Thanks for reading. My name is Jeff Nadel and I am an M1 here at the University of Michigan Medical School. Just a little bit about me before diving into the good stuff: I originally hail from the suburbs of Denver, Colorado and graduated in 2012 from Colorado College in Colorado Springs. That summer, I moved to Washington D.C. where I spent a year conducting biomedical research at the NIH followed by a year doing health policy research at The Brookings Institution. Now, I’m finally here in Ann Arbor and couldn’t be more excited to be starting on this amazing adventure.
The first few weeks of medical school went by in a flash—in fact, we’re already finished with our first sequence! Although there’s much to tell, I’d like to focus on one special part of the medical school experience at U-M: the Family Centered Experience (FCE). In addition to our lecture-based coursework and small group breakout sessions, all medical students take part in the FCE, where we are matched with someone in the greater Ann Arbor community who is coping with a long-term chronic illness. Over the course of our first two years of medical school, we get together with them to explore the meaning of illness (versus disease) and how it impacts their daily life. Ultimately, throughout these experiences, we begin to understand the human side of sickness and cultivate our skills seeing the patient as a whole person rather than someone with just a constellation of symptoms. Most of us met our patient-volunteers during a dinner ceremony we had a couple of weeks ago and scheduled our first visits at that point.
My FCE partner and I visited our family for the first time last week and had a fantastic time. She and her husband were incredibly kind and had us over for a delicious home cooked dinner—a rarity thus far in medical school. They also have an adorable dog that was fun to play with! But beyond that, I felt like I got my first real glimpse at what it means to be a physician. We had a long conversation about the many diseases she’s dealt with with over the course of her life, how they have affected her perception of herself, the impact they have on her day-to-day living, and what she has done to adapt and remain optimistic. We cried a little, laughed a lot, and unpacked some of the most upsetting, intimate, and inspiring details of her life. I was often at a loss for words, which if you know me, almost never happens.
As the night went on, I came to realize that as physicians, we will regularly learn things from our patients that few others, even their family and friends, know. It was a tremendous experience to be on the receiving end of such knowledge for the first time, and I really appreciate that U-M provides us the opportunity to learn and grow in such a tangible way. My FCE family even invited my partner and I over to their house for a Labor Day barbeque—we’re becoming one big family and I’m elated for our future visits with them!
Speaking of going to houses, yesterday was the home opener for Michigan football at The Big House and it was also my first time going to a big-time college football game! A bunch of my classmates and I bought season tickets this year and had a blast supporting our team to their 52-14 victory over Appalachian State. The Big House was even larger than I anticipated, with the capacity to hold almost 110,000 people.
Yesterday was the 252nd straight home game with an attendance of over 100,000. Now that’s dedication! The atmosphere was electric and I can’t wait for our next home game in a couple of weeks. It’s so nice to be at a school where our flexible schedules—courtesy of flextime quizzing—make these sorts of experiences possible.
Thanks for reading! If you are a prospective student and ever have any questions about life at University of Michigan Medical School, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, GO BLUE!
Jeff is a 4th year medical student currently completing a dual MS degree in Clinical Research at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He plans to apply into neurosurgery. When he is not busy studying, he is an avid skier and Denver Broncos fan, and loves to be outside.