Pacific by Pacific Northwest: Preparing for Med School

David Yecha '13 reveals his struggles and preparation for medical school. Also, check out the med school info session on April 17:

Name: David Yecha

Degree/Year: Chemistry/2013

School: Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences


Q: How have you prepared yourself for grad school? Where/How did you receive the help you did to get accepted?

I prepared myself for graduate school in a couple of different ways. The first was consistently taking the classes that best prepared me for medical school. For me it was less about having a perfect GPA and more about having a strong strength of schedule. I would commonly take two or three difficult science or math classes and a Spanish class. With my Spanish I wanted to be able to use it in the community and not just be skilled at academic Spanish so when I volunteered I sought out opportunities that allowed me to practice Spanish in the community because the Spanish spoken in the classroom is not always the same as the Spanish spoken locally. I also was involved in multiple clubs because graduate school takes up almost all of your time and in order to be successful at that level you need to practice being busy and having lots of things going on. It is less about being involved in a large number of clubs and more about being heavily involved in a few because anyone can join a club, it is much more difficult to be a leader.

Concerning my acceptance I received a lot of help from the career development center, specifically their HPE courses. They gave me direction in the steps to take for each of my undergraduate years, what to look for on a tour with their admissions counselors, help with writing a personal statement, and some practice interviews.

Q: Why Pacific Northwest University?

I chose to go to Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU) for a number of reasons. When I took my first tour there, I asked the admissions counselor what kind of students they were looking for and he told me that they were looking for students whose goal was to practice medicine in underserved/rural areas. That statement lined up with what I want to do as a doctor, take care of those who have the greatest need.

There are a few other special things about PNWU. They have multiple student-run clinics that are free to community members. Many of the patients served in the clinics are hispanic, and I want to care for hispanic patients when I am a doctor. The clinics allow me to practice medicinal Spanish throughout my time at PNWU and not lose the ability to speak a second language. PNWU also goes to great lengths to care for their students, here is an example. The school was planning to add another building to the campus to add more study space. The problem was the only place that the building could go was where there was currently a student garden. Instead of simply saying forget the garden or asking the students to move the plants, the university transplanted all of the student plants so that the students would not have to and they could begin construction on the new building.

Q: What has been your biggest struggle after graduation? How are you adjusting?

My biggest struggle after graduation has been finding ways to stay in contact with all of my friends who no longer live close by. It is easy when you are in school together because you see each other all the time, but after graduation, everyone goes their separate ways and so it is a lot more difficult to maintain those friendships. Facebook and texting helps, but it is not the same.

I am adjusting by working and then finding several things to keep my busy outside of work. I work 30 hours a week at a local elementary school and am very involved with my church. I still have time to exercise and meet up with friends, adjusting is not too hard. The biggest part is finding a job and then figuring out what to do with the rest of your time.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give your undergrad-self?

The best piece of advice I could give my undergrad-self is people are not valuable or special because they do well in class, have lots of friends, have several leadership positions, are really athletic, do hundreds of hours of community service, or any combination of those things. People are valuable and special simply because they exist and God says they are priceless. Treat people that way.

It is summed up well in a quote, "If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Q: What is the most important thing you have done to jump start your career?

It depends which career you are referring to. I am currently working as an instructional assistant at Fern Hill elementary. The most important thing I did to jump start my career as an instructional assistant is learning Spanish because I could not have been hired without Spanish. I use Spanish every day and frequently teach and discipline the children in Spanish.

The most important thing I have done to jump start my career as a physician and get accepted into medical school was determining what my strengths are/what was most important to me and then deciphering what activities/classes/service options matched up with those strengths and interests and focusing my time on those things. Do not do anything your heart is not in, it is just not worth your time. That statement is summed up well in one of my favorite quotes, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Howard Thurman

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your career?

What do I hope to accomplish in my career, I hope to practice medicine in a rural community where I can serve both Spanish and English speaking patients. To be a strong community member and take care of and treat people as if they were my own family members.

Posted by Brian O'Driscoll ( on Apr 11, 2014 at 2:00 PM

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