Patrick Axel Molina

  • BS, Georgia Southern University '10
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '15
  • MD/PHD Candidate, NIH Medical Scientist Training Program, The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

Looking back, what advice would you give to applicants applying to the program? 

The Medical Master’s program at EVMS is unlike any academic challenge you have faced. The demands of applying to medical school while taking a rigorous course load, in parallel with medical students, provides a wealth of experience and insight. While applying to the Medical Master’s program, it is crucial to be 100% honest with yourself and identify and constructively criticize your strengths and weaknesses, especially those related to studying, test taking and the ability to prioritize. Furthermore, as an applicant and as a potential physician, the ability to reflect is a principal skill. During the application process, it is important to articulate your multifaceted interest in medicine, a hands-on career known for its unique combination of the humanities and sciences. Finally, I think it is crucial to continue pursuing interests outside of medicine; while doing so can be challenging, this dynamic balance, between school and life provides enrichment and a way to build rapport with your future patients.

How did the program help your transition into medical school?

The Medical Master’s program provided several incredibly valuable skills, which helped make for a smooth transition to medical school. First, it provided a constructive means to spend a “gap” year, in addition to demonstrating my personal commitment to medicine and research. Additionally, it helped to develop and establish the discipline required to excel in an engaging and dynamic medical curriculum. Next, the skills I gained improved my ability to excel and effectively manage multiple activities and leadership roles with the academic demands of my dual-degree medical curriculum. Academically, the MM program provided valuable exposure to anatomy, biochemistry, histology, cell biology, physiology and neuroscience, in addition to providing testing experience with USMLE questions through subject exams administered by the NBME.

Why did you pick EVMS?

The overflowing community focus at EVMS, proven track record of student matriculation to medical school and exceptionally helpful and encouraging staff attracted me initially. Now, the warm and constructive atmosphere shaped by both staff and students has demonstrated the goal of encouraging all to achieve their fullest potential through strong supportive relationships and academics. 

What is the best course you have taken?

The course that stands out most to me is clinical anatomy. Through lectures, inquiry-driven clinical cases and laboratory exercises, anatomy is presented in a real-world context demonstrating the need of active application-based knowledge. Our professors provide invaluable resources, such as anatomyguy.com, to help us understand anatomical and clinical concepts, which may one day leave a positive impact on the life of a future patient. Additionally, the faculty is very approachable and encourages inquiry as it relates to anatomy and clinical application. 

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the program?

As Co-Chair of Community Outreach for the EVMS Medical Master’s class, I have the privilege and opportunity to work with amazing individuals that seek to improve the standard of living for the Norfolk community. Our past and ongoing activities, which include supporting the Heart of Ghent 10K race and preparing dinner for families at the Ronald McDonald House of Norfolk, provides a mean to leave the classroom and return to the reason we follow medicine: to help fellow individuals during challenging times. In addition to supporting the community, we also connect with fellow EVMS students through these community-oriented events. 

What study habits have helped you the most?

Reviewing the material several times in a focused and purpose-driven manner has proven to be successful. Reviewing material, for me at least, means writing and typing the material, sketching diagrams and having discussions with fellow students. I prefer to study the material usually in a small group with active discussion. In the days before an exam, a larger group comes together and we question each other on the material and this usually helps present the material from another’s perspective.

What are your goals for the future?

I want to practice medicine in an urban setting, especially focusing on areas with large underserved populations. Coming from an underprivileged inner-city background has given me innumerable experiences and I want to inspire the next generation of inner-city kids to pursue medicine and the health sciences. Additionally, I have also had the privilege of leading basic science and translational research projects, which in turn have inspired me to pursue medical research in some form. I want to utilize my medical career to serving others in the clinic, and in the community by showing individuals from underprivileged backgrounds that a fulfilling career and life in medicine is within reach.

Do you have any wise words for incoming Med Master's students?

A quote from Bruce Lee comes to mind when thinking about words of wisdom: “Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

I personally feel that in failure, we learn most, but these opportunities must be used constructively to grow and move forward. Whether it is time management, or setting priorities, it is crucial to understand what your weaknesses may be so that future success in medicine is not impeded. Reflection on these wise words has allowed me to understand what I value most and want out of life. Viewing failure as an opportunity, instead of as a barrier, has opened numerous doors for triumph.

Back to Student Testimonials


James A. Joslyn

  • BS, Virginia Commonwealth University '07
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '15
  • MD Candidate, East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine '19

How did the program help you transition into medical school?

The Medical Master's program does an outstanding job of providing support for your application process, as well as preparing you for the academic rigors of medical school. In particular, I felt that I received excellent preparation for my medical school interview through both discussions and mock interviews. A marked difference between undergraduate and medical education is the volume of material you are expected to master in a short period of time. The Medical Master's program helped me find my footing so that by the time I matriculated into medical school, I had found the study habits and learning techniques that worked best for me. This, combined with the excellent instruction in the basic medical sciences, enabled me to achieve a high level of success in my first year of medical school.

Why EVMS?

I picked EVMS because of its friendly family atmosphere and for its outstanding record of assisting students like me gain admission to medical school.

What do you wish you had known when you began the Med Master's program?

The program gets off to a fast start and never really slows down; before matriculating, students should re-familiarize themselves with basic medical and anatomical terminology and cellular biology, particularly if you've been out of school for a while.

What study habits have helped you the most?

Everyone works differently. For myself, I found the best results by keeping a study plan at least a week out and not allowing myself to break it. I also found that I needed to have a solid grasp of the material individually before I engaged in group study. 

What moving tips would you give to incoming Med Master's students?

You will need to pay a little more to live close to campus, but it's worth every penny; that's where you need to be spending the majority of your day.

Wise words for incoming Med Master's students?

Don't let others discourage or intimidate you; set your mind on your goal and go get it.

Back to Student Testimonials


Kathryn Sommese

  • BA, Vanderbilt University '12
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '15
  • MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School '19

Why did you choose the Medical Master's program at EVMS?

While looking for a one-year post-baccalaureate program to improve my credentials for medical school, EVMS distinguished itself as one of the only schools where I would take the majority of my classes directly alongside medical students. I thought that this immersion into the M1 curriculum was the best way to demonstrate my ability to succeed in medical school. I also had a wonderful experience with the application process as the administrative faculty was incredibly helpful and always very thorough in answering any questions I had. This supportive nature has carried through to my time at EVMS and has been an important component of my performance in the program.

What do you wish you had known when you began the Med Master's program?

The program is incredibly intensive and the workload picks up very quickly. Despite the advice of previous Medical Master’s students, I had not finished my secondaries when the program started and they quickly became less of a priority than the impending tests. I would recommend making a huge effort to get those done not only to increase your chances of getting interviews, but even more so that you can completely dedicate yourself to your courses.

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the program?

My favorite volunteer activity so far has been making dinner for the families at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH). The RMH is right across the street from EVMS and is a place for families with children in the hospital to stay and call “home” during an often-difficult time. We went the day after a big test and it was a great opportunity to decompress and reset before heading back to the library. More importantly, it was a reminder of our role in the community as students and future physicians.

What study habits have helped you the most?

I have found “concept mapping” to be an extremely helpful and efficient way to take notes. As a visual learner, this technique allows me to condense a 60 PowerPoint lecture onto 1 or 2 pages so that I can review the big picture concepts quickly and effectively. Since time is of the essence in this program, I have found that any study method that helps with time management is extremely beneficial.

What are your goals for the future?

One of my main incentives for going into medicine is the potential to have a very dynamic career. Whether that entails supplementing clinical work with research, international experiences or teaching, I always want to seek ways to change my profile and better myself as a physician.

Do you have any wise words for incoming Medical Master’s students?

This is a stressful and unknowing time for everyone. I cannot emphasize enough the support that both EVMS faculty and fellow students provide. Everyone wants you to succeed and achieve your goals, and you will have every resource here that you may need to do so. Don’t isolate yourself. Make friends, form study groups and build relationships. It will be a challenging year, but I’ve found that I’ve become even more dedicated to my goal of becoming a physician since becoming a Medical Master’s student.

Back to Student Testimonials


Zeeshan Toor

  • BA, University of Virginia '13
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '15
  • MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School '19

Why did you pick EVMS?

The EVMS Medical Master’s program has a phenomenal track record of getting students accepted into medical school, which greatly appealed to me during my search for a good fit. The staff genuinely holds the students’ best interests at heart and the approachable student body fosters a collaborative environment with a common goal. Set in the beautiful city of Norfolk with waterfront views, EVMS is the perfect place to realize your dreams. 

What is the best course you have taken?

Clinical Anatomy Foundations is an eye-opening course. Hands-on learning via cadavers in lab is a unique and exciting experience. There are knowledgeable teacher’s assistants training students on specific topics at various stations. The importance of medical imaging is stressed and one can expect to become familiar with reading x-rays, CTs, Ultrasounds, MRIs, etc. by the end of this course. Each lab includes a relevant clinical case allowing students to practice the differential diagnostic procedure while reinforcing the correlating material. This course is a fascinating journey and engages students through numerous mediums including live lectures, team-based learning, online media and weekly clicker quizzes. 

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the program?

I love volunteering at the Health Outreach Partnership of EVMS Students (HOPES) clinic, the only student-run health clinic in Virginia. The mission of HOPES embodies the emphasis on community service that is central to the vision of EVMS. As a Medical Master’s student, every semester I get to sign up for a few shifts to run the front desk of the free clinic and check-in the uninsured patients of Norfolk. It’s a welcome break from studying and an important reminder of the greater cause.

What study habits have helped you the most?

At times, you will get overwhelmed with the number of resources available on a certain topic. Often, filtering through and compiling a relevant study guide will itself be a learning process. Multiple passes of the notes are vital for optimal recall. Study the lecture slides and supplement with textbook when necessary. Figure out your learning style early on and stick with what works. Group study can be either a great tool or a distraction. Use your time wisely. 

What moving tips would you give to incoming Med Master's students?

Get on the waiting list for EVMS Campus Housing as early as possible. It is the most affordable and conveniently located residence for students. Use the class page on Facebook to find roommates early on. The Virginia weather necessitates preparation for both temperature extremes. 

Wise words for incoming Med Master's students?

Be prepared to maintain self-discipline and devote a good amount of time towards learning the material very thoroughly. It will provide the foundational clinical knowledge for medical school and eventually your career as a physician. It’s very rewarding to look back at your progress and reflect on all you’ve learned. Take care of your mind and body by getting plenty of sleep and exercise. Stay focused; a few months of diligence will pay off in huge ways!

 

Back to Student Testimonials


Gordana Rasic

  • BS, University of Illinois at Urbana '12
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '15
  • MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School '19

Why did you pick EVMS?

The reason why I chose the Medical Master’s program at EVMS is for both its ability to cultivate successful medical leaders and its immense commitment to community impact. While the academic program is challenging, as many things are within the medical field, EVMS is truly devoted to supporting its students. It provides students with various academic resources, such as academic tutoring, studying techniques and upperclassmen guidance. Furthermore, the faculty and students all work together towards bettering the local community of Norfolk. By hosting annual events such as Community Impact Day to aid local elementary schools, EVMS demonstrates its commitment to improving community health, within and beyond clinical walls. In sharing EVMS’s beliefs toward medicine and realizing the unlimited amount of academic support, I knew EVMS was the place where I could truly foster my successes as an aspiring medical student.

What is the best course you have taken?

While all courses at EVMS have been exciting and wonderful, my personal favorite is Clinical Anatomy Foundations. This course delicately intertwines anatomical information with clinical application by teaching students how to recognize clinical presentation of specific disorders, how to interpret various medical images and how to determine proper treatments. This course truly lays down the foundation of anatomy for aspiring medical students, and within a few weeks, what was once so unfamiliar slowly becomes a familiar and is an increasingly exciting topic for me.  

What study habits have helped you the most?

I strongly recommend working in study groups. Throughout my undergraduate experience, I often studied alone and worked independently. However, this program covers a large amount of material within a short time, and it was quite easy to overlook certain material accidentally. When I began working in study groups, the discussions helped me to discover new information and to develop new ways to interpret course material. Plus, studying with your classmates helps build your communication skills, which are vital tools in the clinical field.

What medical specialty do you have in mind?

In the future, I aspire to specialize in Internal Medicine, subspecializing in Medical Oncology. Prior to the Medical Master’s program at EVMS, I worked with non-­small cell lung cancer research and fundraising for cancer-­related non­profit organizations, and I hope to translate these experiences to future clinical scenarios.

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the program?

I absolutely loved volunteering for Haunted Hallway! Every year, EVMS students come together and host a Haunted Hallway where children and parents from the local community can safely trick-­or-­treat, engage in exciting games, choose adorable face paint designs, and bravely pass through our haunted house. It was an awesome event where you can hang out with your classmates and show off your costumes. In addition, the energy is so warm and positive that this experience truly is a great stress reliever.

Wise words for incoming Medical Master’s students?

My greatest advice for incoming Medical Master's students is to foster close relationships with your classmates. Entering this program, I immediately ran to advice concerning successful studying habits for each course and strategies to enhance efficiency with home errands. While all of the advice I received was greatly helpful, much of my success in this program would not be possible if were not for my peers. We supported each other academically by sharing study materials and in hosting study group sessions. Most importantly, we supported each other emotionally. The medical field is demanding, both academically and emotionally, so it is important to establish a support group where you can overcome your stresses and celebrate your successes together with your peers.

Back to Student Testimonials


Brock Hashim

  • BS, California Polytechnic State University '13
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medial School - Medical Master's Program '14
  • MD Candidate - Eastern Virginia Medical School '18

Why EVMS?

I was attracted to EVMS because they strive to build a community of students and faculty who have your best interest in mind, which creates an ideal environment for learning and excelling. Because of our similar ideals, I could not imagine a better school to achieve the goals I have set forth for myself.

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the program?

The most memorable volunteering experience I’ve had this year has to be participating in Haunted Hallway. Every year for Halloween, EVMS students provide a safe place to trick-or-treat for local children and their families by turning a large part of Lewis Hall into a haunted house/maze/game room. We all bought costumes and spent the majority of the night handing out candy and scaring the kids (not too much though). Events like these provide a great way to take a break from studying and get involved with the local community.

What study habits have helped you most?

Medical school is challenging due to the volume of material presented to you on a daily basis, and honestly, it can be overwhelming at first. Adapting is difficult for some, but EVMS provides plenty of resources to help students identify new learning styles. For me, I found a flashcard program called Anki that uses spaced repetition to help reinforce concepts. After finding what works for you, it just comes down to putting in the hours studying.

What medical specialty do you have in mind?

I’m currently interested in Combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics (Meds-Peds). This specialty qualifies you to care for newborns, geriatrics and everywhere in between.

Wise words for incoming Med Master's students?    

Enjoy your summer, and have all of your secondaries finished before school starts. This program (and being a Med Master's student in general) can be very stressful, but I’ve been fortunate enough to make a wonderful and supportive group of friends. Come here open-minded and ready to meet people; don't try to make it through the year on your own!

Back to Student Testimonials


Shea Sullivan

  • BA, Tufts University '10
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '14
  • MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School '18

Why EVMS? 

Quite a few special master’s programs have sprouted up around the country, all promising to enhance an applicant’s ability to gain admittance to medical school. EVMS quickly distinguished itself and consequently rose to the top of my list after the wonderful first impression made by the Medical Master’s administrative team. My questions were answered promptly, with thoughtful insight and suggestions for strengthening certain areas of my application. It was clear to me that if I chose to attend, I would be immersed in a supportive and nurturing environment. The staff that helps make this program thrive advocates for each of the students in the program. They want us to succeed and in turn, we do.

What is the best course you have taken?

This is a difficult question to answer because all the courses are taught so well! I have learned more than I ever thought I could from each of the classes. What’s great about all the core science courses that we take with the M1s is that we get revolving lecturers and clinicians, who provide us with great breadth and depth. We are exposed to the latest literature on disease processes. We also participate in interactive sessions where we are asked, “Given the current standards of care, how should we proceed?” It’s thrilling to practice taking on this role.

The course that has perhaps resonated with me the most is Medical Neuroscience. We tackle an immense amount of information regarding neurological disorders and the brain’s complex processing, but then we are also granted a glimpse into the lives of patients who suffer from these diseases. The panels that host individuals from Hampton Roads highlight triumphs and shortcomings in the system of neurological care. We are encouraged to reflect and propose ways to better the system. As future doctors, we will have the power to right many current injustices and be active agents of change. The Medical Neuroscience course reinforces this potential and helps us begin to see how we might realize it.

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the program?

At EVMS, the focus on serving the surrounding community is inspiring and rewarding. In addition to volunteering as a B.E.A.C.H. Buddy for a child with neuroblastoma, I have enjoyed working with my classmates to help the current M1s design a program that they could develop and expand over their four years at EVMS. The blossoming new project called “Young at Heart” is a partnership with P.B. Young Elementary School. For three hours every Saturday, workshops are held to address writing and composition challenges facing students, along with extracurricular enrichment activities, such as art and soccer, which are not otherwise available at the school. As part of this initiative, I led a Children’s Zumba class and witnessed kids’ self confidence levels grow as they mastered Bachata and Reggaeton dance moves. It is important to step outside of the stacks of the library and interact with the community around us, and I am grateful for the opportunity to so during my time at EVMS.  

What study habits have helped you the most?

One of the most important study habits I have developed involves revisiting material as often as possible. Also, given that we all juggle a great deal in this program, I find that my ability to recall minutia during exams is strengthened by previewing the material before each lecture and reviewing each day’s lectures in the evenings. I have embraced the fact that my schedule changes each week; the core science courses do not generally follow a repeating pattern, so I make sure to stay current in the interim, which helps maintain my momentum.

Fortunately, the most valuable study tool has been the collaborative environment that formed naturally among M1 and Med Master's students. Between study groups and tutors, we gain so much by learning and teaching together. A few days before an exam, our class Facebook pages are peppered with beautifully illustrated study guides, clever mnemonics and words of encouragement. Our colleagues are our greatest supporters, and everyone seems to realize that we all benefit most when we lift each other up.

What are your goals for the future?

As I reflect back on the year spent studying alongside first year medical students, I am proud of what this program has helped me accomplish. Having a chance to sample the rigors of medical school, while serving the community through volunteer opportunities, has reinforced my drive to pursue medicine. I feel capable and prepared to take on medical school courses in the future and one day, practice medicine with the clinical knowledge I have acquired.

Wise words for incoming Med Master's students?

Learn to be adaptable, because there are times when this program can be overwhelming. The schedule constantly changes, you are given an immense amount of information to process, you will be challenged to navigate scenarios you may have no experience with, and many people will have tips and advice for you that may completely contradict what you are used to. A bit of guidance that kept me levelheaded throughout the year was to “make sure you do what is best for you.” I think it is important to try new study approaches because this academic environment is very accelerated. However, it is easy to lose your way when experimenting, so be sure not to completely abandon habits that have worked well for you in the past.

Most importantly, make sure to reserve time for yourself. Whether it’s through Mind and Meditation yoga every week, catching the game on Sunday, or thrifting—my personal vice — doing what helps you decompress is crucial for maintaining your stamina through this year.

Lastly, finish your primary AMCAS application and secondaries before school starts. If you are like me, and this is the first year you are applying to medical school, you may not be used to the pacing of the application process. Submitting applications early is beneficial on all fronts, most importantly in that it allows you to acclimate into the program without distraction.

Back to Student Testimonials


Cameron Brawley

  • BA, University of Virginia '13
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '14
  • MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School '18

Why did you pick EVMS? 

I learned about the Medical Master’s program through a friend who had previously graduated from it. Being enrolled in mostly medical school classes with medical students really appealed to me. The program gives one the opportunity to show admissions boards that he/she is able to perform at or above the level of current medical students.

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the program?

The B.E.A.C.H Buddies program matches students with pediatric oncology and hematology patients at the local children’s hospital. Students can visit their buddies whenever they’re in clinic, and the program has scheduled events (ice skating, laser tag, etc.) for fun.

What moving tips would you give to incoming Med Master's students?

When searching for an apartment, don’t sacrifice comfort for slight reductions in the price to rent. Be sure your place has heating, a good internet connection for schoolwork and factor in its distance from campus (consider whether or not you’ll be driving).

What medical specialty do you have in mind?

As of now, I’m leaning toward Family Medicine, but I’m keeping an open mind as I get more exposure to other specialties.

Do you have any wise words for incoming Med Master's students?

Staying current with the material means many sacrifices to your normal routine; however, it’s important to keep up with at least one thing that makes you happy. Whether it be sports/exercise, volunteer work or something else, it’s necessary to have that outlet for reducing stress.

 

Back to Student Testimonials


Bree Ann Young

  • BS, Lehigh University '12
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '13
  • MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School '17
 

Back to Student Testimonials


Richard Higham-Kessler

  • BA, Emory University '09
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School – Medical Master's Program ‘12
  • MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School ‘16
  • Residency, General Surgery - University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson Program, Tucson, Arizona

MM Testimonial photo Higham-Kessler

I chose the EVMS Medical Master's program because I found that the school cared about me and wanted to help me succeed. EVMS students help each other learn in a collaborative way to a degree that I have yet to find elsewhere. They study together, make practice practical exams, share study guides and answer each other's questions on Facebook. The faculty go out of their way to hold review sessions, meet with students, elicit feedback and provide ancillary materials. As one professor says, "If a student fails a class, we as a faculty have failed." The first year medical students are incredibly supportive and friendly, and they treat the Medical Master's students with the same respect and support that they give their classmates. All of these factors combine to explain why EVMS Medical Master's students have a phenomenal rate of matriculation into medical school.

I also learned the best study techniques for medical students from the program and my fellow students, and consequently, I'm flourishing in my training. My performance as a Medical Master's student allowed me to place out of several classes as a first-year, and my new study skills further have decreased the time burden of being a first-year student. This increase in free time has allowed me to become significantly involved in the leadership of the HOPES Free Clinic, travel to Haiti as part of a medical mission and conduct clinical research. I cannot recommend the Medical Master's program at EVMS enough.

Back to Student Testimonials


Sabina Cieszynski

  • BA, New York University '05
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School – Medical Master's Program ‘09
  • MD Graduate, Eastern Virginia Medical School ‘13
  • Residency, Pediatrics - New York Medical College - Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, NY

The Medical Master's program at Eastern Virginia Medical School was the key to a career I had always envisioned for myself. As a nontraditional applicant, it not only provided me with the foundation for acquiring the study skills and the basic science knowledge I would need to propel through four years of medical school, but it allowed me to meet an incredible group of driven individuals with the ambition, intelligence and enthusiasm with whom I could share the journey. Today, having matched into a residency program in my home state of New York, I can officially call myself a resident physician and having shared this transition with the other Medical Master's students makes the process even more worth it.‌

Back to Student Testimonials


 Daniel Pierce

  • BS, The College of William & Mary '09
  • MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '12
  • MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School '16
  • Residency, Orthopedic Surgery - Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Program, Lebanon, NH

Back to Student Testimonials