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Co-authored by fellow M1 Nadine

Every year about 20 or so incoming M1 students are invited to participate in a pre-matriculation program during the summer before classes begin. The goal of this three-week program is to develop leadership skills and reflect on social disparities and health equity in medicine. Since we both took time off after undergrad in various other pursuits, pre-mat provided an ideal segue to our new lives as med students.

Bonding over a little Whirly Ball

Bonding over a little Whirly Ball

To develop the confidence to lead, mentorship and early experience were key tenets of the program. We had a number of faculty, administrators, deans, M2 mentors and TAs who guided us through three weeks of anatomy dissections, introductory histology classes, and numerous conversations about leadership, personal development, and social disparities in healthcare. As an introduction to our nascent careers in medicine, we were made aware that thinking about advocating to improve social justice and health disparities is a profound responsibility that we have as students and future physicians.

As we began introductory anatomy labs, we learned that entering cadaver lab is no casual feat. However, in the comfort of a small, well-supported group of our peers, we slowly adjusted to the smell of formaldehyde and the sight of plastic covered bodies, once the loved ones of many, resting on metal tables. We made our first cuts on our first patients, and later processed new emotions together.

All of these experiences were supported by amazing mentors and faculty, who generously used their time to share their knowledge, experience and humor. One professor (a busy department chair nonetheless) planned to answer our questions briefly before heading back to work during the lunch hour. He mentioned he didn’t want to grab lunch because he had a busy afternoon, but he still spent 45 minutes talking with us. This kind of generosity was true for every mentor we met, and is what we think makes Michigan so special.

As young people entering the field of medicine, we feel assured that the culture and community at Michigan will support those that ask for help. The bonds formed during this summer program and our experiences with the new curriculum will enable us to support our fellow classmates and those that come after us.