BCOM students Ramey Soukup and Christian Smith help premed student Paulina Villanueva prepare for what’s to come.

The members of the BCOM chapter of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) are helping other hopeful students reach their dreams of being accepted to medical school. Zac Coffman, vice president of BCOM’s SOMA, organized an event during which approximately 50 first year medical students conducted mock medical school admissions interviews with 56 premedical students.

“I did this in undergrad and I remember how much it prepared me. If I hadn’t done my mock interview, I would have been so lost,” Giselle Irio, president of the BCOM SOMA said. “We’re hoping that other students like myself, who don’t have doctors in the family, can use this opportunity to gain a better understanding of what to expect in their admissions interviews.”

The interviews took place in the admissions office, in the same exact rooms BCOM uses for prospective student interviews. Two first year medical students spent 15 minutes asking the premeds questions, and then another five minutes going over their strengths and weaknesses.

Sofia Rodriguez, a senior at UTEP who heard about the event through the community MCAT prep course run by BCOM’s Dr. Kadavakollu, said she was asked to identify her three biggest strengths and weaknesses and about her viewpoint on assisted suicide. “They said my response to the assisted suicide question was the best because I was aware of both sides of the argument, but was also able to give a personal experience and opinion about the situation,” she said. “I was only prepared with one strength and weakness, so they told me I needed to work on those and come up with ways to correlate my weaknesses into strengths.”

SOMA President Giselle Irio greets a student checking in for her mock interview.

Another interviewee, Las Cruces native Myrna Moreno, prepped for the interview by going over more than 50 questions she found online. She said, “They asked me things I expected, like why I want to be a doctor and not a nurse, but they also gave me a scenario which really made me think on my feet. I think that was good practice.”

Irio said those unexpected questions are all part of the experience. “There’s always going to be questions that you can’t really prepare for, so part of this is learning to get creative and come up with a response on the spot.”

SOMA member Melissa Sayegh didn’t have any opportunities for mock interviews when she was applying to medical school, which she said is a big reason she helped with the event. She added that events like this, and the DO for a Day events that SOMA regularly hosts, are all geared towards introducing students to osteopathic medicine, even if they don’t end up attending BCOM. “With DO for a Day they spend a full day here so they really see what medical school is like,” she explained. “We also have a student-led panel so they can ask all the questions they need whether it’s about their personal statement or the interview process, or what classes they need to prepare. So it is showing them the academic portion, but also letting them know what it takes to get into medical school.”

Dr. Kadavakollu talks with students from his MCAT prep course as they wait for their interviews.