Nora Christensen '14
Graduating Class: 2014
Hello! My name is Nora Christensen and I’m a senior, psychology major from Plymouth, Minnesota. My interest in pre-medicine started when I was quite young. I was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies as an infant, so I grew up thinking doctors were the equivalents of superhero’s in white coats. I can remember my first trip to the ER so vividly. Although I was terrified (as I would imagine most little kids would be!), I was absolutely mesmerized by the scene unfolding before me. Gurneys were flying around the hallways, doctors and nurses were practically running from room to room and inebriated patients were stumbling around the corridors. It was downtown Minneapolis on a Saturday night, so in other words, complete chaos, but something about it was infectious (no pun intended!). At that point in my life, I was undeniably drawn to medicine.
Of course, my desire to become a doctor was not simply the product of a 5-year olds epiphany! I continued to learn more about the profession, and even though I quickly realized that no, doctors do not have superpowers per say, they do have an amazing impact on other people’s lives. When I came to Gustavus, this feeling was solidified. My most influential experience here confirming that pre-medicine was for me, was my sophomore J-term shadowing internship. I was able to see so many different physicians, but moreover, I was able to spend over 30 hours a week at the clinic (or in the OR). This was the first time I had ever observed the job in that light, that is, from the start of the workday until the end. Furthermore, I was able to see the physicians I shadowed as real people, and incredible people at that. From that moment on, I knew exactly how to answer that all too familiar question: “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I want to give back to the community that has taken care of me my entire life… I want to be a doctor!
Top Five Activities/Experiences: J-term shadowing experience, cardiovascular surgery shadowing internship at the Aspirus Wausau Hospital, volunteering at the Mayo Hospital-Mankato, soccer and cross-country (I realize the last two are not medically related.. but, as I found out this fall, admissions do like to know that you are an actual person and have other interests!)
First Year- Fall: meet with Heather, take chem and bio, pencil your science classes into a 4-year plan, research the medical field, join a club or try a sport!
First Year- Interim: Take a fun class! Binge watch netflix shamelessly.
First Year- Spring: Get involved! Volunteer (either medically or non-medically related.. both are important!). Study hard. Have fun. Meet with Heather.
First Year Summer: Shadow (if you can!), otherwise do something you’d have fun doing, and you could talk about on an application (go on a cool mission trip, volunteer in a free-clinic etc.), or take summer classes.
Second Year- Fall: Meet with Heather. Study hard, expand your involvements (not necessarily more things, but really invest yourself in extracurriculars that you like).
Second Year- Interim: Shadow physicians! Again, watch netflix.
Second Year- Spring: Study hard. Have fun!! Visit Heather.
Second Year- Summer: Start thinking about the MCAT. Determine when you want to take it and when you want to start studying. Take summer classes? (I took physics since it wouldn’t fit into my schedule!), shadow or volunteer if you can.
Third Year- Fall: maybe start studying for the MCAT (depending on when you decide to take it)- Talk to Heather about it.
Third Year- Interim: study for the MCAT/take the MCAT
Third Year- Spring: Take the MCAT, start the application process
Third Year- Summer: Submit your AMCAS application.
Forth Year- Fall: Finish tying loose ends. Attend interviews.
Forth Year- Interim: Relax!
Forth Year- Spring: Enjoy your final semester. Retake the MCAT if you would like a higher score, and reapply!
Forth Year- Summer: Make some money before school starts. Relax!
- APPLY EARLY! Admissions are rolling, thus an early application shows that you are serious, plus your application will be one of the first the admissions committee sees—which is a huge advantage!
- Statistics aren’t everything. No one is perfect.. even though many pre-meds will try and tell you they are. Don’t obsess over the MSAR statistics on schools and count yourself out if you’re not automatically above every number you see—I’m totally guilty of this one. Ultimately you want to be realistic, but remember that medical schools are looking at the whole picture, not just numbers on a page.
- Don’t forget to enjoy the journey. It’s so easy to caught up with constantly looking forward and planning ahead (which are definitely good things to a certain extent); however, don’t forget to have fun! Gustavus is a wonderful place. Take some time to do what you love—it will probably benefit you in an interview.
I will be attending the University of Minnesota Medical School-Twin Cities this fall (2014).
Updated 7/30/2015 HB