Last year, amidst the excitement and stress of my third year of medical school, I was not surprised when I would take a brief pause from my fast-paced, hospital-centered surroundings, only to realize how quickly time was passing. With a few exceptions, my sense of time revolved around four-week blocks: get through these four weeks of outpatient medicine, then it’s four weeks of VA wards, then—after a pesky little shelf exam—it’s onto pediatrics…and so on. Using these 1/13th of a year chunks of time as my framework, the year predictably passed in the blink of an eye.
I am, however, surprised by how quickly my research year is going. I was shocked to realize that last week marked the end of my second month in the lab, as it truly feels like I just began. My experience in the lab thus far has been very positive. There has certainly been a learning curve in acquiring a laboratory skill set (it has been five years since I was last in a lab and I was more than a little rusty!), but I feel like I am finally starting to hit somewhat of a stride and begin to start some real experiments.
Although there are certain similarities between clinical medicine and scientific research, I have realized that the two require fundamentally different ways of thinking. In the clinical realm, one is presented with a patient with certain symptoms or complaints and must piece together the puzzle to deduce the underlying cause. A researcher, on the other hand, starts with a blank canvas and must decide first what the puzzle should look like, and then how to create the various pieces to create it. Perhaps due to the nature of my med school training so far, I find the former way of thinking significantly easier, but I’m hoping this becomes a little more balanced as the year goes on.
Outside of the lab, I have had lots of time to enjoy this beautiful Ann Arbor fall. From many runs through some of the town’s more scenic parks—my favorite of which is in the picture!—to attending the first three home football games of the season (all wins!), I feel like I’ve already gotten to enjoy the outdoors more than during my entire third year! Last weekend was an especially fun one, as I went to Cedar Point, a huge amusement park just two hours away in Ohio. It was a pretty chilly day, which was great because there were no lines for even the biggest roller coasters, so we were able to ride about all of them multiple times. This past weekend, I also took advantage of Detroit Restaurant Week, a yearly even in which the city’s nicest restaurants serve three-course meals for a discounted price. We ate at Iridescence, which is on top of the Motor City Casino and has a beautiful view of the city. After three years, it was my first time really being in downtown Detroit, and I definitely hope to go back soon! Looking forward, I have a visit from my sister, a trip to the Upper Peninsula to visit my extended family, and the Michigan-Michigan State home football game coming up in the next week. Fall is definitely off to a fun start!
The Michigan Medical School interview season is already in full swing, and I wish all applicants good luck! As always, feel free to email me with questions regarding the application process or medical school in general! 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org