Perspectives of A First Year Medical Student

Harman Virk is a 1st year medical student at A.T. Still University- SOMA in Mesa, Arizona. He obtained his Bachelor’s of Science degree from University of California, Davis.

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?

The main reason I chose to pursue medicine was due to the sudden death of my father when I was in high school. After I started undergrad, I was given the opportunity to shadow a cardiologist (a close mentor) that had experienced a similar situation while he was growing up. Shadowing sessions with him became a form of therapy for me, which eventually led to me networking with other doctors in other specialties that gave me a broader scope of how medicine is practiced in the hospital setting.

2. Is medical school what you expected it to be?

Medical school is exactly what I expected it to be in terms of content, difficulty, and material. I had good mentors and influences who were in school before me that had certainly painted a solid picture in terms of the educational marathon that medical school is. Overall, it has been a unique experience and everyday offers a unique learning experience that certainly blows my mind at times!

3. How did you find the transition from undergrad to medical school?

I personally took 2 years off after undergrad to work, volunteer, and immerse myself into more shadowing and personal experiences to solidify that I wanted to go ahead with my decision to apply to medical schools. Do not confuse “taking time off” with “taking a gap year or two”. You should use this time to work on yourself and do something unique which pertains to your overall development and maturity. For example, I picked up a gym routine, began implementing a clean diet, and lost over 100 pounds and incorporated that into my application as well. This was mentioned at all of the interviews I had attended. Medical school certainly offers a different pace than my undergrad experience and I can confidently say that I am enjoying medical school more than undergrad!

4. How do you manage your time in medical school? Do you have time for a life outside of studying?

Time management is certainly a very important skill to have in med school. Fortunately, many students that have made it this far already have a good grasp on this concept. I treat medical school like a fulltime job, sprinkled with overtime. The key to being successful in school and making medical school enjoyable is making time to do activities that you enjoy. Such activities that I personally enjoy are going to the gym, listening to music, finding and trying new restaurants, and watching various documentaries. You can say I’m pretty “boring” (but I attest that to my generally introverted nature).

5. Did you receive any guidance/mentorship during your premedical journey? How important is it to have someone you can look up to for assistance?

Of course! Besides the numerous doctors that I shadowed, I had a cousin that was in medical school at the time, as well as a few close friends that were medical students mainly at osteopathic programs that were always available for advice and suggestions when it came to things like personal statement help and motivation. I believe that having somebody that you can look up to is very important, and there is absolutely no shame in asking for help in what can be such a confusing process.

A special thank you to Harman Virk for taking the time to answer our interview questions. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!