Student Insider: Farrah Fong

In our first of two Student Insiders featuring Farrah Fong, the blogger and now doctor(!) tells Evolvher how you, too, can prepare for–and survive–medical school!

Image courtesy of Farrah Fong

Image courtesy of Farrah Fong

Educational Background:

  • BS, Exercise Biology: University of California, Davis

  • BA, Music Performance (Piano): University of California, Davis

  • Master's of Biomedical Sciences: University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey (Piscataway), now Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, 2016: West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

Evolvher: How did you choose which schools you wanted to attend and which fields to study?

Farrah Fong: UC Davis was always my first choice for college—I felt right at home when I visited there. People were friendly, it had a great science program, and was semi-close to home, so I was ecstatic when I was accepted there! I’ve always loved animals, so in high school, I actually wanted to be a veterinarian (that was part of why UC Davis was my first-choice university!).

I was waffling between becoming a vet or a physician, but since I was accepted as a Biological Sciences major into UC Davis, and the prerequisites for both fields are very similar, I figured I’d have time in college to decide what I really wanted to go into. I ultimately decided that medical school was what I wanted most. I ended up switching majors from Biological Sciences to Exercise Biology because the required courses looked so interesting and fun! (One of my best life decisions!) I also decided early on to pursue a double major in Music Performance because I didn’t want to give up that part of my life, so I figured I’d do both! 

Choosing a grad school was a difficult decision for me because I was also accepted into a program that was located close to everyone and everything I loved. Ultimately, I decided to complete an accelerated Master’s program at UMDNJ—a post-bac program that offered research experience and the same (or comparable) courses as the ones we’d be encountering in medical school. It was a small program and the faculty were very supportive and really cared about our well-being and success. I’m really glad I chose to come here, and as a matter of fact, I liked it here so much that this is where I’ll be completing my residency!

I knew that I was interested in primary care before entering medical school, so I figured an osteopathic medical school would be the best choice in terms of preparing me for that. WVSOM became my first-choice medical school after I went there for my interview—people were very friendly and really seemed to care about the students and treat them like we were all family, and it was in a gorgeous town that was relatively free from distractions, so I figured it’d be perfect!

Evolvher: We know medical school is a big decision. What inspired you to become a doctor? 

Farrah Fong: During winter break of my freshman year, my family got sandwiched in a giant car accident that led to my grandmother being hospitalized, and ultimately, she never left. I spent my spring break in the hospital translating for her, but was overwhelmed by how helpless I was—I had no idea what was going on and what I could do, and I needed that to change. I applied for and was accepted into an internship at Paul Hom Asian Clinic, a student-run free clinic completely staffed by volunteers, and volunteered as a medical interpreter and patient advocate. My experiences there are what made me fall in love with Family Medicine, and volunteering there was easily one of my most valuable experiences in college (and really just life in general). I would love to return to that clinic someday as a volunteer physician!

Evolvher: How did you find the motivation to push through with the MCAT and medical school?

Farrah Fong: One of the things I will always advocate for—in school and for life in general—is to find a balance. The MCAT is definitely not a fun exam—I viewed it as a necessary evil. I’m not entirely sure I would recommend what I did, because I actually spent the two weeks before my exam on a Mediterranean cruise. I brought all my study material with me, so my schedule was basically waking up early in the morning to study, go to the gym, eat, study, explore a new country, eat, study, gym, rinse and repeat. It definitely made for awesome built-in breaks though, which are crucial for giving your brain a break!

As for medical school, just remember to keep your eye on the prize. Things will get tough, but keep on trucking! Don’t forget what made you decide to go into medicine, and just keep that in mind when you feel like giving up. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people and don’t let negative self-talk get you down. What also really helped me was maintaining a life outside of medical school—I volunteered at animal rescues (it’s hard to be stressed out when you’re cuddling cats and walking dogs) and within the local community and also kept up a good number of my favorite hobbies.

Image courtesy of Farrah Fong

Image courtesy of Farrah Fong