Monthly Archives: August 2011

Traditional Marinara Sauce

Some of you might be smiling at my attempt of sharing a recipe with you, but what you eat on the day of the MCAT, or while studying for the MCAT, actually does matter. I have heard really bad advice and witnessed terrible eating habits of physicians. One of my interviewers even told me to eat a lot of Ramen Noodle’s during medical school to save money. Talking about irresponsibility!

Here is a simple recipe that can serve as an ideal lunch during MCAT studying. You could also eat it cold (which I have done numerous times :D). To make all of this even more attractive, it’s really cheap! And it tastes much better than the canned pasta sauces in the grocery store.

Traditional Marinara Pasta (spaghetti alla marinara)

1,5-2 (12 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
1 clove of garlic (if you’re Italian, you didn’t cringe)
fresh basil (if possible)
pasta/spaghetti of choice
3-4 tbsp olive oil
salt for taste

You are probably familiar with Spaghetti and Marinara sauce that is loaded with ground beef, onions, oregano, cheese, etc. Let me assure you, this is not traditional! Most Italian foods are made of a few simple ingredients, but you have to get the proportions and the cooking right. This is the best way to prepare Marinara Sauce!


Cut/crush the garlic. Pour the olive oil into a hot pan and let it heat up for about a minute. Add the garlic and saute it briefly. This means that you simmer it until it gets a light-brownish, tan color – not brown! If you overdo this step, the garlic will turn bitter, so keep stirring on a low to medium flame. Once you sauteed the garlic for about 3 minutes, which releases all the precious juices, insert the crushed tomatoes. Once the sauce boils you can stir in the basil & salt (I’d say about 1-2 tbsp), and you are done. I hope you know how to cook spaghetti’s, if not your mom really didn’t teach you any cooking! There are also easy instructions on the package.

Two cans of tomatoes will actually give you a lot of sauce, which I like. This way I can use it for several meals or on pizza, etc. If you tried it, let me know how it turned out :).

Food for the MCAT

Some people say it doesn’t matter what you eat on the day of the MCAT, or that you should just treat it like any other test. These people are naive and haven’t grasped the concept of total MCAT warfare.

Well, some people might not obsess on every single aspect of the MCAT, but keep in mind that the MCAT is the highest hurdle to jump on your way to medical school admissions. In addition, few academic tests are 8 hours long and require fingerprinting.

Recommended Food for the MCAT

Nuts: peanuts, cashews, almonds, trailmix, etc.
Fruit: bananas, grapes, apples, etc. (dried or fresh)
Sandwiches: cheese, honey, PB&J (I would stay away from meat, even turkey because tryptophan makes you sleepy)
Other: oatmeal, smoothies, larabars, cereal (low-sugar), etc.

Here is why food on the day of the MCAT matters. Whenever we eat, digestion and absorption of nutrients begins. Some food is considered to be energy-rich, while other food is considered to be rather light. Energy-rich, greasy, heavy foods take longer to digest, and it takes the body much longer to absorb it’s nutrients. Carbohydrates for example are easily digestible.

[adsense] This is why you shouldn’t bring a London-Broil steak to the MCAT with you. By the time your body can make use of the steak’s energy, you will already be done with the MCAT. In addition, just think about how much energy your body will tax you in order to break down the steak in the first place! You will most likely end up feeling full, sluggish, and will consequently struggle to focus.

Reapplying to Medical School

For many of us, medical school is a dream that must come true. Standard schools often haven an acceptance rate of ~2-5% or less, which makes an acceptance a mammoth task. I have seen the giant commitment and dedication that is required in order for one to become a medical student turn into an obsession. Personally, I have been obsessed with getting into medical school for 4 years, and at times have hated it.

“Obsession: An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes a person’s mind”.

While being obsessive is clearly helpful to becoming a doctor, it is by definition unhealthy. A free mind may
be much more powerful and flexible than a restless and sleep-deprived mind. Mistakes happen when we loose focus – or simply focus on the wrong things. Human attention is a limited resource.

Remember Sisyphus, the son of Aeolus? Sisyphus was punished by Hades for his actions in life by being sentenced to the eternal duty of rolling a large stone to the top of a hill, from which it rolled down again, and again. It’s pointless and frustrating to obsess without lucid, supporting reason.

Sisyphus rolling up his stone in vain - an ancient Greek archetype of a worst-case-scenario.


The Perspective of a Medical School Admissions Committee

If you don’t make it the first time, applying for the second time is never a bad thing. For one, it shows that you are committed. In addition, the college gets to see how substantially you have improved. In this sense, they get to take two looks at you. If you don’t make it a second time, you may go for a third for the same reasons.

However, let me warn you: it gets harder each time. Every time you retake the MCAT and reapply, the scrutiny of the admissions board increases. Most universities do not even allow you to apply for more than three times. This said, don’t shy away from applying for a second or third time; there have been great stories of perseverance.

The same principle could be applied to the MCAT. Students shouldn’t keep retaking the MCAT to the point where it’s ridiculous. I’m talking about students that take it for the 4th or 56th time. I would say that if you are taking
the MCAT for the third time, make sure that your MCAT studying is the best it can be.

Taking Action

[adsense] If you didn’t get in the first time, it is absolutely vital for you to improve as a whole, not just with your MCAT score. This means not only to correct your weaknesses, but also to further build your strengths. A year is a long time, and you can work on all of the following areas:
MCAT score, professional experience (by getting a job in a lab or something clinically related), AAMC application, your application essays (primary and secondary), post-baccs, etc. Do not reapply with the same overall “stats”. Why expect a different outcome when you repeatedly do things without change? In any case, try to do a better job than I did by applying as early as you can :-). Medical school admissions is a rolling admissions process – first come, first serve.

Plan B

If  you realize at some point that you are not going to be admitted to either MD or DO school (difference between osteopathic and allopathic medicine), there are plenty of options with a science background. Consider becoming a PA, an RN, a lab technician of some sort, or doing research; really, the sky is the limit. All these occupations are considered to be personally fulfilling and offer fair if not great salaries. They also often offer continuing education and certificates to climb the hierarchy.

One More Thing

I think it is really important to to review your application realistically. You should not apply unless you have a realistic chance, especially if you have already been denied. Instead, make sure your application is as strong as it can be. There needs to be visible, significant change between your applications. This post is not meant to discourage anyone from reapplying; it is meant to aid you in improving your application.

The Bottom Line

If you reapply, make sure you identify your weaknesses and work on them rigorously. You may be asked about these weaknesses and changes in “stats” at an interview. Be aware that because you may be applying to a medical school for the second or third time, that school gets a deeper understanding of who their applicant is. Thus you need to be in even better shape the next time. Use your time and beef up your stew as much as you can. If you have to wait a year for the cow to get fat, wait, and butcher it the next year! (I apologize if you’re a vegetarian. I respect that. I buy grass-fed.)


Get into Medical School Podcast 2

This week’s podcast deals with Medical School Interviews:

– What exactly happens at an interview?
– What is expected?
– Questions that you will be asked.
– How to prepare?
– What to wear?
– Make up or not (for the girls ;)?
– Presenting yourself while answering questions.

– Questions that you could ask.

Here is the iTunes-link to the Get Into Medical School Podcast (simply subscribe).


Get into Medical School Podcast 1

Dear community, I am extremely excited for my first podcast, one of many to come. I hope you will enjoy listening to it as much as I had creating it. We try very hard to give you the best information there is about the pre-medical and medical field. We make sure our content is fundamentally backed by research. The first episode today deals with pre-medical studies, majors in college, the MCAT, studying habits & more! 🙂

In detail:

What we are about.
Picking the right major for college.
How to be a kick-ass pre-medical student.
An introduction to the MCAT: What it is, and what it’s not.
How to study for the MCAT.
What’s next?

I am planning on podcasting weekly, so stay tuned if you like what I’m doing!