Summer Series: Year One — Month One

Hey Guys!

It’s Wednesday which means it’s time for another summer series post! Also fret-not, the vlog post to answer y’alls questions is coming very soon! This week I’ll go into detail about my first month of school. I thought the best way to do that would be by week:

Week 1: Orientation/Foundations Week

That’s right, it took half a week for our class to get orientated. Each day we were provided with breakfast by different organizations on campus that hosted ‘morning socials’. After breakfast we had ‘breakout sessions’.  Usually these were different forums including ‘Adapting to Med School’, ‘How to do Med School’, ‘How to Budget in Med School’, etc.

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A much needed forum on how to budget in med school

My favorite session was the one in which we received our own laptops!

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One of my sweet friends from undergrad made this monogram to go on my med school laptop. 😍

The school’s alumni association even donated money to the school for our first monogrammed white coat, which we received later in the semester. Needless to say, by the end of each day I felt more grateful and excited than the last. On the last day of orientation, we took part in our medical school’s yearly right-of-passage: we took a Class of 2020 group photo which was then posted on the first floor of the medical school for everyone to see.

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There’s me, third row from the front!

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My buds from PEP had to get together for a group photo on our picture day!

The last half of this week was spent attending four Foundations lectures. Foundations is a course designed to help medical students in their first and second years learn how to do all the ‘doctor’ stuff you can’t learn in a classroom. Foundations lectures focus on the doctor-patient relationship, how to care for patients, recognizing bias, etc. On our last day of week 1 we used what we learned in Foundations to obtain a ‘History’ (find out why a patient came to see the doctor that day) from standardized patients (paid actors who play the ‘patient’ role for testing).

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My parents taking the obligatory ‘white coat’ pictures before my patient encounter on the last day of Week 1

This patient encounter was videotaped and timed and later in the semester we met in small groups to watch the videos and discuss how we could improve our interactions with patients. Pretty cool, right?! All-in-all, by the end of the week I was exhausted but very excited to start school work.

Week 2: 1st Case of the Week/Biochem, Biochem, and more Biochem/Small Groups

My medical school stresses the importance of connecting lecture material with the clinical aspects of medicine. One way they do that first semester is by having a mandatory Case of the Week each week. We have a patient with a certain disease come talk to us with their physician about what it’s like to live with their disease and answer whatever questions we may have. Lecture and research-based questions are given to us as soon as the case is presented and we are each assigned one to focus on for the week. Our lectures for the rest of the week are then centered around that case. At the end of the week we meet in Small Groups in which we present research we gathered on our previously assigned question to our classmates and a professor. The first week was Sickle Cell Disease.

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One of my classmates presenting their question in Small Group to us and our biochemistry professor

This was our first week of science-based curriculum and it was heavily focused on biochemistry. Each day, we had 4 lectures by different PhD professors that were created based on the USMLE curriculum outline (we’ll get into what USMLE is in a couple weeks!).

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One of our lecturers threw candy bars at us in the middle of class. I was just as shocked as the girl pictured sitting in front of me. 😂

Weeks 3-4: More of the Same/Test Prep

We started anatomy lab in the 3rd week of school and began to get more acquainted with our tank mates while also making major headway in dissections each afternoon. By this point, in addition to lectures and lab, each week we had an hour long quiz with 40-50 questions on them pertaining to the previous week’s material (very similar to PEP<–so glad I had that prior experience!).  We also had quizzes before each lab.

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This is what a typical week of lecture and lab looked like in the first month.

At the end of week 4 we had our first practical (anatomy lab exam) and our 1st graded standardized patient (Foundations) exam, and the following Monday we had our first written exam on science curriculum. Wanna know how I prepared and how they went?

Learn about medical school quizzes, written exams, and practicals, as well as how to and how not to prepare for them next Wednesday! 🙂

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