Monday, July 15, 2013

Future doctors?

This is not a photo of my brother and me. I just liked it.
My sleep schedule, which is erratic even times of perfect health, has not yet returned to normal even for me. I've been awake since just before 3:00 a.m. PDT. My brother must be experiencing his own sleep issues, as he saw the dim light of the TV  (which was on "mute" so the sound could not have awakened him) under my door and came in to chat. Matthew has made the decision to forego his final year of athletic eligibility and to graduate in three years, as I will do. Incidentally, his decision will be kept quiet, as he would be given  minimal playing time in the upcoming season if the coaching staff knew of his plan not to return for year number four. Some would consider his choice to withhold  this rather significant bit of information to be unethical, but in the world of college athletics, where even in the most upstanding of  programs, athletes are essentially treated as slabs of beef, it's a dog-eat-dog world, and in this particular case, Matthew happens to be the dog who will not go hungry.

We discussed medical school and how to handle the application process in relation to one another.
We considered tossing a coin, and whichever of us won would name our first choice medical school, and the other would not apply there. Then the other would name our first choice, or our second choice if the other's first choice was the same, and the other one would not apply there.

We're concerned, and I think our concern is legitimate, that we're not both going to be admitted to the same school. It could happen, but the odds are against it. We're assuming that at our top choice schools, an element of nepotism may be involved, and a given school is not likely to grant nepotistic favor to members of the same family in the same year. The assumption may be wrong. It may be that neither of us even needs  nepotistic favor, or it may be that our familial clout is not is not as great as we think it is, and that neither of us will be favored because of Dad's eminence.

Furthermore, even without nepotism, I suspect being twins will not work in our favor in terms of gaining admittance to the same school.  All the way down to kindergarten, schools generally  don't put siblings, who would most often be twins,  in the same class if there is another option. While in med school we wouldn't necessarily have to be in the same actual sections of courses, and even if we were, perhaps the school would consider it our problem and not theirs,  I just can't see it  as being a positive factor from their point of view. It would become more of an issue when we reach year #3, when the bulk of time is spent in the hospital and not in the classroom. Having siblings in groups and rotations,  and perhaps twins more than regular siblings, could impact group dynamics. Attempting to work around it could be a hassle that many med schools would just as soon avoid.

In the end, we came to a fairly easy solution. We're initially sharing with each other neither our MCAT scores nor the schools to which we will apply, much less which are our top choices. The lack of sharing of MCAT scores is to the benefit of both of us. Unless something wildly unusual happens, I should easily outscore Matthew, which he knows perfectly well, but seeing it in black and white can only make him feel bad. Knowing I've outscored him, if I'm then not admitted to a school of my choice and he is, I will take it personally. Therefore, what good can possibly come of sharing our respective scores? Once all is said and done, if both of us are happy about where we end up, we'll tell each other whatever we feel like sharing. If one of us clearly ends up in a better place, it would probably be just as well not to know all the gory details.

Matthew will take an MCAT prep course at his school, and I'll take one at mine.  On weekends when we're both home we'll study together and help each other, and even depend on the many doctors in the family, Dad included, in studying. We'll also enlist help from mom, who obviously isn't an MD, but as someone with a doctorate in educational psychology, has considerable expertise in test-taking skills. We know all the basics, as we prepped before taking the SAT, but my mom has high-level sources. She's personally acquainted with many of the people who wrote the MCAT prep books and designed the courses, and who may have updated information that's not yet been published or included in the classes.

Is it fair to our competitors that our mother knows the right people who can provide us with beneficial information? Not really, but still it would be foolish  not to utilize any possible advantage to which we may have access.  It wasn't fair that I was born at roughly 30 weeks of gestation. It wasn't fair that I was attacked in a restroom or that the babysitter we had when I was in first grade didn't take care of me and practically allowed me to starve to death. It wasn't fair that I was left to fend for myself in a smoke-filled house while in a very weakened state of health. Matthew, too, has his own baggage, though it sometimes doesn't seem that way to me, and we're both as Caucasian as snow,  which certainly will not work to our advantage in a system that, affirmative action being in effect or not, thrives on diversity. Life isn't fair. So if my brother and I have the possibility of  advantages in this inherently arbitrary at best and, more realistically, outrightly unfair process, we will  make the most of those advantages. I will note, however, that any nepotistic advantages will occur only as a result of recognition of a not-terribly-common surname and any association or familiarity with it that members of acceptance panels may have. My father will not be making calls, sending emails, or writing letters on behalf of either of us, nor will his name be mentioned in any part of the many applications either of us completes and submits.  We have our limits in terms of the depths to which we will sink to achieve our goals.

I am highly satisfied with the agreement we have essentially chiseled out of thin air, and I feel much better about the arduous process we're both facing. It's good to know where we stand in terms of one another, and I like the idea of being mutually supportive. Still, however we look at it, we are competitors in a highly competitive system, and it's in both of our best interests to openly acknowledge it without being too cut-throat about it. 

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to read about your plans for medical school, especially since your brother has the same plans. When I was studying social work, I did an internship out of a rural doctor's office that was sponsored by my university. I enjoyed medical social work; found it very rewarding. I wouldn't mind doing that kind of work today. I ended up interacting with a lot of med students who came through the practice for sub-internship rotations. They were pretty interesting to talk to.