DR. JAIME NEELON
Med School: Loyola Stritch SOM
Internship: Brooke Army Medical Center
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
National Pre-Med Association: Tell us a little about yourself!
Jaime Neelon: Hey, there! My name is Jamie Neelon, and, as of August 2020, I will be starting my first year as an intern (Transitional Year) at Brooke Army Medical Center. I graduated from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago and did the HPSP program, as well. I graduated undergraduate school from the University of Southern California. After college, I spent a year teaching 4th graders through City Year in Los Angeles. My career path is a little different than your standard medical career path due to my army involvement, however currently I would ultimately like to pursue a career in plastic surgery.
NPMA: What was the hardest part of your pre-med experience? How did you get through it?
JN: The hardest part was probably just trying to navigate what needed to be done as well as balance fun and work. Very few of my friends were pre-med, so our priorities and class difficulties tended to be quite different. Often, I found myself conflicted with how much I should be studying and how much I should be hanging out with my friends. Luckily, my regular school advisor was incredibly helpful with the application and pre-med process and was able to help me plan a four-year schedule to help fulfill my requirements and get me ready to apply for medical school. My oldest brother, who was doing a post-baccalaureate program at the time, was able to help me choose which courses to take, as well
NPMA: What was your outlet during pre-med? How do you do it now?
JN: During undergrad, I would say my outlets were always staying busy, keeping social, and working out a lot. During medical school, I continued to exercise a lot and hang out with friends when I could - so not much different. I found that if something worked for me, it could help ease my mind amid my medical school responsibilities, even if it was just for a little bit.
NPMA: What’s your favorite pre-med experience?
JN: My favorite pre-med experience was probably shadowing various surgeons. As someone who wants to pursue a career in surgery, being able to observe very fascinating surgeries was something I enjoyed more than volunteering and doing research. Standing in the OR for hours was kinda rough, but the work we were doing was incredible and I enjoyed being there.
NPMA: What did you do to help build your resume in college?
JN: I did a lot of extracurricular activities throughout high school and college. I volunteered at an orthopedic clinic for children, was an athletic trainer for my water polo team, worked on several research projects throughout undergrad, and also worked as a hiring manager for a campus transportation service for all four years of. I also got some experience shadowing, which not only looked good on my resume, but gave me some exposure to different specialties and helped provide an idea of what fields to consider.
NPMA: What was your experience like studying for the MCAT?
JN: Uniquely enough, I purchased study books and went through them on my own. Looking back, I probably could have benefitted from an instructor or a tutor, but I felt I had the self-discipline to get through it and it eventually worked out fine. I would say that if you have the ability to sit down for several hours a day over a few weeks or months, then you shouldn’t need extra resources like a course. That being said, it is very common to do an MCAT course. More often than not, they're incredibly beneficial, as many create the study guide and schedule for you.
NPMA: What piece of advice would you have wanted while you were in undergrad?
JN: I’d say that if you think you would like to be pre-med, it’s a good idea to get started in your freshman year - even if you end up changing your mind. That way, if you stay with pre-med, you can get those prerequisites done on time and not have to worry about it later. Secondly, it’s important you find an advisor who knows how to navigate the pre-med requirements. The advisor should be encouraging and not demeaning, helpful and not discouraging, and it’s more than ok to switch advisors if you need to.
NPMA: What’s the best part of your job now?
RS: Hard to say - I do not actually start working until July and currently I am in orientation month getting ready to learn the systems and the functionalities of the hospital and my army unit. But I'll let you guys know!
Dr. Neelon is a new medical intern at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX and would like to pursue a career in plastic surgery.