That’s a Wrap


Two and a half years ago, I quit my job as a book editor and became a post-baccalaureate, pre-medical student–the first step in the very long road to becoming a doctor. I had already started taking science classes at community college at night while I was working, but in the winter of 2011, I began my post-bacc at Columbia, my undergrad alma mater. That spring, I transferred to Georgetown, so that I could be closer to my boyfriend at the time, M. I packed up my stuff, moved from my hometown of NYC, and settled in D.C.. I embarked on an academic journey that was at times fascinating, and at other times frustrating, exhausting, and discouraging. I realized that the ways of thinking that had made me successful as a humanities student and an editor did not make me a fabulous science student, and I came crashing up against my own limitations. I floundered in my classes, and was often frightened that I’d made a big mistake.

At some point last year, on the cusp of failing organic chemistry II and unsure of whether or not I had the scientific mind necessary to practice medicine, I reconnected with some of the reasons I’d embarked on this journey in the first place. I salvaged myself on the orgo II final, passed the class, and returned to Georgetown for summer physics and genetics in the fall. In late March–just over a month ago now–I took the MCAT (which is why my recipes lately have been short of awesome–sorry, guys). Last week, I got my score back, and it was what I was hoping for. Which means that, not counting the application process, my three year post-bacc, pre-med journey is over.

It’s a little hard for me to talk about my post-bacc years without getting emotional; a few days ago, a friend and I were taking a walk through the west village, and I found myself getting choked up as I tried to articulate to him how I felt about this chapter of my life. To hear me tell it, being a post-bacc student is a trial by fire, and the truth is that it doesn’t have to be. A lot of people breeze through their post-bacc programs, getting stellar grades, excelling in lab work, relishing jobs as EMTs or scribes, and moving through the application process with great success. Others find it extremely hard (I can’t think of a Georgetown post-bacc who hasn’t hit rock bottom at some point or another), but still manage to do well. I’ve often blamed my post-bacc struggles on the fact that I came from a writing/humanities background, but a lot of my friends did, too, and they eased into the hard sciences seamlessly, without so much as a single complaint.

It didn’t work that way for me. Part of it is that I just didn’t understand how hard the process would be. I’d always loved school and being a student; I’d relished high school and college. I knew that it would be hard to study physics and orgo, but I assumed that, once a good student, always a good student: I’d brush off my flash cards, revive my good study habits, and reinvent myself as a pre-med. It didn’t work that way at all. Nothing I had once been good at made me any good at calculating the equivalence point of a titration, or pushing electrons, or studying electromagnetism. (Well, that’s not totally true–I think the analytical skills I developed as an editor helped me in biology. But that’s about it.) In essence, I had to relearn how to learn. There was no foundation upon which I could build; I had to create a foundation from scratch.

Part of it was that I was 28 when I started my post-bacc (I’ll be turning 31 in June). This is plenty young, but it had been a long time since I’d been a student. Unlike some of the younger post-baccs, I hadn’t taken AP bio five or six years ago. It had been eleven years since I’d taken a science class (unless you count “physics for poets” or “language and the brain” as an undergrad–and I don’t), and ten years since I’d taken a math class. I didn’t remember how to do calculus, logarithms, or trig. I didn’t remember what scientific notation was, and it had been ages since I’d looked at an exponential figure. As my post-bacc was starting, I realized, to my horror, that I’d actually forgotten a lot of basic math, too; I can’t tell you how many times I stumbled over dividing fractions. Oof.

When you go back to school as an adult, it’s easy to underestimate how out-of-practice you are in the fine art of being a student. One of the hardest things about my first year as a post-bacc was letting go of my fantasy that I’d be able to be a post-bacc and have some semblance of a normal life. As I was starting the process, I figured that I’d be able to balance school and my adult life, with all of its habits and rhythms, easily. I’d go to class and study all day, and have my evenings to myself to blog, hang out with my boyfriend, go to yoga, and cook the meals I love to prepare so much.

Big mistake. A few months of failing miserably to achieve student/life balance showed me that being a post-bacc means reorganizing your life completely. I had to get comfortable with night after night in the library, weekends on campus in study groups, less time for exercise and sometimes no time at all for cooking. I saw my friends less, had to block out weeks at a time where I couldn’t really make plans. I stopped seeing concerts and movies and going to New York on weekends. This might not have been as necessary had I not been struggling in my classes, but I was struggling. I sometimes had to work twice as hard as other post-baccs just to pull off a passing grade. Seeing the process through to the end meant recognizing that my personal life, such as I knew it, was going to change dramatically.

There were other reasons my post-bacc was hard. I quit publishing and moved to D.C. in a six month period. I underestimated how hard would be the shock of adjustment. I became homesick for my publishing friends and publishing culture (I still miss it, all the time; I never knew how much I’d cherished being a part of that world until I left it). I missed New York; I know that most people move many times over in their lives, and it’s a little ridiculous to complain about moving four and a half hours away from home, but I’d been in NYC my whole life, and all of my “people” were still there. My boyfriend and I broke up not long after I moved, and I found myself struggling to create a life in D.C. that didn’t center around the person who had made me want to be there in the first place.

The other day, someone asked me why I’d persisted with the post-bacc in spite of how absurdly ill suited I often seemed to it. At first, I think it was stubbornness and fear of failure more than anything. I’d embarked on this path with all sorts of idealism about what it would mean to become a doctor, and even though I was duly warned, I really didn’t understand what the cost would be. Medicine is a great dream, but it’s an expensive dream. The time, the debt, and the sacrifices one makes in one’s personal life are tremendous, and I couldn’t have known that until the process began. As reality began to settle in, I was both frightened of the future and also unwilling to admit I’d made a mistake. I was also scared to tell everyone in my life–including all of you–that I was quitting. I’d never abandoned anything before, and I didn’t want to abandon something that felt so important to me.

Obviously, this was the wrong reason to push ahead. But I’m so glad I did, because what happened along the way is that my persistence became animated by what I’ll call the “right” reasons. First, I started volunteering in pediatric oncology and hematology at Georgetown University Teaching Hospital. It was often very sobering, but I loved the children I worked with and actually loved the hospital environment. I found it exhilarating and inspiring, and was amazed by what nurses, doctors, physical therapists, and child life specialists do, day in and day out.

Next, I met and began working with Robynne Chutkan, M.D., an integrative GI doctor for whom I do research, and in whose Bethesda, M.D. office I’ll soon be doing nutrition work (which I am so, so excited to return to!). Robynne has been a role model and mentor to me in ways that I cannot do justice to in writing, and her approach to medicine–evidence based and progressive, yet focused on preventive care–inspires me every single day. Shadowing her has reminded me of the reasons I wanted to practice medicine to begin with: the opportunity to help people.

Finally, my experience as a student shifted this fall. At first it was subtle, but by the time I took the MCAT I could appreciate how profoundly things had changed. At some point during genetics (a hard class at Georgetown, but a fascinating one) I started to be able to apply some of the themes I’d learned in biology and chemistry to new situations. I realized that I was developing pattern recognition and intuition about some of the concepts that are central to pre-med education. I became far more comfortable with researching scientific literature, and I finally began to see how the microscopic realm of biology and chemistry and orgo pertain to the lived experience of being a doctor or patient. As rocky as my path into the sciences has been, I sought out pre-med because I needed–and sorely lacked–a scientific education. For all of my knowledge of nutrition and familiarity with holistic health, I didn’t really understand how the body works. I still don’t and never will completely–no one does–but I’m a little closer. And for the first time in three years, I can say with honesty that I am so, so excited to learn more.

There’s still a lot ahead of me. If I get accepted, med school will be a battleground, no doubt, and residency is famous for forcing young doctors to question what they’re doing, and why. But I’ve never been more sure that I want to keep going. I’m a lot more humble about this process than I was when I started, but my intentions are stronger and more genuine now that I’ve been forced to reexamine them again, and again, and again.

Of course, I should be clear about the fact that there’s a good chance I won’t get in next year. I’m applying this summer, and won’t know what the future holds until late next spring, so if you don’t hear from me about this for a while, it’s simply because I don’t yet know what my options are. I’m applying very broadly, to a variety of schools and programs, and I’m hoping that one of them thinks I’d be a good fit for their community. If I don’t–which is a very strong possibility–I’ll weigh my options and figure out the next steps. No matter what happens, I’m positive that I want a future in health care. And as shocked as I am to type this, I am being truthful when I say that, no matter what, I am so glad I did a post-bacc. I’ve learned so much, and grown so much.

At some point, I’ll put my feelings about the post-bacc as a whole into a more comprehensive post, but I don’t think I’ll be ready to do that until the application process is behind me. For now, I can only say that I absolutely could not have made it through without the love and support I got from so many people: my mom, who took every wailing phone call that followed an orgo test in stride. My friends, who listened to me moan and groan and doubt myself without getting sick of me (well, I’m sure they were all sick of me, but they didn’t say so). And especially my post-bacc friends. I didn’t go into the process expecting to find new family, but I did–I became a part of the determined little band of brothers that is the Georgetown post-bacc community. The friends I’ve made in the program are some of the most brave and inspiring people I’ll ever know. If any of them are reading, I hope they know how lucky I feel to have spent the last three years in their company.

Most of all, I could not have made it through the post-bacc experience without CR. On many occasions, I came to this blog discouraged and full of self-doubt. You guys cheered me on, encouraged me to stay the course without making me feel like you’d be disappointed if I didn’t, and reminded me that I was more than the sum of my orgo and biochem grades. I stopped writing about school this fall because I was tired of complaining about it, and needed for my blog to be a school-free zone. But I always took strength from this community. Thank you so much for believing in me, and for giving me a space in which I could remember who I really was, and what I really wanted. I’ll never be able to tell you how grateful I really am.

And now, it’s on to the next chapter of the pre-med journey. I’m still shoring up my plans for my gap year, but they’ll involve more work with Robynne, blogging, business, cooking, a little travel, more time in New York with friends, and an opportunity to feel like a well-rounded person…that is, before student life swoops in once again. I’m excited, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.


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  1. Congratulations on getting through such a challenging program and taking the next step towards your goal! I love reading posts like these that truly show how much the author has grown. And in any case – as a soon-to-be grad with Physics degree, math is not easy even for those of us who have been doing it consistently for years! So I especially admire you for taking on a program so radically different from your background. You give me hope that one day I will find my calling, that it’s never too late, and that you can do anything that you put your mind to.
    Stay awesome, and good luck in the next chapter of your life ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Congratulations!! what an incredible feeling. You are so inspiring and though I’ve never bothered to comment on it I feel like you really deserve to know how wonderful it is for us readers to watch your journey. Also, I’m fortunate enough to have stumbled upon your blog when I first started raw. I’m glad I did because you have always been so honest and real with yourself and the readers and so I’ve found myself in a completely forgiving and real raw lifestyle. I’m flexible enough to enjoy myself and others in this lifestyle and eat cooked food when I’d like to … I really think discovering your approach to food early in my raw days helped keep my approach grounded. So THANK YOU!!

    And congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚ you are a beautifully inspiring woman!


    • Thank you so much for this comment! I’m happy I inspired you to be flexible. That’s the goal over here ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hey Gena,

    I love this post! I once contacted you about the post-bacc premed experience over becoming a dietitian and you kind of steered me away from it! I can see you had good reason ๐Ÿ™‚ I did a lot of research and shadowing and talking to the people I care about I abandoned the path towards dietetics. I’m finishing up my prereq’s for med school this summer and taking the MCAT. I’m applying this summer, too! Your example inspired me even if you didn’t mean to. So thanks so much for that ๐Ÿ™‚
    I can’t imagine keeping up a blog while taking all of these difficult classes. You are amazing! And don’t fret. I believe in you! You will get in this time around I think. Thanks again, Sara

  4. I so admire your persistence! I remember reading your blog ages ago when you were questioning continuing and I know at that time I would have quit, and I think most people would have. I very much admire people such as yourself. I love the idea of people like you being doctors, bc people put so much faith in doctors (erroneously for the most part, I believe). In any case, I hope you enjoy your gap year! (And maybe consider posting your blogposts more to FB, I always let FB remind me to go to your blog so if you don’t post I don’t remember to visit!) ๐Ÿ™‚ Your call of course, just a suggestion. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Nm I just looked at your wall and realized you are sharing your blogposts on FB but for some reason they don’t all show up on my feed. Lame!

  5. What a beautiful, touching, and inspirational post. I admire you for so many reasons and I am so happy to hear of the good news about the MCAT’s. Not that I ever had any doubt! The medical community will be lucky to have you. It’s been a joy to get to know you and follow you along in your journey over the past several years. I hope you are enjoying a bit of freedom in between all of your other commitments! Can’t wait to see you soon.

  6. I can only imagine how difficult this post was to write. It’s simply beautiful, and for you to realize that struggle is a part of human nature – as is your ability to rise above it – is as much a lesson as physics, orgo, and math! Congratulations Gena.

  7. Congratulations to you! I’ve been reading your blog since before you made the decision to go into medicine and you have been such an inspiration. I will continue to send good thoughts your way and wish you the best in your ongoing education. You will surely be an amazing doctor.

  8. Yay, Gena! ๐Ÿ™‚ So happy to hear you got a good MCAT score. What an enormous amount of work and brain re-training. I’m so happy for you! And I’m even happier that you get to relax a bit next year, relatively speaking, and happy, selfishly, that I’ll be nearby!

  9. CONGRATULATIONS! You are an amazing inspiration. I only discovered your blog about a month or two ago and though I am on a very different path, everything you write about resonates with me on some level. You have done well to follow your heart despite many bumps along the way. Wishing you a wonderful year ahead and good luck with your applications, I believe any school would be a fool to not have you! You are a beautiful person inside and out. Thank you for sharing all that you do on CR.

  10. Congratulations Gena – what a long but motivating journey getting to where you are now, whatever happens next! I have huge respect for people who go back to study as adults, because I know how challenging it was navigating doctoral studies even when going straight from school to undergraduate to postgraduate. If I’d stopped and then returned later, it would have been far more complex. Best wishes for the next stage ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Hi Gena,

    I am an intergrative family medicine doctor (GP) in New Zealand and reading your post today I was taken back to my late 20’s when I embarked on my journey to go from nursing to medicine while still trying to hold fast to my holistic principles. It was a roller coaster but overall it was a rush and it lead me to here. I work in an integrative clinic and practice my whole truth and I work with some amazing colleagues and patients. I used your facebook page in my pecha kucha talk the other night here in Whangarei because my family is making the shift to vegan. I talked about how good people share good information. Your karma will see you through your application process…white light..Melissa

  12. I am one of your loyal readers — so glad I found your blog — who does not actually know you, but it feels like I do. Your writing on all subjects is beautiful and inspiring, but I could not leave CR today without a comment. You are amazing! You will continue to make such a difference in this world no matter which post-post-bacc path you take! Keep us in the loop!

  13. I think everything I wanted to say has already been said several times in the previous comments. I just want to say that your determination and tenacity are truly an inspiration to me. Thank you so much for writing this blog. Your influence stretches further than you think

  14. Kudos to you, Gena. I don’t stop by your blog as often as I’d like- we’re all too busy these days, but I’m glad I did today. I am encouraged by your persistence and have always been wowed by your ingenuity as a blogger, recipe-creator and business woman. I went to school for a Master’s in Public Health and got accepted by the skin of my teeth due to low math scores. I muddled through remedial math with the others who just made it in, alongside biostatistics. It felt like a mean joke that the kids who struggled with math had to take 2 math classes at once. Later, when considering nursing school, I felt like I put life on hold while working on my pre-reqs. It was disheartening to see I would have to retake classes already completed in undergrad and grad school due to low scores that wouldn’t go toward nursing school pre-reqs. But I agree the post-bac life is not easy. I commend you for making it through. I abandoned ship ultimately because I couldn’t justify the cost of school for the third time, but the maths and sciences were a big struggle for this humanities/writing gal. I wish you luck in getting accepted to the school you want, but truly I wish you luck in the right path unfolding for you on its own, whether it be medical school or continuing down the same path you are now as a blogger and nutritionist and continuing to influence a lot of people, in the clinic or not.

    • I really love hearing your perspective. And I hear you on the cost. It’s one of the hardest parts of the puzzle. I have every confidence that you’ll also help a lot of people! Fortunately there are so many avenues by which to do that.

  15. Congratulations Gena! I can’t wait to hear about what comes next for you, and I’m so amazed that you’ve been able to keep up CR the way you have for the past three years! My undergrad experience has lined up with your post-bacc (I graduate next month), and as a result I’ve really appreciated all of posts about student life and student eats. Those posts have motivated me to not fall into the student junk food trap! I’ve also loved all of the insight you’ve given on CR about your decision (like this post!). As someone at the point in her life where I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life, it’s a comfort to know that I’m not the only one. Good luck with med school applications!

  16. Congratulations on your accomplishments! I love hearing stories like this and it reminds me of the struggles during schooling I had as well, but everything is worth it in the end. It’s been wonderful to be able to read your blog throughout the years. Best of luck in all your future endeavors with your career!

  17. Wow Gena. What an amazing post. I’ve followed you since before you quit your editing job. It’s been a privilege following you and seeing the high level of honesty, integrity, and perseverance as you’ve followed your path.

    I am more than touched by your success. Gosh what an inspiration you are.

    I look forward to the next chapter of your life. Women like you will change the face of medicine for the better.

    You deserve it all…

  18. Gena,
    This is the most honest piece of writing I have read by any blogger in a long time. I can tell you will be successful because you are able to be honest with yourself and your readers and you don’t sugarcoat the decisions that you have made. So many people, especially those with perfectionistic tendencies, shy away from situations in which they are uncomfortable and don’t highlight their best qualities. It is a testament to your amazing capabilities that you persevered through your post-bacc. I have been reading CR for quite a while and you are an inspiration on so many levels! Good luck on the next stretch of your journey!

  19. So proud of you!! Wish I could write more but my own little life change awaits me:). I know the next few years are going to be very exciting for you and I’m excited to read and follow along. Hope to see you soon, my friend! Xo

  20. CONGRATS!!! From your holistic ideals and patient-centered attitude, I hope you have considered applying to osteopathic schools!! Your philosophies align really well ๐Ÿ™‚
    best of luck! keep it up!
    you’re an inspiration!

  21. Oh Gena, this is such a significant milestone and I thank you for sharing it. It feels like I’ve been on the journey with you as I started reading your blog just days before you made your announcement about pursuing a medical career. I also remember clearly when you posted about your fear of failure and whether or not you had made the right decision. As someone who wanted to be a doctor but who changed her mind after struggling through a tear-filled semester of Organic Chemistry in college, I have such admiration for you for sticking it out and staying the course. I know it has taken everything you have to get to this point and, although the journey is far from over, you should commend yourself for getting this far.

    At this point, I am also a career-changer and I’ve made the commitment to pursuing nutrition as a career. I’m a semester away from getting my masters in public health nutrition and I’m now at the point where I’m deciding whether or not to pursue a doctorate or to find a practical application for my degree. I realize now that while getting a medical degree wasn’t the right fit for me, I am so lucky to have the opportunity to study nutrition and make a contribution to the plant-based movement. I guess what I really want to say is thank you for sharing your dreams, because it keeps me inspired about following my passion and despite the obstacles and sacrifices. Big hugs to you and I can’t wait to hear more about your beautiful, bright future.

    • It’s been great to watch you go through your own career change, Carrie. They aren’t easy, but I think they force us to consider what’s important to us, and that’s what matters. I know you’ll do what’s best for you, and I’m positive you’ll help people as well. xo

  22. Congratulations Gena! You must be so proud! We are all so proud of you. It must feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Enjoy your gap year.

  23. This was an interesting find! I came here to Choosing Raw the first time because my sister found great recipes here. But I just took a midterm (1 out of 3) yesterday for Physics, dealing with electromagnatism… It was a day of stress, and I had to watch my friend break down a bit and cry for her struggles and slimming chances. We’re both 25, and trying to transfer, still working for a B.S. And it’s a struggle that’s invisible to most of the rest of the people I know. So, reading this… I wish you much success! Our physics teacher is possibly the hardest, and the best teacher we’ve ever had. He makes it known that our best growth and learning are in our struggles.

  24. Congratulations, Gena! What a fantastic post about your journey. I loved reading it. You are an inspiration. I’m also fascinated by the work you’re doing with the integrative MD. I am also interested in integrative primary/preventive care practice once I graduate from NP school. What an awesome opportunity you have to work closely with a mentor! Enjoy your “break”, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting you at VVC this month ๐Ÿ™‚


  25. Congratulations Gena! You should feel so incredibly proud! I really admire your perseverance and dedication. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Dear Gena,

    Congratulations!!!! This is incredible! I’ve been following your post-bacc journey and have benefited from your perspectives and wisdom. You helped me make difficult decisions and even in the midst of your workload and everything else, you made time for me which is so generous and possibly even more amazing in retrospect. You are one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever virtually met. Thank you for all that you do, and may you continue to inspire with your courage, brilliance, and compassion. Here’s to you, Gena!


  27. Congratulations, Gena! I am also a non-trad applying to med school this year. I took the MCAT in January and I am just finishing up with a last bit of shadowing now. It feels amazing to have finally made it through all of the pre-med work and to have been successful enough that applying is even an option. It sounds like you are there too – great job! Your blog has been incredibly inspiring to me throughout this process. I am also a vegan and believe that poor nutrition is the crux of most of the common health problems in this country (and that proper nutrition is the solution). Just like you, I hope to address this in my career as a physician. Good luck this cycle. I wish you all the best and I look forward to hearing about your successes!

  28. Hi Gena,
    I love your post… I had a similar experience some time ago… I read your blog very often and you’re already a doctor for so many people!!! totally changing their lives!
    I’m living in France (did you know that people are reading you here:) ) and now I’m an ayurvedic therapist and a raw food coach, but it was long to get there… (and my university degree has nothing to do with that)
    I’m writing to you, because once I figured out what I really want to do “help people with my experience and love for healthy cooking and raw food” and how I want to feel doing this – the miracles started to appear in my life and I was really guided on my road…
    Take just some time to feel who you are, how wonderful are you, and what is the talent that you want to offer to this world… and just take some break – before you will look for the other school for you… if not you will literally take the same experience there (the same vibration…)
    Good luck and I wish you a lot of new joyful experiences
    (I hope my English is not too bad..)

  29. My thesis advisor and I were just having a conversation about how the skills and knowledge you need to GET IN to med school aren’t entirely compatible with what makes a great physician. I believe it’s the same for professional psychologists. To be accepted into these programs requires the mastery of many skills that you wouldn’t necessarily need to become a great clinician. It spurs the question, are good clinicians be created through this curriculum? Or, is the ability to create a beneficial treatment alliance between patient and doctor inherent in “who the person is.”

    Anyway, congrats girl!

    • Thanks, friend! Glad you’ll be going into health care, too — I’m sure we’ll have plenty to talk about as we continue on.

  30. What an awesome post Gena! Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us, who are your biggest fans! I am sure that you have heard all the inspirational quotes about making it through trial, so I wont bore you with another one ๐Ÿ™‚ Just know how inspiring it is to hear of your journey through struggle. Reading a story like this is such amazing motivation to push through my own “stuff” Just because it is difficult, does not mean it is not right! I am also so happy to hear that you have found such support and inspiration in your fellow class mates and mentors. It is the people that keep us going most of the time ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 You girl!

    • Thank you, Ali! I did have incredible support here. I think any rigorous academic experience is impossible without it. Much love to you.

      • You are freaking amazing. Support or no, it was still you that went through with everything <3 Much love right back at you!

  31. Congrats – what an accomplishment! I remember the posts from when you started this journey and I can’t believe three years has gone by already. Wishing you the best as you continue on this career path!

  32. Gena,

    What I told you last fall, is essentially what I’m telling you now: You can do it, you are doing it, & you’re going to be an amazing doctor some day.

    So proud of you.


  33. Flashbacks of o. chem alkenes with your 1st pic! It’s hard going back to school, it’s also hard admitting you’re going in the wrong direction, once you get there! I can empathize & sympathize. Your clients are fortunate, though, you’re real, smart, and balanced. Your post is inspiring! Keep up the great work!

  34. Hooray!!! I am so happy for you that the MCAT is behind you ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much for sharing your journey. My husband graduated med school when he was 37 (he went the osteopathic route) and we somehow survived. It was so difficult at the time (we also had two kids in the midst of it all) but so worth it. I’m not sure if you read Aviva Romm, but you should ๐Ÿ˜‰ She is a midwife, herbalist, physician and vegetarian:

  35. Go Gena- congratulations! I’m so incredibly proud and inspired all at the same time. It is such an honor to be working with you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. I know I can only echo what others have said here, Gena, but I want to let you know how happy I am for you and that you will always always always have my support. You and CR helped me recover from an immensely tough time in my life, and for that, you will have my undying gratitude. I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors and hope to meet up with you in DC sometime this summer.

    Much love,

  37. I hear ya and i did the same – cheers for the reminder and the inspiration – and to all others who have done the same! A brave move not made by everyone… I’m sure you’ll make an AMAZING DOCTOR!! x

  38. Gena, this post is so inspiring!! I know exactly the feeling of chasing your dreams and the frustration and questioning if its the right thing to do when things get difficult. You are such an inspiration in so many ways, and hearing you say that you started the journey almost 3 years ago makes me realize how long I’ve been reading your blog!!! Best of luck on your applications:)

  39. You did it! Enjoy the well deserved time off school. Congrats on getting through it, the world really needs a doc like you.

  40. any school would be lucky to have you, Gena! thank you so much for blogging- you have been and always will be my favorite ๐Ÿ™‚ looking forward to reading along your journey in the years to come!

  41. Congratulations on completing your post-bacc and passing the MCAT, Gena! What an incredible achievement, especially because you saw yourself as struggling in your classes and in your personal life. I read some of myself in your story; I went straight to law school after university, thinking I’d be so great at it because all it would be was reading and writing, two of my fortes (I’ve very often thought I’d absolutely love being an editor and envied your previous position). I had loved all levels of school from preschool through college. However, law school is a completely different animal and I struggled, even considering quitting 5 weeks in. I convinced myself that I was not a quitter and stayed on, but it was a very tough 3 years. I’m grateful to have the degree, but I wouldn’t do it over again. I acknowledge you for your courage in tackling something so difficult with your whole heart, for following your love to DC, and for paving the way for integrative medicine rooted in veganism. I would choose you as my doctor any day with no hesitation. You are an inspiration and I hope we’ll get to meet someday! May the application process be smooth and easy!

  42. One of the most engaging and inspiring posts I have ever read! You are truly an exceptional individual, Gena, and I look up to you as someone I hope to be like.

  43. I haven’t commented in SO LONG – but congratulations lady!!! I am so proud of your accomplishments, and I hope you are too. While I can’t relate to the post-bacc experience (which sounds quite terrifying), I understand the challenge for sure. I am so impressed with your insight and realism with the situation – I don’t think anyone is adequately prepared for med school, but damn if you aren’t on your way. Best of luck with applications – I am sure someone will appreciate your drive and dedication. No matter what happens, you totally got this ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You know I really appreciate your insight and support, Nicole. I feel like I had the privilege of watching you grow as a med student, and now I get to watch you embark on your career! Hopefully we’ll always cheer each other on.

  44. Most of my feelings have already been said but let me just add my many congratulations and much love to the outpouring of warmth from your other dedicated readers and friends xxx

  45. What an excellent post. Although you still have a long way to go, you’ve already come very far!

    Best of luck with med school admissions. I have no doubt that your med school essay will be standout and a great asset to your application.

  46. Congratulations, and all the best to you on the next part of your journey. I’ve only been following your blog about a year, but I truly mean it when I say you’re incredibly inspiring. I admire your passion, creativity, compassion, and resilience. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share with us. You’re going to do amazing things in the medical field!

  47. Gena, you always astound me! Even though I’m a premed-to-begin-with and consider myself a science-y/math-y person, I still find myself struggling with much of the pre-med curriculum, particularly Chem and Physics. (By the way, the need for Physics still puzzles me greatly– what have I really learned that is applicable to my future daily life as a physician? Not much. Besides maybe the details of magnetic resonance imaging and similar advanced medical technology. But I don’t have to build these machines/ invent these technologies, I just have to use them! And how many times have my Physics problem sets brought tears to my eyes? Too many to count!) Trust me when I say you were not alone in your struggle (but now you’re done and I’m extremely jealous… and still of course very happy for you). I can’t believe what you have been able to accomplish in such a short time while still staying dedicated to Choosing Raw and Food52 (as well as your many other commitments). I don’t believe I could complete all my premed requirements without my full four undergraduate years– and even then it’s a stretch! People ask me all the time why I am doing this to myself, but I feel the same way you do. I love to learn and I am passionate about helping others. Plus, my love for biology and neuroscience wholly account for my detestation of Physics. Anyway, congratulations, you have so, so much to be proud of and I certainly look up to you and to all you have achieved.

    • At some point we need to discuss the necessity of physics. Worst part of the MCAT (for me) by FAR. Anyway, Hailey, I’m cheering you on all the way. You got this!

  48. I so admire your optimism, determination, and ability to laugh at yourself. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lost or depressed, I think, “WWGD?” ๐Ÿ™‚ For real. I just moved to Boston this week, and although I’ve been transplanted into a new place with new people and a new job, I always have your blog to look forward to reading. And for that, I’m so grateful. Congratulations, Gena! I can’t wait to hear about the rest of your journey into medicine.

    • Please, never ask yourself WWGD. The answer is “drink coffee and listen to sad music” like 90% of the time.


  49. Good luck to you and good for you for not giving up. Any degree in healthcare takes a lot of effort. I applied to med school a couple times, but didn’t get in. The application process is a bit of work also. I hope you have a better outcome than I did.

  50. Gena,

    Thank you so much for being open and posting about this. I NEEDED this post today. As someone starting post-bacc in a month, I regularly question my decision. The money (Err, debt) involved, the time commitment, the lack of social/family/relationship time….but every time I get to volunteer or shadow with a doctor I get reinvigorated. It helps me tremendously to know that you questioned and struggled too, and I am SO happy that you have come out on a happy positive side. I hope that I can do the same, despite many moments of tears and frustration that are sure to come.

    Congratulations on finishing and getting the MCAT score you hoped for! I’ll be in and out of DC next year (Since I’ll be in Charlottesville, VA) so maybe we can get together and chat some time! I’m sure I’ll need a pep talk.


    • Thanks, Clare. I’ll be happy to give you a pep talk anytime. It’s gonna be hard, but you’re totally approaching it with the right mentality. One day at a time — and reach out whenever you need support ๐Ÿ™‚

  51. As always I am impressed and inspired by you Gena. Way to go! I’m excited to follow your journey through the next phase and to see what’s in store. Nothing but good, I’m sure. ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. Gena,

    A few things…

    1. I am so glad the “It’s a wrap” title was not in regards to this blog. My heart dropped for a second until I quickly scanned the contents to confirm/deny.

    2. Thank you for sharing and being so completely honest about this process. You eat raw, and are so raw with your struggles and triumphs. So inspiring.

    3. I come from a background in design and marketing (clothes, handbags) and will be embarking in a new venture this summer to go back to school for food science and nutrition. Thank you for the perspective shift you provided. I know it won’t be easy, but it’s taken a huge relief off me in just realizing I CAN do it, just in a different way than how I learned previously.

    I can’t wait to read about the next part of your journey.

    xx Tiffany

  53. Congratulations Gena! I have such admiration for people who go back to study (here I’d be called a ‘mature age student’!) and I appreciate your honestly here ๐Ÿ™‚

  54. Gena, this is excellent news! I have started to email you several times in the past month or two to ask about the MCAT results, but decided against it each time because I had hoped you’d share it on the blog. Congrats. Even if the journey isn’t done yet, you’ve just surmounted an enormous hurdle along the way.

    Like you, I went back to school for my PhD when I was older (29), and I hadn’t been in school for almost 8 years. Luckily a PhD in Australia is very independent and student-led, and doesn’t involve course work, so that part was easy to adjust to. However, I REALLY struggled with self-doubt and discomfort with being a student again. My poor husband had to listen so many times while I whined about not being able to put all the puzzle pieces together to write my research proposal, or feeling overwhelmed by the literature for my lit review, and – most often – just not being smart enough to do this. I’m past most of that now, although I am now onto the phase of data analysis so more challenges lie ahead. Still, I can empathise with some of what you have gone though, and I think you handled it remarkably well (from a blog reader’s perspective, at least…I can only see a tiny sliver of your life!). I look forward to reading more about the next steps and your reflections on this stage of your life.

    • Thank you, Sarah! I hope to see you this summer, and I smiled at your description of “whining” to your husband. I cannot tell you what a whiner my post-bacc made me ๐Ÿ™‚

  55. Congrats, Gena! I was actually just thinking about you today, realizing I had not read the full story of when and why you quit publishing to pursue medicine. Thanks for making it easy for me to go back and read more about your journey. I wish you all the best with this next step, and I look forward to following you (and the delicious recipes you share here) as you pursue your dream.

  56. Congrats Gena! We are so happy for you!! We admire you so much! Through all the hard times you stuck it out and made things happen! You accomplished what you wanted! We are excited to continue to follow your journey as you are going to continue to help so many people ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for being so open and honest, truly amazing lady!

  57. This was the most honest, inspiring, and heartfelt piece of writing I’ve ever read. I admire you so much, Gena! It takes a lot of courage and conviction to switch tracks like you have done. Most people just stick to what they know and never challenge themselves to do things they think they just weren’t meant to do. Knowing that you can write well, do math, AND understand science is incredibly empowering; you’ve got it going on, girl! You have come so far in your journey, and I am positive that it will only continue.

    • Oh man, I don’t think it was all that…but I really appreciate your kind words, Elisabeth! Thank you so much for your steady support.

  58. Congrats Gena! I’m a fairly new reader as of last year, but I am a huge fan. Your articles and recipes are always so inspiring. You always have such a kind, thoughtful approach to things, and I have such admiration and respect. Congrats to you again on all your hard work! Can’t wait to hear about what recipes you dream up while in med school!! We definitely need more people like you in the world ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. I don’t speak up much around here, but I’ve been a faithful reader for a few years now, and I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to read about your journey, both with food and as a student. I’m not going to school, but I am on a journey to pursue my dreams and it’s incredibly frustrating sometimes. It’s wonderful to read about someone who is much busier than I am and experiencing a lot of similar frustrations while still making health a priority, which is something I don’t do well when I’m stressed.
    Good luck with your application and your gap year, and thank you so much for sharing your experiences so honestly and beautifully.

  60. Gena, thank you for writing this post. My grad program couldn’t be further from your pre-med track, but I relate to and appreciate so much of what you’ve said here – the emotional highs and lows, the delusion that I’d maintain any semblance of a full personal life, the self-doubt, the learning how to learn again. This journey has come with more challenges than I ever could have predicted, and while I know the other students in my cohort are struggling with them as well, there’s comfort in knowing someone like you, who came from the same place of striving for health and balance before going back to school, has experienced it too.

    Congratulations on finishing this stage and on your successful MCATs. Cheers to rediscovering a full life now that you have the time! I’ve got 21 days until my last final before the summer off from classes, and I can’t wait to do the same.

  61. Congrats, Gena!!! As a fellow pre-med with a year to go, it must feel amazing to get that good MCAT score back. Those science classes can be brutal, and even as a traditional undergrad with more natural strengths in humanities and writing, it readjusts your whole mindset when you’re just hoping to get by in a tough class like orgo or genetics. It’s definitely worth it for the light-bulb moments, though- in cell bio we recently learned about the science behind genetic high cholesterol, which is the reason I went vegan and got into nutrition in the first place, and it was so cool to look at the pathway and understand why my body works the way it does. Best of luck with the application process! You’ve put in so much hard work and you’re so passionate about health, I’m sure everything will work out for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  62. I just wrote you an embarrassingly long email. My apologies in advance, but this was this was just the most amazing post and I had to send you an appreciative and commiserative note.

    I’m so proud of you! Congratulations!

  63. Congrats and thank you! I’m inspired by and proud of you (even though I don’t know you personally) every time you are able to face, process and articulate the challenges you face. No doubt you’re going to keep growing and doing incredible work for our world.

  64. This is so lovely, candid and thoughtful. As someone currently in publishing in NYC, I can identify with the place you were a few years ago, and I can (vaguely) imagine how radical this shift might be. The idea of making such a shift myselfโ€”in habit! career! culture! uh, humidity index!โ€”makes me seize up in anxiety. Which is to say, DAMN girl. You’ve accomplished such a difficult task. I hope you find lotsa time to soak in your accomplishment this summer!

  65. So incredibly proud of you! Pushing through what seems to be a never-ending tunnel of muck is not easy to do, but you did, and with grace (at least on CR) – no easy feat.

    Congrats on everything and best of luck with applications!

  66. Congrats on finishing pre-med! I can guess how grueling it was for you because I was also struggling along with you at times with gen chem, organic chem, biochem, A&P and I also had not been in school for a long time or taken many science classes previously. I had so many doubts about my path (to become an RD, so you had it much harder, I’m sure!) and made the same anguished phone calls to friends and my mom. Like you, I’m happy I stuck with it and have grown so much because of the experience.
    Enjoy your break and good luck on your applications!

  67. Congratulations, Gena, and thank you for your openness and honesty – I have such wild admiration for you, and this post is the perfect embodiment of why that is. ๐Ÿ™‚

  68. Congratulations on finishing your post-bacc Gena! I’m always in awe of the risks you’ve taken and the ways you’ve challenged yourself. You are an inspiration to this 30-something lawyer who has always been too afraid to step out of her comfort zone and try something different! Even if for some reason it doesn’t work out, you’ve pursued a dream, and that takes so much courage. I applaud all of your hard work and your refreshing honesty along the way.

  69. Congratulations. You deserve all the good things that will come to you! You continue to be an inspiration. It’s never easy, but that makes it all more worth it when we succeed.

  70. I have been reading your blog for some time now and I’ve often wondered,”how does she do it?”
    You are one busy girl, but, you still are true to yourself.
    You take on the challenges before you, you keep your head down and just power through them.
    That’s inspirational.
    I have enjoyed everything I’ve made from your site, but, I have to say, I have REALLY enjoyed reading about your journey with your schooling,maintaining balance,recovery stories etc
    I wish you the best of luck as you continue your pursuit of becoming an MD
    I REALLY wish you a relaxing,rejuvenating vacation.
    You deserve it.

  71. Hi Gena, I have discovered you and your blog only a few short months ago and I love everything you write and enjoy making your recipes.
    This post was so courageous and insightful and I loved every bit of it!
    While my schools years are behind me I could certainly relate to what you write about underestimating the affect change is job/life situation/location can have on us.
    Looking forward to keep reading your post and making yummy healthy food!

  72. Congratulations! I can’t believe it’s been that long since you started, I so clearly remember the post where you announced your intention to become a doctor! And I thought wow, you are the perfect person to write some sort of best selling, life changing, plant based nutrition book, I can see you being one of the doctors who appears on Oprah or something. (Isn’t she off the air now though? I can’t keep up.)

    Anyway, it sounds extremely difficult, hope you have plenty of fun and relaxation in your gap year!

  73. Gena-you are so inspiring. You and your post helped me to remember (and believe) that no matter how difficult, you can always achieve your goals and dreams with determination and perseverance. I wish you the best of luck on the application process and your road ahead!

  74. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I am also on the cusp of a much needed career change. Reading your story has been inspiring. Keep your head held high!

  75. Congratulations, Gena! I completely empathize with your experiences preparing for and taking the MCAT. I remember what a difficult time that was for me and how I had so little time for anything other than schoolwork. Enjoy your break ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure you will get into med school- you have a maturity that many med school applicants lack, and your background makes you a well-rounded candidate, which can be the most important qualification at this point. Good luck!

  76. It’s sort odd since I don’t actually know you, I just eat your (tasty, tasty) food — but this post made me feel so much genuine emotion and excitement for you. So many congratulations. I feel like all of us blog readers have been voyers on your journey and it feels good to see you succeed and move onto to the next step! Very nice job.

    • Thanks so much, Bailey. Still a lot ahead, but stopping to mark the milestones is important ๐Ÿ™‚

  77. You are so incredibly inspirational and I cannot thank you enough for posting this. It’s really hard to not get all up in your head when you’re in undergrad. I kept thinking that I had to decide right then and there, but you are living proof that when you follow your dreams, you will succeed. Sure, it’ll be rough. But it will be so completely worth it. And worse comes to worst, you get an amazing blog post out of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I wish you the best of luck with the rest of your journey and can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

    • Oh god, no, you don’t have to decide as an undergrad. Or you sort of do, just to have a job when you graduate, but it’s not a fixed choice! I decided to be an editor, then I was. I decided to do something else, now I am. Life can be divided into chapters.

  78. What a great way to describe being a post-grad applying for med school! I was one once as well, and as a second year med student right now let me just tell you, the complete revamp of your schedule and your priorities and your life that you’re describing continues throughout med school! It’s nice to know that others also struggles with the adjustments. I admire your holistic approach not just to food, but to life, because that is something of a rarity in medical school, where most students live off vending machine snacks and leftover pizza five nights a week! Good luck on the application process — I’m sure you’ll get in wherever you need to be. ๐Ÿ™‚

  79. Congratulations on the MCAT Gena. You have really put your all into this, even more admirable since I know it hasn’t been plain sailing for you. You’ve shown yourself that you CAN do this and I bet the experience will serve you well for other difficult times too. Good luck with applications ๐Ÿ™‚

  80. *HUG* So happy to hear the MCAT went well! No lessons are not worth learning and your experiences will only make you stronger in medical school and residency. I wish I had some pull to get you into a medical school here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  81. Gena!! You’re a rockstar. I’ve been following CR for years and rarely comment. But I found myself reading this and tearing up, not in a sad way, but in a “I’m super proud of you bestie” kinda way. We may not know each other, but we know each other. We, me and your CR community has been and will always be here for you, come hell or high water. You’re an inspiration and the world is a better place for having you in it.
    xx Johanna

  82. i have been waiting so long for this post! it was clear to me reading in between the lines that there were definitely some trying times. i am so impressed and proud of your perseverance and dedication to medicine! you are one step closer on this long road and ultimately, can springboard into other avenues of healthcare if you so chose! you’ve got the pre- coursework under your belt! science is so incredibly humbling. even when i think i have something totally figured out, i put it in an experiment and it blows up in my face. soooo many things are unexplained and there’s always the lesson of patience. it’s the best/greatest thing i’ve learned in the field. hopefully, my patience has made me a more palatable individual…i was pretty obnoxious in undergrad.

    • I always love hearing your musings about science, Melissa. Thanks for your support and insights along the way.

  83. Gena, I am so very happy for you, such an accomplishment. These challenging times show us that we can dig deeper than we ever though possible. We are more capable than we know, stronger than we imagine. You now have this experience of grit and persistence to recall for future endeavours, to know you can get through other extremely trying times in life. I’m sure your readers have much appreciation not only for sharing this post and journey (to inspire them on their own paths), but also because you maintained your connection with them through it all. You are a remarkably strong and intelligent woman. My warm congrats… you have more to celebrate ahead. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I love your musings on challenge, Dreena. I have so many more ahead of me, but I like to think the post-bacc was a good primer, and it did build my reserves. Thanks for your support ๐Ÿ™‚

  84. Gena,
    Congratulations on finishing a difficult part of your journey!
    But come on, no veggie wrap recipe to pun this post? Just kidding! No pressure!
    *Sending hugs your way.

  85. Gena, congratulations. I never comment but wanted to chime in to let you know I’ve been following along for years and am very excited for you. And holy post-bacc, also impressed. Take a bit to bask in the glow of a job FINISHED. You deserve it, lady!

  86. Congrats Gena!!! I’ve always loved your recipes, but I also loved your posts on school..I remember that Orgo was trying to kick your butt… and your pushed through. I am SO HAPPY for your next chapter in your life…Good Luck in your future!

  87. As a reader for the past few years, I feel like I “know” you in some way and am so proud of what you’ve become. That statement has much less to do with the educational credentials and much more to do with you as a person, as you’ve shown maturity and grace in the midst of such personal doubt. We all believe in you and there’s no question that this blog has remained an inspiring place for so many. I look forward to what it brings in the future, and of course, congrats!

    • Oh, I think we definitely “know” each other, friend. Thanks for this kind comment — and for being such a thoughtful part of this blog.

  88. Congrats, Gena! I can’t believe how time has flown. I’m glad Choosing Raw has always stayed a part of your life and can’t wait to see what happens next. Remember: It’s all uncharted.

  89. Gena,

    Thank you so much for this post. I read your blog consistently, but I don’t always post. I resonate deeply with what you share here; questioning decisions about changes. I myself went through a similar experience this past year, when I took a leave of absence from my ‘old’ life to pursue new opportunities and experience halfway across the country. Like you, I also underestimated the difficulties associated with change, but I think such a process makes us a stronger person, and requires us to look within at ourselves, asking the big questions, and making the big changes for personal growth and transformation.

    No matter what, the experiences we have shape us into the person we are, and you will be able to transfer any of those skills to wherever life takes you!

    I wish you all the best with your pursuits. You are an inspiration, and I find much comfort in your forthright, confessional, and personal writing ๐Ÿ™‚

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