Osteopathic Medicine Success Stories

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Jeannette IlyevJI

Major: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Overall GPA: 3.86
Graduation Year: 2018

Which school are you attending?

Touro University California

What drew you to this particular health field?

As I took science classes in junior college, I discovered my passion for physiology. Observing physicians during volunteer hours, I realized I wanted to be at the forefront of a healthcare team. I wanted to solve idiosyncratic problems through comprehensive patient histories, diagnostic imaging, blood work, and more. The more I shadowed, the more enamored I became by that physicians are teachers, confidants, and scientist wrapped in one.

However, it wasn’t until late in my undergrad that I learned about osteopathic medicine. At first, I was wrapped up in the negative stereotypes projected by students. Furthermore, I was skeptical about the osteopathic manipulative medicine techniques.

However, after shadowing two osteopathic physicians, my perspective changed. I observed two passionate DO physicians invested in understanding their patients in a multidimensional way. Furthermore, I witnessed osteopathic manipulative medicine in action. For instance, I met a patient who was suffering from migraines on a nearly daily basis diminish these debilitating migraines to twice a month through the special skills of her DO physician.

In the end, I realized that the extra training osteopathic physicians receive simply equips them with a supplemental tool to help their patients.

Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?


1) When I transferred to UCD, I would have had to cram several courses into my first quarter and study for the MCAT while taking classes. I decided to take my time to insure I’d get good grades AND so I could study for the MCAT over the summer.

2) It took me three years to transfer to UCD, after which it took me two years to complete my degree. After five years of intense studying, I was ready for a break.

3) it allowed me to complete the overwhelming amount of secondaries sent by medical schools in my gap year with no other stressors, such as classes if I had applied straight thru.

In other words, I took the extra time to ensure my application would be the strongest it could be.

What UC Davis extracurriculars did you participate in?

UCD Pre-Health Conference
Joan Vitoria Memorial Clinic
Women in Science and Engineering Mentor
Cardio Thoracic Step Down Unit Volunteer

How many hours, on average, did you spend studying for your courses per week?


Did you use a test prep course?

Yes, Princeton Review.

What do you consider to have been the strengths in your application?

My application was a good representation of my interests and displayed my academic success. I also felt confident about my letter writers.

Did you apply nationally? If so, where?

Yes, I applied to schools across the country. I set personal priorities in a school and eliminated schools that didn’t meet my essential “requirements” to feel comfortable.

How did HPA help you achieve your goals?

As a first generation college student and immigrant, I felt HPA was critical in taking the rights steps at the right time. Furthermore, HPA taught me that the medical school process was going to take more than checking boxes like I believed in high school.

What advice would you like to share with others?

I found it is easy to get overwhelmed in pre-med curriculum, gaining extracurricular experiences, completing the application process, attaining my vision for the future, sticking to a timeline, and so forth. With that in mind, my advice would be to work goal by goal, focusing on the present step.

Kimberly ChongKimChong

Major: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Overall GPA: 3.47
Graduation Year: 2016

Which school are you attending?

I will be attending Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Fall of 2017.

What UC Davis extracurriculars did you participate in?

I was a sports medicine/performance lab intern at the UC Davis Sports Medicine Clinic for 2 years. I was an intern at a Gamete Biology Lab for 1 year. I volunteered at the Women’s Resources and Research Center for all 4 years. I volunteered at the Sutter Davis Hospital’s birthing center and emergency department for 1 year. I was the service coordinator for the Burmese Student Association for 1 year. 

How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?

I don’t really remember how many hours I spent studying for my courses (thank goodness), but it was definitely a lot!

Did you use a test prep course?

Yes, I used a Kaplan test prep course. I felt that the class itself focused mostly on test taking strategies, but what I found most helpful were the resources that they provided. I believe that the key to success on this test is practice, and they provide many practice tests and questions so that was great.

What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?

My GPA and MCAT score weren’t the best, but from freshman to senior year, my GPA consistently went up, which was probably a good sign for the admission committee. I would consider my extracurricular activities to be my strengths in my application especially my diverse experiences with underserved populations. Also, having strong letters of recommendation and personal statement/secondaries are very important because that’s your chance to show the admission committee who you are.

Did you apply nationally?

Yes, I applied to 36 schools across the United States.

What advice do you have for others?

Definitely study! Start getting ready for applications early (resume, letters of recommendation, personal statement, transcripts, etc.) so that you can apply earlier in the cycle. But most importantly, don’t give up if this is your passion. Honestly, I had a tough time in undergrad and with applications, but just know that you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because there are many resources out there and people willing to help. For me, it was Joanne, my friends, and my family that helped me throughout this process, and I am so thankful for all of their support. Lastly, try not to stress out too much – sometimes a little Netflix is good for the soul. Take things one at a time and enjoy the process because before you know it, you’ll be heading off to medical school. Best of luck to everyone, you got this!

Patricia MatusPatti Matus

Major: Global Disease Biology
Overall GPA: 3.3
Graduation Year: 2017

Which school are you attending?

Western University of Health Sciences

What drew you to this particular health field?

I've known I wanted to have a career in medicine for a very long time. I grew up in an underserved area, and I had a first-hand experience in seeing how critical is it for people to see a primary care physician. I want to go into pediatrics or family medicine, and I realized going to an osteopathic medical school would bring me to the same goal as an allopathic medical school would. After researching more about DOs, I realized how cool of a science osteopathic medicine is and how I could use it to really help people.

Did you take a gap year? If so, why?

Yes: being a transfer student, I knew I would be taking my MCAT my senior year, so I would be forced into taking a gap year. I was initially not thrilled about taking a gap year, but looking back, it was a great way for me to gain more clinical experience and make money. It really helped me decompress from the stresses of school, so now I'm excited to go back and tackle new challenges and take exams!

What UC Davis extracurriculars did you participate in?

I worked as a computer room consultant in Shields Library and was a student researcher in the Marco Lab on campus.

How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?


Did you use a test prep course?

Yes: I completed Kaplan's winter intensive program. I knew I wanted to take advantage of winter break since I scheduled my MCAt for January. It's a 5-week intensive program where you study for about 16 hours a day. While not for everyone, it fit into my schedule perfectly and got me the MCAT score I needed to get into medical school.

What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?

I have had over 5 years of clinical experience and over 6 years of working jobs that had a large requirement for customer service. These skills are something that I believe set me apart from the rest of the applicant pool.

Did you apply nationally?

Yes: DMU in Iowa, Touro University in New York, KCU in Missouri, and MUCOM in Indiana.

How did HPA help you achieve your goals?

I met with HPA a couple times to review my primary application and also join the mentor to medicine program, where I was matched with a medical student at UC Davis. The advisor helped me prepare my primary and secondary applications and gave me advice for interviews.

What advice do you have for others?

The advice I have for others is to believe in yourself. So many people along the way told me that with my GPA and MCAT, I would never be accepted into medical school. I worked in an office with another person who was applying to medical school, and there were numerous times where he told me he was surprised I had gotten a secondary from a school or even an interview. There were many times where I felt shaken and that those people were right-I didn't have the grades or the experience that admissions wanted. I chose to surround myself with positive people who wanted me to succeed instead of listen to people who didn't. Admission representatives were impressed at my ability to overcome difficult situations and with the way I presented myself to them. I explained that while my path was a bit unorthodox, it gave me a very unique set of skills that I believed would make me a better doctor. Obviously, I did something right.

The last thing I want to say is that the year you're applying will be very stressful. Start a habit that helps clear away your stress. For me, it was hot yoga. I found that the more I went, the less anxious I felt and the more productive I was. Regardless of the habit, pick something that you know you'll stick to. Have faith in yourself and know that everyone is rooting for you!