Student Spotlight: Michelle

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Tell us a little about yourself. 
I’m a medical student at the University of Rochester in upstate NY. Right now I’m taking a gap year in between years 3 and 4 to do a funded fellowship in pathology and to pursue publications with faculty in dermatology and in medical genetics.

What got you into medicine?
I wish I had a clear, defining moment that I can use as that revelatory turning point that got me into medicine. For me, though, it was more a gut feeling that this was the right field for me. Getting to use science and its biopsychosocial application? Sign me up!

What was the hardest part about applying?
The hardest part about the application process for me was the uncertainty of it all! So much of your life has to get compressed into the application, without having a real sense of the outcomes of things.

What’s a good way to stand out from other applicants? 
Because of the competitiveness surrounding med school admissions, nearly all applicants have great exam scores, GPAs, and research/science extracurriculars. What will help set you apart is what you do in addition to that. I know it may seem almost impossible to find time, but keeping your personal interests throughout your pre-med and medical school careers will pay off in a very big way! Talking about your artistic or athletic endeavors that you’ve maintained during this time will make you stand out and also show that you have a great sense of well-roundedness in an application process that makes people seem very one-dimensional.

What’s the next step for you?
I’m still in the final stages of narrowing down my career choices. I fell in love with basic science and medical genetics in undergrad. Dermatology was a rotation that, rather unexpectedly to me, allowed me to continue thinking about clinical medicine on that basic science – cellular, molecular, and genetic – level. I also loved my medicine rotation and my elective in medical genetics.

Any advice for new med students?
Don’t lose sight of your relationships! Spending just a few minutes handwriting note cards to say hello to the people closest to you not only brightens their day, but re-centers you (and is a great study break!).

What do you like doing when you’re not being a med student?
When I’m not studying for the boards or preparing for the floors, I like to run (I just ran my first half-marathon), salsa-dance, and play flute in the University Wind Symphony. I also love cooking (and, subsequently, eating).

What’s your skincare routine?
Using both salicylic acid-containing products and a topical retinoid daily has significantly improved the quality of my skin. My favorite skincare product that I most recently discovered is Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm. Its gentle ingredients and aromatherapy oils make it feel like an expensive spa facial.  I treat myself and use it as a mask every once in awhile.

Thanks Michelle! Good luck with the rest of research year!

Michelle is one of my closest friends and former college roommates. You can contact her at michelle_pitch@urmc.rochester.edu.

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