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Episode 96 – Dan, First Year Medical Student at University of Utah School of Medicine

Dec 27, 2017

“There was a sudden moment when I called the band together and said ‘guys, I’m quitting.’ And they said ‘no, you can’t quit! Just do what you can’.” With a passion for music, Dan started playing in local bands during his junior year of high school. At the age of 18 and just a senior, he and his band were signed to a record label and on their way to success. We talk about what that was like for him in the early stages of recording and touring, and how he made the decision to pursue medicine instead. He discusses what he did to prepare himself for applying to medical school and finally, shares whether or not being on stage and performing helped him feel less anxious on the interview trail.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Chan: What is it like to be signed to a record label at the age of 18? Why does one choose to pursue medicine with a successful music career? How do you prepare yourself for medical school after touring around the world? And does performing and being on stage help in interviewing for medical school? Today on Talking Admissions and Med Student Life, I interview Dan, 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, another addition of Talking Admissions and Med Student Life. We've got a great guest today. Dan, how are you doing?

Dan: I'm doing well.

Dr. Chan: Dan just got back from Europe. Jet lagged?

Dan: Yes, definitely. But it works in my favor, because now I get to wake up early, go to bed early, kind of resets to summer.

Dr. Chan: And we were just talking before we turned on the pod, maybe getting in the mindset of a med student, maybe that'll be helpful? I don't know.

Dan: Right. Yeah.

Dr. Chan: Still a few weeks away, so.

Dan: Yeah, if you had said 9:00 a.m. meeting, earlier in the summer, I would've thought, "Oh, no"

Dr. Chan: But this works for you.

Dan: This was no problem at all.

Dr. Chan: Fantastic. Okay. Let's start at the beginning. So Dan, you're an incoming medical student. Congratulations, again, by the way.

Dan: Thanks.

Dr. Chan: Where did that dream come from? How did you decide to become a doctor?

Dan: It was kind of a long, long process. I think it started with, I had some inspiration from someone I worked with in my musical career who was an EMT. And he would tell stories. And I thought, "Wow. That's really cool stuff. It sounds like he's got some really valuable skills from that."

And then, shortly before I started my undergraduate, I was sick all the time with abdominal pain that was kind of unexplained. It was really painful. And I realized over and over that there's . . . every time I would go to the hospital or something, I would get treated and I'd think there's no comfort that rivals getting care when you're that sick. So putting those two things together with a love for science that I learned early in undergrad, medicine made a lot of sense to do that service for other people, to learn important skills, to apply science, and still get to be very social, meet new challenges every day.

Dr. Chan: Were you dissuaded in your journey to become a doctor?

Dan: Yeah, definitely. It was hard. There were times when I was discouraged, and I'm sure there will be many more of those. But what really got me was, I really fell in love with physics in undergrad, and I had a year long struggle.

Dr. Chan: Physics is hard. I remember physics kind of destroyed me in undergrad.

Dan: It was really hard, but I just loved it. And I thought, "Maybe this is what I'm supposed to do." So for a while, I had a professor saying, "You're a physicist. You should come to the dark side. You got to do a PhD."

Dr. Chan: Quarks, study quarks. Protons accelerators, yeah.

Dan: That was hard. But I shadowed, I overcame that by shadowing more physicians, and that's what really boosted me back.

Dr. Chan: Did you ever shadow a physicist?

Dan: I did not.

Dr. Chan: Okay. I was curious what that kind of looks like.

Dan: I don't think I've ever heard of someone doing that.

Dr. Chan: So you were saying you grew up in Europe, in England.

Dan: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: How did you wind up in Utah? What's that story?

Dan: My whole family is LDS, so it's like we were called back to Utah somehow.

Dr. Chan: Like an official calling, spiritual kind of thing?

Dan: No, in a spiritual like. Usually a lot of Mormons that end up back in Utah . . . After my dad retired, we went to Arizona for a little while.

Dr. Chan: Too hot?

Dan: Too hot. Not a place for us. So we ended up back here. Had family here.

Dr. Chan: How old were you when you moved back?

Dan: Fifteen.

Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. Yeah, you probably get this, but you have no accent whatsoever. I'm sure you can turn it on if you wanted to.

Dan: So in America, it's interesting when you have a British accent in the room. In England, it's interesting when you have an American accent in the room. So I was adamant when I was a kid that I wasn't going to change my accent because I thought it was unique and cool.

Dr. Chan: Were you excited to move back to the States, across the pond?

Dan: I don't remember too well. I think so. Yeah, I think I wanted to go back and find my American self or something. I don't know.

Dr. Chan: To write the great American novel one day. Cool. And then Westminster. How did you end up there?

Dan: Going to high school in Utah, I would drive by it all the time.

Dr. Chan: Where did you go to high school?

Dan: This small private school called Realms of Inquiry.

Dr. Chan: I know Realms. Yeah. I didn't go to Realms. One of my friends did growing up. They had really awesome field trips. I remember he was describing what they did. That's really cool.

Dan: I went to Patagonia for a month and got credit for it.

Dr. Chan: That beats . . .

Dan: It beats algebra.

Dr. Chan: When I went on a field trip, we went to the Coca-Cola bottling factory. Patagonia is pretty cool.

Dan: That was a great run.

Dr. Chan: So you drove by Westminster all the time and just loved the campus?

Dan: Yeah, it had a good reputation and my mom always talked about how it was a great school. I think the real reason I ended up there is my sister went there before me. I have a sister two years younger than me and she went there to study creative writing.

Dr. Chan: Family legacy.

Dan: Yeah. And at the time, we were living together, and I was doing music, but I was seeing what she was doing. And I thought, "I got to do that."

Dr. Chan: Well, I've alluded to it, let's talk about your music career. So how old were you when you started playing instruments?

Dan: My parents forced me to play piano when I was kid.

Dr. Chan: Like the vast majority of children in the world.

Dan: Against my will. When I was in I think middle school was when I played the alto saxophone. And I liked it, but it was still like a chore to practice. Then, when I was maybe . . . blended in with that time when I was maybe 11 or 12, I started playing guitar and I loved that. That was definitely not a chore to pick up the guitar.

Dr. Chan: I assume you had lessons at first, but then you did you kind of self-teach or were you self-taught all the way?

Dan: I self-taught at first, then I took lessons for a while. Then I went back to self-taught and then I started taking lessons when I was more professional. Lessons make it, they're the best. If you're playing an instrument, and you're not taking lessons, and you have the ability to take lessons, you're doing it wrong.

Dr. Chan: So every day we're playing, right?

Dan: Yeah. A couple hours.

Dr. Chan: And then when did it start becoming more professional? When did the concept of bands start to come into focus or were you a solo practitioner for a while? I'm not even sure if that's the right wordage.

Dan: Yeah, solo artist. When I was in high school, maybe my junior or senior year is when I started playing with bands. I was really into music and I wanted to be in a band myself. It was like the dream. My high school band, there were a couple rival high school bands, and members were coming and going all the time. My band and another band were gaining momentum locally. And then half their band left, and half my band left, and we joined forces and that became my band, Chelsea Grin. We got signed during our senior year, or shortly after, right when it ended, something like that.

Dr. Chan: So everyone's from Utah, in the band?

Dan: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. Utah is a growing music scene. I read some article about that.

Dan: Yeah, definitely.

Dr. Chan: So how many of you are there?

Dan: Six.

Dr. Chan: There's six of you?

Dan: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: And you play guitar?

Dan: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: Lead guitar?

Dan: A bit of both.

Dr. Chan: A bit of both? Okay.

Dan: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: And then who writes the songs?

Dan: Me and a couple other . . . we rotated through a few members since the beginning, but it's usually like one, we'll each go and write music on our own, on the computer, and then bring it together and I'll write the drums for a song that I wrote. Then the drummer will come and do his own drums or something like that.

Dr. Chan: So for those of us, the vast majority of people who listen to this are not in the music industry, walk us through how that happened. What was that like? You said signed your first contract, how did that start growing? What started happening?

Dan: It's a whole lot of luck. The right person saw us at the right time. It was back in the Myspace days. I think we were found by a manager on Myspace.

Dr. Chan: So you recorded a little song, or did you have the full song on Myspace?

Dan: We recorded a couple of different songs and put them online. The manager found us, and he made the label happen. So we ended up signing with, the label is the label who puts out Kidz Bop, you heard of them, Razer and Tie. There's a sub label that manages the metal bands called Artery. And they took us on and we went to California and recorded our first full CD, and the management got us tours.

Dr. Chan: How old were you when this started happening?

Dan: Eighteen.

Dr. Chan: Eighteen, okay. And were you the . . . was everyone around 18 in your band?

Dan: Yeah. We were all pretty much 18. We have one guy who is five years older than the rest of us.

Dr. Chan: Called Grandpa?

Dan: Yeah. We call him Nibbles.

Dr. Chan: So how did that feel like an 18 year-old? This is just an amazing story.

Dan: It was an adventure, that's the best way to put it. I had the freedom that I had always wanted from my parents, and independence, and we were just crazy kids. We were obsessed with Taco Bell. We didn't make any money at first, so we'd get $5 a day each. We get fed at the venue, for the show, and then after the show we would go to Taco Bell and spend our $5 on, I don't know, gorditas and Mexican [inaudible 00:09:52] and whatnot.

Dr. Chan: As much as you could try to stretch that $5 as far as you could go. Was that your per diem, I guess?

Dan: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: So you're 18, moved to California. This is Los Angeles?

Dan: No. We were based out of Utah the whole time.

Dr. Chan: Okay. All right. So you signed your first label, you record, is that an album? Walk me through . . . multiple songs I assume?

Dan: We signed for three albums, three full length CDs.

Dr. Chan: And that's a kind of a normal contract?

Dan: Yeah. And as the first signing goes, we didn't really get paid for it. We would get paid from touring, from selling merchandise and getting paid the guarantee for the show. A lot of that would go to paying for gas and paying for equipment and what not. So we all relied heavily on our families. They supported us through the first couple of years. But then eventually we broke free, the opening spot, getting paid $100 a night or something like that. Now the band headlines routinely. They're in Europe right now.

Dr. Chan: Yeah, when we initially linked what happened, after you got accepted and then our social media picked up that you posted on your social media, so we just linked to it. And all of a sudden, all these people, who I don't think ever have looked at our hospital or med school website, started following us. And we're just like, "Oh wow, this is a very large following." And then I kind of went down the rabbit hole. And yeah, you've been touring everywhere. It's a pretty large following.

Dan: Yeah, we got super lucky, that's the best way to put it. Super fortunate to have the fans that we have, and to, I don't know, we were just be able to make it and not break up.

Dr. Chan: So how do you work that with going back to college and going to school? I mean, would they kind of work around your schedule or would the band go out without you for a while? How does that look?

Dan: Through college, the past four years I've only toured during the summer with them. This summer, they're in Europe, and I just wanted to not do anything this summer, to mentally reset for med school. But during the school year, there's no way that I can leave school for a month to go on tour.

And it's hard to go on tour. It's a big shift, mentally, because touring now, it's a lot of sitting, hurry up and wait style. Not a whole lot to do during the day, which sounds weird. But if you're in Europe and you're parked at a venue and you don't have Uber on your phone or anything, at least back when I toured all the time we didn't. Uber didn't exist. You're trapped at the venue.

Dr. Chan: You go out and see the sights? Because I assume most of the concerts are at night, right?

Dan: Yeah.

Dr. Chan: So during the day you had to kind of stay there and you couldn't . . .

Dan: Yeah, depending, sometimes it was different. Or a tour like Warped Tour, you're playing in field possibly in the middle of nowhere. So you just can't go anywhere. So just a lot of practicing guitar.

Dr. Chan: The name of the band is Chelsea's Grin?

Dan: Yeah, Chelsea Grin.

Dr. Chan: Yeah. Chelsea Grin. Where did that come from? Why that name?

Dan: It's been around since high school, since before I was in the band. It refers to a . . . this is really death metal, we'd say . . .

Dr. Chan: That's the genre.

Dan: Yeah, I would just call it metal. Whatever. But it refers to a technique gang members in England would use to torture people.

Dr. Chan: I Googled it, yeah. The Chelsea Grin is when they cut someone, from the cheek.

Dan: What the Joker has.

Dr. Chan: The Joker has, yeah.

Dan: Yeah, so really metal, I would say.

Dr. Chan: A little macabre. I'd be very impressed if you go into oral maxilla surgery, something like that.

Dan: Yeah, I never thought about that. That's funny.

Dr. Chan: So yeah, when did you tell the band that you were going to go to medical school? Was there a clear moment when that happened? This is going to necessitate you not being with the band anymore? How was that discussion?

Dan: I decided to go to undergrad before I decided to go to medical school. We had just done a massive tour in Europe. It was our second tour in Europe. This was in 2012. Then we did Warped Tour for our first time, which was like the dream tour for any band like mine. We did South America that year. My sister started at Westminster that year as well. So all this stuff happened at the same time, and I felt like I had done all the coolest, there wasn't a whole lot more we could do that was way cooler, like something like Warped Tour. And I was really thinking a lot about job security and retirement, things like that, like how much longer is this going to last. And I felt like all I had ever done was music, I didn't care about school at all when I was in high school. I despised math and science, which is really strange to say now.

Dr. Chan: That's very ironic. There's a lot of math and science coming your way.

Dan: And I love it now. It's my favorite stuff. But I just felt like there was so much stuff out there that I knew nothing about. I needed to go find it and I wasn't in the right spot for the rest of my life being in music. I didn't want to be in the music industry as a manager or something like that in the future. So I just dove in to undergrad. No idea what I was doing.

Then maybe a year or so later, I had realized premed is what I wanted to do. But there was definitely a sudden moment when I called the band together and said, "Guys, I'm quitting." And they said, "No, you can't quit. Just do what you can." But going to medical school was throwing the idea around for a while and that just solidified eventually.

Dr. Chan: So it sounds like they were supportive in the end.

Dan: They were very supportive.

Dr. Chan: A little hesitant in the beginning because it sounds like you were a founding member, integral part of the band.

Dan: They wouldn't let me quit, which is really nice of them.

Dr. Chan: Then while you were at Westminster, what were some of the activities you did to help your application be as strong as possible?

Dan: The one that always stands out was shadowing. Those were my favorite premedical experiences. I really structured my premed extracurricular activities around the University of Utah's admission requirements, the shadowing, volunteering, patient exposure.

Dr. Chan: Leadership. Research.

Dan: Those were always in my mind. I had a document on my computer keeping track of all of them and what I needed more of. That's what the premed curriculum at Westminster pushed as well.

Dr. Chan: Yeah, Betsy, Robin, they're fantastic. I think Westminster is a fantastic program. I think it really helps that the class sizes are smaller.

Dan: Definitely.

Dr. Chan: You get to know your professors and I think that really pays off when it comes to teaching and learning, also letters of recommendation, so I think it all kind of folds in on itself quite nicely.

Dan: Yeah, when I was doing letters of recommendation, that was one of the moments I realized how amazing Westminster it is for how personal your relationships are with the professors.

Dr. Chan: Those are quite long and they're quite detailed and they genuinely know you. It's really obvious.

Dan: Yeah, it's awesome. I thanked them profusely afterwards when I realized that was the way it was.

Dr. Chan: You said shadowing was your favorite. Why? Was it seeing yourself in that job one day?

Dan: I think doctors do amazing stuff. Seeing what they do right there . . . something like patient exposure, I volunteered at the emergency room at the University of Utah Hospital for a while. And I was really behind the scenes. It was like looking through the window on what was going on.

Anytime anything serious was going on, even like a trauma 3 or something, I couldn't be anywhere near it. I was totally in the way. But when I was shadowing, I was right there. I was with the patient, actually seeing what was going on. And I was like, "Wow, this is really cool stuff. If the doctors just walked out of this room right now, this patient would die without a doubt." So that's, wow.

Dr. Chan: So if I had to ask you today, I'm not going to hold you to it, Dan, but, emergency medicine? Surgery?

Dan: I like the idea of surgery because it appeals to my guitar playing history.

Dr. Chan: Good with your fingers.

Dan: Yeah, to work with my hands sounds great. I like emergency medicine because diagnostics is really a problem-solving scenario, kind of like doing physics problems where it's not . . . there's many ways you can do it, but you always end up at the same place, if that makes sense. I have a really open mind because there's so much to see and learn in the next year even, that I'm trying not to zone in on one thing.

Dr. Chan: And with our medical school, we're a tertiary care center, we have all these different disciplines. I like to tell people, you're like an undifferentiated stem cell at this moment. You haven't declared yourself. So maybe you'll be a pediatric endocrinologist. And guess what? We have a whole department, division dedicated to that. You can say the same thing about burn surgery or trauma surgery or genetics or biochemistry. It's really great to be under the umbrella and have all of these different divisions and departments because there's all these opportunities to learn, grow, network, do research and things like that.

Dan: You said it the second look day, "You're in the club now. You can shadow whatever you want." I thought that was like a, "Yes" moment.

Dr. Chan: Yes, there's a lot of bureaucracy when you're premed to get into those clinics and shadowing.

Dan:Yeah, it was difficult.

Dr. Chan: I recognize that. I also think you did some stuff at the Maliheh Clinic. What did you do at the Maliheh? And what is the Maliheh Clinic?

Dan: The Maliheh Clinic is in South Salt Lake. It's a free clinic that people who make under a certain threshold of income, household income per year, can go see doctors for free. So you see mostly people from underprivileged groups there. And it's operated completely by volunteers.

The reason I ended up there was I had done an EMT course and I was at the University of Utah Emergency Room completely behind the scenes. They wouldn't let me even disconnect an oxygen container. And I wanted to get some more hands on experience without having a job because I wanted to focus on school.

So the Maliheh, all they have are volunteers, so volunteers have many more privileges there. So that's what sucked me into it at first. But then I ended up loving it because it was so many interesting, different people, got to practice a little bit of Spanish. You really feel like you're doing something good there. I ended up working in the diabetes clinic, so doing things like educating, doing foot exams, eye exams, as much as to a reasonable extent.

Dr. Chan: So you had a lot more autonomy and freedom to do these things?

Dan: Yeah, and I understand there's a Maliheh group at the University of Utah, so I'm looking forward to it.

Dr. Chan: Yeah, a lot of student interest groups. Trust me, they're going to track you down if you don't find them first.

Dan: Yeah. I'm excited to go back.

Dr. Chan: During the first month they're going to have a big student interest group fair where all the different interest groups come, and they do booths and they have the student representatives. They're kind of recruiting your incoming class because you guys are going to join and eventually take over the leadership positions and kind of sustain all these different projects. Maliheh does have a very large presence. It's interesting. Sometimes they give out candy. I always think it's weird that students give candy to each other. Cool.

Dan: I would see them at the clinic too. They'd all come in, they're all excited to be there. I would just look at them with searing jealousy. Three years ahead of me.

Dr. Chan: Well now you're on the other side. Now you're in the club. All right. Last few minutes, Dan. This is going great. So interview day. Here's a question for you. So you have performed hundreds if not thousands of times, screaming audiences, cheering your name. How'd that compare to the anxiety going in to do a med school interview? Did you feel like you had some sort of advantage since you had this background, or were your nerves everywhere? What's some tips you have for people preparing for that?

Dan: I don't think I had as much as anxiety as a lot of people do. I think I was . . .

Dr. Chan: Because it's about performance at the core. You've got to present yourself, put the best foot forward.

Dan: The interview day here was an interesting one because I couldn't sleep at all the night before. I had an hour, if you could call it sleep, and so I was dead when I came in, and totally wired on coffee and I thought I was doomed.

Dr. Chan: Were you just thinking about the interview the night before?

Dan: Yeah, and it was a difficult semester, maybe a difficult time in the semester. But I just couldn't sleep, and I was really nervous about that, about not being able to be myself. But I think I was expecting something different from the interview. The physicians I had talked to, who are practicing now, they said it's going to be a conversation. You're going to talk about . . . like, "When I had my interview, we talked about my dogs," and stuff like that. It was not like that at all.

Dr. Chan: What was it like?

Dan: It was like a very formal interview. It took me a split second to realize, it threw me off guard, but, yeah, okay, so maybe that worked in my favor. It got really serious really quickly. Not in a bad way at all. It was just, they would ask me a question and I would answer it full stop, next question. The best parts of the interview were when they got more conversational.

Dr. Chan: How about the MMI? Did you like the MMI more?

Dan: I love the MMI.

Dr. Chan: Why?

Dan: It was spontaneous. The questions were interesting. It was much more of a conversation, but it was really just like a stimulating experience. There's no way you can prepare for it. I feel like by the MMI I had woken up.

Dr. Chan: The coffee kicked in. Caffeine was running through your veins.

Dan: Yeah, and I felt like I just really enjoyed it. It's hard to put my finger on it. I'm afraid to say, not allowed to reveal the questions.

Dr. Chan: Yes. We kind of swear you guys to secrecy. But I can tell you, we're increasing our MMI stations for next year. Because the research has shown, and it's becoming more and more clear that you get a bigger bang for your buck. Applicants universally love the MMI more than traditional interviews. By having more and more stations you kind of spread the risk around.

Dan: Right. Makes sense.

Dr. Chan: If someone does poorly at a station or two, it's not the kiss of death. People can still get multiple opportunities to succeed, multiple opportunities to show us who you are. I'm a MMI believer now. I was kind of skeptical at first a few years ago, but doing some research and doing it and then kind of piloting it and growing it, it's a lot of work though. It's a lot of coordination. I couldn't do it without the staff. It takes a lot. And then heaven forbid something happens. My staff is fantastic at troubleshooting things.

Dan: There were students giving the interviews as well too. You have a connection with another student, it's very unspoken. I don't know if they feel the same way. But that opens . . . it makes it more easy to be yourself and show who you really are in an MMI. The interviews were great overall.

Dr. Chan: I just assumed with your background in music and performing that it would be kind of a natural extension.

Dan: I think so.

Dr. Chan: Because sometimes people, this is the first time they've ever had an interview. People don't really interview to go to undergrad. For a lot of people this is the first time they've ever had kind of a high stakes interview.

Dan: It was definitely my first high stakes interview. The one on one ones were nothing like I'd ever done before and that's probably why I was caught off guard.

Dr. Chan: Did you do the traditional interviews first, then the MMI?

Dan: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Chan: So it's just luck of the draw, sometimes people do the MMI first and then the traditional interviews. We looked at it and there's no statistical significance who does what first, [inaudible 00:27:08]. We've talked about that. All right, last few minutes, Dan. Any other advice you'd give to those out there, applying to med school? Because you're a non-traditional student technically, correct?

Dan: Yeah. And I think being yourself rather than being a cookie cutter. In one event at Westminster College that you lead, the most recent one. You talk about how so many applicants, no matter how good they're application is, there's a lot of the same application over and over. So be yourself.

I had this moment when I was trying to figure out, do I go and put more time into volunteering, or do I put more time into science classes that have nothing to do with medicine? Do I learn special relativity instead? Not going to help my application but makes me feel like me. That's not to undermine the importance of volunteering, that's definitely what everyone should be doing the whole time, over most any other of the university requirements. I think that's the impression I got.

Dr. Chan: Yeah, volunteering is incredibly important because the committee views that as how do you spend your free time? Are you really dedicated to helping others? And they kind of look at that. That can really separate someone's application from another.

Dan: Yeah, so volunteering and being yourself and doing what you love rather than what you think you should be doing to be more competitive, because I think being yourself will help you stand out which makes you more competitive than the people you're similar to.

Dr. Chan: Okay. Good. Then the last question, Dan. I want to hear a tour story. You must have a lot of good stories.

Dan: I do have a lot of good stories. Let me think of the right one.

Dr. Chan: Can I give you some parameters?

Dan: Sure.

Dr. Chan: Police . . . no. You gave me this look. Lost luggage, international, strange people showing up. Groupies, am I allowed to use that word? Is that a thing?

Dan: That's a thing for sure. There's a good police story. One time we were staying in a parking lot, just parked in the bus overnight on a day off. We would always park at Walmarts because it's an oasis of shopping. Like Walmart is a huge thing in touring.

Dr. Chan: Plus, I hear their parking lot policies are pretty lax. So a lot of people will park overnight. Because they want people to go in the store the next morning and buy stuff. They're not totally innocent, they have a capitalist motive.

Dan: For sure, but it works great. We were really bored and so we decided to take all the paper towels out of the bus and put them in a shopping cart and lit the shopping cart on fire in the parking lot. The police were called. They came.

Dr. Chan: Did it melt down the shopping cart?

Dan: No. It turned it black.

Dr. Chan: A good little bonfire.

Dan: A good little bonfire. And the police came and we all saw them and we all ran into the bus. We were like, "Oh no, we're afraid." And then we ran in the bus and looked at each other and we thought, "This was so stupid. Why are we doing this?" And we ran back out of the bus and the police, they're like, "What are you doing?" And we said, "We don't know."

Dr. Chan: "We're young."

Dan: "We'll calm down. We'll chill out." And they just started laughing really hard and they didn't say another word. They just turned around and got back in their car.

Dr. Chan: Where is this? What state is this?

Dan: I couldn't tell you. Somewhere in the . . .

Dr. Chan: Midwest, south.

Dan: Yeah. So that was a really, just a funny . . . I'll never forget the image of the shopping cart just completely ablaze, full to the brim of paper towels and toilet paper.

Dr. Chan: That's pretty good.

Dan: Yeah, we had some good times.

Dr. Chan: Good times on that tour bus in the Walmart parking lots.

Dan: Yeah, good times on the tour bus.

Dr. Chan: Did you guys ever get lost internationally? Your musical instruments disappear?

Dan: When I was at school one time, they lost a couple of guitars that were one-of-a-kinds, hugely expensive instruments. They showed up somehow after weeks.

Dr. Chan: Were they intact?

Dan: Yes. When we went to South America, they treat musicians like rock stars there. I never felt like more of a rock star in South America. Our plane would land and there would be kids at the baggage claim waiting for us. They'd follow us to the hotel, sit outside of the hotel waiting for us to go out and get some food or something to get autographs. That was amazing.

Dr. Chan: Do you guys have another band that you feud with? You have rivals? Or everyone's pretty nice, collegial?

Dan: Yeah. Maybe once upon a time. I don't know, but now, we just have a couple of best friend bands that we tour with more often than others, that we're just really close to.

Dr. Chan: Any songs you wrote about med school and becoming a doctor?

Dan: No, never wrote lyrics or anything. The vocalist does all of that on his own.

Dr. Chan: And then I guess last question, what's the best place you've ever been to touring-wise?

Dan: I loved South America.

Dr. Chan: What part? Patagonia?

Dan: No, we did Argentina, Brazil, Columbia. Columbia was so beautiful. Bogota. I don't really remember the show very well. I remember a show in Mexico City. That was totally wild. That was great. But I really love South American, Mexican culture and the language and the people.

Dr. Chan: Is that where you learned your Spanish? You mentioned Spanish.

Dan: I learned Spanish in high school and wasn't fluent at all, could get by. And then last year, my senior year of college, I did Spanish 2 and 3 and it's kind of reignited my Spanish language love. Hoping to do some medical Spanish while I'm at the University of Utah.

Dr. Chan: Yeah, yeah, we have medical Spanish too. Cool. Well, Dan, this has been fascinating. Let's keep in touch. Let's have you back on the pod maybe in a year and we can kind of talk about how your first year went.

Dan: I'd love to.

Dr. Chan: The thing I'm always fascinated by, and this is why I love doing this, is that there's a perception of what medical school will be like and when you're from the outside looking in, you have these notions, these ideas. But then I just love it when students come here and they start doing the work and they're learning and they're becoming doctors.

And then talking to students, like, okay, you had these notions what med school would be like. Now you're in it, what's different? What's exactly what you thought it was going to be like? So I love those kind of discussions. Especially your journey is unique, but everyone's journey is unique. But you coming in a little bit older . . . How old are you?

Dan: Twenty-six.

Dr. Chan: Yeah, so you're a little bit older. You've kind of seen the world. You had this different career and now you're going to become a doctor and I think you bring a certain wisdom and perspective. I just love to explore that with students. I'm excited for you. This is an exciting time.

Dan: It's so exciting. I can't wait to see [inaudible 00:34:30] on the inside.

Dr. Chan: Now the hardest part is, we just talked about before we turned on the pod is, what do you do these last few weeks during the summer?

Dan: Yeah. I have no idea what I'm going to do.

Dr. Chan: Relax.

Dan: Yeah, relax. Maybe something else. I'll figure it out.

Dr. Chan: Read some good books.

Dan: We've got six more weeks.

Dr. Chan: All right. Well, thanks, Dan.

Dan: Thanks for having me.

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