Name: Samantha Phillips
Undergraduate university and year of graduation: University of Missouri-Columbia, 2020
Major: Biological Sciences and Psychology
Medical school and expected year of graduation: California Health Sciences University, 2024
What led to your interest in medicine?
My interest in medicine began around 10 years old. I certainly had a knack for science and over time, the idea of becoming a doctor seemed natural to me. However, my true “ah-ha” moment came when my infant brother became deathly ill. After spending the better part of a month at Children’s Mercy in KC, I came to revere the physicians on my brother’s care team. It was quite an eventful and action-packed experience that left a mark on me, eventually leading me to my current medical career.
What experiences did you have that confirmed medicine was the right career for you?
Honestly, there are little moments every day that reassure and reaffirm my choice. Talking with people about their experiences with health care, learning about research developments with medical applications, and just engaging with others in the field are little moments every day that bring me joy and remind me that I am exactly where I belong. One such experience from my time at Mizzou that still resonates with me is taking Cancer Biology (BIO_SC 4978) as my capstone with Dr. Hannink. During that course, we read incredible papers and made clinical correlations along the way. This course gave me a deep appreciation for the research efforts that are necessary for the advancement of medicine, as well as helped me understand how that love and admiration for science is so directly relevant to patient care. The skills I learned in that class have proven to be incredibly valuable to success in medical school, so I definitely recommend that course with Dr. Hannink if you have the time.
What challenges or obstacles have you faced in pursuit of a medical career?
To be quite frank, my biggest challenge I have faced in my journey has been overcoming financial barriers. The medical school application process, including the MCAT, primary and secondary application fees, and interviews, is incredibly expensive, but not impossible. Once you make it past that comes the hurdle of paying for your medical education itself, which is a WAY bigger deal than any advisor ever prepared me for. In fact, I don’t think “how to pay for medical school” was a conversation that I ever had in my four years of undergrad. There aren’t many low-income people in medical school- the statistic according to the AAMC is about 10%. Do not let this discourage you! Know that you are NOT alone, and there are ways you can prepare yourself now so that you are better prepared when the time comes to apply for loans. Have these conversations now, familiarize yourself with the resources available for application and MCAT fees, and utilize the amazing resources Mizzou provides such as the Office for Financial Success.
How did you prepare for the medical school application process?
Lots of appointments with MedOpp!! I made sure I knew every step of the process and the timeline and did my best to have all my ducks in a row. Start meeting with your advisors early and identify what categories you need to improve so that there are no unexpected last-minute scrambles or broken hearts. I attended Mizzou Med’s “Med Prep” program which was very helpful, and I did my best to utilize all the free MCAT resources I could find.
What advice do you have for applicants considering a career in medicine?
Do not let anything get in your way. If you are a compassionate person with a passion for science and medicine and you know that being a physician is your purpose- your grade in Orgo 2 or your ability to pay for an Altius course will not prevent you from making it to medical school. Pre-med students like to say “this is exactly everything you must do in order to be good enough and get accepted”, but a lot of it isn’t true. YES, you need to work hard in your classes and get leadership and volunteering experience and you do have to take the MCAT. But I have classmates with such a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences! What unites us all is that we are compassionate and we know that this is where we belong. Keep that heart and keep that energy and work hard to overcome any obstacle that may come your way and you will succeed. Re-take that class. Join that club. Run for that position. And I will see you on the other side.