Studying For MCATs With Qanetha Ahmed

Studying for MCATs or applying to medical school? Qanetha Ahmed has some advice you should definitely listen to. On episode 16 of the Homework Help Show Student Influencers Podcast, we spoke to Qanetha and got her to share her amazing story. From staying on top of your studies and practicing self-care to exploring the world in your downtime, Qanetha’s story will inspire you.

Qanetha is a fourth-year student at New York University Medical School. She was born in Bangladesh but moved to Queens, New York City, when she was around one year old. Living in Queens her entire life, Qanetha is the epitome of, as she puts it, a “proud New Yorker.” Before she started at NYU Medical School, she completed an undergrad degree in neuroscience and behaviour at Barnard College of Columbia University.

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On our podcast, Qanetha shared some helpful tips for studying for MCATs, applying to medical school, practicing self-care and avoiding student burnout, and so much more.

Bangladeshi-American student Qanetha Ahmed during Eid celebrations
Qanetha’s Origin Story

For Qanetha, there wasn’t a specific moment in time when she realized that she wanted to pursue a medical career. She says, “I just really can’t imagine a time where I didn’t want to be a doctor. Now, I can’t imagine myself waking up every morning and doing anything else.”

As far as her introduction to the world of medicine, Qanetha’s journey began like many others do – a personal experience. When Qanetha was around six or seven years old, her grandmother was hospitalized with a serious heart condition. As her grandmother received medical care and began to recover from her surgery, Qanetha was fascinated by the process. She recalls: “I remember being so fascinated by her illness and what we were doing to make her well, and really seeing her heal after her surgery and from someone who was complaining of all these problems now healthy and kicking.” At one point, her mother says Qanetha told her she wanted to be a doctor when she grows up.

This gave Qanetha a whole new curiosity about how the human body works and how doctors work to heal patients when something goes wrong. From there, she started doing volunteer work in local communities in New York City, as well as in Bangladesh to help communities there. Her passion for science, knowlege and service to others cemented the notion that going into medicine was the perfect career for her.

Here’s where everything comes full circle: Qanetha’s grandmother, who is still healthy to this day, was hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital, which is the public hospital associated with New York University. Now, Qanetha walks through that same hospital every day and helps patients just like her grandmother 20 years ago.
Is Medical School Right For You?

It truly takes a specific kind of person to be willing to go to medical school for so many years and dedicate their life to helping others become healed and healthy. Whether it’s in a hospital setting or a general practice, patients are trusting you with their lives, and looking to your expertise to guide their health and wellbeing.

Qanetha always remembers her grandmother’s experience when she reflects on her own journey. Her grandmother always mentions a surgeon she had that was one of her favourites because of how comfortable he made her feel. That surgeon made such a deep impact on her grandmother that, 20 years later, she still mentions him.

That’s what it’s all about for Qanetha. She says, “No one will remember what you told them or what you said to them… But what they’re going to remember is how you made them feel at that time.”

These are important words to remember because this mindset will help guide you through medical school and remember why you’re doing this if you’re starting to burn out.

If you’re considering applying to medical school and are still studying for MCATs or deciding on colleges, it’s important to understand the journey you’re about to take. You should always be aware of the important role you’re going to have in your community once you’re finished. It’s going to be hard at times and the risk of student burnout will be high, but if you’re in it for the right reasons, you will enjoy a fulfilling career.

NYU Medical School student Qanetha Ahmed in her white coat
Studying For MCATs: Qanetha’s Go-to Tips and Tricks

When it comes to studying for MCATs, Qanetha has some helpful tips and advice you’re going to want to use. Here are some of her best MCAT tips and tricks:

● Stay persistent and consistent. Go to bed at the right time each night, and be diligent with your schedule.

● Build in time for good breaks.

● Practice active learning – instead of just reading through and highlighting your texts, practice summarizing the information in your own words.

● Take MCAT practice exams.

● Use space repetition – try flashcards to help you remember things and quiz yourself. There are plenty of pre-made flashcard services out there that will save you the time making them.

● Put your practice test questions in random order instead of broken down by topic so you see everything at once (this is how it will be on your MCAT exams).

● Review your MCAT practice exams to pinpoint areas where you struggle or need extra focus.

Ultimately, Qanetha says you need to get into the mindset of being a test taker. Understand why the correct answers are correct, and why the incorrect answers are incorrect. The MCAT exams are a long sit, and being as prepared as you can means paying attention to every possible detail.

Ask yourself why you’re getting questions wrong. Is it because you didn’t know the answer, because you ran out of time, or because you didn’t read the instructions properly? If you didn’t know the answer, you need to be more diligent in studying. Likewise, if it’s because you ran out of time, you need to focus on your test-taking strategies. Knowing why you got the answer wrong will help you be better prepared when you take the actual MCAT exams.
Medical School Application Tips and Pre Med Advice

Aside from studying for MCATs and taking the right tests, there are some other medical school application tips you’ll need to know if you’re considering this career path. Before you polish up your resume and gather your application materials, consider this advice from Qanetha:

● Be well-rounded. Medical school is very competitive. Your MCAT score and GPA will get your foot in the door, but participating in other school activities and extracurriculars while maintaining your grades will make you appear more well-rounded and prepared for success.

● Don’t be afraid to explore other avenues. Knowing that you’re in for a competitive academic journey, you want to be sure this is the right path for you.

● Consider taking a gap year. For many students, taking a gap year is a great way to discover what your true passions are, pursue research opportunities, or hit the reset button to get on track.

NYU student Qanetha Ahmed standing outside in a blue dress at her medical school formal
Qanetha’s Favourite Study Techniques For All Students

If you aren’t studying for MCATs specifically and just need some general study techniques to help you stay focused, Qanetha has some advice for you, too. Here are some of Qanetha’s go-to study techniques to help you build an effective study routine.

The Pomodoro Technique: Set a timer for 25 minutes. Put away your phone or other distractions, and study until the timer goes off. After the timer goes off, get up and give yourself a five minute break. After four 25-minute intervals, you can take a longer break and switch up your subjects if you’re ready.

(P.S. – we did an episode of the Homework Help Show a few years ago where we discussed the Pomodoro Technique. Check it out here if you want more information about this study method).

The Eisenhower Method: One of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s go-to methods for prioritizing, you can use this one as a study method when you’re trying to schedule out and prioritize your tasks. Create a two-by-two table. Divide the vertical columns into “urgent” and “not urgent,” and the horizontal columns into “important” and “not important.” The things in your “urgent and important” column should be the tasks you start with and dedicate most of your energy to.

Need some more study methods or tips? Check out our blog on effective ways to study for any class.

Medical student Qanetha Ahmed standing in New York City
Working Part-Time in College or University

When she was at Barnard College, Qanetha worked a part-time job that she credits for helping her learn how to prioritize her time. “I found that when I had more things to do, I’d use every hour in between better,” she says.

Qanetha highly recommends that any college or university student work part time during school if you can. Of course, it’s going to feel overwhelming at times, especially if you’re in your first year and still learning how to figure out a good study routine. However, working part time will help you build discipline, as well as professional and communication skills that you can carry throughout the rest of your life. No matter what the experience is, even if it’s just a short-term position you use to fill in some gaps, there is always something you can learn from working.

In medical school, it’s a lot harder to balance the requirements of a part-time job and the demanding structure of a clinical program. Most of the time, medical schools will discourage their students from working part time because they want to make sure you’re focused on obtaining the knowledge and practical experience you need. To combat this, Qanetha found work with a medical education platform that was willing to work around her busy schedule.

Looking for a part time job? Check out our blog on the best part-time jobs for students, where we discuss some of the best gigs that can help you support yourself financially while focusing on your studies.
The Value of a Good Mentor

Another benefit Qanetha mentions is the fact that working can help you find mentors and advocates who will help you throughout your career.

As the daughter of hardworking Bangladeshi immigrants, she saw at a young age how systemic barriers can sometimes prevent students from accessing the support and opportunities they need within their field. When you work really hard and prove yourself in your work or in volunteering, you can make connections with mentors who will give you constructive feedback as well as advocate for you along your journey.

The support and assistance she got from mentors inspired Qanetha to get involved and become a mentor herself to young pre med students, especially first generation students such as herself. Whether she’s talking about studying for MCATs or helping students access resource programs, she’s always dedicated to helping people reach their dreams.

NYU medical student Qanetha Ahmed on a travel break in Chefchaouen, Morocco from MCAT exams
How to Avoid Student Burnout

Whether you’re studying for MCATs day and night or trying to balance a heavy courseload with a part-time job, student burnout is a big risk factor in school. You hear about it a lot more these days, with more of an emphasis on systemic changes such as loan forgiveness, school-life balance, and fair working hours even beyond college and university.

Qanetha says it’s important to remember that, at this point in your life, “You are responsible for your own education.” No one is going to be there waking you up and reminding you to go to class every day. While friends and family are always there to support you, you also need to be your own support system and be accountable for your education.

Here are some time management tips Qanetha suggests to help you avoid student burnout and achieving a healthy school-life balance:

● Write down your tasks for the week in advance, either in a calendar or an agenda.

● Realize and remember the motivation for your decisions – knowing why you’re there and what you’ll get from your education can help keep you moving forward.

● Organization and prioritization. Stay on top of your lectures, classes, due dates, and other responsibilities and make sure you’re prioritizing them properly.

● Keep a balanced life. Make time for the things that keep you happy and make you feel rejuvenated.

● Use your family and friends as a support community and rely on them when you need to be uplifted. Even if it’s just a few hours hanging out at a coffee shop, that can be enough to get your mind back in the right place.
Taking Care of Yourself in College and University

Self care looks different for everyone. We all have different activities and de-stressing mechanisms we use to get ourselves back in the happy zone. It’s important that we understand what works for us to help us stay centred and focused on a healthy quality of life.

One of Qanetha’s go-to self-care activities is taking a long, solo walk where she listens to her music and heads in no particular direction. She started doing this one day after a particularly difficult shift at the hospital in the middle of winter. It was dark out, she was stressed, and all she wanted to do was head home and go to bed. However, she put on her music and decided to start walking aimlessly. The cold air hitting her face and her favourite songs in her ear turned out to be a therapeutic experience for her, and she’s been doing this ever since.

Another thing Qanetha likes to do is journal. At night, she puts on some good YouTube music in the background and takes some time to write down her thoughts, ideas, and whatever else is in her head. This practice allows her to release those thoughts and get them out, even if no one ever sees them, to relieve any stress and anxiety she’s collected throughout her day.

When in doubt, like most college and university students, Qanetha loves to turn to Netflix for some indulgence in her favourite shows. But she does advise you to get out of your comfort zone and do something that changes up your routine. The important thing is to get your body feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Qanetha Ahmed taking a break from studying for MCAT exams to go paragliding in the Swiss Alps
Travelling on a Student Budget

Travelling as a student is an amazing way to see the world and fulfill a passion for adventure that you don’t get anywhere else. However, working with a student budget can make this very difficult to accomplish. One look at Qanetha’s Instagram page will show you that she clearly has this balance figured out. She’s been able to travel around the world while maintaining her grades in school and continue living in New York City, which isn’t exactly known for its low cost of living.

So how does she do it? “Like most things in life, you have to be resourceful,” she says.

Firstly, you have to be open to a little bit of spontaneous decision-making. Qanetha has a group of a few close friends who love to travel together any chance they get. While she does plan some of her trips ahead of time if she knows a break is coming up, Qanetha often relies on last-minute impromptu deals that end up saving a lot of money. She recalls a particular trip to Amsterdam that happened because she was casually scrolling through Google Flights and saw a really cheap deal for flights. A long weekend was coming up, so she called a friend who got time off work, and they headed to Amsterdam just a few days later.

Qanetha does always keep some money aside for trips because, in her words, she tends to “value experiences over material objects.” She makes saving for travel a priority and is willing to make sacrifices to make it happen. Once you get to your destination, you can save money by staying in hostels or AirBnBs and bringing just a backpack if possible. If you know where to look to find a deal, you can make it happen.

Another tip for student travelling Qanetha likes to share is ask people who have been to your destination, or who have lived there, for their own advice. They will be able to tell you what’s worth it and where to go for food, experiences, and so on. This can help you avoid wasting money on tourist traps that won’t be worth it if you’re working with a limited time frame.

Qanetha Ahmed on a break from medical school visiting Seville, Spain
Listen to Qanetha’s Full Interview on the Homework Help Show Student Influencers Podcast

Want to know more about Qanetha and what it’s like to be in medical school in the middle of a global pandemic? Need to hear more tips on studying for MCATs? Wondering what’s next on her amazing journey? You’ll have to listen to the full interview to get all of Qanetha’s insights!

Tune in to the Homework Help Show Student Influencers podcast on Anchor.fm, or watch the video on The Homework Help Show YouTube channel. If you loved our talk with Qanetha, check out our previous interviews and episodes for a diverse range of insights from current and past students.

To see more of Qanetha’s adventures in medical school, style inspiration, and travelling the globe, you can follow her on Instagram here.
FULL TRANSCRIPT FROM OUR PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH QANETHA AHMED BELOW

Qanetha [00:00:02] There are definitely gonna be difficult times and no one but you can kind of go through the steps to do it. And so it’s important to remember that.

Lesley [00:00:14] Welcome back to the Student Influencers podcast. My name is Lesley, and today I’m here with Qanetha. So we’re really excited to get started today. So why don’t we just dive in?

Qanetha [00:00:26] Good afternoon, Lesley. It’s such a pleasure meeting with you today. Thanks for having me on the show.

Lesley [00:00:31] We’re happy to have you here. We usually start every interview with a few kind of get to know you questions. Just so our audience can learn a little more about who you are first of all. So where are you located?

Qanetha [00:00:45] So currently I’m living in New York City.

Lesley [00:00:48] Awesome.

Qanetha [00:00:49] Quarantining slash social distancing with my family.

Lesley [00:00:53] Yeah.

Qanetha [00:00:54] So that’s really good.

Lesley [00:00:55] Perfect. It’s nice to hear that you guys are all safe and- safe and sound. I know New York was hit pretty hard with the pandemic. So. It’s always nice to see that you’re safe there.

Qanetha [00:01:06] Thank you. I hope you’re doing well as well.

Lesley [00:01:09] Yeah, here in Canada, where- we were under quarantine too, but we weren’t hit quite as hard. So that’s- I guess that’s good.

Qanetha [00:01:20] Either way, glad to hear you’re healthy and safe.

Lesley [00:01:21] Yeah. So where were you born?

Qanetha [00:01:25] So, actually, I was born in Bangladesh and that’s where my parents are from originally and my- my family moved to New York City kind of when I was very young. I think I was less than a year old. And since then, you know, we moved to Queens. I grew up in Queens and basically never left. I stayed in New York City for high school, college, and now medical school. And I guess I mean, I definitely hold the stereotype of the proud New Yorker who, like, brags about where they’re from, but like, truly, I couldn’t imagine calling any other place home.

Lesley [00:02:00] Amazing. So what university do you go to?

Qanetha [00:02:05] So currently I’m attending the NYU School of Medicine. So I’m just about finishing up my third year of medical school. So yeah, I’m very excited to kind of enter into my fourth and final year of medical school kind of in the next few months. And before medical school, actually, I attended my undergrad at Barnard College of Columbia University. I did a four year program there and I majored in neuroscience and behavior and was a pre-med student.

Lesley [00:02:36] Wow, that sounds so fascinating. Are you hoping to kind of use that- all of the things you studied, like with your undergrad degree, are you hoping to use that in your career to kind of focus in those areas when you become- eventually become a physician?

Qanetha [00:02:54] So I think when I decided to go into neuroscience as a major, I was just very interested in kind of the mind body connection and how, you know, our emotions can really play a part into our health. And I found it was very interesting to kind of learn about the new and upcoming research in neuroscience. After doing some of my rotations, I’ve kind of moved away from an interest in neurology to, you know, a broader interest in medicine. So, you know, hopefully everything that I learn does play a part, but I’m still deciding kind of what I want to do.

Lesley [00:03:28] Right. OK. That makes sense. What are you doing right now? So you said you’re finishing up your third year. Did you just finish that? Are you still working on some last courses for that?

Qanetha [00:03:40] Yeah. So right now, I mean, now it’s kind of interesting because we’re in this quarantine.

Lesley [00:03:46] Right.

Qanetha [00:03:46] Over the last two to three months, I’ve been continuing my academic courses virtually. So, I mean, I can give, like, some of the background for, you know, all medical schools across the US are very varied. I think, and there is a lot of variation in the curriculum, but there is an overall general structure that most follow. And so usually the first two years are spent in preclinical time where you’re taking kind of more like lectures and classroom based learning. Similar to what you would do in college.

Lesley [00:04:18] Right.

Qanetha [00:04:19] And then that kind of builds your foundation for the medical knowledge and your critical thinking skills. After that, the next two years are usually spent doing clinical rotations. And at NYU, we actually have an adopted program where we spend less time in our preclinical years and more time with a hands on clinical experience. So over the last few months, in a normal condition, we’d be kind of taking your elective time to kind of go into the specialties that maybe a student is interested in because it’s usually around your third and fourth year, which is exactly where I’m at, where you kind of start deciding, you know, this is where I want to pursue for residency. And so it’s an exciting time. So stay tuned. Hopefully I’ll have a better idea of kind of what I want to pursue.

Lesley [00:05:07] Yeah, well, hopefully you could start that once the pandemic is kind of over I guess, then you can kind of get back to your clinical stuff. I guess that’s probably the plan.

Qanetha [00:05:19] Yeah. So we, you know, got word recently that we’ll be starting back up in July.

Lesley [00:05:25] OK.

Qanetha [00:05:26] I’m looking- so I found myself kind of drawn to the surgical world of medicine. And so I want to explore kind of the subspecialties like ophthalmology, which is like an eye surgeon or otolaryngology or ENT where the surgeon kind of focuses on like the ears, nose, and throat area.

Lesley [00:05:46] Okay.

Qanetha [00:05:46] But I do want to do something either procedural or surgical. So I’ll be kind of delving right in and hopefully I’ll have a bet- I mean, you can’t choose these things without seeing them in person.

Lesley [00:05:57] No, definitely not. That’s definitely something that takes a little bit of OK, I tried this, alright. Yeah. What made you decide to take this career path and go to medical school and take this direction? Was it something that you always kind of wanted to do or was it something that you decided maybe later on?

Qanetha [00:06:20] Yeah. That’s really- it’s a good question, because it’s actually funny. I still to this day have conversations with my friends and family, you know, how did I come into medicine? Was there a moment in time? And, you know, there’s not necessarily an exact moment that I can pinpoint. I just- I really can’t imagine a time where I didn’t want to be a doctor. Now, I can’t imagine myself like waking up every morning and doing anything else. So. You know, medicine really did always feel like my calling. I guess my introduction to medicine was not necessarily a very unique experience. Like many other people, my first experience was with, you know, with- with like illness was when my grandmother was hospitalized for a serious heart condition. And I was very young. I think I was like six or seven years old. But I remember being so, you know, fascinated by her illness and kind of what we were doing to make her well. And really seeing her heal after her surgery and from someone who was complaining of all of these problems now, you know, healthy and kicking. And it’s interesting because she actually was hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital, which is the public general hospital that’s associated with NYU. When I was younger, I think my mom told me- I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that I told her, like, I want to be a doctor. Like, exactly this, when I’m older, I want to be a cardiac surgeon. And 20 years later, like almost 20 years. Yeah, 20 years later, you know, my grandmother is still healthy and kicking. And now I walk through those- that exact hospital. I’m like taking care of those, you know, patients with my team. And so it’s, you know, that was kind of my- my grandmother’s illness was kind of that, you know, spark for me. And it really brought in this perpetual curiosity of kind of, you know, how the human body works. You know, what things can go wrong. And, you know, I was just fascinated, like more importantly when something is wong. And so, you know, that was when I was young, so I didn’t really have an understanding of what it meant. So throughout high school and college, I kind of tried to take every opportunity that I could to really gain a better understanding of what that would mean for me. And so I majored in neuroscience. I tried to shadow in the hospitals and do volunteer work. But it wasn’t just kind of that interest for science that kind of led me and kept me in medicine. I had been doing volunteer work both in New York City and my local communities, and I had the privilege of going to Bangladesh to do some volunteer work for the community there. And, you know, I think it was really that experience that solidified that medicine would perfectly marry my love for science with providing a service and, you know, learning- I want to dedicate my life to learning those simple skills and sharing that service where, you know, that knowledge and that skill set. And so, you know, I’m so eager to kind of get started on my own journey. And I mean, I can’t imagine another field that, you know, marries my love for teaching and service and science and also works with my personality. I’m like always curious asking annoying questions, always- like I’ve always- I’m interested in learning new things and problem solving. So all of those things really continue to drive me again and again towards medicine.

Lesley [00:09:59] Amazing. That’s such an amazing story and well, one, glad to hear that your grandma is doing better. But that must have been so surreal to just even just being in that hospital later on, it was like this is where I made this- well, not really where you made that decision, but this is, like, kind of what inspired you. And having- I think- I feel like that’s what makes someone like a really good medical professional is just having that experience and knowing what it’s like to have a really good either doctor or surgeon or someone on your side helping your family and remembering that impact that someone made. And having that first- first hand experience is a really amazing way to have that inspiration, to want to have that for other people.

Qanetha [00:10:44] Yeah. You’re absolutely right. I always, you know, keep this in the back of my head, it’s like no one will remember kind of what you told them or what you said to them. For example, when we’re always trying to explain all of these big diseases that are important. But what they’re going to remember is kind of how you make them feel at that time. And my grandmother, every time I talk to her, she always says, like that surgeon was one of my favorites and he just made me feel comfortable. And so that’s kind of hopefully what I- I hope to embody and hope to kind of remember as we go through this journey.

Lesley [00:11:19] It’s amazing. I mean, that’s- that’s the qual- I think that’s one of the best… Because when you become a doctor or a physician or a surgeon or anything like that, it’s really you’re dedicating your life to helping people and saving people. And I really think that it takes a certain type of person. And it’s pretty much- the person I would picture to make like a perfect doctor would be exactly someone like you.

Qanetha [00:11:46] What a nice compliment! Thank you, Lesley.

Lesley [00:11:52] You’re welcome. So while in school, I know right now it’s kind of different because of the pandemic. But did- do you work part time as well?

Qanetha [00:12:00] That’s a really good question. So while I was in- in college, I always worked part time and I would highly, highly recommend for college students to do that just because, you know, it does seem overwhelming at first. You know, trying to balance school and work. But for me, really early on, it felt discipline for me and it really taught me how to prioritize things and be efficient. I found that when I had more things to do, I’d use every hour in between better. And I am a strong proponent of building professional and communication skills early. And each experience, whatever it is, whether it’s, you know, like a very easy job to get and you’re only there for a couple of months. Like everything will add to your experience and your skill set. So while I was in college, I did work at first as a camp counselor, both during the summers and in the school year. And then I eventually found myself into- really interested in teaching and mentorship. And I know we talked about this via email a little bit. But just, I mean, we talked a little bit about my background, so kind of my own background as being a first generation Bangladeshi American immigrant. And I’ve always really thought critically about, you know, these systemic barriers to education, to professional development. And, you know, I come from a very hard working background. My parents, both my parents, always emphasized kind of the importance of education and pursuing these academic opportunities. So, you know, I really tried to push it upon myself to break barriers that did come my way and try to find financial opportunities for scholarships and free test prep so that I can transfer to magnet schools or specialized high schools. And, you know, eventually when I came into college, it was a little bit discouraging to see that, you know, maybe I didn’t have as much- as many connections to the medical field to research and to volunteer opportunities as perhaps my peers did with family members within the hospital. And so, you know, that’s what kind of gives you a competitive edge. So it was discouraging at first. But what I found most useful were the mentors that I had made and these mentors when they’re, you know, respectful, but they’re really on your side advocating for you when you put in that hard work to improve with their constructive feedback. It’s been a phenomenal journey. And I owe all of that those first steps to kind of these great mentors. And so with my own education and professional journey, I was inspired during college to kind of devote my free time to tutoring and mentorship, especially with first generation students like myself. So, you know, however small it was, I had some part in unlocking, you know, their potentials or connecting them as kind of the resources or other mentors and teachers so that, you know, they have just as much opportunity or, you know, a better stepping stone to get to where they want to. And so that’s been really phenomenal. And I’ve loved kind of using my part time job to work with teaching because there’s always like an intersection of medicine. And something that I can really do. In medical school and other professional schools, it is much more difficult to work part time. They actually kind of discourage it just because they want to make sure that you’re getting the knowledge that you need. During my first two years, I was lucky to find myself in like in a virtual kind of experience where I could work for a medical education platform. And they were very flexible with my schedule, which is great. And it really gave me an insight kind of to that other aspect of medicine. How is medical education decided on, how are things changing, so that- I’m a kill two birds with one stone kind of person where it’s like if it’s efficient for both, then do it. But it helps that any part time experience can really strengthen your- your skill set.

Lesley [00:16:09] Yeah, definitely. I mean, that makes sense too, that they would want, especially in medical school, with something that’s so, like, all the information you’re learning is so vital for, like, everything you do that they would want to make sure that you’re balancing everything okay, so that you’re absorbing all of that information effectively, because it’s obviously it’s very- it’s very important to do that. So that makes sense.

Qanetha [00:16:37] There’s a lot of information. But the other part of it is it’s not always like structured. I know that some professional schools like business school allow you to do, like, part time schooling and so you can work during your off time. But medical school, it’s like structured, you’ll have classes in the evening. And so if- if you are able to find flexibility, that’s great. But I think it is a bit more difficult.

Lesley [00:17:02] Yeah, definitely. So you’re obviously in medical school and your program, especially with you being at NYU, which is a big top medical school, is probably pretty tough, like work wise. How do you kind of balance all of your responsibilities and all of the other things that you do that you’re interested in? How do you kind of balance all of that without burning out?

Qanetha [00:17:29] Burning out. That’s- that’s like, such a great question. And I’m- I’m really- Actually, I’m very glad you brought it up because, you know, my experience at NYU has been incredible. The journey has been great. The people that I’m surrounded around are so inspirational. You know, just in the last three months, the way that everyone has come together to volunteer and provide and get PPE or personal protective equipment and, you know, disperse all this information to all the communities in your city, the way that everyone mobilized was very inspiring. And so it’s things like that that just, you know, it’s not just a school, but a community. And that’s been really great. But, yes, I mean, burnout is so important to address because it’s a- you know, it’s a concept that we’re hearing a lot about, we use it in our own lives and in our own, kind of just talking to our friends and family. But now I’m hearing it a lot more in the media, too, and rightfully so. I think it’s important to talk about. And I think particularly in the field of medicine, there is a lot of changes that I think need to be addressed from an administrative and financial perspective. For example, fair hours for physicians, you know, things like loan forgiveness in the United States, reevaluating the time, the fraction of time being spent doing administrative work vs. your clinical duties. And so that kind of all comes from a systemic level. But kind of going back to your question of what do I do on an individual level? So, you know, there’s a couple of different things. So the first important thing to remember, and I think- I’ve heard this from other students as well, is that you’re completely, at this point in your life, responsible for your own education. So, you know, I’ve been lucky to have supportive friends and family. I came into medicine without external pressures and realizing that my decisions are internally motivated are- makes it easier to kind of continue through the challenging things that everyone and I myself have faced so often. So that, I think, is a really important point to come back to and reflect on for myself. The other thing is learning to study kind of smarter and not harder. And, like, using your time effectively. And so for me, organization and prioritization is key. Like, I am 100 percent a journal person. All my gifts are journals and highlighters and anything that kind of gives the illusion that you have your life together. But, you know, I have always written down my tasks for the week in advance. But I do use Google Calendar now more just to kind of outline my lectures. But, you know, there are two things that I’ve used through college that may be helpful for some of the listeners. So one thing is, and I’m sure none of this is, like, brand new information, the Pomodoro Method.

Lesley [00:20:46] Yeah.

Qanetha [00:20:46] And so, like, I’m sure you already know, but twenty five minutes long. And that means, like, without my phone, without distractions. Because, you know, I have trouble kind of getting started on time. So if I tell myself at 4 p.m., I’m going to start this thing and time is going to start at 4 p.m. and I set a timer for twenty five minutes. Once I get started, I can continue. And taking healthy breaks for those five minutes, like actually getting up out of my seat and walking around, you know, getting some water, healthy snacks like those are really helpful. But I think the way I’ve seen it being used, like I don’t use the Pomodoro Method every single day of my life, because I think that when something is useful, but you make yourself do it, it becomes subversive and then you don’t want to take something that you actually find useful to then just throw it out because it’s- it’s- it’s just getting like almost like a task that you have to do. And so I kind of only use it when I’m really crunched for time. And then the other thing, I don’t know if there is like an actual name for it, but it’s called, like, the four box method. So basically, you kind of draw out a two by two table. And this is helping for prioritization. So at the top columns, basically, you’re trying to divide up tasks based on urgency and importance. So at the top, you label urgent versus not urgent. And on the side, you label important versus not important. And that’s kind of how I outline my tasks for the day. So, you know, it’s easy to be like, I’ll start with this easy task and then use up all your energy for that and not want to get- or procrastinate for the harder stuff. And so for me, kind of outlining that and realizing I really need to get A, B, and C done first and just- I’m a visual person, so seeing that on paper and kind of ticking it off as I go is satisfying. So those are kind of the things that I, like, really try to help myself prioritize and to get things started and to do them. And then overall, just keep like try- I know it’s easier said than done, but keep a balanced life. You know, practice the things that make you happy and rejuvenate. And so those are kind of the tips that I’ve still been working on. But hopefully have gotten better since the beginning of college, for sure.

Lesley [00:23:02] Yeah, that’s- that’s interesting. That- I’ve heard. I mean, we- we’ve talked about like Homework Help Global, we talk about the Pomodoro technique a lot, but I’ve actually never heard of the- the one- I mean, I know you said you didn’t remember the name of it, but the four- that four boxes one, I’ve never heard of that before, but I feel like now I want to try it.

Qanetha [00:23:22] Yeah. I mean, it’s- it’s, like, not something I made up at all. I forget if I got it from the Internet or some video, but really it’s- it’s exactly what we try to do in our own heads, but really making a deliberate practice of deciding this is urgent and important and therefore needs to be done now vs. hey, this is not really important or urgent, so let’s not focus on it now. And so yeah, if you try it and like it let me know.

Lesley [00:23:49] Yeah, I will. I’m going to try that with my own- because that’s something I’ve had to a bit- like working from home, like being in a position where I work from home all the time, like not just during a pandemic. I am always looking for, like, new things to try. So I’m going to try that one and I will let you know if it- if it helps me. I’m sure it will.

Qanetha [00:24:11] Yeah. I mean, this is all out the window right now. You know, usually when I’m trying to focus, that’s kind of the stuff that I try to get myself to do some work.

Lesley [00:24:22] Yeah, that’s it. No, that’s- that’s all super helpful, I mean- it sounds like you’ve really got a routine narrowed down for helping yourself stay on track. So obviously, it’s working for you.

Qanetha [00:24:34] Well, and it is subject to fluctuation, which I think any good routine should have. Right, it can get boring, but yeah. So. Still figuring it out, but that’s kind of what’s worked so far.

Lesley [00:24:49] Yeah, it sounds like it. What are kind of some of the- I know that we talked a little bit about how self-care plays a role in just balancing out and avoiding that burnout. What are some- I know this looks different for everybody, but what are kind of some of the things that you do to prioritize your self-care?

Qanetha [00:25:12] Yeah, and you make a great point. It does look different for everybody. And it looks different for me on, you know, different times in my life as well. But, you know, one of my favorite things that I’ve gotten used to doing, and honestly, a very easy thing to do, is kind of take long, aimless, solitary walks where I just kind of blast my music. And, you know, I remember doing this on a particularly difficult hospital rotation, and it was the dead of winter. And by the time I got out it was dark and I just- all I wanted to do was kind of go home and go to bed. But I would force myself as I was leaving the hospital to just kind of start in a direction and walk aimlessly. And just listening to music and kind of the cold air hitting my face, something about it was therapeutic. And so I really got used to doing that since then. Other things, you know, my friends would describe me as an extrovert. I would counter that and say, like, I’m more like introverted extrovert. But there are times where, you know, I want to step away from my medical school level and see my friends and kind of just chat in a coffee shop for hours. But then there are other times I kind of just do a face mask, you know, and take a long nap or… The other thing I’ve gotten really into is journaling. And, you know, it’s been so helpful for me because it helps release some of- all the thoughts that are going into my head to just relieve some of that stress and anxiety after a long day. I usually do that at night and like, listen to YouTube and, like, cover artists. So it’s like inspirational to me. And so, I don’t know- there are a lot of different things, but it just depends on the time of day.

Lesley [00:26:55] Yeah, I get that. I mean, you don’t- you don’t always feel like doing the same thing. What was that, sorry?

Qanetha [00:27:02] What- what are some of the things you- because I always like to learn from others what their self care routines look like.

Lesley [00:27:09] I- you know what’s funny is no one’s ever- I’m always the one asking the questions so I’ve never actually thought about that from my perspective. But I would say probably just like playing games or just like, being with my- because I’m a pretty social person. So I like being with my friends just even if it’s just doing nothing, just just physically being with them really helps. Or reading is another thing I do a lot. I’ve always kind of wanted to try journaling, but haven’t- I just, like, never get around to it. So I might try that too. But also just like watching TV and movies is that something that I do a lot.

Qanetha [00:27:47] I forgot to mention that Netflix is, like, my favorite.

Lesley [00:27:51] Yeah, I think that- that’s- I think that’s one of those things that’s a pretty common self care thing for just about- I think that’s something that everyone kind of shares, is that movies and TV. Because there’s so many different- so much of a variety of there, there’s always a way to find something that works for, for everyone.

Qanetha [00:28:11] And I agree with that. But I challenge people to kind of find a way to kind of- because I think the idea of, like getting out of your comfort zone might whether that’s the sofa or your bed, and just, like, taking a walk does something to your body and it just makes you feel like you’ve changed up a routine, because sometimes I’ll like watch Netflix all day, but then still feel drained of my energy and it just depends.

Lesley [00:28:34] Yeah, I get that too. Yeah, I totally see what you mean there. So going back to kind of talking about the kind of structure of medical school and kind of how that path really works. What advice would you give for future students who are considering medical school? I know you said that you, originally when we talked before, you said you had some MCAT tips to share as well. So kind of what advice would you give to medical school students? And if you want to share those MCAT tips, I’m sure that would help a lot of people, too.

Qanetha [00:29:15] Sure, I’m happy to do that. I think one of the number one questions I do get is kind of do you have any tips or tricks for the MCAT? But I guess even before that, so general advice, I think for pre-med students, it’s you know, it’s important to acknowledge definitely that medicine is competitive. So your MCAT score and your GPA, they do matter. And it’s what’s going to help you get your foot in the door. But I think many people tend to forget. I myself, you know, have this issue. You have to remember that it doesn’t tell the whole story. So I think, you know, it’s becoming more and more attractive when students are well-rounded, and well-rounded can mean, like, yes, participating in research and school activities. But I think, you know, understanding at a deeper level what your passions are and how you find that balance, because like we were talking about, it’s so important to keep grounded during stressful and challenging times to avoid burnout. And I think that’s also on the mind of the people who are going to be interviewing you and looking at your application. They want to make sure that you can not only go to medical school, but succeed. And so more and more students are opting for time off between their undergrad and their medical school career to take a gap year or multiple gap years to pursue research or another opportunity. And I did that. I took a year off. I did research and I traveled. And it was just such a good time and it was one of the best decisions for me. So I would say, you know, general advice, like, don’t be afraid to explore other avenues, even if there aren’t direct intersections in medicine, because you want to make sure that this is the field you wanna do. Yeah, that’s kind of like more of a general tip that I wish that other people had encouraged me to really think about, because we do get really caught up in, you know, grades and numbers. For sure.

Lesley [00:31:12] It’s true, yeah.

Qanetha [00:31:14] And you’re right. So the question- but then the MCAT is definitely… So I’m happy to talk about that experience. I mean, you know, I definitely tried really hard in school. I was always like the nerd that’s always in the library. And I took my science classes and I did well. But, oh, man, I remember taking my first MCAT diagnostic, and this is, like, kind of embarrassing, but the score that I had gotten would not even be a passing mark for the exam. And so, you know, by the- I was a little bit discouraged for sure, to say the least. But I, you know, in studying I, you know, was lucky that, you know, I had the resources and I have the energy to keep going. And so by the end of it, I went up maybe like up to 20 or 30 points and scored in the 97 percentile, which, you know, was- was a very difficult but proud accomplishment. And so that was really exciting. But it definitely required, you know, a lot of work. And I think the key was to stay, like anything in life, persistent and consistent. I’m sure you can- I like, sound like a broken record, but like planning and writing down kind of your schedule is what’s key, especially when you need to be very diligent with your time. And with that being said, like, of course you want to stay consistent with your schedule, but build in time to realize that maybe you overshot or underestimated how much time certain things will take. Build in good breaks. I think during the MCAT was the most diligent I was in my life. Like I was exercising, I was going to bed at like an absurd time, and, like, people would say I’m- if- anyone who knows me knows that I would never do that willingly. I did that and it really paid off just to kind of be very diligent with that. Other kind of tidbits for me is really practice space repetition and active learning. So what- by that, I mean, instead of kind of just reading through and highlighting certain texts, like summarize those concepts in your own words and tables and charts and in different ways. And for space repetition, I highly recommend flashcards or doing questions that are not by- sorted by topic, but as like a random generalize. So you’re seeing everything kind of all the time. So that- that was really helpful for me. And there are a ton of flashcard services that students have already made. So you don’t have to spend time making them, which, you know, is not always the best use of your time. But I think the game changer, and this is, like, not a secret, is practice exams. So take as many as you can while also being proficient. And you know, taking the exam is a feat. Like, taking a practice exam is a feat because it’s an eight hour long exam, which is like a full workday. I mean, no one’s paying you to do this, you’re paying to take this exam. So.

Lesley [00:34:20] Right.

Qanetha [00:34:21] And the more important part of it, though, is to review the exam. So if I took an eight hour exam, I would almost use double that time to review my exam. And I would review my corrects and incorrects in the same manner. So there are a couple of questions that I would encourage you to think about. So why is the correct answer correct? Why is the incorrect answer incorrect? And if you can go through each of the answer choices and ask yourself what can I change about the answer twice to make it correct? Because I think that that’s what test takers do and that allows you to get into that mindset of a test taker. It’s like how did- because they usually make five correct answer choices and then switch around certain things. So that means that you really know that information. And then the key for me and the later part of my studying was to realize not only kind of what I was getting wrong or not wrong, but why. So was I getting things wrong because I didn’t know that particular content? Then great. I can change my study plan to go over that content, drill it, and know it for next time. But if it was something like I was running out of time or I read a question incorrectly, that’s a test taking strategy, which means that just the same way that you focus and drill content, you need to focus and drill test taking steps because you don’t want the time for you- you don’t want to be in the exam and be like, man, if only, you know, I strengthened my test taking skills I would have gotten this correct. Because there’s two ways to get to an answer, and so if you’re able to kind of address both of them, I think that’s really helpful. And that’s kind of- you’ll see your- your points and your score going up faster.

Lesley [00:36:03] Now, that’s a really good point. I think that’s a really good point you made, too, when you were talking about the flashcards. When you’re testing yourself, even if you’re not using flashcards, just if you’re testing yourself and mixing up kind of what you’re testing yourself about and kind of doing more of like a mixture instead of doing one subject at a time when you’re studying or one topic at a time when you’re studying for tests. I think that’s a really good point, too, because that’ll help you if, you know, like, OK, we’re we’re going to study for this particular topic, then, you know, the answer is going to be within that range. And I think that’s probably a better way to test what knowledge you’ve actually retained is if you can answer it in random order. So I think that’s a really good point, too, that I just kind of pulled out. I know you had a lot of I mean, a lot of your points were really, really good, but that’s one of the ones that I was like, oh yeah, like as you were saying it, I was like yeah, that’s a good idea.

Qanetha [00:36:59] Thank you. And yeah, I’ve gotten that advice too because I used to definitely learn through topic based questions, only focusing on that topic, but I think it does two things. Like, you start- your mind can shift from one thing to another. So you’re not constantly bogged down and you’re- you said it perfectly. You’re not coming into that question with the umbrella of like, hey, I’m answering this type of question and so it must be this answer. Because on the real exam that’s not what happens. You get them out of order. And I think that that can definitely trip you up, especially under high stress and you need the stamina. It’s a long exam. So anything you can do under test conditions, I think you should.

Lesley [00:37:41] Yeah, that’s- all of that, too. I mean, all the- like, doing that is preparing you for those test conditions. And same with what you were talking about with taking the practice test and doing all the actual, like, testing strategies, I think that’s- that’s- those are all ways of kind of training yourself for the actual tests. I think that’s probably the most effective thing to think about, because that’s what’s- obviously that’s what’s going to happen when you’re taking your test. So it’s- it’s probably the best thing to kind of think about for that.

Qanetha [00:38:15] That rule and breaks because it’ll be so easy to be like, no, I don’t need that day off. And then hashtag burnout again, so.

Lesley [00:38:23] Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think all that’s going to be super helpful advice for anyone listening who is interested in even just a career in the medical field. Not necessarily med school, but.

Qanetha [00:38:40] And I think any standardized test, I think, applies very similarly.

Lesley [00:38:47] Yeah, definitely. Moving to a kind of different topic here. So even after talking to you and even seeing your Instagram page before, you have so many different pictures there of all these different adventures and traveling and exploring that you’ve done. Is that something you do? Like how do you fit that in with everything else you have going on in your life?

Qanetha [00:39:15] Thank you. That’s kind of you to say. I mean, traveling seems like ancient history right now. I mean, so I guess- so, I remember being very young and my mom and her sister so my aunt, who I consider a second mom, always telling me stories about their travels and their work abroad. So I think I grew up with an eye for wanting to travel and be going on adventures. And so before college, I traveled mostly with my family on family trips. But after college, I became- I started kind of going on my own travels with friends. And you’re absolutely right. There is a challenge in fitting this desire for travel and exploration definitely into a medical school schedule. But I think, like most things in life, you have to be resourceful. So for me, I guess, it was finding this balance of, yes, planning out your time in advance when you have breaks, but also kind of remaining open to this spontaneous opportunity, you know, because you don’t know when things will come up. So, for example, I mean, any time I knew that I would have some time off, I would try to plan a trip in advance. And I’m lucky I have a few close friends that I would just- that are also down to travel. So I would just be like, hey, are you free on these dates? And would you be down to go to X location and try to coordinate something. So, but in medical school, what that looks like, would be like, I mean, at- a particular moment comes to mind because I remember, oh man, pulling an all nighter, which I do not recommend or endorse, but I did. I pulled an all-nighter. And then I took a three hour very important exam. And I went back to my dorm room and I just quickly threw things into a suitcase and set out on a flight that evening. So I knew that I wanted to make the most of my moment in time. But that’s that’s stressful. And that’s not necessarily something that you can always plan for. But, you know, that’s like more of a planned perspective. But there was one trip- I was, like, in my anatomy class and my favorite website is Google Flights. Like, I’m always scrolling through. And I remember seeing a trip to Amsterdam that was so, so cheap. I was just amazed. And I had a three day weekend that was not like an international three day weekend. So it wasn’t expensive. And I texted my friend immediately, was like hey, like, we need to go. It’s this cheap, like ask for time off at work. And it just happened and we planned that trip maybe five or seven days before we were leaving. And so that was more spontaneous on my part. And it was just- it was a three day short trip to Amsterdam, just kind of all we needed. And it was just so exciting. But for me, I know that there’s an idea that traveling can be very expensive for students, that’s definitely a concern. But I find that for myself, I’ve always been taught to kind of be- you know, value experiences over material objects. So for me, I love saving money for- for trips. And I think that there are ways to get around, especially when you’re younger, you know, on flights and you know, all you need are a backpack, and, you know, finding hotels for cheap or use AirBnB. And so any kind of way I could get myself onto the plane and to that country, like I’m- I’m there because at the end of the day, it just travel is a way to rejuvenate my energy. And I- I’m not necessarily the type that like to, like, lie on the beach, but sometimes you need that. But more like really go to a museum and see the culture and talk to people. And so that’s always been exciting to me.

Lesley [00:43:07] Yeah. Do you think that kind of- that feeling- fulfilling that sense of adventure is something that is kind of- is beneficial for students? Like any students in general, I guess?

Qanetha [00:43:22] I mean, it depends on kind of your personality for sure. And- and travel can actually expose your your personalities and see how you interact in a new place, especially if there are language and cultural barriers. But it teaches you how to be humble and to learn from others. And so that has been really great. And it’s- like, some people really like to travel with friends or family and some people really like to travel alone. And so kind of experimenting with what works best for you, if you can, I think is great. I am biased, but I would say, you know, if you’re able to save your money, go. And if you get a part time job and that’s like a reward, it’s like a reward for you to kind of be working so hard to be able to go abroad. So I would say yes. I think if you’re able to, definitely try to travel. And it could be it- and the thing is, like, you don’t have to go far sometimes. Like even, staycations or in the U.S. I mean, going anywhere in the U.S. is sometimes more expensive than going to Europe because things are just so pricy here. But, you know- it’s like- you can, like, take a road trip. Everything is so exciting, so.

Lesley [00:44:33] That’s I could say- that we have kind of the same thing here in Canada. It’s- it’s more expensive for- like we’re in Ontario, but for us to go fly out to like British Columbia is, sometimes it’s more expensive than flying to somewhere in Europe sometimes.

Qanetha [00:44:49] Yeah, it’s weird. I don’t get that.

Lesley [00:44:51] I know. It’s- it’s just- I don’t know. I don’t know what it is either. But it’s sometimes- it’s- sometimes it seems like that and it’s- it’s kind of crazy. But so I know what you mean.

Qanetha [00:45:03] So you may be hearing from me to get some- always get tips from people who have lived there or lived there because you just get a different experience.

Lesley [00:45:13] Yeah, that’s definitely a good idea, because also too, talking to people who have been there, especially if they lived there, I find if they lived there, it’s even better. But- because they’ll always tell you either stuff they’ve learned from making mistakes or stuff that they’ve discovered. And it’s, like especially with people who live there, when they’re oh, I actually stumbled on this little restaurant that’s like off the beaten trail but it’s amazing, and that’s where you find, like, the best food you ever eaten and things like that. It’s always so helpful to know that.

Qanetha [00:45:47] Definitely. And even if it’s worth things like I remember asking, like, hey, is this thing that everyone’s done even worth it? So it’s- it’s just good to kind of do your research if you can have time. But yeah, I agree with that.

Lesley [00:45:59] Definitely. Your Instagram is also full of pictures of you with like- being very influential with fashion and style. Is that something that you’ve always been into too, or did that kind of just happen because you just happen to be super stylish?

Qanetha [00:46:17] I mean, that’s- that’s such a nice compliment. Thank you. I, actually, I’ve never considered myself to be, you know, influential in fashion or style. I mean, I generally do like putting together outfits. I mean, you gave me a great reason to kind of get dressed today. But, you know, it’s funny because I thought I’d only be here for ten days and brought, like, a pair of sweats and some PJs, and now three and a half months later, I’m still home. So I’m wearing my mom’s clothes. But she’s stylish, so. Yeah. I mean, I like any opportunity to express myself through clothing. You know, I’ve sometimes found that putting on a fun outfit or a different outfit can kind of change my mood or, you know, sometimes it gives you, like, a boost of confidence. So- or for myself, like if you’re in this very mundane schedule every single day, the same thing, something that you can change up is your style. And that will kind of change things up for me. I guess it depends because during like the colder months, like, my favorite go to is like jeans and some black booties. Like, I have like five or six pairs of just black booties, but they all look the same, according to my dad. But, you know, I have them. And then like in the summer, I’ll like wear a dress and some like white Keds. But it just- it depends, like my style kind of varies so. But thank you for saying that. Yeah. I never-

Lesley [00:47:42] It just had- it’s what happened. It’s kind of a- but I feel like that’s kind of the best way because some people I find that they try too hard to be like that fashion trendsetter. And it’s just like you can tell when people try too hard. And when people it just comes naturally, obviously comes more naturally to you. So.

Qanetha [00:48:03] That’s very sweet. I mean, it’s like, it’s fun, you know. It’s like instead of actually cleaning my closet, I’ll just put on random pairs and like, hey that looks kind of nice. Like, let’s try that. But-.

Lesley [00:48:14] Yeah, that’s awesome.

Qanetha [00:48:15] Not a trendsetter. More like looking for inspiration from elsewhere. But thank you.

Lesley [00:48:19] More like a sharer.

Qanetha [00:48:20] Yeah. I like sharing.

Lesley [00:48:22] Instead of a trendsetter, you can be a style sharer.

Qanetha [00:48:28] I like that. We’ll use that.

Lesley [00:48:32] Okay. Oh I’ll use that in your in your blog. What is one of your favorite memories so far in school?

Qanetha [00:48:41] Oou, that’s a good question, actually. I had so many. I mean, right now, like memories that are going through my head are definitely the big ones. So, like graduation and my white coat ceremony just because, you know, I was able to spend that day with the people who- my loved ones and the ones that have been so influential, my friends and my family, and being able to see them be so excited and happy. It is really phenomenal. But I’m also kind of a mushball for, like, graduation speeches. Most people think they’re so corny. But my mom is the same way, and so, I don’t know, I always cry during graduation speeches. But I remember that very well. But I think, you know, I think all the fun is in like the little memories with your close group of friends. So like in college, I spent all this time in the library, but it was always amongst, you know, the people that I would always be with. And somehow, you know, we made it fun. I don’t know what we did to make it fun, but I don’t- like, I don’t think I’d have it any other way. And at Barnard, we had these traditions like midnight breakfast, where we would just- it sounds exactly like what it sounds like, but we’d have like whipped cream with, like, candy on top, just like the worst things you can possibly eat. And I just remember, like that was such a fun night. And then in medical school, I- medical school surprised me actually. I- I’m surprised at how much time, especially in the first two years we had to work and to be together as a community and celebrate. So at NYU I’m on student council. So one of my jobs is actually to coordinate some events after a big test. So we have tests pretty frequently, like almost every two weeks. And so some of the activities that I remember is like dancing together in the night away, like in different parts of NYC, like places I just wouldn’t always go to. We did something called bubble soccer. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the bubble sports.

Lesley [00:50:45] Is that when you’re like in the giant plastic ball and you’re, like, trying to play soccer while inside the giant ball? Is that what that is?

Qanetha [00:50:54] Yeah exactly. And honestly, it was so fun because it was after an exam and it felt like you’re releasing all this stress because you can be violent and you’re- all you’ll do is fly into the other direction. So that was, like, a fun experience. But it was like a little- it’s not like a huge thing, but it was like, things like that that I remember. And I think I will remember later on. You know.

Lesley [00:51:15] I think that sounds super fun that- because you could knock anybody over. They have a built in barrier. You’re never going to hurt anybody.

Qanetha [00:51:25] But then you get bruised because your, like, knees are not covered. And if you fall.

Lesley [00:51:28] Oh.

Qanetha [00:51:28] So I was bruised heavily for the next couple of days, but yeah. You don’t feel hurt until a couple days later.

Lesley [00:51:35] Oh, okay. So it won’t hurt right away. So it’s fine.

Qanetha [00:51:38] Now I’m just nostalgic. Like I feel like I haven’t seen so many people in so long.

Lesley [00:51:42] I think yeah. I think that’s a big thing right now. A lot of people are feeling. I know, like even I sometimes I think about I’m like, oh, I even just like sitting by in my parents’ backyard right now would be fantastic.

Qanetha [00:51:55] Yeah.

Lesley [00:51:56] Just because it’s like- it’s been so long since anybody’s been able to do anything like that here, too. So I think that that nostalgic thing is really a big factor right now.

Qanetha [00:52:08] Hopefully, you know, moving forward, well, we’ll get back to our what we used to call normal, at least in stages.

Lesley [00:52:16] Yeah, in stages. We’re about to- in Ontario, we’re about to start phase two, I guess. They started, like, phase one a couple weeks ago, so.

Qanetha [00:52:28] And how are the no- like the numbers have just been steady?

Lesley [00:52:31] I think they’ve been- they were going down for a while and then they started to go back up a little bit. But it was nothing like what it was before. It was like, before it was like five hundred cases a day in all of Ontario. Now it’s at like two something. I think the last time I checked, so.

Qanetha [00:52:50] We’re moving in the right direction.

Lesley [00:52:53] Definitely. It sounds like New York is doing that too.

Qanetha [00:52:56] That New York resilience.

Lesley [00:52:58] Yeah, definitely.

Qanetha [00:53:01] I’m proud of everyone here. Hopefully we kind of see that trend. So we’ll see in the next couple weeks.

Lesley [00:53:06] Yeah, hopefully. It’s always a slow process. I know we talked about, like, some of the great memories. What are the- on the flip side, what are some of the struggles or challenges that you faced? I know we kind of talked about- I mean, dealing with like the time management stuff is probably a struggle in and of itself. But were there any other kind of challenges outside of that that you kind of faced and overcame?

Qanetha [00:53:32] Yeah, I mean, it’s really important to compare both sides. The list of student struggles can really be endless, you know, and they span, you know, this wide range of like personal, financial, academic. But financially, I mean, I’m lucky because NYU School of Medicine is the first medical school that went tuition free a few years ago and yeah. And so that’s a huge burden lifted off of. And so far, like other medical schools, I do hope that they follow suit. But NYU has started that. And the thing is, like the average debt of US medical students is over two hundred thousand dollars, which is like, it’s not a small amount.

Lesley [00:54:16] No.

Qanetha [00:54:16] It’s a huge burden that that was lifted off. And I’m really grateful for that. But I think sticking even more academically, I guess some of the most difficult challenges are just during your periods of transition. So for me, it was coming into medical school and realizing that I have to relearn how I learned. So, like, after 16 years of schooling, you would think that, you know, you have it down pat, you know exactly what works for you. But I came to medical school and I heard from students and lectures that learning in your first year will feel like drinking water from a fire hose. And that expression, I can’t find something better to capture the feeling because that’s exactly what it feels like. And the transition that was hard for me was realizing, you know, my old methods of kind of reading through a textbook and highlighting and rewriting my notes and rereading those notes just was not the right efficient way to kind of learn all of this material. It just became very unmanageable really quickly. And that was very stressful. But I kind of looked to the upper years and ask them kind of how they dealt with that transition. And I learned new methods that did work for me. So some of them we talked about- summarizing, active learning, tables and charts. I started finding, like I really benefited from videos and module based learning rather than like some physical textbook or an online textbook. And so I changed those ways. And that was that was a challenge. It took some time, like my first few exams, it took it- I definitely saw, like, fluctuation in my score. But I think what’s important and the message that I want to get across is that medical schools and any other academic programs do realize that every student kind of learns differently. And so they have the resources and the flexibility in their academic program, even though it doesn’t feel like it in the moment, to support you during this transition. And so it is really important to be honest with yourself and to reach out for help and kind of embrace those challenges because you’ll learn to be resourceful and adaptable. Because since then, I’ve had to change the way that I learn every with every year of medical school.

Lesley [00:56:32] Right, yeah.

Qanetha [00:56:33] You’re different. I mean, you don’t learn the same way from, you know, a lecture as you do from a patient. And so trying to kind of navigate that, you should, I would say, like, really reflect for yourself, but also reach reach out for help when you need it.

Lesley [00:56:47] Yeah, that makes sense. I think that’s a good thing to- I didn’t know that- that new- that NYU is one of those the schools with the tuition. What did you call it? How did you word it?

Qanetha [00:57:01] NYU made medical school tuition free, which, and for all- like, so when I started, I paid tuition my first year. But after that year, every student who enters NYU will be granted a scholarship that makes their tuition free.

Lesley [00:57:17] That’s amazing.

Qanetha [00:57:18] Yeah. So that- that really, I think, alleviates a lot of burden financially, but also allows students to kind of make decisions on what career they’d like to- to pursue a- you know, a specialty in medicine without feeling that they need to only focus on certain ways to pay back their debt.

Lesley [00:57:38] Yeah, because I feel like if- if you’re in medical school and you’re paying all this money and suddenly you realize that it’s not for you anymore, and then you probably feel kind of stuck. Like, well, I paid all this money, so then you kind of force yourself to stick with it. But if you’re not happy with it, then you’re not happy with it. But having that huge hefty tuition can really put that pressure and get- you end up with people being stuck in these positions that they shouldn’t be in. .

Qanetha [00:58:08] Definitely. I didn’t even think about that. But yeah, paying for medical school and at some point realizing, hey, like, this is not it for me. That’s- that’s a hard burden for sure.

Lesley [00:58:20] Definitely. One thing we always ask every person as well is if you could go back and talk to your 15 year old self, what would you tell yourself?

Qanetha [00:58:35] So fifteen.

Lesley [00:58:36] Like high school freshman I think.

Qanetha [00:58:39] Yeah, so I was in high school, huh. I mean, I wonder if this is an unpopular opinion, but I actually really loved my high school experience and some of the friends that I made in high school are, like, my lifelong friends. But I do remember I went to a very competitive high school and I remember to this day how much stress I felt every day, like it felt like I had to make a lot of difficult decisions about my future. And there was this, what I perceived to be an overwhelming emphasis on grades and applications. So it almost made me feel like everything I was doing in high school was to achieve the next big thing in my life. So, I guess if I went back and told fifteen year old Qanetha to- I would tell her to kind of enjoy the present moment and celebrate, you know, your successes like however small they are. And really not to stress kind of about all the small challenges because they’re definitely not worth it in the long run. Even dwelling on the big ones, the big stressors, things just seem so small looking back with 20/20 vision. And high school is just such an important time for your personal development. So I would tell her, like, learn who you are. What are your interests? Really focus on your hobbies. Take any negative experience and see what you can gain from that, because that’s gonna help you for your long term goals.

Lesley [01:00:06] Yeah. That makes total sense too. Because, I mean, it’s perfectly and like how you said, it’s an unpopular opinion to love high school because high school has such a bad reputation. But I feel like a lot of it, like- I- about my own high school experience, I’m kind of so-so. Like, there were some good things and some things sucked. But I mean, I’ve met a lot of people who loved high school. So.

Qanetha [01:00:31] Yeah, like I don’t- I wouldn’t do it again.

Lesley [01:00:34] No.

Qanetha [01:00:34] But I have- I can’t really remember, like, such awful times. And maybe I’m just like, looking back with, like, this golden- these golden glasses. But yeah, I mean, I remember- I think the reason I loved it so much is the friendships that I made.

Lesley [01:00:50] Yeah. I think that’s a big factor, too, sometimes. Sometimes you have those high school friendships that just, they kind of fizzle out because you kind of grow apart. But then other times you have those high school friendships that are just so strong that, like, I’m- I’m still friends- right now, my main friend group is my friends from high school.

Qanetha [01:01:09] Amazing.

Lesley [01:01:09] So it’s definitely. Yeah, it’s definitely something that doesn’t always happen. But when it does, it’s- it’s pretty valuable friendships.

Qanetha [01:01:20] Yeah, I agree with that.

Lesley [01:01:22] Definitely. What- I know we kind of did talk about this when we talked about your advice to future medical students or people who are considering this career path. But what advice would you give to any student starting university this year? Not necessarily a medical student, but any student in general who is just about to start university or college.

Qanetha [01:01:48] That’s a great- that’s a good question. I think the advice that I received that I loved and I want to share is to keep an open mind because it’s very simple, but college is such a great time to explore your interests. And I think like toning that down a little bit more like thinking, I think I would advise you to think more generally about who you want to be. And as you meet more and more people, what kind of characteristics you’d like to embody in the future and kind of what contributions to society you’d like to make rather than coming in with this, like, I want to be this type of person. Because as you go through your years in college, as you start to acknowledge those factors and decide on your values, that those professional and academic goals can then align with those values rather than vice versa. And I- I think that that will then give you a much more fulfilling life because you’ve established who you are and then found a career that then kind of focuses on that and helps build up.

Lesley [01:02:51] Yeah and kind of just be open to. I think the tipping to- to build on that is that a lot of- university is a really big time for a lot of people to kind of discover who they are and the things they’re really interested in and it’s not always necessarily the same as it would have been in high school. So I think that keeping that open mind and being kind of open to that is- is a good way to kind of prevent that well, this is what I want to be, but not really knowing kind of what you want to be, if that makes any sense.

Qanetha [01:03:22] Oh, that’s key. Like, you said that perfectly. It’s just like, you know who you want to be as a person. But you don’t necessarily know. First of all, what- I don’t even know what options are available for jobs. Like, I’m still learning about things now and I’m like, hmm, that could have been interesting, too. So it’s just- you’re right. Like just knowing, like, hey, I want to be this kind of person. And what that actually means will come as you kind of go forward.

Lesley [01:03:46] Yes, definitely. I think that’s some pretty powerful advice that you have there.

Qanetha [01:03:52] Very simple, and that’s the advice I’ve gotten and I’ve loved it. So.

Lesley [01:03:57] Yeah. It works. Do you have a favorite motivational quote that you would like to share?

Qanetha [01:04:03] I think this has to be my favorite question that you ask on your show, just because from high school, probably I always like carry a notebook to like any kind of lecture, if I’m watching a YouTube video or reading a book, and I write down things that- quotes that just sound really nice or just resonate with me. The one I want to share I think is helpful kind of in line with what we’ve been talking about is from Robin Sharma, who is the author of the book The Five AM Club. And so the quote is, let me just pull it up. So it’s give me persistence over intelligence. It’s the hungriest who wins, not necessarily the most gifted. And, you know, the quote I think is pretty self-explanatory, which is what I like about Robin Sharma is that, you know, he says what he means. But I think it’s also really important to discuss, because this is- this is how I live my life and how I view life, because, you know, it’s important to acknowledge that we are all so quick to say, like, hey, she did this because she’s so intelligent or he did this because he’s so passionate. But it’s- like, so are you. I mean, we all focus on how easy they make it seem because- or how easy their end goal seems for them. But, you know, you’re not hearing about that entire journey and all of the challenges and times they had to hear no or, you know, failures that they had to overcome. But they stayed persistent and they believed in themselves. And, you know, they put in the hard work. They found those mentors. And I think, you know, you have to find that inspiration because that’s what’s going to keep you going. And I don’t know, the quote just really encourages me because there are definitely gonna be difficult times and no one but you can kind of go through the steps to do it. And so it’s important to remember that.

Lesley [01:05:56] I think that’s really powerful because that also goes with the whole idea, too, is that just because someone is the smartest person does not mean that they are the most successful, because being intelligent is a- is a great thing, but it’s not the only thing that matters when it comes to being a successful person or just like being- accomplishing really good things in life, I guess.

Qanetha [01:06:22] Yeah, and do you apply that intelligence and do you share that knowledge? Because like, I think one of the most important things for me is like what will be my impact in the future? And so I think it’s important to not only have that intelligence or work toward something, but share it with others. And hopefully, you know, that’s kind of the message I want to send.

Lesley [01:06:43] Yeah, definitely. I think that’s a really amazing message to send.

Qanetha [01:06:48] Thank you. I really like that quote. I have a million quotes, so.

Lesley [01:06:51] Yeah, it sounds like you were the perfect person to ask what your favorite quote was, because you’ve got a lot of them. When- the last final question we usually ask is more like a fun question. And that is what is your favorite social media platform and why?

Qanetha [01:07:10] Oo. OK. This is the easy question because Instagram is definitely, definitely my favorite. And it has been, I think, for some time now. You know, fun fact about me, I didn’t- I don’t know if I’m aging myself here. So, I mean, I didn’t have social media until I was a senior in high school. And I quickly found myself to Instagram because you know what I liked? I like that you have your friends and family and you can keep up to date with their lives. But then you have your explore the page where you can gauge all of your interests. And if you’re like me and you scroll like at this point, probably millions of hours perfectly curating your feed, like I have travel, I have photography and art, fashion, things like I really enjoy. It’s just like very fun. And as I came to, like, medical school, I was inspired to kind of use my page as a creative outlet. So the quote on my Instagram is like, I’m studying ninety nine percent- it’s so, so corny, like- I’m studying ninety nine percent of the time. Here’s the one percent. And so for me it was like a creative outlet to kind of showcase everything that I am outside of medicine and the things that kind of also, again, bring me, bring me life and joy. And so really seeing that what like- as an outlet for me was helpful. And I don’t have, like, any, you know, I don’t have like I’m going to post at this time at this date. And it’s so not stressful. I just- it’s like for fun. You know, my experience with medicine, I also have been able to connect with students who are also medical professionals and find these mentors or create that small community. So there has been so many positive things about Instagram for me. And yeah, it’s just- it’s a creative outlet. You need some creativity in like a science heavy life I think.

Lesley [01:09:04] I could definitely picture that. It’s funny because you think you sound old when you say you got your Instagram not until your last year of high school. I didn’t get Instagram until like my third year of university.

Qanetha [01:09:17] I didn’t get it in- I got my Facebook.

Lesley [01:09:19] I meant social media. Yeah. Well, unless you count MySpace. Back in the day of MySpace.

Qanetha [01:09:28] I just, like it’s so funny because there are so many people that don’t even know what AIM is and MySpace is. And it’s like that was my entire life.

Lesley [01:09:37] I know.

Qanetha [01:09:43] Fun to be born after 2000.

Lesley [01:09:45] Yeah, I know. I feel that. So this has been super, super constructive. Do you have any final, like, last insights that you want to share before we kind of say goodbye here?

Qanetha [01:10:01] Yeah. Can I share one more quote?

Lesley [01:10:04] Yeah.

Qanetha [01:10:05] This is so simple and you’ve probably heard it. But a bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul. And again, like high school, college, medical school, all of these are four year programs that go by so fast. So it’s a wonderful time to kind of explore yourself- explore for yourself, but then leave time to grow and improve. Like, we focus on our failures as setbacks rather than an opportunity to kind of humble ourselves and grow and learn. And it took me a very long time to get here, and I’m working on it. You know, there’s always negative thoughts sometimes in my head. But, you know, I challenge anyone listening to this to embrace those challenges, kind of alter that status, to adopt that, you know, growth mentality because while we said, like, enter each experience with an open mind, like I think you should leave with kind of a critical understanding of what you’ve learned from that experience. So. So, yeah, I think, you know, try to expose yourself to as many people. I think anyone from any field, whether they’re older or younger than you can- can teach you something and you’ll be exposed to the qualities that you hope to emulate. You know, as you kind of move forward. So that’s the last message I have.

Lesley [01:11:19] That’s amazing. I think that’s an excellent last message. I mean, you have been so insightful. And so I think everything you’ve said this whole time has been super inspiring. So I really, really want to thank you for joining us today, because I think that our audience is going to learn a lot from you. I learned a lot from you.

Qanetha [01:11:40] Lesley, it was such a pleasure. I mean, the pleasure’s all mine because you gave me an opportunity to share my experience. And, you know, I hope this is helpful. It sounds like Homework Help Global in general, it sounds like such a good platform for students. So thank you to all that you guys do. And I’m, you know, I’m happy to answer any questions that come up. If anyone wants to talk more offline, I’m always available to do that.

Lesley [01:12:04] Do you want to share your Instagram handle really quick if you can?

Qanetha [01:12:09] Yeah. So it’s pretty easy if you can spell my name. So my- and my name is unique, so you can find me. But yeah. Reach out to me on Instagram. It’s Qanetha Ahmed.

Lesley [01:12:26] We’ll write it out as well too.

Qanetha [01:12:29] Thank you for having me.

Lesley [01:12:29] Yeah. So thank you. It’s nice to e-meet you. Virtually meet you. And we’ll keep in touch with you because I can’t wait to see where you’re headed especially. So again, thank you so much.

Qanetha [01:12:41] I’m happy to part of that. It was a pleasure.

Lesley [01:12:44] It was my pleasure as well.

Qanetha [01:12:46] Bye.

Lesley [01:12:46] Bye.

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