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What a tremendously inspiring week I’m emerging from….. LEAPS into IM. This is a retreat/workshop organized by AMSA and the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine, of which Michigan is a member. Let me tell you what we did, and of my experience.

First of all, I came there after my first year of medical school. I’m not going to lie: it was a challenging year for me, as the culture of medicine and the rigor of constant studying took a year-long toll on my serenity and peace of mind. At this conference, this was a common experience. There were 30 medical students at the LEAPS conference and 10 faculty facilitators from various U.S. medical schools. We shared an unspeakable bond and connection. I told the people of my experience, and they said “yes, we have known this, too.”

In small groups, we shared our experience and aspirations. Our desires to heal ourselves and our patients, in body and mind and soul. Our love for life and concern for the wellbeing of our fellows. We bathed in the sunshine of Oceanside, CA at the Old Mission San Luis Rey. We practiced yoga, mindfulness meditation, Tai Chi, massage, OMM, experienced acupuncture, and participated (rather fully) in a shamanic drumming circle. I cannot tell you of the power of this week. I felt so utterly renewed in my desire to be a physician and a deep, deep fellowship with the people I met at this beautiful conference. So many tears were shed as the layers of stress and anxiety accumulated over the course of M1 year peeled off of me. I found myself leading circles of fellow students in breathing exercises and Sun Salutations. When we presented to one another, we congratulated and encouraged one another. It was just such a nourishing experience.

One of our final projects was to write one another notes. I will cherish these messages throughout the summer, will hope to draw upon them during the upcoming school year, and will keep my fellow students in my heart as I keep moving forward on the very strange path of becoming a physician.