was just left out in some random place on campus that our group had never been to before, and we got penalized for that. So I'm convinced that somebody ...
Dr. Chan: What kind of penalties would they give you?
Madison: You would have restrictions of when you could table. So, basically, part of running a campaign is getting your name out there, and so you'll see, like you said, that there all these kids in Library Plaza on lower campus that are trying to get their name out there and say, "Vote for us. Vote for the Vision Party." So they would restrict the times that we could be tabling, or we couldn't make classroom announcements from 9:00 to noon on Thursday of this week. And so there were just a lot of things like that, a lot of petty things that were really stressful. And then ...
Dr. Chan: And is this common year-after-year, or was it just extremely bad the year that this all went down?
Madison: No, it is pretty common. I would say the last few years probably haven't been quite as intense as our year was, but historically there are always things that happen like this. In our year, a party actually got disqualified and then requalified.
Dr. Chan: Wow. Did, like, attorneys get involved?
Madison: Yes. The Student Government has an attorney that represents them. They have a ... There was a case. There was a Supreme Court. I had to like ...
Dr. Chan: Citation or did they go to the Utah Supreme Court?
Madison: No, the Student Government has a Supreme Court, and there was a big, like three-hour hearing.
Dr. Chan: Did they wear robes?
Madison: Oh, they did not wear robes, but they should get robes. I'm going to recommend that to somebody.
Dr. Chan: Or wigs.
Madison: Robes and wigs.
Dr. Chan: Okay. We're going down the rabbit hole.
Madison: So anyway, we're going down a rabbit hole. Yeah, we are. But bottom line was it was intense.
Dr. Chan: It sounds very intense.
Madison: And I didn't expect that intensity, but I learned so much. And looking back at the time, I was like, "Why did I do this?" But looking back on it now I'm so glad I did because I learned so much.
Dr. Chan: So how do you have time for all this, Madison? How do you have time to study, you know, the MCAT, applying to med school, and doing all the student government stuff, and then Make A Wish, and then the Chi Omega sisters, they're one time? So how do you do this? How did you balance it?
Madison: You know, time management is a really valuable skill, and I would recommend to anyone listening to this podcast, whether you're just starting out as a freshman, or whether you're about to graduate, really evaluate and keep reevaluating yourself and how you manage your time. And I feel like that was really critical to me, because there were days when I did a really great job, and there were days that weren't as good. And I found that on the days where I was really good, I was making a schedule and I would really ... I had this big planner that had days blocked out, where I would block and say, "Okay, from 9:00 to noon, I'm going to study for this class. And then from noon to 2:00, I need to go table for my party. And then from 2:00 to 4:00 I'd be in class." And just block out your time, and I found that that was really helpful, and stick to that schedule.
So, even though if you were studying from 9:00 to noon, but your friend texts you and says, "Hey, let's go get breakfast," or, "Hey, come and table with us early," you have to be able to say, "Okay, no, I need to study," and really stick to a schedule. And that helped me a lot.
Dr. Chan: I think that skill will serve you well in medical school, because you also need to really study and kind of balance all these different like demands on your time as well.
Madison: Definitely. And then I'd also say using your weekends very, very well. And even though Saturday or Sunday you might want to go skiing, or you might want to go for a hike, or you might want to go to a movie with your friends, make sure that you have blocked out time for your studies, and then balance that with having fun. Because even though I had a lot going on, I was studying all the time, I probably should've been getting a little more sleep, but I still made time for my family, I still made time for my friends. So managing your time well and then maintaining a balance.
And then, also, I would say don't be afraid to ask for help. A lot of professors on campus, they've seen these elections going on. They can see how stressful they are. Even if you're not doing Student Government, they can see that you might be working, you might be volunteering, like extensively, for an organization. They get it. And so being able to talk to them and say, "Hey, I missed class this day," or, "Hey, I don't really understand this concept very well. Could I get some help?" And being able to ask for help. And I feel like that was something that was probably one of the most valuable skills I learned, that it's okay to ask for help. You know, you can't do this on your own.
Dr. Chan: Correct.
Madison: You can't. So don't be afraid to ask for help. So I would say time management. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Dr. Chan: Madison, this is fantastic advice. I think anyone listening to this would take it to heart and really help them. All right, a few more things we need to get to. Presidential Ambassador.
Dr. Chan: Tell me about this program.
Madison: That was an amazing program, and I had so many things that I loved being on campus, but this was probably ...
Dr. Chan: And we're talking ambassador to the President of the University.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right.
Madison: That was probably one of the most incredible experiences. So it was a great program. There were about 10 of us from all across campus.
Dr. Chan: Highly-selective, competitive process.
Madison: Yes, very competitive process. The interview was in the President's conference room. There were probably 12 administrators there. You sat at the head of the table, and they would all just ask you questions about ...
Dr. Chan: Just throwing grenades.
Madison: Yes. Yes, but it was ...
Dr. Chan: More stressful that or a medical school interview?
Madison: I would say that just because of ... I know. Medical school interviews are stressful, but I would say ...
Dr. Chan: I know, but medical schools usually don't do group interviews like that.
Dr. Chan: It's pretty stressful too.
Madison: There weren't 10 doctors in the room asking me questions.
Dr. Chan: Throwing big grenades.
Madison: Yes. So I would say that was probably a more stressful process. But the way it worked was we would attend big events for the University with the President, and we would work the events. We would help donors. We would talk to different people about the University, our experiences, and so basically ...
Dr. Chan: So you were the student voices, the student perspective.
Madison: We were the student perspective at the big events. And it was really amazing, because you would have to work the events, like they would have us handing out name tags, or hanging up coats or things like that, but that was only for like 30 to 45 minutes. Then you had two and a half hours of being at a table ...
Dr. Chan: Working the crowd.
Madison: ... working the crowd.
Dr. Chan: Rubbing elbows.
Madison: Rubbing elbows, rubbing shoulders with top people like the Eccles family and Gail Miller.
Dr. Chan: The Huntsmans.
Madison: The Huntsmans.
Dr. Chan: Throw that out there, yes.
Madison: So many people, I got the opportunity to meet so many people, talk with them, deans of colleges and really prominent leaders in the community, and being able to talk to them about how great the University has been for me, and being able to talk to them about their careers, get advice from them. I actually got an internship from one of the events. I worked at BioFire Diagnostics for a summer as an engineering intern, and actually the CEO of the company was at an event and he gave me his card and said, "Hey, give me a call. We'd love to have you come work for our company."
And so it was a really great opportunity to meet people, and then also learn about how a university functions, because a lot of times on our campus we have the Park Building, and it's this beautiful building, but students don't go in there, and they don't know what's going on in there.
Dr. Chan: A lot of big things are going on in there.
Madison: A lot of big things are going on in there.
Dr. Chan: I can tell you that from my perspective.
Madison: Exactly. And so ...
Dr. Chan: Did you have an office in that building?
Madison: No, I did not. We just had meetings in that building. When I was in Student Government, I had an office in the Union Building. But as a Presidential Ambassador, we would just meet there, and that was our space for meeting there. So, basically, what I learned was that the university administrators, they're not scary people. They are really incredible people, and they want student voices, which is amazing because I think a lot of times, in like "The Social Network," the university administrators are portrayed as these people that are just concerned about the money. They want to make sure their university is running well. They don't care what's going on.
Dr. Chan: I think President Pershing would love to have you invent something like Facebook. I think that would make him very happy.
Madison: I'm sure that would make him incredibly proud, but I can honestly say President Pershing, Ruth Watkins, Barb Snyder, key administrators on our campus, they really care about the student voices, and that's what I learned. And so I did the Presidential Ambassadorship before I was in Student Government. So that was key for me to developing relationships with administrators and at the same time also learning how administration works.
Dr. Chan: This is great I'm having you on, Madison, because we've had other Presidential Ambassadors come through our Med School, and just the word "Presidential Ambassadors," I just had this image of, you know, 10 to 12 of you, sitting in the bullpen, and then President Pershing says, "Hey, let's go to this meeting together," you know. Or like, I don't know, he's says, like, "Oh, can one of you run down and get me some pie pizza?" So I'm glad you're providing this image of what they actually do.
Madison: Yes, totally different experience than what you would expect.
Dr. Chan: But if President Pershing did ask you guys to go get a pie pizza, you guys would be okay?
Madison: Oh, totally. If President Pershing called me and asked me for a pizza, I'd bring him a pizza.
Dr. Chan: Because like just the name, Presidential Ambassador, I just thought you guys were going to ... were kind of like little helpers of the president.
Madison: Yes. It's also funny that you say that, because President Pershing and I, he became a really great mentor and friend to me, and we actually have a birthday on the same day. So every year on his birthday, we exchange, like, treats. Like I'll bring in some cupcakes and he'll bring me like a book or like a Diet Coke or something like that. So that's funny that you say that, because there is that level of professionalism, of working the events, but also developing really great friendships and mentorships with different people.
Dr. Chan: Very cool. All right. Last few minutes, let's talk about applying to medical school.
Dr. Chan: When you created your application, you sent it off, how many med schools did you apply to?
Madison: I applied to about 10, I would say.
Dr. Chan: Okay. And how many interview offers did you get?
Madison: One legitimate interview offer. Another one was sort of a recruiter came to the university and I got the opportunity to interview with them on that.
Dr. Chan: So that is viewed as an illegitimate offer?
Madison: Yeah, I don't know if it was. It's not exactly like ... it wasn't a formal interview, but I had the opportunity to meet with somebody at that school, get my name out there and talk to them about their school.
Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. So you got interviewed here.
Dr. Chan: What did you do the night before? How did you prepare? How did you get yourself ready for this?
Madison: So the night before, I went to the 7-Eleven about 10:00 p.m., got myself a water bottle, got myself some Life Savers for the day, packed my bag, picked out an outfit to wear and then ...
Dr. Chan: Is 7-Eleven, does that hold special significance for you, or is that your Walden Pond?
Madison: I think so. But I live downtown. There are lots of 7-Elevens. The 7-Eleven is just sort of like a convenient place to go, get a Slurpee. I love Slurpees. I love Diet Coke. It's a good place. Yeah, and so I went there, and then I picked out sort of the outfit that I was going to wear. And I would like to say that anybody who's going to interview, I know this is so stupid, but pick an outfit that you feel comfortable in, pick an outfit that you feel confident about how you look and feel like an outfit that you could take on the world in, because I had friends who went out the night before, got a pantsuit, and they had never worn pantsuits, and they just said they felt so uncomfortable.
Dr. Chan: Yeah, pantsuits seem to be, for women, kind of that seems to be the thing people, it's the go-to.
Dr. Chan: In my years of doing this, I think I remember one or two women who applied who were wearing full-on dresses, but the vast majority of people were wearing pantsuits.
Dr. Chan: And I don't think this gets communicated somehow, but this is where the culture is right now.
Madison: Right. Yeah, it's really interesting. So I think it was a big part was the Hillary Clinton pantsuit nation.
Dr. Chan: Okay. That could be it.
Madison: But I wore a pencil skirt and like a tailored sweater and a scarf, and that was sort of what worked for me.
Dr. Chan: Professional.
Madison: So be professional, but pick something that you feel confident in, like you don't have to be a pantsuit person.
Dr. Chan: Did you review your application the night before?
Madison: Yes, I reviewed my application the night before, read through it, sort of thought of things that I wanted to talk about.
Dr. Chan: Wanted to highlight, yeah.
Madison: I think the most valuable thing is not necessarily just talking about what you did, because they know that you've done a lot of great things. But talk about what you learned and the valuable experiences you had, because a lot of times, like experiences like Student Government, you wouldn't necessarily think, "Oh, that's preparing me to be a doctor."; But being able to reflect and go, "Okay, I learned how to connect with people. I learned how to public speak. I learned about diversity. And I learned about conflict resolution." And so be thinking about, through your experiences, what you really learned and what you gained from that experience, not what you did, but what you've learned. And I feel like that was incredibly valuable to my interview time.
Dr. Chan: Excellent. Excellent. So you got in.
Dr. Chan: And how has your life changed since then? What have you been doing? What are you up to?
Madison: Well, I can sleep better at night, and I'm really happy and really excited about going to medical school this fall. I did a master's of public health in my gap year between undergrad and starting medical school, so I'm finishing up a couple classes there. I'm doing an internship for my master's at the Utah Birth Defect Network.
Dr. Chan: Talk more about that. What is that?
Madison: So the Utah Birth Defect Network is this incredible organization. They collect data for all birth defects in Utah, but they also have an education component. So they have health educators that go out into the community and educate women about preventing birth defects, or for women who do have a baby that's born with a birth defect, connecting them to resources, connecting them to places where they can get help.
Dr. Chan: Or maybe other mothers or families who have a kid with a similar condition just so they know they're not alone.
Madison: Family groups, things like that. Exactly. That's exactly what they do. So that's been really exciting to be able to get a public health perspective on medicine. A lot of times, I remember as a premed, as a bioengineer, I was sort of in the aspect of, like, what goes on in the hospital is medicine. And doing public health, I learned that the community is medicine, being able to keep a healthy community using preventive medicine, getting people to work out, getting people to eat healthy, things like that are really a key component in medicine as well. It's not just what goes on in the hospital.
Dr. Chan: Excellent. Excellent. Well, Madison, I'm glad you came in. We'll have to have you come back after Med School starts ...
Dr. Benjamin Chan: ... to get your kind of perspective, because people have an image of what Med School is like.
Dr. Chan: And then you actually start Med School, and that will probably shift, and I just like talking about that change. But, yeah, it sounds like you've had a lot of cool experiences, and now I know a little bit more about Chi Omega, Student Government, and also being a Presidential Ambassador.
Dr. Chan: This is all great stuff. It's excellent.
Madison: Yeah, I feel very fortunate to have all those experiences. I think they'll really help me be a better medical student and be a better doctor someday.
Dr. Chan: Awesome. Well, thanks, Madison.
Madison: Thank you.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to Talking Admissions and Med Student Life with Dr. Benjamin Chan, the ultimate resource to help you on your journey to and through medical school. A production of The Scope Health Sciences Radio online at thescoperadio.com.
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- Episode 160 – Adventures in Argentina feat. Med Student Burnout
- Episode 159 – Olympic Weightlifting as an MD PhD Student
- Episode 158 – Creating Memes for Med Students
- Episode 157 – Mountaineering & Wilderness Exploration with a Med Student
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- Episode 156 – The Art of Practice Interviewing
- Episode 155 – How Disney and Medicine Can Collide
- Episode 154 – Drive Thru White Coat Ceremony
- Episode 153 – Injuries on Reality TV Shows