Susie Turkson

  • BA, University of Chicago ‘12
  • MS, Biomedical Sciences - Eastern Virginia Medical School '17
  • MD/PhD Candidate, Virginia Commonwealth School of Medicine '21

Why did you choose EVMS?

I chose the two-year Medical Master’s at EVMS because I was looking for a program that offered shadowing opportunities in addition to the coursework. I saw it as a bonus that a majority of the courses were taken with the first-year medical students, and aspects of public health were included. As a native of Hampton Roads, I was already familiar with the area and EVMS’s commitment to community engagement, which set the program higher on my list. The positive experience I had while applying to the Medical Master’s program really sealed the deal for me. I received helpful feedback from the program administrators throughout the process, which proved their dedication to the success of their students, even before I was accepted.

Tell us about your experiences as a two-year Med Master's student and how that helped prepare you for medical school.

Having previously worked in basic science research, I appreciated the opportunity to have productive discussions with classmates coming from different backgrounds. Within the first year of the Medical Master’s program, I learned to adapt my study habits, which required incorporating study groups and implementing effective time management. I also refined my note-taking methods to focus on the high yield material. I found Dr. Kerry’s concept mapping strategy to be extremely helpful for achieving this, and I have continued to use concept maps as part of my note-taking and review method. Early exposure to NBME style exam questions helped me adjust my test taking strategies, and although my current institution uses instructor written questions, I have been able to apply the same strategies. (I’m sure this will be of greater benefit when I begin studying for USMLE Step 1.)

What was your process like applying and interviewing for outside medical schools while in the Med Master's program?

I completed my primary application during the summer between the first and second year of the program. This gave me a decent amount of time to work on most of my secondary applications before classes started up again.

During interview season, it was essential to stay organized and disciplined because I knew I was going to miss course material while traveling. To make sure I kept up with the material, I participated in study groups with some of my classmates, and we put together Jeopardy-style reviews. I also communicated with the course instructors to make arrangements for assignments or quizzes that I missed while interviewing. (The instructors were very accommodating and extremely helpful!) For the actual interviews, I felt the mock interviews and material covered in the Presentation Skills course prepared me sufficiently, which made interviewing less stressful than I anticipated. Another added bonus was the opportunity to do multiple mock interviews to prepare.

If you could give any advice to an incoming Med Master's student, what would it be?

My first piece of advice is to remember what you are there for! Everyone in the program will have a different background, or different skills, but you will all be aiming for the same goal, and the good news is it’s NOT a competition. It’s easy to get caught up comparing yourself to your classmates, but what really matters is the progress you make towards your own personal goals.

My second piece of advice is to actively work towards finding balance. Medical school is challenging, and the Medical Master’s program starts off by easing you into the rigor of the curriculum, but don’t take the first year of the program lightly. The first year is your chance to get organized, figure out how to take “guilt-free” breaks, and perfect your time management. All of this is easier said than done, but if you can find the balance during the first year of the program, it will be easier to adapt to the faster pace and higher demands of the second year (and eventually those of the full medical school curriculum).