Annie Yau, MS1

Weill Cornell Medical College
UC Berkeley, B.S. Molecular and Cell Biology
From Cerritos, CA

What does your typical day of medical school look like?

We start the day at 8AM either PBL, small group discussions, or lecture, and run through 1PM. Our afternoons are anatomy labs during the first semester, preceptorship , electives, or free time to study and nap. In the evenings we often have student groups, host activities, and these are great places to grab food and hang out with others who share your interests. Afterwards I’ll go to the gym, meet up with friends in the city, or catch up on emails and work. I go to class as often as I can because I’m terrible at watching lectures online and it gives me a reason to not sleep in. First year has a lot of down time, and I’ve used a lot of that to explore my interests through shadowing and working with the WCCC student run free clinic.

How do your classes and lectures compare to those at your undergraduate institution?

I’m used to having a lot of variety in my undergrad classes because I always kept my science and humanities classes evenly balanced each semester. In medical school, everyone is learning the same material so it can feel more heavy and monotonous. On the other hand, the material is always interesting unlike some classes in undergrad, so it is easier to stay engaged and excited about learning.  

How has your approach to learning and/or studying changed since you were an undergrad?

I have to be a lot more consistent with my studying just to keep up with the amount of material and the fast pace.

How would you describe the unique culture at your school? Are there special events or activities that you consider very representative of the culture at your institution? What influence has this culture had on your experience in medical school thus far?

We have a class of just over 100 students so it helps make our class very tight knit. Most of us live in the same building during the first year, which also helps bring us together. My classmates here all have amazing backgrounds and all bring something unique to the class dynamic. The culture here is pretty low-key, probably because we’re all distracted from the stresses of medical school by being in New York. Having a close class has made the first year of medical school and living in a new city so easy to transition into.

Can you give us a brief description of the area surrounding your school and the things you do for fun? What are some things you like and dislike about the city/town you are located in as a student?

We’re in New York City and it’s one of the best cities to spend your medical school years in. There is always something going on and it’s always an exciting time. There are museums (which you can visit with the Art and Medicine elective), Central Park a short run away, theater/live shows that we get discounts to, and endless trendy foods to try. I’ve been here a year and feel like I’ve only uncovered the surface of what New York has to offer. There aren’t too many negatives, other than I’m still adjusting to the winters as a native Californian.

What resources have been most useful to you in self-learning medical school material or in expanding on material taught in class?

I use Pathoma and First Aid to supplement the lectures and make sure I know the important take home points.

What seemed to be important topics or points of interest during your interviews? Were there particular aspects of your application that your interviewers focused or recurring themes between interviews?

My interviewers did a good job covering the most important aspects of my application. Interview day seemed to stress the relationship Cornell has with the city and vice versa. Cornell has a tri-institutional relationship with Memorial Sloan Kettering, Rockefeller University, and also a relationship with Hospital for Special Surgery, which makes for abundant research and clinical opportunities.

What is one thing you would do differently if you could go back to your undergraduate years or the time between undergrad and medical school? (This is open ended…can be related to academics or anything non-academic)

I would have bought more season tickets to Cal basketball games.

Given the number of obstacles we face en route to a career in medicine, everyone at some point feels doubtful of themselves. How has this affected you and what has helped you persevere through these sorts of feelings?

Having a good support system was key, because there was essentially no premed advising at my undergrad at the time. I had many doubts and had to ask others for help in this very complicated and unfamiliar process. Remembering to not compare myself to others was the best way to stay resilient.

How do you maintain your mental health while balancing school, work, family, and other social obligations?

Having a strong support system, meditating when I can remember to, and working out. Once you get into medical school everyone just wants you to succeed and it’s a huge relief. The pass/fail curriculum is also a godsend.

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