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Panel Discussion Brings SHHS Students, Medical School Students Together To Discuss Different Paths Into Field of Medicine

Sleepy Hollow High School students recently had the incredible opportunity to attend a Zoom panel discussion with current medical students. The event was hosted by the Science Honor Society. The panelists, who included three M2 (second-year) New York Medical College students as well as one who is in the middle of their residency, discussed their journeys to medical school and their experiences thus far before answering a series of student questions. This discussion gave students who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine or simply curious about the field a chance to hear firsthand accounts from medical students who come from a variety of backgrounds.

One major focus of the panel discussion was dispelling the commonly-held notion that all medical students have attended elite universities and majored in chemistry or biology. One of the M2 students, for example, majored in music before deciding they were interested in medicine, while another took two gap years after college to make money working odd jobs. The residency student on the panel spent time in the military as both an Air Force officer and a military PA and worked a variety of jobs before applying to medical school down the line.

“The more diverse your experiences, the better you’ll be able to connect to a variety of patients,” said one of the M2 students.

Panelists also shared what inspired them to pursue a career in medicine. One panelist mentioned their godmother, an OB/GYN, who showed her that doctors can still live fulfilling lives outside of the important work they do. Another panelist is pursuing an MD because they hope to one day teach medicine or other STEM subjects.

At the end of the discussion, SHHS students asked a variety of questions. One student asked what a day in the life of a medical school student is like, while another asked how the panelists studied for the MCAT. Yet another student asked the panelists, three of whom were African-American, about their experiences as a POC in medical school. 

“By the time you reach medical school, everyone is on the same playing field regardless of their background,” said one of the panelists. “Success depends on the relationships you make.” Other panelists echoed this sentiment, saying that they have found New York Medical College to be very inviting and sensitive to the struggles of students from different backgrounds. 

The panelists ended the discussion with words of encouragement for current high school students who may be interested in studying medicine.

“A lot of people will tell you what you can’t do,” said the residency student. “Don’t let those people decide what can and can’t be done. If you believe in yourself and stay focused and determined, you can accomplish anything.”

This marked the second time SHHS has hosted a panel discussion with medical students. Students found the first panel, which was held this past spring, so enlightening that science teacher Jason Choi decided to organize another one. The students who attended this most recent presentation agreed that it was both informational and incredibly impactful.

“I think the most impactful part of the presentation was the short yet very helpful advice to ‘take risks and ask questions,’ said Alicia Carvalho-Evans, an SHHS senior. “I think it is a great piece of advice to keep in the back of my mind, because it may be difficult to be curious and step outside of my comfort zone as I journey toward med school.”

“Listening to the panel of med students was quite insightful because wec always hear the notion that med students, especially students of color, are often discouraged to continue with their schooling because of its difficulty and rigor,” added senior Jickinson Louis. “Seeing these students persevere through these challenges broke boundaries that needed to be broken!