Happy New Year! The end of each year and the beginning of the next always causes me to become a bit sentimental. Somehow, this rather arbitrary marker always makes me stop and think about where I am and where I’m going.
The new year always comes in the middle of the school year, and I can’t help but feel that this January marks the beginning of an end. In eleven short weeks, I’ll take my last M2 exam and begin boards study period (the USMLE Step 1 Licensing Exam, which strikes varied emotions in M2s). Then, at the beginning of May, I’ll start M3 orientation and then my first clinical rotation. Time is moving way too quickly. I still feel as if I don’t know enough, and I know this is a common feeling. We’ve learned a lot, but there is always so much more to learn.
Since the last time I wrote, we completed our musculoskeletal and dermatology blocks. It felt like the three weeks passed in a flash, and then it was break. I started break with brunch with some med school friends, and then headed back to my hometown to spend time with family and friends. I loved spending time at home, meeting with friends, and even getting a chance to go see the new Star Wars movie with my family. Far too quickly, I had to head back to Ann Arbor to get ready for the start of the new semester.
I’ve realized that moving forward also generally means giving some things up, as well. In December, I ended my time as a patient scheduler for the Student-Run Free Clinic, as the new M1 clinic staff officially took over clinic. I had put off writing about it because I never really thought I could do it justice. My time at the UMSRFC was one of the highlights of my medical education thus far, and it’s difficult to know that I won’t have as much of a role going forward.
The goal of the clinic is to provide quality health care for individuals in Livingston County who wouldn’t otherwise have access to health services. The clinic began a few years ago, the dream of a group likeminded medical students who felt the injustice of health inequities and wanted to do something about it. UMSRFC has faced many challenges since, including a fire that displaced the clinic. However, the clinic, its alumni, and its advisory board remain committed to providing quality care. The UMSRFC is unique in that students run almost every aspect of the clinic, including ordering supplies, fundraising, managing finances, and scheduling patients, physicians, and student volunteers. Members of the clinic staff spend about one Saturday per month staffing the clinic in addition to their everyday responsibilities.
The logistics of the clinic don’t do justice to the lessons that we learn from patients, however. Just like people in general, some patients are pleasant, and others require slightly more patience. The stories that I’ve heard from patients have made my heart sing, made my blood boil, and brought me to tears. Above all, my time at the clinic has confirmed my desire to work with underserved populations and has given me the experience of being in a group of very passionate people who are taking small steps toward making change. While I’m now a leadership alumna, I know that I’ll be back at the clinic as a clinical student M3 and M4 year, so it’s never over until it’s over.
Yesterday, we started our Hematology/Oncology block, the first of five blocks before the end of M2 year. I have to say that the adjustment back into studying all day was a rough one. I’m excited to move forward and excited for what is to come. For now, however, it’s back to the grind and happy reunions with friends. As always, thanks for reading. Until next time, try to stay warm!
Angelica is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School. When she’s not on the wards, you can find her on a run around Ann Arbor or passionately discussing medicine and public health over tea.