Refusing to Give Up: Courtney’s Path

“I was nervous that admissions would tell me I'd never be a doctor, but that's not what happened at all. I was really happy I went to talk with them.”
Courtney Morgan

Courtney Morgan

Medical School: Louisiana State University School of Medicine of Medicine in Shreveport, 2018
Graduate: Masters of Medical Science at Mississippi College, 2014
Undergrad: B.S. in biology, University of Louisiana at Monroe, 2012
Excelsior College, ASN-RN, 2010
Northeast Louisiana Technical College, LPN, 2003

Background

  • Grew up in a rural, southern environment
  • Mother of four children
  • Worked as a nurse for years before applying to medical school
  • Started a health care business as an entrepreneur with her husband prior to medical school
  • Helped by a family medical crisis to realize she wanted to attend medical school

Academics

AOA-Courtney-Whitecoat.jpg
White Coat Ceremony

Coursework was a challenge initially for Courtney because of so many other demands on her time. “My overall undergrad GPA was 3.3, but I worked hard to achieve a 4.0 when I returned for my final year. I had multiple withdraws on my transcript due to having to hold a full-time job, be a mother, and a student. When I decided to go to medical school I knew that this would not be looked at highly, but I did not let that stop me from trying.” Courtney knew she needed to compensate for her lower undergrad GPA so she did a Master's program that helped show improvement.

Courtney’s MCAT results also worried her, though she was able to raise her score 3 points between her first and second attempts. She believes LSU saw more in her application than coursework/grades. “My average score was lower than other applicants at the school, but my experience in health care, my maturity, and my desire to become a doctor helped balance my academic record.”

Dean of Admissions at LSU Shreveport, Scott Kennedy, MD, said that there were concerns when Courtney first applied. “We reviewed her transcripts from nursing school, and noted some inconsistencies. We recommended that she pursue Masters of Medical Science at Mississippi College. We felt like if she could make A’s at a recognized, difficult program, it would demonstrate she could do the work.”

Experiences

AOA-Courtney-WashingFeet.jpg
Medical mission trip in Madagascar after Courtney's first year of medical school.

Courtney may not have been a “traditional” medical student as many people think of them, however, her experiences gave her a broader scope of healthcare. Courtney shared, “I see things from multiple perspectives. I was the first to graduate college in my family. Had my daughter right out of high school. I worked my way up from LPN to RN to eventually obtaining my BS then my MS prior to entering medical school. Along my journey to medical school I had 3 more children, a divorce, and then a spouse who was diagnosed with cancer.” She goes on to say, “Now that I am in medical school I am able to see first-hand how our experiences in life shape what type of doctor we become. They allow us to reach our patients right where they are in life. You are able to empathize. You are able to understand struggle when you have experienced it.  On multiple occasions I have had the opportunity to reach out and comfort a patient because of already overcoming a situation they were going through at that time.”

Personal Statement

AOA-Courtney-CuttingHair.jpg
Courtney and her firend Blair shaved their heads to raise money for pediatric cancer research during their second year of medical school.

When it came to her personal statement, Courtney looked to her previous health care experience. “I highlighted an experience from when I was a nurse, and added things I thought I could bring to the school and as a future physician.

As Dr. Kennedy explains when it comes to the personal statement, “Overall, I'm interested in two things: the evolution, and the maturation of you wanting to be a doctor. At some point, you made an adult decision to become a doctor. I'm interested in what the circumstances, events, was or were at that time. And I'm interested in what you did differently as a result of that decision. How did it evolve? How did you act on it?” Dr. Kennedy goes on to say, “Also, we need to know it’s you who wrote the statement. It will be clear if the statement truly doesn’t reflect the applicant’s voice and experience, and will fall apart in the interview.”

Letters of Evaluation

AOA-Courtney-Scrubs.jpg
Courtney and her friend Hanna during their 3rd year surgery clerkship.

Courtney’s school provided a committee letter. “They interviewed me, and I had a professor who was able to speak to my success in that class, write a separate letter.”

LSU Shreveport’s admission committee was able to use the letters for important academic information. “We knew she went to her classes, goes to lab – spends life there. Her instructors saw that she's on her game all the time and determined to make straight As. She’s demonstrated that she can double down in the face of adversity.” Dr. Kennedy went on to say, “Her letters gave us the important background, we've got history; she’s not a typical person from the big State U.”

Interview

Courtney viewed the interview as a time to be herself. "I was able to show maturity in how I answered the questions. There were times I wanted to rephrase an answer because I could tell that the way I was answering the question may not have come out quite the right way.” It was also important to her to showcase her communication skills. “Being able to communicate effectively is a big component of being a doctor.”

Why Courtney Chose LSU Shreveport

AOA-Courtney-Husband.jpg
Courtney and her husband in Paris.

When she interviewed, Courtney was taken with how happy all of the medical students seemed. “I loved how Shreveport was a smaller community but still offered things to do in your free time. At LSU it feels like a family, everyone knows everybody.” Ultimately she felt overall it was the best place for her and her family.

Why LSU Chose Courtney

Dr. Kennedy shared that the process at LSU Shreveport relies “heavily on nonacademic variables in students that don’t have big numbers— especially important in evaluating non-traditional students.”

Dr. Kennedy went on to say, “In Courtney’s case, we saw five lines of mediocre undergraduate grades and one line of in progress graduate work. That can be visually daunting for an admissions committee. We've been doing holistic review for 20 years at LSU Shreveport. Courtney was right in the main stream of our applicants. We look for many components of the application and for various competencies.”

Dr. Kennedy further explained that Courtney jumped out “because if I could have one thing and nothing else in a student, it is a student who really wants it. And her drive, determination, and maturity, dedication, sacrifice and long-range planning demonstrated that.”

Competencies Demonstrated

Note: This section helps to illustrate how multiple competencies can be demonstrated across many experiences, activities, and parts of your application.

Service OrientationNursing experience, medical volunteer trips
Social SkillsExtensive experience at all levels of nursing
Cultural CompetenceNursing experience, grew up in rural Louisiana
TeamworkNursing experience
Oral CommunicationExtensive experience at all levels of nursing
Social SkillsNursing experience
Ethical ResponsibilityNursing experience, ran a successful healthcare business, parent
Resilience and AdaptabilityDistance traveled: first in family to graduate from college; had her first child right out of high school; family medical crisis, non-traditional path to medical school
Capacity for ImprovementStrong performance in a post-bacc program after uneven performance in undergraduate; improved MCAT score on retake; extensive experience at all levels of nursing
Critical ThinkingStarted and ran a successful healthcare business for several years; nursing experience
Quantitative ReasoningCoursework
Service OrientationCoursework
Written CommunicationStatement of purpose
Living SystemsNursing background, coursework
Human BehaviorCoursework

Strongest Competencies

Courtney Morgan self-identified the following competencies as the strongest:

  • Service Orientation
  • Social Skills
  • Resilience and Adaptability

Courtney's Tips

"Go talk to a medical school and come up with a plan. Every applicant is different and every person is different so go talk to the people who matter."
"Never give up! There will be set backs in life but look at them as periods of growth that will only make you stronger!"
"Follow your heart, it will never steer you the wrong way. Many people will have many opinions about your life; the only one that matters is yours!"

Self-Assessment Guide

None
Anatomy of an Applicant resources and self-assessment guide for medical school applicants.

The Parts of Your Medical School Application

None
There are many different components that go into a complete medical school application. Learn what these pieces are, why medical schools ask for them, and what each part says about your qualifications as an applicant.

Participate in Anatomy of An Applicant

None
We're looking for more medical students to share their story with us, and how they demonstrated the core competencies on their application.  

Aspiring Docs Diaries

None