Heidi Moawad, MD is a neurologist, professor and author of “Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine.” In this interview, she tells us about what led her down this path and about her research.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the clinical portion of medical school. Now you’ll work alongside interns, residents, attendings, pharmacists, social workers, and a myriad of other health care workers to provide quality care for your patients. As a resident, I’ve seen medical and PA students struggle with feelings of anxiety, incompetence and disorganization. They are excellent with patients, but often have difficulty with team dynamics and understanding their roles as clinical students. Here are some tips for success modeled after Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
When I began to think about becoming a doctor — sixty years ago while in high school — I thought of medicine in terms of being a healer. I imagine each of you have had similar thoughts before and now during medical school. But what does it mean to be a healer and how does one go about becoming one?
Becoming a doctor is a long road. One’s frame of mind during the process is important, because the wrong perspective can make the delayed gratification truly overwhelming. While your friends and family members may have sprinted through school, saying “I’ll be done in a year,” you are thinking “It’s going to be a lifetime before I’m truly done.”
The hierarchy of medicine is most obvious to the medical students, who see each required step towards the next rung on the ladder very clearly. It takes times, though, to learn the cultural rules and nuances to do things the “right” way. During the learning process, many students spend time observing and avoiding making waves. But regarding safety, it’s important to speak up no matter what. Two stories during my training have solidified this for me.
If I had to do it all over again, the biggest thing that I would work on would be my study habits. I took three years off after completing undergrad at the University of Florida before matriculating at New York Medical College in 2005. After three years, I had forgotten how to study.
This year, the Match list was due Feb. 26 and thousands of fourth year medical students found out their fate on Match Day, Match 17, 2014. It’s an exciting time for everyone in medical school, even for MS-I’s, MS-II’s, and MS-III’s. Everybody wants to know who matched and where. The next thought that comes to a medical student’s mind is inevitably: “What residency will I apply to, and how will I make sure that I match?” For more competitive residencies, getting a spot necessitates a different set of rules. Here are some ideas I want to share.
Path to Medical School Sasha Yakhkind: What brought you to medicine? Dr. Jennifer M. Joe, MD: I was born and raised in a tiny town in Mississippi, called Canton. There was one stop light and one grocery store, called Piggly Wiggly. As a little young Chinese girl, this was overall a frightening experience, where the private schools had not integrated yet, and Morgan Freeman was once advised he could not play golf at the country club when he …
Keep in mind first and foremost that I graduated from medical school in 1976. Therefore, all recollections of those positive instances have been greatly embellished over the decades and the obvious corollary is that all memories of negative incidents have been far more exaggerated. Nonetheless, I do well remember absolutely hating the first year of medical school.
I am the kind of person who can become interested in anything. When it came to thinking about a medical specialty, I was pretty open-minded from the get-go. That said, I grew up talking about the brain with my dad, a neuropsychologist. He would tell us fascinating stories about patients who had problems with different aspects of their cognition because of traumatic brain injuries that they had suffered. My sister and I grew up wearing helmets for everything — ice skating, tricycle-riding, you name it. Any activity in which you could potentially bump your head meant that we were wearing helmets. I guess in a way I was destined to be a neurologist — an interest in the brain was part of my DNA.
Everyone knows that the hard work, sleepless nights and early mornings fueled by gratuitous amounts of coffee don’t end after you graduate medical school. Instead, you are force-fed an even larger dose of the same as you navigate your first year of residency. The very prospect can spark anxiety and concern in even the most confident. Luckily, the wisdom of those who have gone before is there to prove that it won’t be as terrible …