Adam Ketner, a recent fourth-year matcher out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, gives us his expert advice on succeeding in medical school and beyond.
For those less familiar with the medicine-pediatric residency option, med-peds is a residency program that is relatively new and gaining popularity in the United States. Rather than a full three-year residency in internal medicine and a full three-year residency in pediatrics, the med-peds residency program affords the opportunity for residents to complete both internal medicine and pediatrics in a total of four years, rather than the six years they would take to complete separately. While there is no med-peds board exam (yet), once a physician successfully completes his or her four year residency they are eligible for double board certification in internal medicine and pediatrics. While the residency program prides itself on excellent training in primary care, med-peds training also leaves open the possibility of further subspecialty training in either internal medicine or pediatrics.
1. Tell us about yourself: Where are you from? What is your undergraduate degree and where did you receive it? Did you do anything between undergraduate and medical school?
Adam Ketner: I’m from Winston-Salem, NC. I did undergraduate school at Furman University, with degrees in Spanish and philosophy. For five years between college and medical school, I worked as an English teacher in Guatemala, as well as a Spanish interpreter in a medical clinic.
2. What residency program will you be joining and where?
AK: Med-peds at Ohio State University Medical Center.
3. Looking back on your medical school experience, what would you say to the young and naïve “first-year you”?
AK: Keep your head down and work hard the first two years. Also, do things that kindle the excitement that brought you to medicine in the first place.
4. What things did you do that you believe were valuable to succeed the second two years through clinical rotations?
AK: During the clinical years, you have to balance working hard and getting good enough evaluations with studying hard for the shelf tests. The year is a balancing act between those two things. It is tough. You want to learn clinical medicine, but you also have to study for the test. Try to find things you like about each rotation, even if you know you won’t go into it. You’ll be happier and be more fun to work with.
5. What things did you do during your four years of medical school that stuck out or particularly impressed your residency program?
AK: I did two rotations in the Honduras that were clinically focused, which basically every program I interviewed at asked about. They also asked about my time before medical school working in Guatemala. I would say that any experience you’ve had that is off the beaten path will be asked about. Try to form a narrative around those things and use them in the interview. For example, things you learned in those experiences, or challenges you overcame. Programs also really liked seeing community service things I have done.
6. What was your level of involvement in research and other extracurricular activities, and your opinion on how important that involvement is?
AK: I did zero research in medical school because it’s not for me. I did lots of volunteer and community service-type things. I think its a good thing to be involved with, and it rekindles the passion in me as to why I want to be a doctor.
7. What attracted you to your chosen specialty?
AK: Med-peds because I liked everything, and the people are often goofy intellectuals who I identify with.
8. What things did you do to maintain your sanity in medical school?
AK: Sanity — you have to be proactive about keeping it. If you’re not, medical school will take it from you. Find the things that make you happy and schedule time for them. There is always more studying that could be done, so you have to actively plan to take breaks.
9. The floor is yours — what do you wish to share with current medical students?
AK: Lots of people love to give advice about medical school. Most of it won’t resonate with you or work for you. Listen to everything, but feel free to filter out the things that don’t work for you. You have to find the things that work for you; everyone is different.