Name: Jacqueline Louderman
Undergraduate university and year of graduation: University of Missouri-Columbia, 2018
Major: Health Sciences
Medical school and expected year of graduation: New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, 2024
What led to your interest in medicine?
I’ve often said that my interest in medicine has three main influences. First, my mother was an RN and later an NP, and through my entire childhood I listened to her stories of patient care and humanized medicine. Her love of her patients, and the ability she has to change their lives, was so inspiring. Second, was meeting my best friend, who has a chronic muscle weakening disease. Sharing in her experiences as a patient and caring for her in a home health capacity really solidified my love for interacting with patients and caring for them. Finally, all of my incredible experiences at Mizzou, where I was able to interact with so many diverse populations, both patient and non, and foster my passion for service and improving people’s lives even beyond medical care.
What experiences did you have that confirmed medicine was the right career for you?
There were so many incredible experiences outside of school that drove my journey toward becoming a student doctor. I was able to work as a home health for a close friend throughout my undergraduate career. I spent a lot of time volunteering in different capacities within MU health, from delivering meals to working the front desk, to holding babies on the pediatric floor on weekday evenings. I went on three MAB trips around the US, and met so many incredible people and felt like I was able to make an impact in their lives. Perhaps most influential was my time at MedZou, where I learned the true value of patient-centered care, and how even as undergraduates and medical students we can affect change for marginalized communities. I also participated in pre-clinical research doing lab work through the school of medicine, which helped foster my love of science and the advancement of medicine.
Who or what inspired you?
So many people have inspired me throughout this journey, but two really stand out. First is my late mother, who, through her work as a nurse, showed me what it is to truly care for your patients as more than just a set of symptoms or a page in a chart. She humanized medicine for me, which was a big part of what kept me going when the school work seemed impossible. Second is my best friend, who lives with a genetic muscular dystrophy, and shows me every day how important it is to listen to our patients wholly, and to respect their individual expertise in their own disease experience.
What challenges or obstacles have you faced in pursuit of a medical career?
I can look back now on my journey to medical school and have so much more clarity than I had when I was in the thick of it. I applied to medical school three times (yes, three!) and took the MCAT three times as well. I struggled with academics in undergrad, despite having an impressive CV of extracurriculars, due to events in my life which affected my journey, and also just because I am not a person who is inclined toward standardized testing! Financial stress is also a big part of why a lot of people give up on applying multiple times, and I was no exception. I was able to power through using waivers and rented/gifted prep materials. It is so important to take advantage of as many of those resources as possible!
How did you prepare for the medical school application process?
I think the best thing one can do when preparing for the application process is just to know yourself and your experiences inside and out. I maybe didn’t take this advice as seriously when I applied to medical school the first time, and looking back now I can see why my application was not well-received that year. I spent more time the following years looking over my CV and really reflecting on each of my experiences before I even sat down to write an essay. It is also incredibly important to have someone, preferably someone within the medical school application sphere, look over your personal statement and give you really critical feedback. Personal statements have a huge impact on how a committee looks at your whole application, so they need to be powerful and comprehensive while still standing out from the crowd.
What advice do you have for applicants considering a career in medicine?
My advice, accompanied by the snippets I’ve already included, is pretty much this: don’t give up. If anyone exemplifies this, it’s me. I came to Mizzou with a very clear picture of how my journey to medicine would pan out, and I am here 6 years later in a totally different place, but still on the way to becoming a physician. Life can get hard in undergrad, and things get thrown at you that completely change how you thought your journey would play out. But if you really want to be a physician, if you know in your heart that this is what you are meant to do, don’t give up and don’t let anyone tell you that you should. If you need to retake a course, retake it. If you need to retake the MCAT, retake it. If you have to apply multiple times, go for it. Apply for fee waivers and use borrowed resources. The path to medicine is rocky and it is often unfair and biased, but there is a way for those who are willing to work hard enough and be persistent enough to make it to the end. Just don’t give up when it gets hard. You owe yourself and your future patients more than that.