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Fostering Community Through my M-Home Experience

I’ve had the pleasure to be involved with M-Home since my first weeks at University of Michigan Medical School, and it has truly shaped so much of my medical school experience. In those first weeks, we had an opportunity to run for student council positions, and I was surprised to find myself elected to an M-Home representative role.

It was overwhelming at first because I had little idea about what the role entailed or what M-Home was, given that it was pretty new to our medical school. But I would soon find out that M-Home would provide me with a community that helped to sustain me through the highs and lows of my medical school journey.

What is M-Home?
M-Home is a longitudinal learning community established at University of Michigan Medical School in 2015 as a way to provide a “home” for students within our school. M-Home is based around four Houses now named after significant figures in UMMS history: Dr. Amanda Sanford, Dr. Jonas Salk, Dr. William Henry Fitzbutler, and Dr. Alice Hamilton. Within each House there is a designated counselor, as well as two House faculty who serve as faculty for our Doctoring course. As part of orientation to UMMS, each student is sorted (yes, it’s very Harry Potter-esque) into their House in which they will have their Doctoring group of 10-12 students from their House.

I remember sitting in a large lecture hall in Fall of 2018 waiting to crack my glowstick that had been passed out to me as part of my class’s “sorting ceremony.” The lecture hall filled with laughs, cheers and excitement as we all cracked our glowsticks to see which House we were about to join. When I saw the color blue and knew I was joining Sanford House, I felt like I had a group of people I was instantly connected to, even though I had met very few of my classmates or faculty at that point.

I felt so moved and comforted in that first week being welcomed by our Sanford House reps and by our amazing counselor Amy. I wanted to be involved in leading the community, which led me to add my name to the running for M1 Sanford House rep. When I got the role, I found an even deeper connection to the House reps above me. My relationships with my M2, M3 and M4 reps created invaluable opportunities to receive advice and support for me as an M1. Being able to connect with other House reps has continued to be one of my favorite aspects of M-Home for the past four years.

My fellow M-Home House reps

Introducing M-Pods
As M-Home president, I have been involved in conversations on how we can bring the deep inter-class community that we feel as M-Home reps to the rest of our Medical School classmates, especially in the very isolating times of the COVID-19 pandemic. In my last weeks as a UMMS student I am helping to launch our new M-Pods program, which I envision as a connection “safety-net” for all medical students. We will be creating small groups with students from every class with the goal of giving every incoming student a contact to reach out to if they find themselves needing support or a simple piece of advice that they don’t already have the connections for.

I personally know how hard it can be to make the first move to reach out for help, and I am hopeful that our M-Pods project will make it easier for any medical student who struggles to connect. As I pass along this project to the rest of our amazing M-Home team to continue after my graduation, I hope that my efforts will create a deeper and more connected community for all University of Michigan Medical School students in the years to come.

M-Home Olympics: A fun, annual event that creates some friendly competition among the four Houses. Go Sanford House!


In Training

As medical students, it feels like we are always in training. After all, we don’t have our MD’s yet, and even then we still train during residency. At the moment, it seems like we always will be in training…that’s why it’s called the “practice of medicine,” right?

Lately, some of my fellow students have begun another type of training – for the Dexter-Ann Arbor 5k, 10k, and Half-Marathon that takes place in early June. In addition to being a beautifully scenic route, this race is quite popular at UMMS. (And it’s not just because the Office of Medical Student Education historically pays our entrance fees to promote fitness among students) and that popularity may even grow as a result of the new house system.

This year has marked the introduction of M-Home, where students and faculty alike are sorted into houses, now called Fitzbutler House, Salk House, Hamilton House, and Sanford House. Each house then hosts events to promote cross-class mingling and collegiality. For example, my house (Fitzbutler) has played Quidditch and even whirlyball in friendly rivalries against other houses.

Now, we are going to begin training for the Dexter-Ann Arbor run together. We started with a seminar about exercise physiology (some of the material was similar to that in coursework but with practical applications) and soon the training runs will start.

In my case, I will probably pass on this additional training this year. Why? Well, I completed my first half-marathon about a week ago (Ann Arbor Half-Marathon) and followed that up with the Trail to the Victors Big House 5k a few days ago. I might hold off from racing for a bit longer, but I definitely want to do another one in the future.

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My mom did the half-marathon with me; my whole family did the Big House 5k.