Sunny Murthy is a 2018 graduate of Virginia Tech. He attended a post-bac program at Eastern VA Medical School called the Medical Master’s Program after graduation from Virginia Tech and has been accepted to attend UVA’s School of Medicine in August.
- What led to your interest in medicine?
When I was in high school, my mom was diagnosed with Melanoma- a form of skin cancer. What followed this diagnosis were countless doctor’s visits, surgeries, and prolonged therapy. It was this experience that really showed me the value of medicine and sparked my interest to learn more about different roles in the medical field.
- Who or what inspired you to pursue medicine?
After my mother’s diagnosis and treatment, I wanted to learn more about the medical field. What solidified my decision to pursue med school was attending the Summer Medical & Dental Education Program (now SHPEP) at Yale School of Medicine. The program immersed me into the life of a medical student: taking classes, shadowing, & working on a public health project. I saw myself both enjoying and thriving in the environment, which confirmed my path to pursue medical school.
- Any general tips for what to do during a gap year?
The most common gap year activities are typically: research, scribe, EMT, or Teach for America. A gap year can really help your application, but it is also a “free” year so take advantage of that. I accepted a research position in Boston, a city I had previously never stepped foot in, for the opportunity to grow in a new environment. I knew I enjoyed research, but this year has really opened my eyes to just how much I love clinical research. Whatever you end up doing, network as much as possible and stay active in your volunteering. When times get hectic, it’ll be a reminder of why you are pursuing your given path.
- How did you prepare for your med school application process?
The application I did for HPA actually helped a lot because it forced me be organized and start early. I had countless friends, family members, and professors read through different aspects of my application prior to submitting. Giving people enough time to thoughtfully edit your material is the key. Another way I prepared is I also tried to pre-write my secondary applications so I could turn them around fast.
- Were you successful on your first application attempt and if not, would you like to share your story with the students on how you recovered/planned for the reapplication?
I wasn’t successful my first go around or my second actually. Third time was a charm though! I was involved in a lot during undergrad, and also worked as a scribe during the school year to help out with costs. My GPA wasn’t where I needed it to be, and I chose to attend a post-bac program at Eastern VA Medical School called the Medical Master’s Program. It’s comprised of all the first-year medical school courses, the idea is if you can be successful in classes alongside M1’s, you can clearly handle the rigor of medical school. I also retook my MCAT and significantly improved my score making me competitive for schools like UVA.
- How did you know if a post-bac was right for you?
To be honest, I didn’t know. Looking at my application, I had an okay MCAT, low end of an honors GPA, and great extracurriculars. When I graduated college, I thought the smarter route would be to enroll in a master’s/post-bac program to show I can handle the rigor of medical school. I know many of my classmates that are grateful to the program because they are now M1’s at EVMS. Although I didn’t gain acceptance to EVMS following the program, I did gain study skills that helped when I retook my MCAT. I would really advise reaching out to admissions offices directly and asking for feedback. Ask a few and if multiple say you should look at improving your GPA, then it might be the right move for you.
- What are some words of wisdom about the application process? What would you have liked to know ahead of time? What do you wish someone would have told you before you began applying?
Going to break this down into three major tips I wish I knew.
1. The process is super expensive and time consuming- try to apply once, which means apply when you are the most competitive. This is obviously something I didn’t follow that I really wish I had.
2. Be straight up with yourself and your application, focus on where you can improve. Taking a year off to improve GPA, study for MCAT, or even gain more medically related experience is OKAY!
3. Your school list is important, and you should focus on more than just stats, MSAR shows you a range of data including # accepted in state/out of state. When applying across the country, be sure to be aware of data like that when compiling your list.
- How many schools did you apply to and what criteria or resources did you use to select these schools?
Used MSAR and each school’s admissions page to understand what kind of students they accepted and if it matched my profile and application.
1st time: 15
2nd time: 3 (Was in a master’s program and knew many schools would wait till first semester grades to offer me interview/review application. Plus EVMS isn’t super well known, so I kept it to in state schools.)
3rd time: 18