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Learning Outside the Classroom – The Doctoring Curriculum

There are many great medical schools out there, but there is one thing that distinguishes the University of Michigan Medical School from all of the rest. It is the reason I chose to attend and the reason I continue to fall in love with it day after day. It is the people that make this place the best place.

During our first year, we are assigned to a small group of 10-12 students and two faculty members in a course called “Doctoring.” We meet every week for four hours to learn about the things you can’t learn in lecture or from a textbook—we learn about the things that will make us great physicians one day. We are taught about how to do different aspects of the physical exam, how to deliver bad news, how to listen effectively to our patients, how to combat bias, and so much more. We are given time to work with standardized patients, which are people from the community who volunteer to serve as our “patients” in order to allow us more opportunities to practice our skills. Not only has the course made me feel much more prepared to engage with patients during clerkships next year, but I was fortunate enough to be assigned to the best doctoring group with the most supportive classmates and the most incredible faculty members.

We have the youngest person in our class and the oldest person in our class with a total age gap of 21 years. Each person has a unique background and incredible experiences. We have a wide variety of religious beliefs, races, ethnicities, and more. Despite all of these differences, when we come together for our weekly sessions, we mold quickly and easily to the little family that we have become. We catch up for several minutes about how everyone has been doing and then we proceed through our session. We usually laugh so hard we cry, Dr. Klein tells a funny joke, Dr. Fine amazes us with his eloquent words, and we chow down on the snacks that everyone brings. Not only do we get to enjoy spending time with each other in the classroom, but Dr. Klein often has us over to her home to enjoy dinner. Their previous doctoring students are invited so that we can get the chance to meet more M2, M3s, and M4s. The four hours we all get to spend together are always the best four hours of my week.

The greatest group of people you will ever meet, right before performing our cardiac physical exam!

Dr. Fine and Dr. Klein (and the rhyme is fun, too!) always go above and beyond to teach us everything they can to make us better future doctors. For example, they held an extra session last week to review heart sounds with us so we could feel more confident about identifying them. They both seem to have a way of explaining things that just “clicks.” Somehow, we always end up having hundreds of questions for them and they are always so patient and willing to answer anything we ask them. They always offer the best advice and recommendations on how to communicate with patients. I hope one day I can be half as good of a doctor as they are. I often think about how fortunate I am to be learning from some of the greatest doctors out there.

Furthermore, one of our faculty members serves as our evaluator and the other serves as our coach. Our coach has no impact on our grade, which allows us to have someone we can go to with any concerns we have and to serve as another way for us to seek support should we need it. Dr. Klein has become more than a coach to me, she has become the best mentor I ever could have asked for. No matter what I need, she will drop anything to support me. She listens with the truest concern and empathy, and always knows just the right things to say. She creates a space where I feel like I can tell her anything that’s on my mind. The last time we had a 30-minute meeting scheduled, we ended up meeting for over an hour just to catch up on everything going on in my life. The best feeling is knowing there is someone there for you providing unwavering support in anything you need.

I am so thankful for all of my classmates, advisors, staff, faculty, and instructors at the University of Michigan Medical School, but I am even more thankful for my doctoring group who has taught me so much more than what I could learn in the classroom.