Cara Permenter, a fourth-year medical student at LSU Health Shreveport who recently matched into the family medicine residency at LSU Health Shreveport, talks to us about medical school, the match and more.
Tell us about yourself:
Cara Permenter: I am a marathon-running medical student with a daughter, husband and four dogs. My passions in medical school have been primary care and athletes.
Looking back on your medical school experience, what would you say to the young and naïve “first-year you”?
CP: Don’t get caught up in the grades, statistics and step scores. Give your best effort, stay positive and stay focused. It will all work out! Also, do not be afraid to ask for help or let someone know when and where you are struggling. Chances are the person that sits next to you in the lecture hall may be struggling with the same thing!
What tips do you have for USMLE?
CP: I maintained a regular study schedule (7 a.m.-3 p.m.), worked out and spent evenings with my family. At night, I did 50 UWORLD questions. For me, staying motivated was about maintaining balance in the other areas of my life.
What advice do you have for the students going through clinical rotations?
CP: Be on time. Be professional. Be prepared. Clinical rotations are where you begin to fine-tune your work ethic as a medical professional. It also makes for good evaluations!
What recommendations do you have for medical students to maintain their sanity?
CP: I maintained my hobby of running. Other students continued to cook, draw or play sports. Do something non-medical to remind yourself that you are a human being. I’m repeating myself, but balance in your professional and personal life is key.
How did medical school differ from your expectations?
CP: My expectation was one of a hard-nosed, cut throat environment. What I got was a supportive network of professors, medical students and residents. The faculty, staff and other students want you to succeed.
What things did you do during your four years of medical school that you believe particularly impressed your residency program?
CP: One thing I was regularly commended for was overcoming adversity. In the four years that you are in medical school, life doesn’t come to a stand still. How you deal with things that happen to you professionally and personally set the tone for how you will work as a resident.
What attracted you to your chosen specialty?
CP: I literally want to do everything and anything. I want my medical practice to be something different every day. I also want to spend my time doing the things I like, including primary care, treating all age groups, getting hands-on with procedures and sports medicine. What better place to get all of that than family medicine?
What is your biggest fear about beginning residency?
CP: I, like most others, don’t want to cause harm to a patient.
What advice would you give third-year students about to start the Match process?
1. The Match is designed to place applicants where they want to be. It is all set up in your favor.
2. You are interviewing programs just as they are interviewing you, so have questions to ask.
3. Be polite to everyone. This includes the person at the registration desk at the hotel where you stay.
4. Send thank-you cards to people who wrote your letters of recommendation, as well as the programs with which you interviewed.
And a fun bonus question! Please share an easy and quick recipe that got you through tough weeks in medical school.
CP: I may not have a recipe, because I’m terrible at cooking. I do have an amazing video I listened to when things got tough. I definitely used this during tough weeks!