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Well, the M1s have just completed our first week of the ever-ominous Musculoskeletal sequence and, I have to admit, it’s a pretty different beast than our last Cardio/Respiratory sequence. As M1s, we receive a lot of resources and tidbits of advice from the “upperclassmen” about how to best adjust to each new sequence and I’m pretty grateful for those, now that the learning curves are becoming a bit steeper with each transition. The Musculoskeletal sequence (or, MSK, as we affectionately call it) has a pretty heavy focus on anatomy, which means we are in the lab far more frequently than in past months. For some of my classmates, this extra time in anatomy lab is less-than ideal, while others are exceedingly eager to get elbow deep in all of the new structures we are discovering. The anatomy labs are open to us almost all of the time, so many students find it helpful to spend time in the lab in the evenings, between dissections. Personally, I fall between these two extremes… I really enjoy anatomy lab and find it incredibly satisfying to dissect and uncover structures, but I can’t quite bring myself to spend extra time in the lab at night, just yet.

This week we focused on dissecting the Upper Limb, which included my favorite dissection so far — uncovering the brachial plexus.  It is so satisfying to look at networks of nerves and vessels in books and lab manuals and then be able to actually find structures that look exactly how they are supposed to look in our donor bodies in the lab.  The brachial plexus is huge, intricate, and beautiful, and while dissecting this week I had to step back and appreciate just how incredibly complicated, yet consistent, our bodies are. I have heard that a lot of newer medical schools are moving away from hands-on dissection to learn anatomy, but I am so grateful to have the opportunity to go through the process of physically exploring a body and to experience the satisfaction of uncovering muscles, nerves, and vessels in the lab.

Amid our adventures in anatomy lab, the M1s are also spending time learning biochemistry, physiology, and histology within this sequence. And, although this feels like a lot sometimes, many of us have been using our free time to take advantage of the many non-academic opportunities offered here at the med school. In the past week alone I have attended a cappella rehearsals (check out the Auscultations here!), hip hop dance rehearsals for the upcoming Biorhythms show, a suturing workshop, a Michigan basketball game, and a football game in the Big House. As important as it is to study, I think a big part of maintaining a healthy balance in medical school is to find those outlets through which you can best express your other talents and interests. Sometimes it feels like a lot to pack into our already busy schedules, but all of the “extra” stuff certainly keeps me smiling at the end of each day.

And here’s some proof that we still have fun:

‘Til next time!