How I Got Accepted to Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
This is just one in a series of blog posts that will feature medical students telling their stories of how they got accepted into medical school. Today, Jonathon Burns shares with us the story of his acceptance to Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Jonathon, give us a peek into your life. What initially attracted you to pursue medicine?
In eighth grade we had a career day and a bunch of different professions were represented. For medicine, a pharmacist came in and gave a spiel about medicine and pharmacy and why we should pursue those fields. He brought in syringes with normal saline and we were able to practice extracting the saline. And that day I thought, you know what, this is really cool. I had always liked science, so for the longest time I wanted to be a pharmacist. But once I started high school and began to learn more about what medicine was, I looked into becoming a physician. I realized the thing that I want most out of life is to interact with people. You do interact with others as a pharmacist, but as a physician, you have the opportunity to impact people in a way that is incomparable.
“You do interact with others as a pharmacist, but as a physician, you have the opportunity to impact people in a way that is incomparable.”
During my reflection on what I wanted to pursue, one story from my childhood really left an impact on me and ultimately helped my choice. When I was two or three years old, i needed surgery. I was terrified, and rightfully so. I remember, when I was being prepared for surgery, I had my Elmo doll with me. The anesthesiologist and the nurse were in the room and they were talking to me and trying to help me relax. I remember them saying, “You know what? Just for fairness’ sake, we’ll do the same exact procedure to Elmo so he can be with you, and you and he will be okay.” That really comforted me because I felt I didn’t have to go through it alone. And afterwards, when I was all done with surgery, I was bandaged up and they took the time to actually bandage up my Elmo doll too. Thinking back to that moment, I realized that that was I want to do: I want to make people feel comfortable and I want to help them in any way I can.
Why did you choose to apply to Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine?
When I was growing up, my primary care physician was a graduate of OU-HCOM, and I always liked the treatment that I received from him. He was one of the main reasons that I was interested in medicine. One of my best friends also was a student there and had nothing but great things to say. So when I was applying to med school, OU was always on the top of my list.
I applied there, interviewed, and was amazed by it. And it was only about three and a half hours away from home. I think the fact that it was so close to home factored into why I applied there and ended up there too.
What are three reasons why you think you were accepted?
“When I interviewed there, I think they saw that I fit in with their mission and goals.”
I think the main reason was that OU-HCOM is a very supportive and caring environment. When I interviewed there, I think they saw that I fit in with their mission and goals. The mission of OU overall is to train osteopathic physicians to serve Ohio and commit to practice there, engage in focused research and embrace underserved communities. One of the things that OU prides itself in is the supportive environment; it’s not a very competitive environment. Ultimately, we students are competing for residency spots in those different specialties, but for the first four years of our medical school career, it really goes to show that we’re concerned about helping others and the other people in our class. I think that during my interview, through the stories I told my interviewer and the kind of characteristics I revealed, I showed that I could contribute to that environment.
Other than that, I worked as a medical scribe in undergrad for two years. I think having healthcare experience really shows that you’re dedicated to medicine. It showed that I had thought this through and this is was ultimately what I wanted to do.
And then a third reason would be, in undergrad and in high school too, I was very involved in a variety of endeavors from a fraternity to the academic honor society to AMSA, SGA, other medical societies and intramural soccer. I think that diversity showed that I was a well-rounded applicant.
How do you think the Atlantis Fellowship influenced or impacted your acceptance?
Ironically, I actually found out I was accepted while I was on my Atlantis Fellowship. So I feel that my direct experience didn’t necessarily contribute to my acceptance, but rather the fact that I was going to participate. I wrote in my application and in my secondaries that I was planning on going abroad to get exposure in international medicine and see a different side of medicine. I think the desire to impact my own community as well as international communities spoke to my altruistic nature and helped me become accepted.
How did you feel after the interview?
I was very nervous because I had an interview two days before at a different school and I was blown away. I thought, “Wow, this is the school I want to go to.” And then two days later I came to OU-HCOM and the interview was just amazing. The tour was amazing. The people were amazing. The atmosphere made me feel like I was at home. So, after the interview, I felt very nervous, but I felt very blessed to have the opportunity to interview at OU.
I was staying with one of my friends who was a second year at the school and I told him all about it. And even though I was nervous, I felt like this was the place for me, this was the right fit. One thing they said during the interview that stuck with me was that during a med school interview, I am interviewing the school as much as the school is interviewing me. You need to feel that it is the right fit, because at the end of the day, it’s one of the biggest parts of your life and you need to feel at home.
Walk us through the moment you found out you got accepted.
This is my favorite story to tell, actually. Unfortunately, I was waitlisted at OU-HCOM when I first applied to medical school. So I thought, hey, I want to do something with my summer before school (potentially) starts. I want to impact international medicine, and get more exposure so I found out about the Atlantis Project.
I was in Lisbon, Portugal, and we were in the hospital that day and I was on the pediatric emergency medicine service. I traveled back to my apartment in Lisbon. My phone went off, but I was cooking a late lunch and missed the call (Ohio is on a five hour time difference, so I got home around 2 or 3 PM but it was around 8AM in Ohio). I walked back and looked at my phone and saw a 740 number and thought, “Oh my gosh, that is OU’s area code, that’s Athens, Ohio’s area code!” So I called back immediately. And I said, “Hey this is Jon, I just got a phone call from this number.” And a man said, “Hi, this is Dr. Rice from OU, how are you doing today?” And he said I was accepted.
I just immediately felt that my dream came true. This is how it feels. I’d worked so hard to get to this moment. I got off the phone and let out a little shout of joy. And my roommate, Max, said, “Is everything okay?” I said, “Holy crap man, that was OU, I got in!” He gave me a big high five. Afterwards I facetimed my sister and remember telling her, “I have ‘bad’ news Michelle, I’ll only be home for a few weeks once I get back. I got into OU.”
Looking back that day was one of the greatest moments of my life.
Last question: How can others imitate your success?
I would say the main piece of advice is to follow your own heart and be your own unique person. As a pre-med, it’s really easy to think about being that cookie cutter medical school applicant. I would say the best piece of advice is just follow your heart and do things that interest you. In undergrad, join activities you’re interested in, not just because “it’ll look good.”
And study what you’d like to study. There are pre-med students in almost every single major. My current roommate achieved an economics degree in undergrad; we also have people with art, nutrition, dance degrees in my medical school class. Do what you’re interested in, do what you enjoy and don’t really worry about being that cookie cutter applicant or comparing yourself to others.
Hailing from Poland, Ohio, Jonathon Burns is an OMS2 at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens. In 2017, he earned his B.S. in biology from Youngstown State University, and following graduation, participated in the Atlantis Fellowship in Lisbon, Portugal. Jonathon’s long-term goal is to leave an impact on his patients and the community as a whole, potentially through emergency medicine or anesthesiology. After practicing for a few years, he aspires to advocate for improving hospitals from a hospital administration role. In his spare time, Jonathon enjoys running around campus and its surrounding neighborhoods.