PreHealth Spotlight: Isabella Izidoro
Class year: 2021
Major: Public Health
Study hard! Do your best to keep your grades up. Attend office hours, tutoring, SI sessions, and exam reviews. I truly attribute my good grades in STEM courses to SI sessions and exam reviews.
- Accepted to five allopathic medical schools (so far!) including UMass Chan Medical School and two osteopathic medical schools
While at UMass Amherst:
- Research Assistant in two research labs (Julia Choi, Liz Evans)
- RA in Southwest
- Volunteered with Arbors (nursing home), Edwards Church (meal program), and Allies for Immigrants (citizenship tutor)
- Certified EMT - worked for ambulance companies serving Quincy, Boston, and Holyoke
- Completed BaccMD Pathway Program
- Medical Assistant in OB/GYN Office
- Podcast Host (IsaVision) and News Reporter for WMUA
As a Latina, first-generation student, and first-generation American (I was born in Brazil and became a naturalized citizen at 13 after my parents took the citizenship test), college already felt daunting, let alone being premed. That being said, my background has genuinely helped me on this journey. Of course, there were times I felt imposter syndrome — especially since I did most of high school in Brazil — but overall, my background became my strength. I have been able to relate and build rapport with patients. Also, overcoming obstacles has built resiliency in me that I may not have developed otherwise.
Working as an EMT with two ambulance companies and then a Medical Assistant in an OB/GYN practice were invaluable experiences. Treating real patients affirmed my desire that medicine was for me. I worked as an EMT per diem during college and as an OB/GYN Medical Assistant part-time during my second semester senior year and one year post-graduation.
As an EMT, I was responsible for treating and stabilizing my patients, collecting and charting their medical history and chief complaints, along with driving a huge ambulance and keeping it orderly. I loved caring for patients, but the frustration I felt due to the clinical limitations imposed on me as an EMT affirmed that medicine (and the greater scope it offered) was for me.
As an OB/GYN Medical Assistant, I could offer continuation of care — something I craved as an EMT. I followed patients from their first OB visit until their 6-week postpartum visit. I was able to assist in a ton of in office procedures such as IUD insertions and removals, biopsies, and hysteroscopies. Along with patient care, I also built relationships with the physicians I worked with and learned more about the roles of administration, nurses, and other providers.
During college: Study hard! Do your best to keep your grades up. Attend office hours, tutoring, SI sessions, and exam reviews. I truly attribute my good grades in STEM courses to SI sessions and exam reviews. Also, find a few solid things to be involved in that you’re passionate about! There’s no need to do everything, you’ll just end up spreading yourself too thin. I also highly recommend working/volunteering in healthcare. Sometimes, knowing I had an EMT/MA shift coming up would help keep me grounded and studying because it served as a reminder that I was studying hard for a greater goal — to care for and treat patients in the future. As an undergrad, I also applied and was accepted to the BaccMD program through UMass Chan Medical School. This helped me set priorities and focus on the activities that were both most meaningful for me and that would help me prepare for a future medical career.
Post college: If possible, work in healthcare with direct patient care. Working as an MA (Medical Assistant) and as a Clinical Research Coordinator (I’m currently working as a CRC during my application year) helped keep me focused on my goal and affirmed my desire to pursue medicine.
Take the MCAT when you’re ready!! I took the MCAT twice because the first time I took it, I had recently recovered from COVID-19 and was grieving the loss of a family member. I thought I could overcome the emotional and physical turmoil, but the MCAT is just as much of a mental strength game as it is a form to test your competence. The second time around went much better because no external factors were in my way.
Planning to apply: start working on a draft of your personal statement now! Having a draft done very early will allow mentors/advisors time to read and give feedback.
Overall: listen to your pre-med advisors and adhere to the pre-med offices’ deadlines, especially if you’re applying.
I learned that medical schools look for students who fit their mission. Before going through this process, I would roll my eyes whenever someone shared this sentiment. I thought for sure schools only picked students with the highest MCAT scores. Although stats are part of your application, I found that medical schools that prioritized my passions within medicine — serving marginalized communities, practicing while considering social determinants of health, community service, etc — had an interest in me that went beyond whatever my stats were.
I don’t say this to be boastful, but the most surprising part of the application and interview process was how many interviews/acceptances I have received. Keep in mind, I applied to A LOT of schools, but even so, I went into this process thinking, “if I could get at least one interview and one acceptance, I’ll be happy.” Thankfully I was incredibly blessed this cycle, but this outcome only came because I built a strong application that shared why I wanted to pursue medicine and my mission within it.
Published February 2023