Interviewing Gisele Arrey, MD

By pearl - July 27, 2018

Coming from a different culture and going to medical school in the US can be challenging. Find out how Gisele Arrey - a resident physician at Brown University- was able to make it through medical school and get matched to her first choice.

Gisele moved to the US in 2007 after majoring in economics in her hometown in Douala, Cameroon. She decided to start all over, from community college to achieving her longtime dream of becoming a medical doctor. Here is my interview with "Dr. Arrey".

Tips on Getting into Med school

  • Alongside premed, pick the right major. One you are passionate about, can be the best at and as a result get good grades. "YOUR GPA MATTERS".
  • Secondly, if you don't have much familiarity with Standardized testing, Invest in an MCAT prep class. It was totally worth the money as it drastically improved my scores.
  • Then Apply to a wide variety of schools including safe choices and the big shots like Harvard.
  • Lastly, once in medical school “focus more on actually learning” and not your grades. I strongly believe exams and grades are not the main determinants of who becomes an amazing well-rounded doctor.

Here are some suggestions of experiences that will expose you to clinical medicine: shadow a doctor, work as a nursing assistant or scribe; maybe volunteer in a nursing home, a hospice care agency or hospital. These experiences will give you a little idea of what it is like to work with patients and could also help your medical school application #winwin.

Huddles are Part of the Process

Every step had its own obstacles. I did Advance level science in Cameroon so undergraduate was a breeze. Then came the Mighty MCAT. That is still one of the hardest tests I have ever taken and the prep class totally helped... Then came medical school. I started with the superficial knowledge that it was going to be tough but nothing could have prepared me for the reality I faced. The insane bulk of material we hard to absorb, the horrendous study hours and the extraordinary expectations! Coffee was my best friend. By the end of 3rd year, my brain was fried! Now I just started residency and the hours are tough; I work 12-14hr a day, 6 days a week. Some days are busier than others, some months are lighter but guess what? I’d rather this than medical school! (Big laugh).

Race and Culture Shock
Biggest culture shock was in my third year. I am usually not very chatty, which in my culture is considered a good quality. But I felt completely misunderstood; like my quietness came across as “uninterested” which made me super anxious because “Of course I was interested”.

There were also some situations where I felt underestimated, or felt like I had to prove myself. Sometimes I felt like people overreacted more when I made mistakes than when my peers made similar or worst mistakes.

Knowing When to Ask for Help
Seek help! Especially when studying for board exams. Lucky for me, UMass School of Medicine has a lot of resources. One of the most valuable skills I acquired was effective communication; Constructive confrontations -without looking like the “Angry Black Woman”! I learned to stand up for yourself in a professional manner.
Make sure you have your tribe of friends and family, you will definitely need a support system.

Doctors Have Hobbies Too!
I love watching TV shows and movies. Okay, I'll admit a little CNN especially lately. I can watch TV all day men.😊 I love sitting at the beach (notice I said sitting!...yes far from the water haha). I love spending time with my family! My son & husband. I always look forward to those holidays when we all meet, eat and talk into the night and days blend in with nights and time just doesn’t matter. I miss my sisters. ( Pearl: Aww miss you more 😊).

Life After Med School
I work an insane number of hours a day but guess what, I am finally getting paid (big grin). I had a night from hell the other day! Our patient list went from 5 increased to 16 patients in the blink of an eye! It was crazy but dude, I will pick that over going back to Med school any day. No amount of money you can pay me to go back....well maybe I shouldn't say that. 😍😅😅😅

Now I will like to thank Gisele for taking the time off her super busy schedule to interview with us. If there is anything you will like to ask Gisele, please leave a comment. She has promised to join in the comments and reply back.

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