Q: Jun Lee (Director, Aim High Academy)
A: Vikas Kumar (Brown Graduate, Medical)
1. Hello, Mr. Kumar, we are pleased to have you in the program. Can you introduce about yourself? Maybe the college and major you have studied in college first.
My name is Vikas Kumar. I grew up in Albany, New York and attended college at Brown University where I majored in neuroscience. Afterwards I went to the University of Pittsburgh where I received my MD degree.
2. I guess you are interested in becoming a doctor in near future. When and why did you decide to be a doctor?
I decided to become a doctor during my sophomore year in college. I have always had an interest in math and science, and medicine is known to be a noble profession that is both stable and secure. Medicine also allows for the opportunity to serve others which can be satisfying on a personal level.
3. What characteristics do great doctors need to have in your opinion?
To succeed in today's healthcare industry, it is not enough for doctors to simply be smart and science-oriented. More and more emphasis is being placed on people skills and communication skills in addition to being a hard, diligent worker with a love for science.
4. What extracurricular activities can college school students do if they want to get in medical school?
I highly recommend shadowing a doctor, perhaps someone who is a family friend, to gain some experience and to ensure that medicine is a suitable match with one's interests. Medical schools pay particular attention to shadowing and healthcare experience on applications. Research and community service activities are also important.
5. What did you do in high school to help you being admitted to Brown Univ?
Maintaining a high GPA while taking AP and Honors classes are particularly important, as is studying hard and doing well on the SAT exam. In high school I served as President of the school's community service club and also as an active member of the local Indian-American youth group. These leadership positions may have helped differentiate my application from those of other qualified applicants.
6. What are the few most important factors you need to accomplish when you are in college? Especially those students pursuing medical field?
The most important thing in college is to study hard and maintain a high GPA. Students must do well on their premedical coursework and especially do well on the MCAT exam which students take in their junior year.
7. How was the medical school experience? What did you like and dislike about school days?
Medical school was a unique experience. I enjoyed learning about medicine and patient care. There is a saying, "Learning in medical school is a lot like drinking from a firehose," and I found this to be very true. In order to survive and do well, you really have to love the field.
8. Which field or major in college should our high school students study? What are some of the optimistic careers in near future?
Students can major in whatever they like as long as they complete the premedical requirements including chemistry, physics, and biology. Looking back, it may have helped if I had taken some more medical school related courses such as immunology or microbiology, for example. It is a tradeoff between taking courses you like and courses that will help you in medical school. Some of the most popular (and hence most competitive) medical specialties today include radiology, opthalmology, and dermatology. These fields all pay well and have good lifestyles compared to other specialties.
9. Is it true that Asian American students go through more difficult competition for college admission in US?
This is very true in recent years, as there are so many Asian American students that have high GPAs and good test scores, and colleges want to maintain their diversity by also choosing underrepresented minorities such as African-American and Hispanic students. That is why it is important for Asian American students to go above and beyond the typical application if they truly want to go to a competitive school.
10. What is the last message you would like to give to our students and parents?
Medicine is a great field, but there are plenty of other good fields that pay just as well with less stress. Don't jump blindly into a medical career; make sure to get some shadowing experience to make sure that you enjoy interacting with patients and navigating the complexities of medical practice in today's world. If you truly enjoy medicine, in the end it will all be worth it.
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