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Medical Student Spotlight: Chelsey Miller

Chelsey Miller graduated from Miami University in the spring of 2019. She was an English Literature major, had the Pre-Medical Studies co-major, and had a Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies Minor. She is now a fourth-year medical student at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Medical Student Spotlight: Chelsey Miller

How do you feel that Miami prepared you for medical school?

I think the science classes here at Miami did a great job of preparing me for medical school. The first year of medical school you spend a lot of time studying basic sciences and found I had a really good foundation to build on. Additionally, I think Miami has lots of great opportunities to get involved with outside of medicine such as intramural sports, clubs, music ensembles, and volunteering that helped me stand out during the application process. Ultimately, Miami prepared me to be a well-rounded medical student with the skills I needed to succeed as a student and a future physician.

Were there any specific classes or professors that were particularly helpful?

Dr. Heeyoung Tai’s biochemistry class and honors cell biology with Dr. David Pennock were both super helpful in preparing me for the first year of medical school. Would also recommend taking statistics before the MCAT but as an upperclassman since a lot of time in medical school is spent reading research articles and interpreting data. This is also very high yield for boards exams.

How were you involved on Miami’s campus?

I was very involved with the music programs at Miami and was a member of the marching band for 3 years, symphony band for 3 years, and Tau Beta Sigma for 4 years. I also was a student volunteer at the Oxford Fire Department as an EMT and held several leadership positions with Phi Delta Epsilon, the medical fraternity on campus. I also liked rock climbing and would go to the rock wall at the rec when I got a chance.

How do you think these extracurriculars helped boost your application/paid off when applying?

Definitely! My involvement with extracurriculars was a huge talking point while on the interview trail because through various leadership positions and challenges outside of schoolwork, I learned valuable lessons that have helped me become a better student doctor. I am able to communicate effectively with peers and patients alike because of my broad range of experiences and adapt to new situations very well (an important skill when you change rotation sites every 1-2 weeks). My clinical experience as an EMT also helped me be more useful on rotations since I was able to assist with certain tasks, such as placing EKG stickers and grabbing supplies to start an IV.

Was there anything that drove your decision to become a doctor?

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was nine-years old and my experiences as a patient inspired me to pursue a medical degree to care for other children with chronic illnesses.

In medical school, how have you been able to manage the workload?

Managing the workload of medical school is really just prioritizing what is important and doing as much as you can. For example, during the first two years I always made sure I watched lectures, finished Anki flashcards, and read through Powerpoints a second time. I would make a list of topics I needed extra practice with and would go through those once I finished the more urgent topics. I almost never crossed off every topic on the list because I would run out of time, but I still did well because I was able to review higher yield information for exams and finished any extra assignments on time.

What are your hobbies? How are you able to find time for these with your schedule?

I actually have lots of hobbies, including crafting, writing, and plant parenting. I love hanging out with my friends and family, as well. For the most part, I would just plan study sessions with my friends - who are mostly other medical students - to combine school and socializing when I could. I also make sure to give myself “brain breaks” once a day to either watch TV or work on a project so I can fill my bucket before going back to studying for exams and preparing for clinical sessions.

Do you have any idea what you would like to do in residency post-medical school?

I am currently applying for Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Med-Peds, residency programs. I have special interests in transitional care, which is helping pediatric patients with chronic illnesses transition to adult care teams, quality improvement research, and medical education.

What is a piece of advice you would give a Miami undergraduate student who is pre-med?

Take advantage of opportunities for non-medical experiences. Medical school is an intense four years and will definitely prepare you to become an exceptional physician, but time outside of school/work is limited. Feel free to travel, study abroad, join the chess club, volunteer at an animal shelter, etc. Not only will it give you something interesting to talk about in your application, but it’ll help with the feeling of “FOMO” you might feel during the more rigorous parts of medical education.

Thinking about your path to medical school, what is the most important thing you learned along the way?

It is very easy to get into a habit of comparing yourself to others in medical school, but I am learning to focus on my successes and celebrate myself for how hard I’ve worked these last few years. Just because I might have done worse on one exam doesn’t mean I’m going to be any less of a doctor. Sometimes strengths are not easily quantifiable, like an ability to comfort a patient during a stressful procedure or support peers when morale is low. The only thing I can do is my best, and as long as I learn from my mistakes over time I will be able to say I’m proud of the physician I became.

What would you have done differently?

I would have taken a gap year in between graduating from Miami and matriculating. I have no doubt in my mind I made the right decision in going to medical school, but at times I became extremely burnt out from all the studying. A gap year would have been a great opportunity to rest and contribute to my savings account before taking that next big step, especially since over half my medical school class had taken one or more gap years before matriculating.