June 18, 2015

Learning Communities, Lead Mentors Interviews, and Moving Forward

I am actually pretty excited about the changes happening in our medical school regarding Learning Communities and just the overall culture here.  Learning Communities (LC) are in some ways the med school equivalent of Harry Potter Houses, in a sense – every class upon entering the school gets divided into one of these communities, and then stay with that community for the rest of their time here.

Having been here for starting on 5 years now, with LC’s having started 2 years prior to my entrance to the school, I’ve been able to see it evolve from something that people didn’t care much for and that was seen as just a small social thing, to one that finally, seem to be something people enjoy and that reps are proud to be reps for.  The first years this year in particular seem to really like the system and feel more connected to faculty and each other.  We are also finally going to have funded positions for lead mentors this year!  It’s actually a really big step for us, because not having the resources was one major reason we believe it was hard for mentors to come to events (since they didn’t have protected time) and for students to be regularly engaged with their mentors.  So as part of the LC executive board members at our school, I’ve been helping to sit in on some of the Lead Mentor interviews.  And I have to say, I’m pretty freaking excited about a lot of the ones I’ve seen so far.  They seem very motivated and eager to help students in learning to deal with the realities of a physician lifestyle, including all the hard conversations, life events, and other things that students might have to go through during medical school and beyond.  They’re also often good listeners and very open in sharing their own experiences, which I think will be invaluable for students to hear as they’re going through med school.

One example was a professor who talked about how difficult it was for him to transition into the clinical years after so many years of schooling through college and the first two years of doing very well on tests.  Another today shared about the experience of seeing a fellow medical student pass away right in front of him during a party after a med school test – that student was apparently sitting at the bar when his eyes rolled up and he fell over backwards, never to wake again.  And then they all had to start the next module the very next day.  How do you cope?  Or another experience of a friend whose father had pancreatic cancer and was dying, but that friend saying things like “I hope he doesn’t pass away this week, because we have a final at the end of the week”… which reminded me of one of my own anatomy lab groupmates, whose father passed away during medical school, and he was gone for a while.  We never really got a chance to talk or mourn with him about it, besides checking if he was doing ok a few weeks later when he reappeared in lab.  Or the father of a family friend of one of my growth group members, who she would always ask us to pray for along with her friend, the daughter, who was stressed out because she had a test on top of her dad’s health situation.  It was always a weird dynamic to me, that she would ask us to pray for her friend’s stress because of the test rather than the health of her dad being a main concern, but I guess part of that was this underlying message some people take from med school that grades are everything.  And they’re not, or at least, they shouldn’t be.  Learning the material and understanding how to better take care of a patient should be the main thing, not getting a certain score on a test.

Anyway, I digress.

My main point is I’m really glad that it sounds like we have so many attendings and faculty at our school willing, and really desiring, to get to know the students better, and to guide them through medical school with wisdom gleaned from experience, and to foster a healthier viewpoint of medical school as a whole.  I’m also glad we have a fairly diverse population in such a small group of people in terms of age, sex, race, experience, and specialty (the Emergency Department in particular has been outstanding in presenting applicants, and major props to their Department Chair for signing off on so many of their staff to encourage participation in this!)  Really looking forward to seeing how LC’s grow in the next few years with such dedicated mentors, and how the school’s culture as a whole… or dare I hope, the culture of medicine in general… will change.  I know it’s already starting with all the emphasis on holistic admissions and patient-centered care, but with this new rise in awareness of health and wellness in the physicians and those training-to-be, I am hopeful that we will train up a generation of doctors who are more compassionate, in addition to knowledgeable, than some of their current counterparts, and that they can become proper role models to the patients that they work with in terms of both health and happiness.


November 21, 2012

More interesting reads!

My blog notes that this has been sitting here as a draft since 6/6/12.  That is pathetic.  My extreme apologies for things in life have been hectic.  As I have much more I need to post, I won’t be able to do these justice, but I’ll at least try to summarize briefly before each one.

1. This article in the New York Times, while not necessarily novel in content, was a poignant piece on how we are so “connected” with each other through technology, that perhaps we have lost the ability to truly communicate and be with each other when we’re actually with each other.  I would encourage everyone to read this and think about how you live your daily lives, and whether maybe it would be a good thing to disconnect with the world in your phone, iPad, or computer, and just exist in the here and now with those around you.  Here is The Flight from Conversation.

2. Gardening has long been a favored pastime of many, but did you know it is actually good for your health (both psychologically and physiologically)?  Apparently one of the bacteria commonly found in soil has been shown to help boost serotonin (a natural “mood-booster” in the brain) in mice!

3.  This one is for all the pre-med’s out there – things are changing in the world of doctors.  No longer are the brusque surgeons the mold – instead, the AAMC and medical schools are starting to look for people who are more understanding of others.  As the MCAT has been revamped with two extra sections (and I have heard removal of organic chemistry, although that may just be hearsay) , this will likely affect the classes pre-meds are expected to take in the future, and potentially change the patient-doctor interaction drastically in the future.  For more information, visit the AAMC website on the new MCAT (offered in 2015).

4.  Ever wonder what that smell is every time you go to your grandparents’ house?  Here’s an article on the phenomenon of “old person smell.”

5.  Last on this post is this crazy story of probably the youngest doctor in modern times.

More links to follow shortly (hopefully!)

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