Podcast #60 Show Notes: An Interview with Ryan Gray from Medical School Headquarters
Dr. Gray, from Medical School Headquarters, and I discuss relevant premed topics in this episode. Dr. Gray desires to guide medical school applicants through the admissions process and simplify the process. We also discuss our time in the military, going through the military match, and the pros and cons of using military service to pay for medical school. You can listen to the podcast here or it is available via the traditional podcast outlets, ITunes, Overcast, Acast, Stitcher, Google Play. Or ask Alexa to play it for you. Enjoy!
Podcast # 60 Sponsor
[00:00:18] Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing for doctors, offering fixed rates as low as 3.25% APR. Hundreds of you check your rate with Splash each month, and it only takes minutes to do so! They’re one of the few companies that offers a great resident and fellow product as well, offering low rates and deferred payments for up to 84 months. They also don’t charge any application or origination fees and have no prepayment penalties, meaning you maintain your payment flexibility. Splash’s new lower rates can save doctors tens of thousands of dollars over the life of their loans. Click here today to get your rate in minutes!
Quote of the Day
[00:01:02] Money is of value for what it buys, and in love, it buys time, place, intimacy, comfort and a private corner alone. – Mae West
[00:01:52] Dr. Gray tells us about his upbringing and education.
[00:04:46] Dr. Gray was diagnosed with MS while working as a flight surgeon in the Air Force. We talk about how that impacted his life.
[00:07:29] Both Dr Gray and I spent time serving in the military. Among those with an HPSP commitment or went to USUHS or have other military commitments from ROTC or something, there is a big fear of the military match and being told you cannot do the specialty you want to do. This happened to Dr. Gray. We discuss what that was like and what it was like being being a GMO and a flight surgeon.
[00:12:21] We discuss Medical School HQ. What inspired him to start that?
[00:15:05] Is this a labor of love for him or a business or both?
[00:16:54] At Medical School HQ, Dr. Gray does premed advising, interview prep, and some one on one application prep and personal statement editing. We discuss the four podcasts he puts out each week and whether he has plans to monetize them or keep them completely informational.
[00:20:24] The podcasts are: The Premeds Years, the Old Premeds Podcast, the podcast, Specialty Stories, and Asked Dr. Gray. which is a pseudo daily podcast on Facebook Live. We talk about how someone can tell which podcast they should be listening to.
[00:23:45] We discuss the forum on the Medical School HQ site.
[00:24:07] I ask Dr. Gray, what is his message for an undergrad who thinks medicine might be a good career. What kind of advice does he have for these people?
[00:25:20] And for people who are set on medicine, who are going to do what they can to get into medical school. What advice does he give to them?
[00:27:06] The biggest question any premed has is, ” how can I get into medical school.” We discuss how that has changed in the last 10 or 20 years.
[00:29:15] What advice does he have for a non-traditional applicant?
[00:30:11] Dr. Gray is almost unabashedly positive about a career in medicine. We discuss why he feels that way.
[00:32:36] We discussed why people should listen to him about medicine and how to get into medical school even if he is not currently practicing medicine.
[00:34:22] We discuss what advice he would give to a premed with no family resources, no working spouse, no rich parents to assist them in paying for medical school.
[00:36:14] We talk about military medicine and some of the various military options to pay for medical school and the pluses and minuses. And whether it makes sense to go into the military to pay for medical school when you have no real desire to serve in the military.
[00:40:35] Dr. Gray shares some of the biggest misunderstandings about premeds, medical school, and a career in medicine that he sees in his work.
Intro: [00:00:00] This is the white coat investor podcast where we help those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street. We’ve been helping doctors and other high income professionals stop doing dumb things with their money since 2011. Here’s your host Dr. Jim Dahle.
WCI: [00:00:18] Welcome to podcast number 60, an interview with Ryan Gray. This podcast is sponsored by Splash financial a leader in student loan refinancing for doctors. Offering fixed rates as low as three point twenty five percent APR. Hundreds of you check your rate splash each month and it only takes a few minutes to do so. They’re one of the few companies that operate a great resident fellow product as well, offering low rates and deferred payments for up to 80 for months. They also don’t charge any application origination fees and have no prepayment penalties meaning you maintain your payment flexibility. Splash’s new lower rates can save doctors tens of thousands of dollars over the life of their loans. Go to WWW dot white coat investor dot com slash splash financial today to get your rate in minutes.
WCI: [00:01:02] Our quote of the day today comes from Mae West who said money is of value for what it buys and in love it buys time, place, intimacy, comfort, and a private corner alone.
WCI: [00:01:13] All right. Today we have a special guest on the podcast we have Ryan Gray M.D. of medical school H. Q. I had the opportunity to meet Ryan a few months ago at the FinCon conference which is, for those who aren’t aware of it, is kind of a conference for those trying to professionally blog and podcast and videocast and do those kinds of things.
WCI: [00:01:36] And we had a dinner where we kind of had the physicians who are in this space get together and meet each other face to face. So it is a pleasure to actually meet Ryan. I think he’s doing some wonderful work there and talk about in the podcast today. Welcome to the White co-investor podcast.
Ryan Gray: [00:01:50] Jim thanks for having me.
WCI: [00:01:52] Well let’s start with getting our listeners to know a little bit more about you. Can you tell us about your upbringing and education?
Ryan Gray: [00:01:58] So I grew up in the Los Angeles area. The little thing called the Rodney King riots happened and moved to Florida and spent my time there. I thought I was going to be a professional baseball player and hurt my shoulder and was introduced to physical therapy and a lot of training, I thought this is kind of cool like if I if I can’t be a professional baseball player myself I’ll help other people do what they want and so I thought I was going to be a physical therapist. And then I dissected a cat in high school, poor Mr Biggelsworth. And I was hooked. I was like OK I need to cut people this is what I want to do. So I married those two together and went to University of Florida as a premed exercise physiology major with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon and I had terrible premed advising at University of Florida when I went in and still is one of the largest colleges here in the U.S. and my premed adviser met with me my sophomore year and said you know what you shouldn’t apply to medical school you won’t get in.
Ryan Gray: [00:02:59] Not because of my grades or anything else because I was a white male. And so she racially profiled me unfortunately and I never went back to her and kind of tried to figure everything out on my own and didn’t get into medical school the first time figured out why reapplied and got in my second time. I went to New York Medical College in Valhalla New York and hated it. I hated med school for a while. I’d been out of school for a couple of years and forgot how to be a student. And I only wanted to cut people. I’m sitting here learning biochemistry and histology and I’m just like I just want to put people back together. I didn’t want to be a carpenter and what wasn’t very happy my first couple of years until we finally got to the wards and loved it from there on out and to pay for medical school I went to Uncle Sam and went to the Air Force recruiter and I said hey pay for med school for me. And so I signed up for an HPSP scholarship which meant when it came time to match the Air Force had the power to tell me no which they did to orthopedics. And so I did a transitional internship year up in Boston and then went active duty. Shortly after that I spent a couple of years in Dover, Delaware and a couple of years up in Boston at Hanscom as a as a general medical officer flight surgeon.
Ryan Gray: [00:04:22] I had a blast doing that was unfortunately diagnosed with M.S. in 2014 four years into my active duty career. And they wouldn’t let me fly anymore which is one of the best parts of being a flight surgeon one of the most important parts of being a flight surgeon. That was kind of my first foot out the door in the the medical world in the Air Force world. So I’ll stop there and let you go where you want to go.
WCI: [00:04:46] I think that was just getting interesting. I want to keep going right where you were. I mean you were diagnosed with a serious illness. Was that disabling for you? Did that prevent you from practicing medicine at all? So how did that impact your life? I just I ran a blog post this morning. We’re not recording this obviously the day it’s you guys are hearing it but I ran a blog post this morning about military docs and disability insurance and how difficult it is to get any sort of disability coverage, so can you speak a little bit to that as well?
Ryan Gray: [00:05:17] Oh I didn’t have any disability coverage and I’ve been lucky that my disease burden hasn’t been anything more than what it was originally. At this point We’re questioning is it really M.S. or is it just some random viral attack or something. I definitely have some deep myelination in my spinal cord and stuff but I had I had facial symptoms. I never had the stereotypical optic neuritis and blindness and stuff. No sensory error, no motor issues. So I’ve been fine from a from a disease burden standpoint from a health standpoint. I think where we were at the time and you have to preface this with my wife is a neurologist and so she’s in her neurology training.
Ryan Gray: [00:06:04] She was out of her training at that point and we are deciding what to do next. I’m going to get out of the military what do I do next? And I had this medical school headquarters thing on the side. But do I want to continue practicing and should I go back and do a residency. Do I go back and do ortho which is what my goal always was to be an orthopedic surgeon or do I maybe do like ortho light do PM&R and the PM&R docs are gonna be mad that I say that but it’s PM&R kind of like nonsurgical ortho and and we had that discussion and it came down to at that point in time this was still a relatively new diagnosis we didn’t know what my disease burden was going to be, what the course of it was going to be. And my wife being a neurologist was like look if you go back into ortho or you go you go do an ortho residency it’s five years 100 hours a week in a hospital. Guess what causes your disease burden to be worse. Stress and lack of sleep and poor eating and everything else which is what residency is all about. And same thing for any residency. And so I think with that fear if you want to call it fear with that fear of what could be I we decided to kind of go the entrepreneurial route and continue building what I thought was just going to be a fun little side project with medical school headquarters helping premeds get into med school.
WCI: [00:07:29] And so we’re going to get into medical school headquarters. I want to dive a little deeper into your time in the military. Most regular listeners know I spent some time in the military as well. Among those with an HPSP commitment and even those who went to USUHS or you know have other military commitments from ROTC or something. There is this big fear of get into the military match and being told You can’t do the specialty you want to do, you’re going to get stuck because of GMO, you’re going to get stuck as a flight surgeon et cetera. Can you talk about that? And as someone who you know for lack of a better word got hosed in the match can you talk about how that affected you and your life and whether you thought that was bad in the end. Now that you’re on the other side of it and what it was like being being a GMO and a flight surgeon?
Ryan Gray: [00:08:20] In the grand scheme of things I’m glad. I wouldn’t be talking to you right now if if I didn’t go the route that I went. And so I have no regrets doing what I did. I’m a huge advocate evangelists whatever for HPSP for students but I think there needs to be more education and more awareness around that fact the fact that the military can tell you no. The Army, Navy, Air Force can tell you no to your desired specialty. They can’t force you into a specialty that you don’t want to do but they can tell you no and you can go be a GMO flight doc or GMO family practice doc out there. I loved being a flight surgeon.
Ryan Gray: [00:09:08] I was getting ready and planning on making it a career. It was going to be hard for my wife because she’s a doc and to be able to, the need to move around a bunch and have her credentials change and licensing change and all that stuff was going to be a pain. But I loved it. It was I’m one of the weird people that likes administration. And so my last three years I was one of the c suiters would be in the normal world but I really liked that side of things. I liked management. I liked the patient population as a flight surgeon. You’re dealing with with healthy people. Since you’re diagnosed with M.S. You can’t fly anymore so I wouldn’t see them as soon as you’re diagnosed with diabetes etc. Like they wouldn’t they wouldn’t be flyers I didn’t have to deal with it for sure.
WCI: [00:09:54] It’s like when you’re deployed and yet nobody’s getting shot at, nobody has anything.
Ryan Gray: [00:09:58] Exactly. And from my original goal of being an Ortho pod right that’s that’s the orthropods dream depending on what you want to do. I want to deal with athletes and put them back to their sport. And so being a flight Doc was very very similar to that and I really enjoyed it. And so I tell everybody it’s like if you are okay not having control of where you’re living and being ok delaying the specialty that you want to do like there’s nothing better than being a flight doc. I’ve traveled the world I’ve flown in F16 and everybody like I have awesome selfies of me in the back of F16 and I’ve flown it. And everybody wants to see those pictures and those are stories that that most physicians will never have.
WCI: [00:10:43] There’s definitely a lot of unique things you can do in the military for sure. You know when I signed on for HPSP I was not aware of the military match and how it worked. I think I figured it out sometime in my first or second year of medical school. I’m hoping that with the internet being a little more prominent now that that is not an issue for people signing up for HPSP. Do you think there are still people signing up that we don’t know about the military match?
Ryan Gray: [00:11:09] Oh yeah. Oh yeah unfortunately. And that is everything. I answer the same the same five questions over and over and over and over again people are just lazy inherently and they’d rather e-mail you and ask you versus do a quick google search. And I always say like you could have gotten that answer a lot faster if you google it. And so I think people rely on and unfortunately rely on the recruiters to tell them what the deal is and the recruiters unfortunately are stereotypically don’t tell the truth and they don’t.
WCI: [00:11:41] You know I talk all the time about the conflicts of interest of financial advisers those pale in comparison to the conflicts of interest for military recruiters.
Ryan Gray: [00:11:50] Huge! I’ll talk to students and they’ll they’ll tell me like their recruiter told me I can do any specialty I want. No. Well you can apply to any specialty you want. And they say yeah and if I don’t get a military specialty then I can go in the civilian world and do that.
Ryan Gray: [00:12:05] And I’m like Well yes if. Right. And but. So they just the recruiters just aren’t completely transparent with the process. And my goal with everything that I do is to be as transparent as possible.
WCI: [00:12:21] I’m not even sure if it’s dishonesty among the recruiters so much as it is the fact that they just don’t know. You know they haven’t been to college, they haven’t been to medical school, they haven’t been in residency, they’ve never been a practicing doc. They don’t understand the significance on your career of not matching which is a very real risk in the military, in emergency medicine, the year I applied and that’s all year and service and special specific but the year I applied to emergency medicine there was a 50 percent match rate and that included deferrals into the civilian match. I mean that’s like trying to get into dermatology in the civilian match. You know it’s just a very competitive match. So I think a lot of people just don’t realize when they sign up. Let’s move on to Medical School HQ. What inspired you to start that?
Ryan Gray: [00:13:05] I’ve always been kind of entrepreneurial. Way back in the day I tried to start a wholesale business like when I was in high school buying buying stuff wholesale and selling it on eBay and stuff. And then in an undergrad in medical school I’m a self-taught computer programmer so I wrote software and sold it to a company During my internship year. So I’ve always been a builder of things and when I started my active active duty commitments I was a geo bachelor, geographically separated bachelor, my my wife was in Boston doing her residency. I was in Dover Dover Delaware doing my my active duty stuff. And so I had lots of time at night and I started listening to podcasts and getting into that world and I said and really one of the biggest triggers of it was a young airman came and was like hey Dr. Gray like what’s it like to go to medical school. How do I get into medical school I’m thinking I’m interested in, what should I do? And I sat with them for an hour and a half in my office and talked about it. I really liked talking about this stuff. And I of course remembered my premed path and terrible premed advising and I I knew of student doctor network and the kind of bad advice that was out there and so I was like I’m going to start a website and put real articles up and try to interview deans of admissions and talk to the real sources instead of just talking about my journey. I’m going to go out and hear other people’s journeys and aggregate all that information and go talk to the experts. So it was really the impetus behind it and it was like I said I was going to be a fun little side project. I started it in March of 2012 and then realized that I wanted to start a podcast too and they started that the end of 2012 and once I started the podcast, Kind of the writing side the article publishing side of things, kind of died off and I’ve just been podcasting. Two hundred and eighty nine straight weeks now as we record this for the premed years. My main podcast.
WCI: [00:15:05] It’s interesting you got kind of out ahead of the curve of podcasting there’s been this trend I think in the you know online information infopreneur world of, moving from blogging to podcasts and maybe even now transition a little bit to videocast but you got way out ahead of that whereas I’m kind of behind the curve on that part, I’m podcasting very late in our efforts here as far as that goes. Is this is this a labor of love for you or a business or both?
Ryan Gray: [00:15:36] It is both. So I started it in 2012. I didn’t take money out of it until this year until January 2018. So it’s been a very very big labor of love all of my decision making that the algorithm that I’ve gone down at least for the first couple of years while I was still in the air force it was all about just providing value for the audience. And when I left active duty and went full time with it my wife as a neurologist’s working at a good organization getting good pay she covered the bills I didn’t have to make money. And so again all of my decision making was and still is around what can I add. What can I do next to provide value. Not the question that most people who are starting out in this world the question that they ask themselves is how can I make money right now.
Ryan Gray: [00:16:37] And so I think because of that because it’s been a labor of love I think it’s grown to the level that it’s grown because there’s a lot of authenticity behind what I’m doing and I think my audience realizes that I’m not just out there to make a quick buck off of them.
WCI: [00:16:54] So I mean what is the business here. I Look at your Web site here. Medical School HQ dot net and it looks like you do some premed advising, you do some interview prep, and some one on one application prep and personal statement editing. Is that is that essentially what the businesses is?
Ryan Gray: [00:17:13] That’s the bulk of it right now. And that’s unfortunately all one on one time for the most part. I have a digital products and other like I have a mock interview platform that I think is amazing platform that I don’t really advertise or promote very well because I’m too busy with my my four podcasts a week and everything else that I’m doing to really get everything else streamlined behind it. But right now it’s a lot of that consulting, mostly nontraditional students, so students who are changing careers and don’t have a premed adviser. They seem to find me and reach out to me and the majority of my audience on my podcasts are nontraditional students.
WCI: [00:17:57] Now you have I mean you get the podcasts have you monetize those? Are there ads on the podcasts or are they just completely informational?
Ryan Gray: [00:18:04] They are for the most part completely informational. So I have a kind of an interesting setup so when I started it was just the one podcasts and then I went to a conference podcast movement kind of similar to different different niche.
Ryan Gray: [00:18:21] And I listened to NPR and WNYC and listened to how they cross promote shows and I left that in 2015. This was right when I went full time entrepreneur and I said I need more podcasts so I went to an organization called Old Premeds which is strictly for non-traditional premed students. I said hey you have a forum on your website. Let’s answer questions, right, you have the content ready. Let’s take a question and answer on a podcast. I now own that website and have kind of rolled that into medical school headquarters. I went to an Mcat test prep company and I said hey you have content, you have queue banks, you have tests. Lets answer questions on a podcast. And so I’ve monetized in in one way with the test prep company. I’m a big affiliate of theirs and if you google promo code for their company like I’m number one. And so that has skyrocketed my affiliate commissions with them which is awesome. But other than that I have some random advertising like recently. A new university a new medical school opened up and they reached out to me which I was flattered. They said hey you’re big in this space. We want to get the word out that we’re opening and accepting applications and so I was kind of sponsored content where I did a podcast episode with them and I did some e-mails and some some social media posts and then they reached out to me again recently to do that some more. It’s something that I don’t do enough.
Ryan Gray: [00:19:44] I’m actually very envious of your stuff and how well you do that mean my my website gets 130-140000 visits a month and I have a strong e-mail list of 10000 people and great social media presence and I don’t advertise and monetize those products separately. I could just advertise my own stuff which is kind of been my thinking all along as to why I don’t do other advertising but I don’t see why there’s a reason to do one or the other.
WCI: [00:20:15] Let’s talk about the stuff on here that’s basically free to anybody including the listeners of this podcast. You have six podcasts right.
Ryan Gray: [00:20:24] Yeah five active ones five active ones and then one that was started prematurely. It was for USMLE company that I was going to do it with kind of backed out at the last minute. So I have the meded media network. I have The premeds years, the old premeds podcast, the podcasts specialty stories and then I have asked Dr. Gray which is a pseudo daily podcast as well. And then I have the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine is on my network and that’s a cross promotional thing. I’m in talks with an application service, one of the big application services for medical school. They have a podcast and there were in talks about them joining my network. Again it just has a cross promotional thing. So lots of podcasts on the network and always looking to add more.
WCI: [00:21:13] So how does somebody tell which podcast they should be listening to. I mean who’s the premed years for?
Ryan Gray: [00:21:18] If your premed it’s it’s everything premed right. Everything from applications to Mcat to general medical discussions. Every every premed should be listening to the Premed years.
WCI: [00:21:33] How about the mcat podcasts? When do you listen to that, while you’re studying for the mcat?
Ryan Gray: [00:21:38] Yes studying for it, before you’re studying for it. If you haven’t taken the mcat yet or you’re in the process of retaking it that is for you.
WCI: [00:21:47] How about the old premeds podcast How old do you have to be to get some value out of this?
Ryan Gray: [00:21:52] That is the question right. It’s always like that. Not the best branding. old premed while I am not old just nontraditional.Yeah its for you. The old premed podcast is for anybody non-traditional and the majority of people asking questions on there are in their 20s and 30s saying hey I’m I’m changing careers or Hey I just graduated undergrad but I was a business major and I finally realized I want to be a doctor. Now what? What do I do to to get to where I want to go?
WCI: [00:22:20] How about especially stories. Who’s that for that’s for?
Ryan Gray: [00:22:23] That’s for everybody. It’s funny. I’ve had the most random people reach out to me who listen to specialty or specialty stories, nonmedical peoplem admin people at hospitals going, I listen to specialty stories, it’s amazing to hear about all these different stories and all these different different specialties who I interact with everyday. I didn’t know anything about their job. So that’s kind of premeds to medical students and anybody else who’s just interested in medicine.
WCI: [00:22:48] So those four are all weekly podcast right?
Ryan Gray: [00:22:51] They are a weekly. Specialty stories is the one podcast that I have not been able to keep up every week. The other three I’ve done every week since I’ve started them.
WCI: [00:22:59] And then what’s the different between those and the Ask Dr. Gray one?
Ryan Gray: [00:23:05] The ask Dr. Gray one is actually a Facebook Live that I do. So I go on Facebook live when I’m home in my studio and my original format for that was to take an interesting discussion that I had with a call with a student or something that came up in my Facebook group and then answer it on the podcast and talk about it and then interact and answer questions that came in through comments and I changed that recently to actually having a live call with a student so it’s almost like a 15 minute, 10-15 minute coaching call with a student. They are calling and asking a question saying hey here’s what I’m struggling with. What do you suggest. And I’m recording that for Facebook Live and then putting that out as a podcast.
WCI: [00:23:45] Very cool. You also look like you have a forum up there on the site.
Ryan Gray: [00:23:48] And finally put a forum out there yup.
WCI: [00:23:51] One part of it is much bigger than the rest.
Ryan Gray: [00:23:54] The nontraditional side is pretty big. Yeah yeah and that’s because it was that that was the old old premeds forum. So I shut down the separate website for old premeds last year and rolled that into my site.
WCI: [00:24:07] And you can you can tell that one part’s much much bigger than everything else there. Very cool. Well let me ask you a few other questions here. What is your message for an undergrad who thinks medicine might be a good career. Just somebody that’s kind of has some interest. You know it almost seemed when I was a freshman in college that half my dorm was interested in going to medical school. What kind of advice do you have for those people?
Ryan Gray: [00:24:30] Keep exploring keep exploring because I think a lot of a lot of early students there either are enamored with the their doctors, right. The typical story of my doctor saved me and I want to be like him or her. There they see the lifestyle of a physician. Maybe there’s a physician living outside of his or her means in the neighborhood and they are all I want to drive a Mercedes like that doctor or they like Grey’s Anatomy or whatever the TV show of the day is and medicine is hard and medicine sucks in a lot of ways. But if it’s what you’re supposed to do after you’ve explored it and ask the right questions and gone in and been around patients and been around physicians and can see that it’s right for you then then keep going full steam ahead.
WCI: [00:25:20] And how about somebody maybe a little further on they’ve decided OK medicine is my thing. I’m a I’m a sophomore I’m a junior. You know I’m set on medicine. I’m going to do what I can to get into medical school. What advice do you give to them?
Ryan Gray: [00:25:35] Keep exploring. Yeah. Consistency is important. So a lot of students I see. They’ll they’ll apply to medical school and they won’t get in or look at their application. While why you haven’t shadowed in like three years. Well I got 100 hours My freshman year I didn’t think I needed anymore.
Ryan Gray: [00:25:53] What you’re telling to the admissions committee is you just weren’t that excited to be around physicians to spend time around them. So keep exploring, keep asking questions, keep doing all of that and know that the mcat is super important and know that you don’t have to be perfect. I think too many students try to be perfect and too many people give up on their dream because they get a C in organic chemistry and they’re premed adviser tells them there’s no way they can get into med school now.
WCI: [00:26:20] You know the premed advisor at my undergraduate had that reputation of telling people they can’t do it to the point where there were a lot of people who I think went to medical school just to prove them wrong. Yeah I’m not even sure they’re interested in medicine really they just want to prove him wrong that they could do it.
Ryan Gray: [00:26:35] So I have I have a podcast I did it’s titled something along the lines of your premed adviser isn’t there to tell you No. Or something like that. And I’ve had a couple of premed advisers reach out to me and say thank you for that episode. I’m like thank God you’re not mad at me. And too many premed advisers out there think that they are the gatekeeper and they’re not.t They’re not the gatekeeper. The admissions committee are the gatekeepers. But the premed advisor is there to help you figure out the path that you need to take not not tell you no.
WCI: [00:27:06] The biggest question any premed has is how can I get into medical school. Has that changed in the last 10 or 20 years? Is it really the same thing we were doing 15 years ago to try to get into medical school or is it different now?
Ryan Gray: [00:27:19] You know it’s funny I look at the students who I work with now. There’s no way I would get into med school like the things that kids are doing these days quote unquote kids that they’re doing. It’s amazing. It’s phenomenal what they’re doing the resource the resources that they have available to them. In the grand scheme of things they’re doing the same things right. They’re shadowing they’re getting clinical experience they’re being good human beings they’re getting good grades and good Mcat scores. All of that is the same. I think the difference is that back in back in the day when we got into med school it was a little bit more stat heavy and less everything else and now it’s who are you as a person this quote unquote holistic review of applications they want to see that you’ve lived a life. There’s the age skewing a little bit higher now because just nontraditional students or students who have taken a gap year or two are bringing a little bit more to the table for med schools.
WCI: [00:28:14] Do you worry that that focus on holistic you know the entire picture of the person is leading to problems down the road of people that can’t hack it academically that then have trouble passing their board exams, that have trouble becoming board certified down the road?
Ryan Gray: [00:28:33] I don’t think so because there’s still some minimum requirements right there. They’re not accepting somebody with a 2.5 GPA in a 10 percentile mcat score. You still have to maintain some semblance of academic rigor in your undergrad and mcat scores. So that still has to be there but you don’t need to get maybe a 90 percentile mcat, they’ll settle for an eightieth percentile. Right. So it’s going down a little bit. They’re more open to looking at more people. So obviously that the biggest determinant is what are patient outcomes in the future. And that’s just too hard of a study to figure out. But that would be the gold standard.
WCI: [00:29:15] Yeah that one is never going to happen I don’t think. Yeah. So what advice do you have for a non-traditional applicant?
Ryan Gray: [00:29:21] Oh have fun go out there and figure out what you want to do. I think a lot of non-traditional applicants think that they are at a disadvantage because of their nontraditional path and it’s couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth. They because of their nontraditional journey because they’ve spent time outside of school they have assets that they can bring to a class. And when a medical school admissions committee is looking at who they want to accept they’re looking at building a small little community of 100 people 200 people whatever the class sizes and they want people from all walks of life to be part of that community because that’s what shows how students flourish in a in a school.
WCI: [00:30:03] Now you kind of strike me as perhaps the most positive person about a career in medicine of anyone I’ve ever met.
Ryan Gray: [00:30:10] But I did say it sucked earlier.
WCI: [00:30:11] And you did. You did. I was actually surprised to hear. But premeds they run into docs all the time who are warning them away from medicine. They’re hearing horror stories about increasing student loan burdens, increasing hassles, decreasing incomes. Why are you so almost unabashedly positive about a career in medicine by comparison?
Ryan Gray: [00:30:30] Yeah there are people out there that like are jumping on the Physician suicide train and obviously it’s at a higher rate than other fields in the general population. I think there’s a lot of fear mongering and that’s obviously what bleeds leads in the news world. Medicine has its issues are that our healthcare system in this country is terrible. Our our our I think our training is pretty weird with waking up at 5 o’clock 4 o’clock 3 o’clock in the morning to go around on patients and wake them up. Wait. Don’t you know that sleep is good for healing? At the end of the day though medicine is about that connection with the patients and that will never change ever. Right. It may change in some respects with our knowledge base and what we have to know. But that one on one empathy and that relationship that you’re building with the patients will never change because a patient will never want to interact with a computer just to go down an algorithm with a computer. They’ll be perfectly fine talking to you and then you interacting with that computer to figure out a diagnosis and what the next steps are. But what happens behind that closed door no matter what the insurance system looks like, what our health care system looks like, no matter who the administration is, no matter what setting you’re in. What happens behind that closed door is one of the most precious things an end. What drew me to medicine. I mean I always joke that I wanted to cut people but but really it’s that connection with the patient and being there for them and it’s super cliche as to why people want to be physicians. But it’s it’s an amazing relationship that you have with people. And and that’s why unabashedly pro pro medicine. Yes I am completely transparent that there are a lot of issues. I don’t try to sugarcoat those. But I still think it’s an amazing career. If, it’s a big if, if you are doing it for the right reasons.
WCI: [00:32:36] You know it’s interesting. I had Dike Drummond, I don’t know if you know who he it, he does a lot of talking about burnout. He came and spoke to our physician group in a lot of my partners are like why is somebody who isn’t practicing anymore teaching us about burnout? Why, Why should we believe him at all? So I’m going to kind of ask you the same question, Why should people listen to you about medicine and how to get into medical school if you’re not currently practicing medicine?
Ryan Gray: [00:33:03] Well I don’t talk about medicine really, on my podcast I talk about how to get in med school and so you don’t need to practice medicine. I’ve been through the process but my goal from day one I mentioned that I never wanted to talk about me and my journey. And so it comes up obviously people want to hear about my journey. But when I give advice a couple of weeks ago I had the director of admissions for the University of Illinois College of Medicine right. So she she’s got three campuses.
Ryan Gray: [00:33:32] They get thousands upon thousands of applications. And I sat down with her for an hour on the podcast and we went step by step how they and their admissions committee review an application and determine who to send secondaries to, who to interview, how to how to review their interviews et cetera. So I am out there every day interacting with these people gathering the real information, the right information to then turn around and and and package it in a podcast for students so I don’t have to be on an admissions committee for that. I do teach at the University of Colorado School of Medicine here. I’ve talked to their dean of admissions about potentially being on an admissions committee there but I’m happy doing what I’m doing having the conversations with with lots of people lots of admissions committee members about their processes. I can help students from around the country.
WCI: [00:34:22] What advice do you have since this is a you know financial podcast we are probably talking about some financial stuff. But what advice you would have to a premed with no family resources, no working spouse, no rich parents to assist them in paying for medical school, What do you tell those folks?
Ryan Gray: [00:34:38] Look at each HPSP as one thing. Obviously know the pros and cons for that. I do a lot of financial advisers on my podcast. I’ve had you on the podcast before. I think unfortunately a lot of students don’t go into medicine. People who are going to be amazing physicians. And I think it affects lower socioeconomic students even more. They look at that price tag and they say No way.
Ryan Gray: [00:35:03] There are resources out there federal resources for right now. There are resources out there to help pay back loans. But I think the biggest thing as you go through the process this is what you’re going to do. The biggest thing to to know and to do is is to live well well well within your means and not go OK I’m an attending now. Time for my Mercedes, time for my boat. Time for my big house and and then pay the minimum on student loans.
WCI: [00:35:31] What do you think about somebody that that’s looking at and going well you know my desire especially might only make a couple of hundred thousand dollars when I get out and if I add all this up I’m going to have six hundred thousand dollars when I leave medical school. Is that reasonable for them to say you know what That is not a wise investment for me. I am barred from doing this financially unless I basically want to live like a resident the rest of my life. Yes. So how do you how do you balance that if your dream is medicine and you realize that that is the financial reality of it now?
Ryan Gray: [00:36:03] It’s hard. It’s hard. There’s what’s financially smart. And what is just meant for you to do as a living for your career.
WCI: [00:36:14] Let’s talk about military medicine. You mentioned HPSP. Talk about some of the various military options to pay for medical school and the pluses and minuses.
Ryan Gray: [00:36:23] Yeah so HPSP is typically a one for one commitment. So I signed up for medical school. I think you did as well. It’s one for one. So four years of med school four years of payback. You can do a three year scholarship and do three years you can do a two year scholarship and over three years so the two year scholarships not really worth the money. Because you still have all the debt and then you still owe three years and you’re not making much money as a military doc. So that’s one option and it’s a great option. You can go to any medical school any accredited medical school in the U.S. and get that get that scholarship. Each branch does 150 scholarships. I think a year. The Air Force is the most competitive because that’s the best service by far.
WCI: [00:37:09] No bias there at all.
Ryan Gray: [00:37:10] None. None. The other option is going going to USUHS right. So that’s the military medical school and that’s a great option because you get paid to go to medical school. Right you’re. I think an E e4 e5 something like that as you go through medical school pay wise and it’s a little bit different you own more time commitment wise you owe seven years I think is the commitment for USUHS. But it’s another option.
Ryan Gray: [00:37:51] Again you can choose between the three branches and typically residencies are a little bit easier to get out of USUHS, you have more exposure to the program directors or the military matches and so you get you get that connection that networking a little bit earlier. Outside of that once you’re a resident. You can sign up for the reserves and have some repayment options there as well. And then some reserve I’ve seen reserve reservists go through medical school on reserve scholarships as well. So there’s an option there as well.
WCI: [00:38:21] What about the are they still doing the program the financial assistance program where they give you a bunch of money as a resident in exchange for a commitment.
Ryan Gray: [00:38:29] Yes that’s one of the things I mentioned so as a resident you can sign up. I didn’t name it by name so the FAP is something you can do your resident, You’re kind of in reserve status and they pay you some money.
WCI: [00:38:43] In a lot of ways. It’s not so much a scholarship as it is a contract. You know you get some of your money up front and then you’re paid less later. But I think over the years particularly as the price of tuition has skyrocketed that the HPSP scholarship has become a little bit more attractive than perhaps it used to be. I mean the air force got me for a song. I mean I think tuition at the University of Utah the year I started it was ten thousand dollars a year for in state. But now you know tuition is four and five times as high as a lot of places it’s it’s getting to be a much better financial deal. If you had somebody that was really not super interested in military medicine but just looking for a way to pay for medical school. Do you think it makes sense for them to go into the military to pay for medical school for the four years or whatever it takes to pay for it even with a plan to get out and no real desire to serve in the military?
Ryan Gray: [00:39:42] Not at all not not at all. There. There are too many negatives for somebody who doesn’t want to be in the military just to take the money. Number one obviously not being able to match it in what you match in. Not being able to live where you want to live. If you meet your your future spouse in medical school like I did. And they’re in training and you go off to some other place that there are a lot of negative aspects to being in the military that a student shouldn’t be thinking about just the money. And if they don’t want to serve at all.
WCI: [00:40:18] But as the price increases doesn’t four years of misery in the military beat 15 years of living like a resident?
Ryan Gray: [00:40:23] I don’t know Jim you tell me. Did you ever work next to a miserable physicians?
WCI: [00:40:29] I certainly did. And they were not having a good time.
Ryan Gray: [00:40:31] Yeah. No doubt about it. Four years of misery is not worth it.
WCI: [00:40:35] All right let’s talk about some misunderstandings out there. What are the biggest misunderstandings out there about premeds, Medical School, and a career in medicine that you see?
Ryan Gray: [00:40:45] Misunderstandings around What?
WCI: [00:40:47] I mean just in general the themes you keep seeing you know premeds come to you with just totally wrong, needs to be corrected.
Ryan Gray: [00:40:55] Number one you have to be a perfect student. I think too many students give up on their dream because they got to see like I said an orgo or a D or an F or whatever. And so they give up on the dream. You don’t have to be perfect you have to obviously show competence and if you have failed you need to fix that. Course correct as as I call it on my podcast. So that’s that’s really a big thing. Another thing is a lot of people don’t understand the application process to medical school. They think oh it’s like college you just you apply to a bunch of schools and you get in somewhere. It’s really easy and as long as you apply by the deadline you’ll be good. Right. And I have this argument all the time with with deans of admissions and other people. Like why is there a deadline in the medical school application process when the likelihood of somebody being accepted if they applied at the deadline is about zero point one percent. It’s a rolling admissions application. The sooner you apply the better your chances are. And it’s just not a transparent process, from the schools from the application services and I think it’s it does everybody a disservice. So that’s that’s a huge misunderstanding out there in the premed world. From the med school side of things. I had this going into it. And I hope students I’m sure students still have this thought going into it is, like for me I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. So studying histology, studying biochemistry, etc. just wasn’t worthwhile. And I come to learn now now that I’m older and wiser.
Ryan Gray: [00:42:27] Like everything that you’re doing it’s there for a purpose and as we go further along in this technology world that we’re going to live in with Watson next to us and we’re able to plugging information into Watson. We don’t need to know as much information in our head to be recalled immediately. But what medical school really teaches you is just how to learn and how to aggregate information and how to how to think critically to know what questions to ask next. And I think I didn’t take advantage of med school enough in that respect and I thought I was just there to memorize everything unfortunately.
WCI: [00:43:07] Very Nice for sure. I appreciate you being here. Let me give you a chance to distribute some final words of wisdom. What else would you like our listeners to know before you go?
Ryan Gray: [00:43:17] So obviously the majority of listeners being in the financial world, maybe there are already physicians trying to learn how to make money, but really I think as you go down in this process and you interact with premeds and and other students who are potentially interested in medicine, it’s to try to remember why you went into this originally and maybe you’re not making as much money as you thought. Maybe you’re not living in as big of a house or driving the best car that you want but try to remember that at the end of the day it really is that connection with the patient. And as long as you’re open and honest about that kind of stuff with a premed and not trying to steer him or her away from medicine I think you’re doing the future. Future patients a good service by by keeping people in the field and point them to the premed years. Thank you very much.
WCI: [00:44:09] The medical school HQ dot net is where you can learn more about Dr. Ryan Gray and his work. You can check out his podcasts there. You can check out the forums. If you want to hire him to assist you in getting into medical school. That is also a service he offers. Thank you very much for being on the podcast.
Ryan Gray: [00:44:25] Thanks Jim.
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WCI: [00:45:04] Head up shoulders back. You’ve got this. We’re here to help you and we’ll see you next time.