July 27, 2011

Day 2 – Orientation

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 12:16 am
Tags: , ,

Today was the second day of med school/orientation.  Most of the speakers and events today were hosted by EAB*, a group dedicated to reaching out to underserved communities in the area, and also provides a free clinic service by med student volunteers once a week.  It’s apparently in a pretty early stage, only really implemented beginning in ~2007, but definitely growing in interest and effectiveness.

I think organizations like this are really neat.  Honestly, if you think about it, what could be better?  It’s great for the community, because it may be difficult for certain populations to receive adequate healthcare due to economic reasons, stigmas, lack of medical insurance, or simply lack of knowledge.  This way, they can receive the care they need for free, and that in turn helps the community as a whole from both a public health and a social standpoint (generally speaking, healthy people are likely to be happier since they aren’t suffering from chronic pain/illness).

On the other side, it provides a great training opportunity for medical students. Students get to interact with patients on a more independent level, which allows them to put their textbook knowledge to practice.  In addition, and more importantly, students will get to hear stories about patients’ lives, opening their eyes to the kinds of things people have to go through that they’d never even have thought about.  Kind of connecting back to yesterday – a large component of the healing process is feeling understood and accepted, and as a doctor, it might be hard to relate unless you have seen other patients caught in a similar situation, whether that is socioeconomical or biological.  And outreach/education, especially to kids/youth, is a great way to help the future generations be healthy and stay healthy (preventative medicine ftw!), while at the same time challenging med students to find a way to effectively communicate what they have learned to the general population.  Really a great concept.  Hopefully I’ll have a chance to see how it plays out in practice.

The rest of the day was spent doing community service – apparently mandatory during orientation for med schools.  Half of us went to help with the recent tornado relief efforts, and half of us were sent to help Habitat for Humanity build houses for people (who presumably had their houses torn down by the tornado as well).  Our House was split between the two (we always seem to be the “leftover” group haha), and my LC was sent to help build houses.  I personally was excited because I’d always wanted to volunteer with Habitat at least once to see what it was like, ever since a good friend of mine constantly volunteered and advocated for them in undergrad.  It was actually a pretty good experience for all of us, I think.  Learned some things about building a house, such as how to paint doors while blue-taping the hinges, and how to frame a doorway (not nearly as easy as I would have thought.  Luckily, we had our resident expert along – one of my MSTP classmates who has also been helping my housemate with building an epic deck in the backyard). I now also know what caulking is, and will be able to make a more informed decision when crossing a river in Oregon Trail.

In all seriousness though, I think the community service the orientation leaders chose this year was a good one.  We were able to provide significant, tangible help to the community (in a much greater capacity than last year according to the MS-2’s), and we were able to bond more as a class.  I’m kind of glad our group was split and paired with other groups, so we had a chance to interact with more of our classmates. I think I’ve now met at least a third of my class.

Moving slightly away from orientation – which has been remarkably well-planned compared to (most) other things – I wanted to make a quick note about one negative thing I’ve noticed: the general lack of organization around here.  Not only is the website notoriously hard to navigate (and this is apparently improved from previous years!) but schedules and info conflict up the wazoo, and things kept shifting around up until the day before school started, continuing even now!  It’s a little ridiculous, and not a little frustrating.  I’ve been trying to figure out since yesterday whether or not we have homework due tomorrow in small groups, because something on one (of three) websites seemed to indicate we had to read and bring some written answers to some questions tomorrow, but as yet, no one has said a thing about them in any lectures, announcements, etc.  And I’ve asked my classmates and they all have no clue either.  -_-||

Speaking of websites, why on earth do we have three different ones for classes??  It would make so much more sense to integrate it onto one system so there isn’t so much duplication and confusion.  Adding to the mess is the fact that we also get e-mails sent with attachments of the same stuff.  So we end up with data in at least 3 places, and with all the continuous “updating” that’s been going on, it’s hard to keep track of what’s what and where.  (Btw, it would help if we were told what exactly was updated, instead of just announcing that something is “updated” and having us scroll through, playing detective to guess what has changed.  Just a thought.)  I understand that a lot of people are working very hard to make this class the best it can be at this time… and I really appreciate all that.  But there needs to be a set deadline for everything to be finalized.  And that time should be before the start of the school year.  Definitely something that needs to be improved on.

Other than that, it’s been a good two days.  I’m seriously looking forward to the start of real classes though.

*EAB = Equal Access Birmingham (More info at:



  1. Great post. I got so excited when I saw preventative medicine! In a country where medical care is cutting edge and obesity is at its highest…something definitely went wrong.

    Comment by foreverastudentoflife — July 30, 2011 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

    • Haha, thanks! Yeah, I’m actually in an area where obesity (and diabetes) is a big problem, and it’s definitely something we need to think about in terms of how to prevent it in the first place.

      Comment by sanguinemare — July 30, 2011 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

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