top of page

Uncovering The First Year of Medical School with Dr. Tim Do | The Physician Pharmacist Podcast

The Physician Pharmacist Podcast originated as a seven-part mini-series that explores the journey of pharmacists who transitioned to careers in medicine. Hosted by Nathan Gartland, a licensed pharmacist and second-year medical student, the podcast aims to provide insight into the medical school application process, the challenges of applying to pharmacy residencies, and the financial considerations of pursuing dual education.


๐ŸŽ™๏ธ The first episode features Dr. Timothy Do, a recently graduated pharmacist from Duquesne University and current first-year medical student at an osteopathic medical school in the Northeast United States. Dr. Do shares his origin story in healthcare and how he realized his interest in medicine despite initially pursuing industry work in pharmacy. He discusses the challenges of managing the medical school application process while still in pharmacy school, including studying for the MCAT, completing prerequisite courses, and writing a standout personal statement.


๐Ÿ“— Dr. Do emphasizes the importance of the MCAT as the largest barrier to getting accepted into medical school, and he shares his experience of studying for the exam over the summer before his final year of pharmacy school. He also shares his struggles with meeting the prerequisites of some medical schools, including the requirement for a bachelor's degree in addition to his PharmD.


๐Ÿ“˜ The podcast also delves into the difficulties of applying to medical schools in California, where heavy in-state bias and high competition make it a challenging market for out-of-state applicants. Dr. Do shares his approach to applying broadly to schools based on their applicant profile and the percentage of out-of-state applicants they accept.


๐Ÿ“• Throughout the episode, Nathan Gartland and Dr. Do cover a range of topics related to the medical school application process, including the logistics of applying, the MCAT, prerequisites, and the financial considerations of a dual education. They also touch on the challenges of adjusting to medical school and the importance of understanding the clinical aspect of pharmacy in pursuing a career in medicine.


๐Ÿ“’ The Physician Pharmacist Podcast aims to answer common questions that pharmacy students may have about transitioning to a career in medicine, including where to start, how medical school compares to pharmacy school, and how to work as a pharmacist on the side. The podcast features a talented pool of nontraditional guests with experience in pharmacy, medicine, and business alike!



For more resources to get started, check out some of our other blog post content!

Enjoying the podcast and want to listen to more? Visit The Physician Pharmacist Podcast for a list of episodes. Here's a featured episode below!

______________________________________________________________________________________

Uncovering The First Year of Medical School with Dr. Tim Do

Podcast Transcript:


nathan gartland

Welcome to the physician pharmacist podcast, a show designed to shed some light on a very unusual pathway into medicine. I'm your host, Nathan Gartland. I'm a licensed pharmacist and second year medical student. I'm also the author of PharmD to MD and the owner of the physician pharmacist company. Most pharmacy students and professional graduates are aware of the possibility of going to medical school, but very few actually take the leap. The answer may be associated with the intimidating financial barriers, realistic concerns for burnout with an additional four years of graduate level education, or hopefully 100% satisfaction with a career in pharmacy. We're here today to talk about what it takes to successfully apply to medical school, and use your pharmacy degree as leverage to maximize your chances of getting in. This will be the first episode of a seven part mini series where we will talk with other successful pharmacists who have transitioned into a career in medicine. We will take you through each step of the medical journey starting at the entry of medical school, discuss USMLE step one, other USMLE boards, clinical rotations, applying to medical residencies, surviving medical residencies, and life as an attending. We have a very talented pool of featured guests who are excited to share their expertise in both pharmacy and medicine. Our guests include a first, second and third year medical students, a surgical chief resident, a newly appointed infectious disease attending and experienced internal medicine physician. We will also have an episode to discuss several financial perspectives to minimize debt, organize your finances and build a pathway to financial success. This podcast and mini series is designed to answer common questions that pharmacy students may have about making the transition such as Where do I even start? How does medical school compared to pharmacy school? And can I work as a pharmacist on the side and so much more? I look forward to answering all these questions as we take you through the pharmacist turned physician journey. In today's episode, we will cover topics related to application logistics MCAT principles, application timing, pharmacy residencies, pharmacy boards, such as the nape Plex, adjusting to the medical school life and reflections on a career in medicine. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce our guests on today's show Dr. Timothy do. Dr. Do is a recently graduated pharmacist from Duquesne University and current first year medical student at an osteopathic medical school in the Northeast United States. Welcome Dr. Tim do

nathan gartland

Good. Good. Thanks for joining us today on the show today. I'm super excited to chat with you. And you know, now that we've kind of gotten your brief introduction there, let's take a few minutes to talk about your origin story and healthcare. What got you started with pharmacy in the first place?


Speaker 2

Yes. So when I first started pharmacy, I really wanted to actually go into industry. And I think at that time, I didn't really understand that pharmacy was going to train me more in the clinical aspect. But despite that initial confusion, I ended up realizing that I really enjoyed the clinical aspect. And that was something that I definitely wanted to continue with.


nathan gartland

Love that. And so I guess with your pharmacy training was going to medical school, like always your plan. You mentioned the clinical component was super important for you. At least how you progressed through pharmacy school. When did you decide that medical school was going to be the path?


Speaker 2

Yeah, so med school really definitely wasn't the plan to start with. I think just as a went through pharmacy school and at work, and on rotations, it was just a gradual realization that I wanted to pursue medicine. So, you know, really from, you know, when I when I went into pharmacy school, and then to now my plans have just been constantly evolving. And I've been slowly figuring out what it is that I wanted to do.


nathan gartland

Absolutely. And so I guess let's talk a little bit then about, you know, the medical school application overview because I know this is something that you recently completed it seems like you know, a lifetime ago with how much stuff you've done in medical school and you know, the fact that you apply so far ahead, but you know, so I guess for pharmacy students and our graduate listeners applying to medical school is obviously a massive undertaking. It takes several months if not years of planning to prepare. Your tasks range from you know, completing prerequisite courses, studying for the Medical College Admission Test, also known as the MCAT. Writing a standout personal statement and so much more. It also requires students to apply an entire You're ahead of time, like I mentioned, necessitating quite a bit of forethought. So Tim, can you tell us how you were able to manage all of this while in pharmacy school? Clearly, it's possible, but what was your life really like during this time period?


Speaker 2

Yeah. So in regards to the MCAT, luckily, for me, I was able to quit my job at the pharmacy. And when I went back home, I actually made the decision. I'm originally from California. So I originally made the decision to just stay at home and dedicate a good three months to preparing for the MCAT over summer. And I really only had about two weeks of overlap between when school started back up, and when I was going to take the exam. So I was really lucky to be able to, you know, have that situation where I could just drop everything, and go to go to work studying for the MCAT. And then when school came around, I just kind of ignored classes for about two weeks and studied until my exam came. And then the rest of the application process that was that was really something that was a huge struggle that I didn't expect, I was lucky to have great mentorship from yourself and from Rice, who I believe is another guest on this, you guys really did a great job, you know, giving me the ups and downs of what I needed to do to get started and be successful in this process.


nathan gartland

Yeah, that's wonderful. And, you know, it was a pleasure obviously, working with you and you know, sharing the RS, lamenting on our struggles, you know, to get to the point where we are where we're at right now. And there's a lot you mentioned, and that I'm hoping to unpack, so you had a little bit of a different experience, because you ended up taking the MCAT exam, like you mentioned over the summer. And so because of that, and you had a pretty good MCAT score, I think the best out of anyone I've talked to. And because of that it allowed you to have, I guess, an extra year of time, or a lot larger of a preparation period to really craft a good application, versus myself and Bryce, who were on our second attempt at the MCAT struggling to do it during the semester. So our experience, I guess, was a little different in that approach. So my question for you is how did you handle the added requirements to, you know, shadowing experiences? How did you bolster your research at that that time period during that final year leading up to your application point?


Speaker 2

Yeah. So how are we honest, I think I think I really squandered that year, I was kind of resting on my laurels, that, you know, I was going to have a PharmD and that I was going to be getting all this clinical experience on rotations, not really realizing, I think what med schools were looking for in terms of like extracurriculars, and in terms of the experiences that they want students to have. So I think, you know, I could have used that year actually a little bit better. In regards to what I did in the extra time that I gained from not having to go through the MCAT a second time.


nathan gartland

Hindsight is always 2020. Yeah, for real. But um, yeah, so that's definitely some good points to bring up there as well. So you know, for our listeners, I generally recommend that students or graduates actually start their medical school application journey by taking the MCAT first, ideally, taking it in that final summer, was exactly when Tim took it. And there's no sense in wasting time shadowing, or spending extra cash to take a few missing prerequisites without knowing how you actually are going to perform on the MCAT. Because the MCAT is basically the largest barrier to getting accepted into medical school, especially for higher qualified or I guess more extensively experienced applicants like most pharmacy students would be. So want to emphasize to our listeners that the MCAT is by far the largest barrier for medical school applicants. And once this is out of the way most pharmacy professionals should be in pretty good shape to fine tune their application. So how did you I want to know because you did exceptionally well on the MCAT. And I want to know, how did you tackle just studying for this exam? Did it really translate from pharmacy school? Like your baseline education in pharmacy? Or how did you readjust because I got slapped in the face the first time I took it?


Speaker 2

Yeah, so I think the the MCAT you know, it's it's a basic science exam, as well as a lot of reading comprehension. I think I've always had a strong background with reading comprehension. And then the science aspect, we did get a lot of it from, from our classes, you know, we've covered this material multiple times from high school, you know, to undergrad to pharmacy school itself. So we had a lot of that basis. And I think I just tried to build on that. Again, like I had these three months that I set aside and every single day basically I had a plan for that day. And you know, I went on Reddit and looked at all the the advice that people had and came up with a study scheduled out that worked for me, and then just kind of got to work, studying, you know, as many hours a day as I could. And, you know, I knew that this was going to be a tough process. But as you said, this is the biggest barrier, pretty much to getting in. And I knew I had to do well on it. So I really focused on this. And I knew that, you know, if I, if I put in the work, I could hopefully come up with a with a good score, and it ended up working out pretty well for me.


nathan gartland

And I'm not sure if you're comfortable or not. But do you mind sharing what percentile your score was?


Unknown Speaker

Yeah, it was the 97th percentile.


nathan gartland

Wow, so a lot higher than mine. But I digress. So I've referenced a few times already that, you know, some pharmacy students will need to examine their prerequisites to make sure they are compliant with the medical school standards. Do you have any? Did you have any issues, I suppose with prerequisites? And what would you recommend students do in a similar position?


Speaker 2

Yeah, this was this was actually a huge issue for me, not so much as the classes itself. So most of my pharmacy school classes, did trance translate over, and were acceptable, I only needed to take physics to. And that was not even for most schools, there were just a handful of schools that I was applying to that required me to take physics too. So I just did that at another school to save some money. And to do it on the side and was not really much of an issue. The only thing I have to say for that is make sure you look very carefully at whatever schools you're applying to, because they all define what counts for different categories in different ways. So you're going to want to make sure that your courses actually do match up for them. And that you actually have met all the requirements for all the schools because some of them you will not actually meet the requirements for if you read what they say. And it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to take the extra courses, whether or not it's worth the extra money to take the extra courses just for this one or two schools, because most of your courses, I believe, should transfer or translate over and be counted as successful credits, that will count towards your application.


nathan gartland

Yeah, yeah, go ahead.


Speaker 2

I was just gonna say the biggest thing for me actually was my degree. to having the farm D, I thought would mean that I was good prerequisite wise for every single school. Unfortunately, some schools say that they require a bachelor's, and some schools take that literally. And I actually ran into a few schools that wouldn't let me apply just because I didn't have an actual bachelor's degree, I kind of assumed that having a PharmD would be would be considered sufficient. But that's something to if you see that on a website, something to definitely contact the admissions office and see if they're going to accept your higher degree if you if you don't have a bachelor's degree, though, I know some pharmacy schools do allow you to have a bachelor's or graduate with a bachelor's.


nathan gartland

While there were a lot of great nuggets in that right there. So I just want to emphasize that that's a great point that you should 100% should reach out to some of the programs and make sure on your first point that all of your prerequisites are going to be accepted. So make sure you don't you're not throwing away cash or to you know, programs that you don't have the prerequisites for and you have to decide, like you said whether or not that's going to be worth applying to it. Now, let's say that program that that you're interested in is in your home state right down the street from your family, well, then you might have to actually take that extra course. And it really depends too on your your baseline pharmacy education. And like you mentioned, like I didn't have physics to as well. And so that was another challenge of finding a program that would accept that, and then also having to transfer in additional transcripts and everything. So it did add a little bit of an extra headache to the process, but nothing too, too crazy. And then, yeah, that's also a great point bringing up the fact that that is a common issue with a lot of these non traditional applicants, is that if you don't have that standard bachelor's degree, it can actually hold up your application. And I write about this a little bit in my book, and I came across it and I was bewildered like you mentioned with your with your own personal experiences, you know, how is this farm D not acceptable, but a bachelor's somehow out of ranks that and I think the best advice you said was to definitely reach out to a program that might have some kind of discrepancy or issue with that in your application and do proactively reach out before you've allowed this application to fall into the trash bin or before you get lost and all the the wait lists and everything like that. So that's that's a great tip to reach out to these programs and make sure there's not it's not a lot of programs that do this. I will say at least in my experience, but there are a handful, I'd say probably five that I can think of that that would have issues with this. But um, alright, so transitioning into a slightly different topic, but students are always wondering how many programs should they apply to or do you mind briefly sharing how many schools you apply to?


Speaker 2

Yeah, I applied to 27 MD schools and five Do schools?


nathan gartland

And would you say that's above the average or a little bit higher? or lower? Or do you think you applied to too few too many?


Speaker 2

I think I'm trying to remember the stacks that I looked up when I was applying, I think it was a little bit around maybe the low end of average. If if I even hit average people, some people applied to quite a few schools. But I think that that was around a good number that I decided to stop at. Because I also had to consider my my financial status at the time as well.


nathan gartland

Yeah, that's a good point. And I think a lot, the best way to answer this question is, you know, how qualified is the applicant? Are you looking at? Do you have a Nobel Prize, and you're, you know, perfect MCAT score, and you have a 4.0 GPA? Well, you know, you might not need to apply to 55 different programs, because you're likely to get into the first three, that's your application, versus you know, someone who has slightly less qualified, or is, you know, looking for very specific metrics in a particular medical school, like ones that have very strong research background or so on. So there's other things to consider, especially so I think that's a good way to tackle the how many programs should you apply to? Well, you know, how competitive Are you how, how much money do you have to throw it throw into the wind? So there's a lot of other features. But good answer. So, in my book, PharmD, the MD I argued that a bad medical school application, this can sink, even the most prestigious pharmacy applicant, this would include applying too heavily to quote unquote, rich programs, low yields programs, and programs with heavy in state bias. You mentioned already, but as a California native, how did this impact your application decisions? Perhaps you can explain the California application dilemma?


Speaker 2

Yeah, it's, it's tough being an applicant from California. So I still applied to pretty much every California school, I did know that my chances of getting in with, especially with my demographic were pretty low. So I had to apply very broadly to make up for this. And I really looked into each school's applicant profile to see the percentage of their out of state applicate applicants, and then how many of those were accepted, how many of them got interviews, and so on, I also made sure to check you know, what minorities they let in. And from there, I was able to kind of make my decisions about where I was going to apply. I think the California market or for the California application is extremely difficult, just because it's such a destination for everybody. And then also you have all the California students who want to stay there as well. So you really do need to take in where you're from and where you think you can get in with regards to the out of state applicant profile for each school.


nathan gartland

Yeah, that's a good point is I've thrown away quite a bit of money applying to programs that had very heavy in state bias. And that's something you know, I wish I had paid a little bit more attention to, I guess, like going off off script a little bit. Do you think that for students who might be originally from California, but are in pharmacy schools in different states? would do you think it would be fortuitous for them to potentially change their permanent residency status when it comes to applying to potentially like states that have a lot of medical schools, like New York State or Pennsylvania that has, you know, upwards of nine medical schools?


Speaker 2

Yeah, I think I really seriously considered doing that. The only reason I didn't was because I was hoping if I did get a school in California, then I would just end up staying there. And I didn't want I didn't want the hassle, though. You know, again, hindsight, I think it might have been a wise idea to change my residency to a different state, perhaps, Pennsylvania, I do remember they, they don't have the biggest in state bias. There's maybe one or two schools with a huge in state bias that I didn't actually end up applying to. But if you're thinking about other other states that have a much larger in state bias, then that's definitely something I would consider doing.


nathan gartland

Awesome. And I also believe you applied to pharmacy residencies on top of medical school. So this is something that I never got around to personally, and I'm very curious to learn more. What motivated you to apply to pharmacy residency is and would you have entered the match if you hadn't gotten an acceptance sooner?


Speaker 2

Yeah, honestly, I was really just looking for security. It took a long time for me to get my first acceptance, and I wasn't sure where I was going to end up and I thought, you know, if I if I don't get into med school, I definitely want to do a residency. The End, that'll be a great way to gain some incredible experience in a gap year, because I was still going to apply after first year residency, most likely. So I had no acceptances at that time. And I so I just started the process. And I think if I hadn't gotten an acceptance, I would have entered the match.


nathan gartland

Yeah, absolutely. And that would have made you extremely qualified for a position in the future, or to apply to medical school in the future, because you have the grades and everything for it too. And, you know, for our listeners, this, it's pretty crazy how long the application cycle is, for medical school, a lot of the forethought goes in, and you're planning in April of the previous year, and then you apply in June, and then you get everything pushed out in July. And then you're sitting there filling out secondary applications until mid September, and then you're waiting for interviews to come through anytime from September all the way till I guess, the march of the next year. And you can still not have a single acceptance and then hear from a school may in middle of May, you know, crazy things have happened. So it's pretty stressful, especially for a lot of applicants, not just pharmacy students, but a lot of applicants who are trying to plan their life around these this momentous moments, and you're sitting there waiting for just a single email that come through. It's pretty crazy. But um, anyway, so for pharmacy students listening in, what do you think they should be doing to make themselves competitive for medical school? Or potentially just a residency application and pharmacy? Because you were obviously planning on doing that


Speaker 2

yourself? Right? Yeah. So I think the there's obviously the general things you need to focus on your GPA and MCAT as well as get some solid leadership. If I'm if I'm talking about residency, I think having impressive leadership that that shows that you're actively involved and that you're doing a lot is extremely important, just based off of, you know, the experiences of myself and my friends who got residencies, I think that's really important. As far as for med school, I think there's a slightly different focus here, I think the focus is now a lot shifting to patient direct patient care, interacting with patients showing that you are a human. You know, that's what they want to see. And I think that's really important, and shouldn't be a huge focus if you are thinking about taking this path.


nathan gartland

Absolutely. And would you recommend students get involved in research? I know that was an important underpinning for your experience in pharmacy school? Do you think students should also be super involved in research? And leading up to that? How, how can students even find research in the first place?


Speaker 2

Yeah, so as far as finding research, you know, your school is a great place. I know, a lot of my friends did research rotations. And a lot of my friends ended up getting papers published, I as well published some papers, just by talking to the professors from both undergrad and from pharmacy school, and just starting to get into the lab like that. And there's also clinical opportunities that you can to simply just by just by talking to your professors, they want to help you, they, they want to see you do research, they want to see their students succeed. So that's something that they're going to be definitely able to help get you involved with. I do think that quality research that really shows a student's application is important. If you're just doing it to check off boxes, I think that's pretty obvious, then some maybe focusing on something else that you're really passionate about, and can speak to would be best, because I don't think just kind of going going halfway through any research project, just to say I did research is a good way to distinguish yourself, because you know, everybody's doing that.


nathan gartland

That's a great point. And I think one of the biggest things I've learned personally, in my experience with research is there's nothing that turns you away, and makes you more disinterested in doing research than signing up for a project that you're not passionate about or not interested in. I've made the mistake just in medical school recently. And it's it can really weigh you down, it can really take away from the the joy of furthering the medical pathway. So that's just, I think, an important thing. Don't just sign up for every project that you find, you know, if you're struggling to find a project, and you might have to settle for what you find, but at the same time, don't sign up for something that you're not going to put your full heart into because you're never going to move the ball down the field. Yes. Alrighty, so, let's take a few minutes to talk about this very interesting. BMO academics article. And so the article posits that specialized health science majors, which would include pharmacy has one of the lowest acceptance rates to medical school at only 36.7% getting accepted. While this metric is not Not exclusively representative of pharmacy applicants, because there's other individuals mixed into that that data set. I'm perplexed as to how these higher level graduates with far more clinical education are missing the ball when it comes to applying to medical school. In my experience, I think this lack of success and application cycle really stems from a lack of application guidance. How difficult was it for you to piece together everything, especially without having the guidance of a pre med committee or curriculum?


Speaker 2

Yeah, it was such a confusing process. Again, I really have to thank you embrace and read it, for understanding how to even get everything done on time and sending things to the right places and whatnot. I think guidance from professionals who have done this many times before, would have made life a lot easier and a lot less stressful. I know I tried to reach out to do canes to canes, pre med guidance counselors, and they helped me a little bit unfortunately, they needed people in the pre med track. But what little information they were able to give me was quite helpful to determining, you know, my next course of action. And I think just knowing how to make your application more competitive and looking for the ways to improve yourself in the manner that we talked about before, with regards to showing your patient care abilities, and interacting with more patients, I think that's, that's really something that would be valuable information to have earlier.


nathan gartland

And I love how you brought up that you went and actually spoke with the pre health committee. So you weren't just basing everything off of online resources, which you can certainly do for our listeners. But it's also super important to reach out to the resources that you have, especially if you're still in pharmacy school, this wouldn't be as practical if you're outside of pharmacy school. If you're still in pharmacy school, I would recommend you definitely reach out to your pre health committee and see if you can get a meeting with them. Even if they give you a packet of information that can help lay out the format for you that that can be the extra edge that you need to make sure that you are on time with your applications and make sure that you are actually getting an acceptance to medical school. And a lot of people will ask me to is will I approach the pre med committee and they want me to sign up for the pre med courses and, you know, fall into their particular curriculum that's going to cost X amount of dollars to add these extra credits. And that's where I start to draw the line that say, Well, how much how much benefit Are you really going to get from that you might get a committee letter, but you're also going to have to pack in extra classes, extra costs, when it might not necessarily be necessary, especially with all the resources available online these days. So that's something that's more of a niche topic that we can talk about, and later at a later time. But anyways, that's my two cents on the matter. Um, so was there anything you wish you had known prior to applying that might have made you a little bit more competitive or, I guess made your life a little bit easier?


Speaker 2

Yeah, I mean, other than what I talked about before, with regards to you know, just making myself more competitive with the extracurriculars that I did, I think it's just knowing how generic my application essay was gonna be, would probably have been good I, I was one of those people who wrote about a sick family member. And you know, granted, that's a sad thing. But there's probably a lot of other people who wrote about that. And I think that was probably one of the things in my profile that was pretty weak, if I have to be honest with myself.


nathan gartland

Yeah, and self reflection is super important. And I can't argue I can't defend myself either by saying I have a super unique take on on my personal statement, either. So definitely having a very well drafted and complete and concise almost like your constitution of who you are, as, as a medical student, as an applicant as a pharmacy student. I think that's super important. So having something that really makes you stand out and outside of being like the cookie cutter applicant, can go a long way when it comes to the medical school application process. Considering there's 53,000 applicants every single year, there's got to be something to help these students stand out. All right. And All right, so let's talk a little bit about your first year of medical school. So you're almost done with your first year. You mentioned you have about a month left. How has it been so far? And was anatomy really as tough as everyone claims?


Speaker 2

Yeah, anatomy was a whole other beast. I think really though the biggest adjustment was the workload. You know, in pharmacy school, it's not like I wasn't used to studying a lot, but I was used to having some breaks every so often and feeling caught up in med school, the first semester at least I felt like I was barely keeping my head up above the water the whole time. Even now. Sometimes, you know, I feel like I'm just I'm not keeping up with what I need to do. And then yeah, I mean anatomy was, it's something else, you know, I didn't realize just how much anatomy there was. And I'll be honest, I kind of forgot that there was a whole, like musculoskeletal world that went beyond drugs. You know, to me, like broken bones were like pain meds, some antibiotics, maybe dealing with the patients, their comorbidities, but I didn't realize just how much a medicine was beyond my scope.


nathan gartland

Yeah, it's funny in pharmacy school, they're like, Well, this is the deltoid muscle. But that's all I really know. Yeah. Outside of that, now I find out there's like 15 different muscles just in that area and around. So it's just a funny observation. And it's something to in reality, like, we don't get a lot of experience that I'd say that's the one part of pharmacy school that doesn't really help quite a bit, is that there's no baseline anatomy training, we have like a fundamental anatomy course. And this might be different for each pharmacy school. But in my experience, I definitely had some issues with anatomy to just because I'm sitting here looking at content that I've never even seen before with the absolute sheer volume of every single nerve and artery in the body that I'm trying to memorize. I that I'm sitting next to one of my peers who has a very different background and has a PhD in anatomy. So it can be a little stressful. And you have like a little bit of impostor syndrome, because you come from pharmacy and all these clinical rotations, and you're a top dog and you're about to be a pharmacist, and then you get sent back into the anatomy lab. And it's a very humbling experience. So I'd agree with you. And a popular question I get is How does medical school compared to pharmacy school? The answer this question is going to be obviously slightly different on depending on each individual program. However, I do think that they're very similar in academic rigor. I think there there is slightly more volume, like you mentioned. And so I think a reason for that is that it's interesting that most like class competition increases dramatically in comparison to pharmacy school. I think this primarily stems from the fact that 100% of medical school, students need to merit a residency position, in contrast to pharmacy, which only about 50% are competing for some of these positions. So how important is having a collaborative medical school class? And when does it come? I guess, when it comes to stress management, and student welfare, how important are those things?


Speaker 2

It's so important. You know, if I didn't have the friends that I've made in med school to lean on and learn from, I would not be nearly as successful as I've been, I was able to study with people and have other people to talk to you who understood what I was going through. Because you know, a lot of people aren't actually going to understand what you're going through with med school. And without them, I think I just would have felt really isolated and confused, just, you know, sitting at home studying for hours every day. Another thing was the great upperclassmen who we have, they're really dedicated to providing us resources and giving us good advice. So trying to figure out everything on your own, it's just too hard and takes, it takes way too long to make that adjustment if you're trying to figure it out. So having those people around you who either know what they're doing already, if they're older, or who can help work with you to figure it out. It's really invaluable.


nathan gartland

I agree entirely. And for our listeners, if you're ever stuck between two medical schools at the end of the day, and you have to choose, go to the one that has a collaborative experience, one that has students that you really vibe with, because it's going to make all the difference with your whole experience, you're going to be so much happier, you're going to be so much more successful, versus going to a program that's going to be much more cutthroat. You know, unless unless you're one of those people who enjoys that. Yeah. So kind of going back to my question I mentioned in the previous prompt, but how would you say medical school compares to your pharmacy experience? You kind of preface this a little bit, but can you mind exploring that a little bit more for us?


Speaker 2

Yeah, I mean, I totally agree with you. It's absolutely not harder, content wise. It's just more stuff to learn, you know, instead of just learning about the drugs, you're learning about everything, it kind of makes sense that it's going to be a little bit more also squished into a shorter amount of time, two years versus three years of didactic, and then two years of rotation. You know, as far as the my classmates, you know, I feel that I'm in a good place to be a competitive applicant for residencies. I think just really making the adjustment to the workload. That was the most difficult thing. But once you can do that, and I think most people from pharmacy school will have a good background with regards to how much we need to study. I think the adjustment isn't more than just learning that I need to spend a little bit more time while studying for everything.


nathan gartland

And is there anything you think pharmacy school did better or vice versa when it came to your entry? Question.


Unknown Speaker

This might sound obvious but farm


nathan gartland

right? Presumably, that's not as obvious though for for a lot of people listening in. That's so yeah. Talk about talk a little bit more about that for me.


Speaker 2

I mean, now I know, you know why there can be so much disconnect between pharmacists and physicians. You know, I see what we're learning in farm school versus what we're learning in my pharmacy classes at my school, and I realized that it's kind of a whole different focus and a whole different world of what you're what you're aiming to do with regards to the pharmacy education. And so I hope in the future to maybe be able to bridge that gap and improve patient care by fostering understanding on both sides of the differences in our education and seeing how we can work together better to make better outcomes for our patients. But really, it's it's, it's been surprising to learn what we do and what we don't learn in in my farm courses.


nathan gartland

Yeah, like everyone complains in medical school, when every single drug shows up. They're like, Oh, my gosh, and other pharmacy question I get so excited, because the crazy thing is, is that they're not as common as you would think medical students, at least in my experience, don't receive quite enough, in my opinion, medical and pharmacy knowledge. When it comes to applying the pharmacy and the drugs, they they learned that like a torva statin exists. Okay. But now, what will let's talk about all the other status, what do we do when the patient has my sympathies like, all these second line principles and optimization of care are completely overlooked, at least in the first two years of the medical school education? I can't speak on the next two years, because I'm not there yet. But I'm sure you have like similar experience.


Speaker 2

Yeah, no, I completely agree with that, even down to the my school does a patient or problem based learning. So we have cases, and just down to the cases that we get with with the drugs, the cases might have been written, like 20 years ago, and the drugs are so outdated, sometimes we don't even use them anymore. Or they're putting, you know, they're putting a heart attack patient on 10 milligrams of a tortilla set, and then the patient drops their LDL by, you know, like 70%. And kind of it I understand, you know, this is the first year of med school, but I, I feel like it sets up a an unrealistic expectation in the minds of some students, if they don't have somebody there telling them that this is not the way that these drugs work.


nathan gartland

Oh, yeah. Like the patient has hyperlipidemia, I put them on a tour of a statin. I'm done, my job is done, check the box. There's so much more that goes into it. And I think pharmacists appreciate that. And I also love how you brought up that that is one of the issues and the disconnect between the two professions. Just because I don't think a lot of pharmacy or a lot of medical students even understand how extensive the pharmacy education really is. I talk with a lot of my peers, and they say, Oh, that's cool. You're a pharmacist, what does that mean? You know, and I'm surprised at how little of them really understand the depth despite being so clinically knowledgeable and relatively exposed to the healthcare setting. So I think that's also just an interesting observation I've seen all right. So how, how do you decompress after a long day of studying? Well, I guess what do you like to do outside of school that keeps you sane?


Speaker 2

Yeah, um, I might not be the best person to ask this. But, you know, sometimes I'll just sit down after a day and I gotten into chess, over over COVID kind of gotten to chess, and I've just played chess, I whenever I eat, eating is kind of like my, I like to enjoy my food. So I sit down and I eat and I don't do anything like some people watch, like Ninja nerd videos, or lectures, I'll just watch TV when I eat and just, you know, chat with my friends and my family whenever I can. And then after exams, usually my friends and I will go out and enjoy our evening.


nathan gartland

Wonderful, and I love how you mentioned chess, because I must be some kind of first first year medical student phenomenon where all all first years love to play chess. Or maybe it's just a bunch of pharmacy nerds like ourselves, but I got into chess actually, that same time period. I still play casually but not not anything crazy. It's just a fun exercise outside of outside of the medical realm. Yep. Awesome. So what are you looking forward to most in medical school?


Speaker 2

I'm really looking forward to rotations. I remember in pharmacy, I really did so much learning on my rotations. I felt like going into them. I didn't know anything and then coming out, I knew so much more I felt like and so I know that it's going to be a very different experience. I I hear that med med school rotations are much more intense because these do end up impacting your grades for residency. But I'm still really excited to see where I ended up for my rotations and to see, you know, what I can learn from them and how I can actually start applying what I have in my pharmacy background to my new medical school education.


nathan gartland

And I'm not sure you would agree with me or not, I'm sure you have a similar mindset. But I would say that it was a little frustrating going back to school, going from the clinical setting on the happy rotations and having all this hands on experience and having a medical knowledge, you know, a student to retake DNA plaques within the next couple of days. And then I come to medical school and medication knowledge, all that extra knowledge is is so far, kind of going on onto the wayside, I'm starting to lose, and I'm having trouble retaining it, because I'm putting in all this new information. And I definitely would say that it's a little frustrating because we don't use all this knowledge and we're back in the classroom, instead of basically we're back on the leash, and we're not out there in the in the healthcare world making clinical decisions and learning, you know, hands on.


Speaker 2

Now, I mean, I completely agree with that. It's very frustrating. You know, when I come across a drug, and somebody asked me, oh, Tim, you're a pharmacist, what's the mechanism for this drug, and I can't even I can't even begin to think of it. I'm like, Ah, you know, this is this class. And all this knowledge that I used to have is just falling out of my brain, I feel like at a pace that I can't even keep up with. And so you know, it's just a constant battle to try to look up what I, you know, what I'm forgetting and try to hold what I what I do remember, in my head?


nathan gartland

Yeah, I think we're under unique circumstances, too, because we're kind of blending the two fields together with all this extra knowledge for both sides. And I think to the question, and I might get burned at the stake for saying this, but I don't think that pharmacy mechanisms are super important. Obviously, there's certain drug classes that you have to be aware of, and you got to make sure you understand the pathophysiology of it, especially from a medical school standpoint. But at the same time, you know, when you just mentioned that classmates asking, oh, what's the mechanism of this? Well, what's the matter? I know exactly when to use this medication and all the side effects and how to manage this patients, you know, oh, they now they have my sympathies. Let's figure out a treatment like algorithm to optimize that, or how can we reduce polypharmacy not add more mechanisms?


Speaker 2

Exactly. Yeah, that's, that's the frustrating thing, you know, because I've had, you know, you have these working mechanisms in your head, you might not know the exact enzyme, or, you know, kinase that this drug works with, but it doesn't matter. And, you know, unfortunately, that's not something that people realize. And you kind of mentioned it before you get kind of like this imposter syndrome. Like you're here, this pharmacists, you know, you come with all this clinical knowledge yet, why don't why don't I even know you know, how whatever drug works, and it's, it's a little it's a little frustrating to get thrown back into that when you haven't needed to think about it for so.


nathan gartland

I got a question the other day on TCS, K nine inhibitors, and I sat there and I was just like, oh, my gosh, I should know this. But again, it's it's such something so rare that you don't see it too much, especially in the medical school curriculum. So I saw it as like, oh, cheese, imposter. But anyways, so last time, we talked, you mentioned that you were interested in finding a casual pharmacist position to work on the side while in medical school. I was wondering, have you been working? And I guess, are there other upsides to doing this besides the added income?


Speaker 2

Yeah, so I haven't been working, like full time or part time or anything, obviously, there's just really no time for that. I've been picking up shifts, occasionally at a friend's independent pharmacy. And over the summer, I'm hoping to maybe find another job and or just increase the hours that I work at their pharmacy. Over the summer. There's definitely benefits to working as we just talked about, if you don't use your knowledge, you lose it. And it's just so true. I find myself constantly forgetting all these things. And I think working helps you to constantly get that reminder, you know, you can run through what's this brand generic when you pull a drug or, you know, you can see the doses and that's how you learn doses easily. And also helps keep you updated to the changes in our field, which is, you know, there's always things changing and if you don't keep updated, you're gonna fall behind so quickly.


nathan gartland

Yeah, that's, that's a great point. I think like just keeping your feet wet and making sure that you're, you're you stole all the medications that you see, it's going to help you, you know, far down the line, especially when it comes to your clinical residency or clinical rotation, excuse me. Just having that like baseline knowledge, and that you've refreshed through your employment I think is a great, great thing. And additionally, it's also just nice to talk with other pharmacists and other things. dividuals in the pharmacy world, because medical school is pretty intense, and you come you come across a lot of people with different backgrounds, but very few people understand or appreciate the kind of training you've had a lot of my peers are, you know, traditional undergraduates who who've never done like doctorate level work and not doing fantastic in school. Don't get me wrong, but just having someone who has that shared trauma to talk about it. It's always nice. Yeah. All right. So lastly, have you started looking into summer research project? I know you just mentioned that you were going to be working a little bit more. Is that something on your on your radar?


Speaker 2

Yes, it is. No, it's actually surprising to find out just how important or rather, you know, for certain residences, maybe less important it is to do research, but I am looking into doing research actually with a physician that you're having as guests on this podcast later. Oh, wonderful. Who is? Dr. Smith?


nathan gartland

Oh, no kidding. That's That's amazing. Love that. So I'll have to ask him about that one. Now we do the show.


Unknown Speaker

And we'll see what we get by the, by the time he's recorded.


nathan gartland

Alrighty, so we're coming to the final few minutes our show today. And I want to ask you a few closing questions. So what specialty Are you currently considering? I know, it's pretty early, but it never hurts to start thinking about it. I already am thinking that you might be interested in a particular topic, just because of the research you just mentioned. But I'll let you answer.


Speaker 2

Yes. As you'll find out, I'm right now I think my goals are probably ID. But you know, as my whole career pathway has shown things do change. So I'm just kind of looking forward to see what the future holds. And we'll see where I end up.


nathan gartland

I love that you have a already a sound foundation into what you're interested in. Not to say that it's the worst thing in the world. But I'm pretty undecided right now. And I wish I could really hone in on something. But I've been holding my breath until rotation starts. So I got to figure out something soon, considering my residency applications are due in a year or so. Alright, so how do you think having a pharmacy degree will help with your ability to practice medicine or communicate with patients in the future?


Speaker 2

Yeah, it's, it's really going to be invaluable. I think, not only do we have all this drug knowledge that will help us with counseling and with correctly choosing the doses and optimizing patient's medications, you know, without having to go through a pharmacist first, you know, telling us, hey, maybe this is a better choice. Or maybe you should adjust this, we'll be able to do that hopefully upfront with what we know. But not only that, it's just understanding the workflow of a pharmacy and even how insurances work. Which is something I think that a lot of physicians don't really know too much about just based off of my interactions from working in a pharmacy. I think that's something that can cause a lot of confusion and disruption to patient care and patient experience. And I think that's something really valuable that we're going to bring with us having worked in a pharmacy for so long, we're going to be able to know, kind of intuitively what things are covered what things are not, and so on and so forth.


nathan gartland

That's a fantastic point to bring up. I know we're getting to the end of our show. But what a great point, a lot of physicians are definitely oblivious to how the pharmacy a runs itself. And I mean, we can't blame them. Why would they help? You know, they've never even been down in the in the pharmacy, and some of them are tucked away in odd places in the hospital or, you know, depending on what kind of clinical setting you're they might be in different areas that are not so easily found. And I think that's just something a good way that we could potentially broach this issue between physicians and pharmacists is showing them exactly what kind of, you know, environment we're working in. This is the workflow like you mentioned, this is how we verify orders. This is why it took 45 minutes because there was an error and so on. So I just love that that point. And I guess for individuals considering medical school after pharmacy school, what is what are one or two things you would share with them based on your experiences so far?


Speaker 2

Yeah, I think one of the biggest things is to if you're planning on working, or honestly, I think it's just a good idea to get licensed regardless, but make sure you do all of that before he started school. Actually, I took my eight Plex before we started, but I ended up taking my new Plex after the first semester and trying to study for our I'm sorry, I took my MPG after the first semester and trying to study for that on top of school is so difficult. So just make sure you get everything done up front. If you have to travel a little to take a test. It might be worth it. That's that's one big thing I think that students should do. If they're planning on working at all. And then just you know if you've done Depending on your program, I did six years of pharmacy school, or six years of school beforehand and then came straight into med school. Just remember why he went down this path when it gets tough. You know, it's hard to keep that in mind sometimes when you're drowning in schoolwork. But you know, remember your goals. Remember what you're working to. And remember, it's gonna go by a lot quicker than you think.


nathan gartland

Yeah, it's crazy, just reflecting back, like just how fast this this past year has gone. It just seems to accelerate even faster and faster. So every year, a lot of good advice in there. But, Alrighty, so we've come to the end of our interview, and I'd like to thank all of our listeners for the support. If you have any additional questions about the medical school journey, check out my website at WWW dot physician pharmacist.com. Before we let you go, Dr. Tim do how to how can our listeners get in touch with you?


Speaker 2

Yeah, so myself is pretty open. You can give me a text, just you know, introduce yourself and let me know who you are. Otherwise, you'll be marked as spam. But it's 951-746-0957. That's probably the easiest way to contact me. Alternately, you can contact me at T dot farm Dou t.ke H A R M D o@gmail.com.


nathan gartland

Alrighty. Well, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast and I look forward to seeing where medicine and pharmacy take you have a wonderful night and thanks again.


Back to the top!



18 views0 comments
bottom of page