“Or we step forward into the unknown and assume it will be brilliant.” ― Christina Yang

I want to start by providing the entire quote: “Whenever we think we know the future, even for a second, it changes. Sometimes the future changes quickly and completely. And we’re left only with the choice of what to do next. We can choose to be afraid of it, to stand there, trembling, not moving, assuming the worst that can happen. Or we step forward into the unknown and assume it will be brilliant.” ― Christina Yang  (hands down: best character from Grey’s Anatomy).

I am currently in a state of recovery. Those of you who watch Grey’s Anatomy know what I mean; Christina Yang left Seattle Grace, her person (Meredith), and the love of her life in an effort to advance her career at a developing medical research center in Switzerland. As an individual who loves Christina’s character (I respect her charisma, her intellect, and her resolve), I was sad to see this character exit the scene only ten seasons after I became a fan. I do have to say, her exit was perfectly orchestrated and the quote, which inspired this post, stuck with me. The future is both nerve-wracking and exciting. Yesterday, I shared some of the reasons why I am beyond excited to be an MD/MPH candidate at Tulane School of Medicine. It would be unfair to claim that I never had reservations. I have thought of myself as the East Coast type, born in the right city (NYC) but raised in the wrong state (Louisiana). And so, I applied to many East Coast medical schools in addition to many Southern schools, in an attempt to be closer home. Then, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted and now, I have faith that the decision to be closer to home is the right one.

Inspired by Z (whose blog 5 Year Journey: Medical Edition is worthy of a follow), I wanted to share with you the schools that made it on my application list. The order of these schools does not represent preference / internal-ranking. I have separated these schools on the basis of location. I’ve provided some details about what aspects of each program I appreciated and / or my status at these institutes.

East Coast Schools

(1) Harvard: Rejected pre-interview. 

(2) Yale: Does it make it extremely obvious that I am a nerd if I mention that one of the major draws to Yale is the Yale system as well as the thesis requirement? It probably does. I had an extremely strange interview day (I was interviewed by a faculty member known to ask many questions about research, but he focused on how I planned to have a work-life balance as a woman. Red. Flag. This was something I probably should have mentioned to my pre-health advisors.) but I appreciated the spirit of community at Yale. Received invitation to interview. Rejected post-interview. 

(3) Columbia: Absolutely amazing MD program. I was drawn by the attention to public/global health, the narrative medicine program, and the fact that Columbia is in New York City. Received invitation to interview. Waitlisted post-interview. 

(4) University of Pennsylvania: If I haven’t mentioned this already, I am extremely interested in pediatrics (pediatric infectious disease and pediatric oncology are particularly interesting to me). And so, UPenn was added to my list. Rejected pre-interview. 

(5) Johns Hopkins University: I was involved with a pre-health summit at Johns Hopkins when I was in high school. At this summit, a member of the MD admissions commit expressed why Johns Hopkins is a program to be considered by individuals who have a passion for public health, his words stuck with me and so I applied (regardless of my reservations about safety in Baltimore). Rejected pre-interview. 

(6) Georgetown: Rejected pre-interview. 

(7) New York University: The curriculum at NYU is quite unique and is an extreme draw. I’ll mention the curriculum of quite a few programs as you go through my list, but it is definitely worth looking at. Rejected pre-interview.

(8) Tufts: At some point in my life, I want to live in Boston. Tufts has an amazing curriculum, truly, go check it out! Rejected pre-interview.

(9) Boston University: I have to admit that the strength of the MPH program was a major draw for me as well as the location. Rejected pre-interview.

Midwest Schools

(1) University of Colorado at Denver: Okay, does Colorado count as the Midwest? The internet has demonstrated that this is a point of contention. I spent the summer of 2012 in Denver. I lived with three hip Yale students who were involved with the Yale CLIMB program. I did research at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. My experience made me aware of how strong the MD program is at the University of Colorado at Denver. I submitted only the primary. I chose not to submit the secondary. Withdrew.

(2) Washington University in St. Louis: I was accepted into WUSTL’s B.S/M.D program but chose to attend Princeton. I know! Many question that decision but I think, for me, it was good for me to attend a liberal arts institution such as Princeton to explore non-medical fields. My interview day was interesting in that one of my interviewers forgot about me (I know!) but more or less uneventful. Received invitation to interview. Waitlisted post-interview. 

(3) University of Chicago: Rejected pre-interview. 

(4) Case Western: I have a dear friend who attends Case Western School of Medicine. I know, that’s a ridiculous reason to apply to a school, but in truth: that is the only one I can provide. Accepted invitation to interview. Interview canceled due to weather. I chose not to reschedule. 

(5) University of Michigan: Rejected pre-interview.

Southern Schools

(1) Tulane: I already discussed the reasons why I love the MD program at Tulane. To re-interate some of these reasons: the global health focus, community service at the heart of the program, and the collaborative spirit. Received invitation to interview. Accepted post-interview. Accepted into MD/MPH program. 

(2) Wake Forest: One of the best interview days. It started at 10:00 AM! It ended relatively early. The interviews were more like speed-dating than anything. Wake Forest is in a quaint town, similar to my hometown, and has a very easy-going vibe. No MPH program, many students complete MPH coursework at UNC. Received invitation to interview. Accepted post-interview.

(3) Emory: Rejected pre-interview. 

(4) Baylor: I was accepted to Rice for the undergraduate program and was invited to interview for the B.S/M.D Rice-Baylor program. Although I chose to decline that invitation, Baylor has been a point of interest for quite some time. As a sophomore in college, I had the opportunity to shadow a Princeton alum who works at Texas Children’s Hospital. She spoke favorably about Baylor and these conversations were what led to my application. Rejected pre-interview.

(5) LSU in Shreveport: This school is actually one hour away from my hometown, which seems (now that I think about it) just a bit too close. Declined invitation to interview. 

(6) LSU in New Orleans: I submitted only the primary. I chose not to submit the secondary. Withdrew.

(7) Vanderbilt: Nashville is a fantastic city. I spent the summer at Nashville studying autobiographic creative fiction (such a transformative period!) which made me fall in love with the city. The curriculum at Vanderbilt is undergoing changes but it looks like it is heading in such a cool direction. Rejected post-interview. 

(8) Duke: If you haven’t heard about the third year at Duke, you need to familiar yourself! Duke has an interesting system in which students take classes only the first year and are on the hospital floors on the second year; the third year involves research and the fourth year is analogous to the fourth year are most medical school programs. Received invitation to interview. Rejected post-interview. MMI. 

West Coast Schools

(1) Stanford: Everyone knows that Stanford is amazing. After submission of my primary application, I did further research on how Stanford MD/MPH candidates orchestrate obtaining both degrees. Stanford does not have an MPH program (Stanford does offer concentrations for those in the MD program) and as I continued writing my applications, I realized how important it was for me to be well grounded in the public health discourse.  I submitted only the primary. I chose not to submit the secondary. Withdrew.


I think my East Coast / Southern bias is obvious in the list above. I do think that things have resolved themselves in the best possible way. I submitted 23 primary applications and 20 secondary applications (I withdrew from Stanford, LSU in New Orleans, and the University of Colorado at Denver). I submitted some of these applications on the later end (September for two of the schools; early October for Duke) which could have played a role. In my defense, transcript delays held up verification of my AMCAS primary. If you haven’t yet, request your transcripts now!

If you have questions about your application list or if you are interested in MD/MPH coursework, feel free to comment below or contact me via social media. I’m more than happy to help!

3 thoughts on ““Or we step forward into the unknown and assume it will be brilliant.” ― Christina Yang

  1. Hey! Congrats on Tulane, I’m applying this cycle to MD/mph programs and Emory is my top choice, but I’m applying to what will probably be 12 schools in total 🙂 hoping I’ll win the contest, it would be great if you could look over my personal statement!


    • Well, I hope Tulane is on that list! *cough cough* shameless plug *cough cough* I’ll announce winners on May the 29th! Feel free to get in touch (via the contact form) if you need any help with your school list.


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