Katy Applin

NU 2010 - B.S. Mechanical Engineering; Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Class of 2015

What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you?
I originally thought I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. After a couple of co-ops in the field, I realized that I didn’t like the idea of spending most of my time working behind a desk. It was at that time that I began to seriously consider medicine. It had all of the challenging aspects that were offered with engineering; however, it was much more interpersonal.

How did you prepare yourself for medical school? The application process?
The only distinct preparation I did for medical school was fitting in all of the pre-requisites required for admission. Through the mechanical engineering curriculum, I was able to learn good study and time management skills that I use every day during my first year at school. During the application process, I tried to stay ahead of the game as much as possible. Talking to teachers early about letters of recommendation was critical, as most of my professors required numerous kind reminders to get them completed. I also started studying for the MCAT early. I knew I would not have a lot of time during the semester, so instead I would just treat it is an extra class and dedicate a several hours a week to MCAT work along with my other classwork.

What undergraduate experiences were most instrumental to your success?
I played on the women’s ice hockey team during my time at Northeastern. This was a great experience that reinforced commitment, teamwork, and responsibility.

What obstacles or hurdles did you overcome in your medical school journey?
The main obstacle I ran into was having enough time to pull my application together and study for the MCATs between the mechanical engineering curriculum and the time commitments required by being a collegiate athlete. I was able to avoid this becoming a big problem by starting early on my preparation.

Did you did matriculate directly from NU to medical school or did you have a gap year?
I had half of a gap year! I graduated in December and then matriculated the next fall. It was the perfect amount of time for me to do some travelling, spend time with family, and recharge before beginning school again in the late summer.

If you did not matriculate directly from NU to medical school, how many gap years? What did you do during your gap year?
Taking a (half) gap year was amazing. I travelled to Mexico, Alaska, and Europe. When I returned from that I rode my bicycle across the country to medical school. I had a lot of fun stories to tell my new classmates during orientation.

Whether you entered medical school directly from NU or had a gap year (or more), looking back, are you happy with the decision you made? Why or why not?
I am very happy with my decision to graduate a semester early and travel. I think it would have been difficult to come straight out of school and only have a couple of months off before beginning again.

Is medical school what you thought it would be? Would you share your thoughts?
Medical school is great. I thought I would have a lot less time on my hands, but I find I have plenty of time to get out and do all of the things that I enjoy. I’m able to continue to play hockey, cycle, and spend time with friends rather than living with my nose in a textbook. I’m glad that I didn’t let the fear of 4 more years of rigorous study affect my decision to apply to medical school.

What are your career goals right now? Have they changed since you begin your medical school studies?

I still don’t know what kind of doctor I want to be! There are far too many interesting fields out there for me to pick one already.

What advice do you have for new applicants considering a career in medicine?
If medicine is what you truly want to do, don’t let anything get in your way. I would make a plan about how I wanted to proceed with the application and stick to it! If you want to take a gap year, do it! I found that at all of my interviews, the interviewers were excited to hear about my upcoming plans and wanted to talk about them.

Posted 11/30/2011

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