APAMSA National Conference 2017 (and Pre-Med Day)

APAMSA is proud to announce that the 2017 National Conference will be held on October 7, 2017 at UCLA. The conference will feature a wide variety of speakers, workshops, panels, and experiences including healthcare leaders, physicians, researchers and executives.

A National Pre-Medical Student Day will be hosted the day after as part of the APAMSA National Conference on October 8th, 2017.

More information regarding registration for the National Conference and Pre-Med Day will soon be updated.

Submit Abstracts to present at APAMSA’s National Conference in October at NYC!

Dear APAMSA members,

The APAMSA National Academic Chairs are excited to announce the opening of registration for the third annual National Conference Student Research Poster Session and Competition that will be on Saturday Oct 5th 2013 in New York City.  This is an excellent opportunity to present your research to peers and faculty from throughout the nation. Prizes will be available from our sponsors, and participants will be recognized with a certificate and on the National APAMSA website and in other National APAMSA communications. We encourage submissions from all fields, in addition to those that directly address APAMSA’s core mission.

Our abstract deadline is 11:59PM EST September 7th, 2013. Please email education@apamsa.org with your abstract, CV with contact information, and other supporting materials by that date (PDF or Word format). Abstracts will be selected based on criteria of merit, originality, and quality of writing. Further details on the poster competition be available after all submissions are received, but judging criteria will also include fund of knowledge, presentation skills, organization, and appearance.  We are excited to hear from you!

Sincerely,
APAMSA Academic Education Chairs

National APAMSA Board Spotlight: Nance Yuan, Johns Hopkins MS4

1) Describe your academic path to medical school.

In college I majored in Molecular and Cell Biology and minored in Japanese, taking Japanese language classes all four years. During college, I participated in scientific research through my school’s Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program for several years, first in an Organic Chemistry lab and then a Plant and Microbial Biology Lab. However, my lab commitments at the time were not extensive at all (maybe 6-8 hours/ week), and instead I used most of my time to be actively involved in other ways on campus, such as through leadership in student groups and through teaching. At that time, the MCAT was only offered twice a year, once in April and once in August. I took the MCAT in the spring of my junior year, studying concurrently with my other classes. I then applied in the summer of my fourth year as most traditional applicants would and spent that year interviewing. In the spring, after I had gotten an acceptance to my medical school, I also found out that I had gotten a position to work as a Coordinator of International Relations in Japan. For me this opportunity was a dream come true, so I wrote to my medical school and asked to defer admissions for one year. My school was very supportive of my request. Japan was an amazing experience. I arrived back in the U.S. three days before orientation and started med school!

2) When and how did you know you wanted to go into medicine?
Rather than experiencing any one big epiphany, I formed my decision gradually. I have broad interests and enjoyed all my classes in high school, but I decided to major in science as I was fascinated by the cellular mechanisms that explain life, and I wanted to learn more about the scientific processes behind these expanding discoveries. Many students change their majors in college, but I found that I really loved my choice and continued with it. My classes and my research experiences helped me realize my passion and continued
interest in science; however, I was most fascinated by science’s potential applications for effecting immediate change, such as in the clinical realm. Meanwhile my experiences volunteering at a hospital helped me realize that I wanted direct patient interaction where I could clinically take care of patients, serving as a resource for them while I tackled the problems of diagnosis and treatment to help restore their health. I liked that medicine was the perfect combination of science and opportunities to work directly with people. I also loved that medicine was a field where I could truly feel useful, as health is essential to people from all walks of life and
healthcare is needed everywhere in the world. As medicine is a huge commitment, I was cautious about my decision at first. I did not officially decide until probably late in my sophomore year. At that point, I had really thought about different factors and options and realized that medicine was the best fit for my interests and personality type.

3) Why and how did you choose the medical school you go to?
Ever since I was a child, I had heard of Johns Hopkins and knew that it had a long history and was famous for its clinical excellence. Knowing it was a great school, I applied but was almost not planning to go because I had heard rumors of it being a competitive, unfriendly place. Fortunately, my medical school interview completely changed my impression. I met students and faculty members and felt that the environment was a supportive and fun one that was different from what was portrayed in the rumors. Intuition told me that I would be happy at Hopkins, and I’m very glad I made that choice!

4) Why and how did you get involved in National APAMSA?
I had participated in APAMSA events during my first year of medical school and became co-president of my school chapter in the second year. I attended my first National Conference that year, presenting my school’s bid to host the following year’s conference. I remember feeling impressed and inspired not only by the talks at the National Conference but by other medical students and other chapters. The Conference encouraged me to continue to get more involved in APA health issues not only in the future as a physician but as a medical student. I had not even thought about joining the National Board before attending the meeting but I talked to some current officers at the meeting and decided to run for the open position of Community
Outreach director as I was particularly interested in this meaningful aspect of APAMSA. I have since been re-elected twice and have really enjoyed working with APAMSA chapters and officers, who show amazing leadership and dedication to service.

5) What do you think is the most pressing APA health issue?

Though there are many, one important APA health issue is the development of head and neck cancer and other sequelae of tobacco use.Though tobacco is less popular in the U.S., most Asian countries still see widespread use, and there is less public awareness about tobacco’s dangers. In Asian communities in the U.S., many patients suffer from diseases including destructive cancers that occur as a result of smoking. It is very unfortunate considering that such diseases could potentially be prevented.

6) What other hobbies or passions are you interested in besides medicine?
I love the arts, especially music and theater. I play piano, write songs, and sing in my school’s a capella group. I act in local theater and film productions, most recently performing in a play at the Wilmington Fringe Festival and also a performance at Penn State University. I also watch plays and musicals whenever I can! Fortunately Baltimore has a lot of options for theater, and I am also not far from New York.

I am also very interested in language and cross-cultural communication. Having grown up with Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese, I studied Japanese very seriously throughout high school and college and worked in Japan for a year as a Coordinator of International Relations upon graduating from college. I loved that the job allowed me to plan events and programs that would help others learn more about cultures different from their own. I now get to continue my interests as a medical interpreter, and I enjoy being able to help patients and their careproviders overcome communication barriers and understand each other.

7) What advice would you give any pre-medical students wanting to get into medical school?
First of all, be yourself. Continue to do what you love and don’t think that you have to have a certain hobby in order to fit in. Med students come from a lot of different backgrounds and interests. I’ve met professional chefs, rowers, political science majors, and much more! Technically, you can have studied anything you want before med school. However, be sure to study at least the prerequisite science courses that most schools want. Whatever your major, an additional upper-division biology course would also not be bad because the ability to at least understand molecular biology, genetics, etc. can help you a lot once you get to med school. Remember that APs basically don’t count for these prerequisites, so don’t try to get by on them. Even if your university accepts APs, chances are that the med schools won’t.

It is important to do some kind of research to show that you are academically oriented and can investigate something new. You don’t have to have published anything, you are not required to put in crazy hours (though a steady commitment is probably important), and it doesn’t have to even be in a science-related field. However, if you happen to be able to get a publication out of your research doing college and bring it to fruition, it will be helpful for the future as well and admissions committees will value your ability to participate in an intellectual project. Though I did not personally do this, talk to your PI to see if there is a smaller project that you could take
leadership on and perhaps present or publish. Also, no matter what your major is, it’s very important to have had some kind of clinical experience, whether that be through volunteering, working in a doctor’s office, shadowing, etc. You have to show the medical schools (and yourself!) that you truly understand what it means to take care of patients and to be in a clinical setting. For your personal statement and interviews, be able to articulate why you chose medicine over many other fields that “help people.” Think to yourself, why not a nurse? or a teacher? or a firefighter? What distinguishes medicine from some of these other great jobs is that you are applying science to diagnose and treat patients clinically. Because science, research, and patient care are all important components, it’s important that you’ve verified whether you enjoy these aspects or not.

8) What do you wish you had known before entering into medical school?
As you study for classes in the first two years of med school, do relevant practice questions from either a Step 1 Qbank or book. Not only will this help you prepare for you school’s exams, you’ll be able to start understanding what Step 1 questions are like. This will make your exam studying much easier. I did not do this but wish I had. You will have a relatively more flexible schedule in the first two years, so go ahead and meet physicians in different specialties, shadow, and do research with them. You will not have time to rotate through all the specialties so some early networking with mentors can help you narrow down your career choices and then choose your subsequent rotations accordingly. It’s never too  late to switch to a specialty, but it will make your life easier if you have an idea earlier. You don’t have to wait to find your specialty before doing research with that specialty. Research in any kind of specialty will still be a useful learning experience.


9) Describe a typical day at school.

It varies by school. Generally for the first two years of med school, we had class, consisting of large hall lectures mixed with some small-group discussions, labs, etc. On clinical rotations, you work alongside the residents. In the mornings, you may see the patients you are following (“prerounding”), write a note about them, etc. You’ll participate in team rounds where the entire team, including you and the residents and the attending or chief, visit all the inpatients. You might be responsible for presenting the patient to the team, either their entire history if it’s a new admit, or just the latest news and physical exam findings. The rest of the day would consist of taking care of patients and getting them the appropriate tests, etc. if it’s a medicine-style rotation and OR cases if it’s a surgery rotation. Usually schools will still have you attend some kind of lectures or small-group sessions during your rotations.

10) How do you handle the stress of medical school?
I try to make time for the people and hobbies that I love. You will never truly be “free” in medical school, so you have to learn how to be an adult and balance work and play. I still go to dinner with friends, attend local festivals, participate in hobbies I love like theater and music, volunteer, and much more! The key is to be responsible and also set aside time for studying and work.

11) What do you think is the biggest problem with health care today?
Rising health care costs. Most people don’t know how much anything in health care costs. Neither providers nor patients are good at choosing how to use costs efficiently, and with the current system, there is not really a direct incentive to save, making the problem worse.

12) What are your future goals in life?
I am in my last year of medical school and hope to be a plastic surgeon. I would most likely like to stay in academics where I can focus on research and teaching along with clinical responsibilities. While I am open to all aspects of plastic surgery and look forward to the mix of cases that I’ll train to do, I would consider additional training in hand, face, and/or microsurgery. The hand and face are particularly anatomically interesting. I like that there is relevance to reconstructive transplantation, which I did a year of research in.

Most importantly, I hope to be happy. I hope to have a family and be able to enjoy life and spend time outside of work with loved ones.

13) What is your vision for National APAMSA?
I am encouraged by the great work that National APAMSA does each year. I hope that APAMSA through the years will become even more established and gain more recognition as a student group. I’ve been glad to be a part of establishing the Community Outreach Initiative for the past three years. My hope for COI is that we’ll be able to continue disbursing grants to encourage service activities. I would love to see increased participation in COI and an expanded database where people can learn from other chapters when planning their own outreach work.

14) What do you think stood out on your application?
I was involved in a lot of activities outside of school and most importantly I was able to talk about each of these with clarity and enthusiasm at my interviews. Most of my activities were things that I truly loved and I was able to explain why and what I learned from them. I also did have an excellent GPA which helped, but I think the
most important thing for me was that admissions committees were able to get to know me as a person and see that I was excited about medicine and beyond.

National APAMSA Board Spotlight: Shu Zang

Shu Zang

MS1, Tulane Medical School


1) Describe your academic path to medical school.

After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, I spent two years working in a research lab at WashU before matriculation at Tulane University School of Medicine.

2) When and how did you know you wanted to go into medicine?

I’ve always been fascinated by science, except for Organic Chemistry obviously, and it ends up that I never found anything that I really didn’t like about medicine. Medicine itself is fulfilling, but there are so many different ways you can incorporate your own practice to changing the world, whether it’s in community medicine, advocacy, or global health, the possibilities are just endless. Oh and the fact that my decision made my asian parents happy. Just kidding. Sort of.

3) Why and how did you choose the medical school you go to?

Haha honestly it was one of the better schools that I wasn’t rejected from….but then again, who wouldn’t want to spend 4 awesome years of their lives in one of world’s most distinct cities, aka New Orleans. There are so many different events going on in NOLA constantly that it can really be distracting sometimes, but in a good way. Only a handful of medical schools will have its own distinct personality, Tulane being one of the best examples!

4) Why and how did you get involved in National APAMSA?

The free trip to San Francisco for the National APAMSA conference enticed me in the beginning. I know, free-loading is my specialty…from there on APAMSA and I just fell head over heels for each other. I am now currently the Chapter president at Tulane.

5) What do you think is the most pressing APA health issue?

Aside from the now widely recognized Hepatitis B prevalence in API communities, I think cardiovascular issues differentially affecting conforming API populations in the US in terms of dietary changes from traditional habits will need attention in the future.

6) What other hobbies or passions are you interested in besides medicine?

I love to cook and eat, so I am definitely looking forward to my tour of South East Asia this summer. I’m trying to get into photography just to make life more memorable. I also love love love electronic dance music. I just got back from Ultra Music Festival in Miami this past weekend. I think the energy in electronic music these days is just amazing.

7) What advice would you give any pre-medical students wanting to get into medical school?

Take time off between college and medical school. You have the rest of your life to be a doctor, but you only have so much free time at this point of your life. Bulk up your application, travel to cities that you’ve always wanted to go, do things that you’ve always wanted to do.

8) What do you wish you had known before entering into medical school?

How awesome it was going to be. I definitely wasn’t aware of the Pass/Fail difference at the time when I was applying, but now knowing that I would not have chosen a school that isn’t on a Pass/Fail system. Its nice that the school isn’t trying to weed you out as opposed to pre-med, and you are learning fascinating things everyday with the free time of doing other things.

9) Describe a typical day at school.

I usually get up at a somewhat reasonable time, watch the recorded lectures at 1.25 speed and maybe match that with noteservice for each lecture. Workout/cook/youtube/facebook sporadically throughout the day, then study some more. Its nice to pause during lectures and grab some juice or yogurt. Don’t judge me, the attendance rate drops off steadily as the year progresses.

10) How do you handle the stress of medical school?

First year has been stress-minimal…that’s the wonder of the pass fail system. You learn what you need to learn, without the anxiety/stress of outcompeting your classmates. Eating right and working out shouldn’t even be an option, keeping yourself healthy should be your number one priority and enables you to handle the stress should you face it.

11) What do you think is the biggest problem with health care today?

I can try to impress you but you can look up JAMA/New England Journal of Medicine articles yourself. Aside from the fee-for-service and the 2437234678 other problems, I think personal responsibility for health such as obesity is brewing problem along with our culture of doing what we want, when we want, and that no one should tell us otherwise. Now and then I love to inhale an entire 5 piece chicken meal from Popeyes, but we really need to enforce more effective ways in changing the way people eat, and providing them with the ways to do it.

12) What are your future goals in life?

I really want to get involved in policy making and advocacy for groups such as API populations in the US. That, and get myself over to the west coast.

13) What is your vision for National APAMSA?

I hope APAMSA will be a name that all incoming APA medical students knows and hopes to get involved in. I would also love to see more continuity between pre-medical students, medical students, and eventually practicing physicians, improving our strength through numbers and voices all around the country.

14) What do you think stood out on your application?

I’ve done a good amount of community service, also two years of research doesn’t hurt either. Other then that, I think I’m a pretty standard applicant. Apply wide, saving money should be the last thing on your mind at the application stage.

National APAMSA Board Spotlight: Jason Chen

National APAMSA Board Spotlight:
Jason Chen

National APAMSA President
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

 1) Describe your academic path to medical school.
I attended U.C. Berkeley where I majored in Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in Neurobiology.  I joined the Asian American Association (AAA) and met an upperclassmen who became my “big brother” and mentored me on how to be a strong candidate for medical school.  He advised me what classes to take and how to do well on the MCAT exam.  He also provided the personal recommendation that helped me get into his research lab, where I ended up completing my honors thesis, and earned my first two publications.  During that time, I fell in love with basic science research and decided towards the end of college I was not yet ready to commit myself to medicine.  Upon graduation, I spent two rewarding months as a summer orientation counselor for incoming U.C. Berkeley students, and then traveled in Asia for about half a year to care for my ailing mother and reunite with my family in Taiwan, China, and Malaysia.  When I returned, I seized an exciting opportunity to work in HIV vaccines research at a biotechnology company called Maxygen.  I realized over the year that as much as I loved my team and everyday bench side research in drug discovery, I was missing the opportunity to work directly with patients on a daily basis.  I continued to think back to my experiences in college shadowing an orthopedic surgeon, and learning about his unique patient-provider relationships.  I reflected on the satisfaction that I derived from tutoring high school students, mentoring freshmen, and counseling incoming college students, and knew that I thrived off developing relationships with new people and helping them.  Adding that component to my childhood-rooted love for science and recent interest in research, I realized that the field of medicine was right for me.

2) Why and how did you choose the medical school you go to?
Having grown up and gone to college in the San Francisco Bay Area, I decided while applying for medical school that it was time to venture out of California.  After visiting several medical schools, I found myself most drawn to Vanderbilt because their medical students seemed to love their life so much more than that of other medical students.  Most of the Vanderbilt students were physically fit and continued to enjoy their personal interests such as in music, art, or sports.  Like most schools I had visited, Vanderbilt boasted a strong academic and clinical curriculum with state-of-the-art electronic resources including an online “knowledge map” of lectures; and large touch screen monitors to assist in anatomy lab.  However, unique to Vanderbilt was its wellness program led by the Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Scott Rodgers.  It received national attention in the New York Times, for its effectiveness at enhancing the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the students.  Within the college advisory system, each first year was paired with an second year who would check up on him or her throughout the next three years, and pass on books and advice.  Each student belonged to a college, or family, headed by a faculty member who would periodically invite the students to their home to get to know each other well and have fun.

3) Why and how did you get involved in National APAMSA?
I was inspired to get involved with National APAMSA after attending the APAMSA National Conference at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  Throughout the conference I met passionate engaging physician leaders such as Dr. Paul Song who gave the welcome address exposing how the flawed current health care reimbursement system has resulted in millions without access to quality health care, in particular a shocking 33% of Korean Americans.  He was able to present data from well-respected sources such as the Kaiser Family Foundation and fire up the audience to learn more and find out how to make a difference.

In addition, I got to attend a small focus groups where a few physician leaders including experienced activist Dr. Arthur Chen, met with 6-7 medical students at a time to learn about their interests and offer practical advice on time management and balancing doing well in medical school with making a difference in health policy reform.

Perhaps most appealing the conference were all the other medical student leaders I got to meet, some of who were awarded for executing impressive free Hepatitis B screenings and vaccinations for at risk Asian immigrant populations.  I was also turned on by the community outreach chairs who were sharing with attendees their online bank of general health questionnaires translated into different Asian Pacific languages, as well as food pyramids that contained foods relevant to specific ethnic groups.  They offered concrete ways for medical students to contribute to breaking the barriers of Asian Pacific Islander people to accessing the health care system.  I knew by the end of the day that I had found an organization with students and affiliated mentors who shared a mission that resounded with my own: to address the health care challenges of Asian Pacific Islanders in America.

4) What do you think is the most pressing APA health issue?
Barriers to adequate health care.  I think there is a major problem in getting APA to go see their doctors for various reasons: high premiums, deductibles, and co-payments, and distrust secondary to language and culture incompetency.

5) Describe a typical day at school.

As a third year in my medicine rotation on the GI/hepatology service, I get to the hospital by 6AM, check-in on my patients, present them to the attending physician on rounds from 7AM-10AM, and then carry out decisions made during rounds.  Before noon, I try to finish my progress notes, and then attend a lunch lecture.   In the afternoon, I check-up on my patients again, and pick up one to two newly admitted patients.  This means meeting them in the ED for the first time, taking a thorough history & physical, presenting to the senior resident, and carrying out action plans.  In addition, I help the residents with whatever else they may need; requesting records, updating problem lists, following-up on new labs/imaging data.  I usually take off around 6pm, checking up on my patients one last time before I leave and helping the residents with any last minute tasks.  I get home and have dinner while skimming the New York Times.  Then, I spend 1-2 hours reading about management of diseases that my patients have, go for a 2-3 mile run, and get to bed by 11PM.

6) How do you handle the stress of medical school? 

I enjoy pumping iron at the school gym and going for a jog.  If necessary, I’ll watch about a half hour of any good comedy I have on dvd.

7) What do you think is the biggest problem with health care today?
The obesity epidemic.  The American diet/lifestyle.  I believe diabetes, obesity, heart disease plagues a majority Americans because of the high fat/salt/sugar diet that is reinforced by what sells.