Before I jump into my first rambling tale of a blog post, it’s probably best that I introduce myself. I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado and am a proud 2010 graduate of a small liberal arts school in Maine called Bowdoin College. After graduating, I taught and coached for two years at a boarding school in western Massachusetts before deciding to pursue medical school. I then spent two years completing an MS in Medical Sciences at Boston University and worked for a research group that examines the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma and concussions in athletes. As an untraditional medical student (and Economics major in college), my road to U of M was a bit windy, but I believe I’m much better off because of it. Okay, enough about life pre-UMMS and on to life in Ann Arbor!
Our white coat ceremony was quite an amazing way to kick off our entrance into medical school. While Dean Wooliscroft, Dean Gay, and others spoke, all I could think about was how amazing it was to be joining the Maize and Blue family. The journey to medical school is filled with so many “I’s”: How can I get a good score on the MCAT? What can I do to impress admissions committees? How the heck can I actually get into medical school? It was a very welcome change of pace to start hearing about how our class was joining a huge and supportive medical school family, how we were now at the beginning of a lifelong journey of serving others, and how it was our responsibility as a collective whole to become the best doctors we could possibly be. This is no longer about the pronoun “I.” It’s about us, our future patients, colleagues, mentors, teachers, and so much more. I kept imagining an old, wise doctor casually dropping some advice on me and saying, “Kid, it ain’t about you anymore.” And that’s the most wonderful, fantastic part of finally becoming a medical student!
Orientation was a complete blur (and seems so long ago!) and I can’t highlight enough just how impressive each and every one of my classmates is. With vastly diverse backgrounds (including tons of non-science majors), even more unique extracurricular interests, and a common nerdiness for health sciences, it’s very exciting to think about how much we will all contribute towards bettering each other as future doctors. Our first weekend together was highlighted by a huge tubing trip down the Huron River. I can’t imagine many kayakers were super excited about navigating blobs of 20+ happy-go-lucky medical students tied together. Maybe we were simply helping them develop their paddling skills…
Lectures so far have been varied in pace (from drinking out of a trickling faucet to drinking out of a fire hose), but the patient presentation lectures have been by far and away my favorite parts of our academic schedule. So far we’ve had patients and their family members come in and talk to us about their experiences with Down’s Syndrome and Huntington’s Disease, and we have one on colon cancer coming up next week. I cannot express enough how powerful these sessions are – each lecture has been both deeply touching and incredibly invigorating. As much as you can learn about illness and health conditions from standard lectures, hearing stories from real patients who actually deal with the ramifications of these health issues both A) makes everything instantly more relevant and B) reminds us all why we signed up for this 4+ year journey in the first place.
If I have one takeaway message from my short time in Ann Arbor, it would be that the word “family” is not used lightly here at U of M. In fact, proud alumni, faculty, staff, and other members of the Michigan family sponsored the white coats and stethoscopes that our entire class received at the beginning of the school year. The faculty and staff here are as friendly and supportive as advertised, and I’m incredibly proud to call myself a Wolverine. Hopefully in a couple more weeks I’ll be a little more acclimated to the daily rigors of medical school – until then, thanks for reading and Go Blue!