Interview with Academic Affairs Fellow, Soomin Jung, ‘20
Class of 2020 alumna Dr. Soomin Jung recently served as an academic affairs fellow at AUC—one of several fellow positions for AUC graduates awaiting residency placement who wish to extend their clinical medicine teaching, service-based learning, medical sciences and public health research portfolio.
Now a family medicine resident at California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr. Jung recently caught up with Aruna Ullal, academic counselor and lecturer to share her experience as a fellow and her study tips for students in a Q&A.
Aruna Ullal: What made you want to be a fellow after graduating, and why did you choose to apply for the academic affairs fellow position?
Dr. Soomin Jung: Given that I had about 9-10 months prior to starting residency, I wanted to be involved in something that was meaningful. I felt that the academic affairs fellow position was an opportunity for me to give back to AUC colleagues in a way that aligns with my passions—teaching, coming up with new learning material, and connecting with others.
Ullal: What was your relationship like with the faculty after going from being a student to a colleague?
Dr. Jung: In the beginning, I felt a little weird that I was no longer a student, and it took some time for me to be comfortable being in meetings with faculty. But throughout my AUC academic fellow journey, I felt that I was part of a team with the faculty. I felt really supported every step of the way. I know that they have been a big part of my growth during this transition period.
Ullal: What was your favorite part about being a fellow?
Dr. Jung: My favorite part was connecting with people that I would've never connected with. For example, I would've never met an amazing group of students (soon to be my MD colleagues) if it weren't for the Learning Enhancement Course that I facilitated. I also loved spending time with the Academic Affairs department core team members.
Ullal: What was the most challenging aspect of the position?
Dr. Jung: Because I worked remotely from California, there was at least a three-hour difference at all times. That meant that I had to get up very early for some meetings/lectures.
Ullal: What advice would you give someone who is interested in the position?
Dr. Jung: Be flexible, take initiative, and be creative.
Ullal: What techniques did you find most useful when meeting one-on-one with students?
Dr. Jung: I reminded myself to listen more, and to never forget that I was a student not too long ago. It helped me to stay connected and have a better understanding of each student's situation.
Another thing that really helped me was to ask students to briefly explain the need for a 1-1 meeting when scheduling. That helped me to prepare in advance—whether it was discussing questions, assignments, general timelines, etc.
TOP TIPS FOR EXAM PREP
Ullal: What are your top tips for students who are preparing for their National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME) Clinical Comprehensive Examination (the “COMP”) and United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 1 exams?
Dr. Jung: My tips for studying (for COMP and Step 1):
- Figure out a timeline, come up with a plan, and stick to it. You could either create a very specific study plan (down to every hour) or decide on a topic that should be covered each day, or a number of questions that you should complete. Some people prefer systems-based vs. topic-based. Your approach depends on what works best for you. For example, I would find detailed plans very stressful, but some people need them to be successful.
- Try not to exceed more than 8-12 weeks (2-3 months) of dedicated study time. I’ve noticed that people who have done longer stretches tend to feel burnt out afterwards.
- Come up with rest days/times when you can be away from studying (e.g., spending time with family or friends, pursuing your hobbies, etc.)
- Identify what kind of a learner you are.
- Do not sacrifice sleep. Go to bed and wake up at a consistent time.
- Try to get exercise each day, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Get your heart pumping.
- Limit your study resources. We live in an era where there are an overwhelming amount of options. Stick to 2-3 resources—some people waste too much time looking for and trying to use all the resources possible.
- Test yourself regularly. You wouldn't run a marathon coming up in three months just by walking, would you? So why would anyone walk into an exam without taking any practice exams? Start out with a few questions each day (5-10), then bump it up. Get comfortable doing a block of questions in 60 minutes. (In USMLE Step 1, a block consists of usually 38-40 questions.)
- Ask for help early. It's easier to identify and fix the issue earlier than later. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sure, not all recommendations or feedback may be helpful, but that's okay. Don't wait until the last minute. Reach out to upper semester colleagues, the Academic Support team, faculty, etc.
- Have patience and trust the process. You will be frustrated, down, and angry along the way. That's normal. This is not an easy journey. Trust in yourself. You have gotten into a medical school and survived all of those courses and exams. It's one baby step at a time. Celebrate small things along the way. Remember why you started this journey. No one else can walk this walk for you. However, remember that there are others who are walking with you.