Ria Pal, MD (11 Posts)
Former Editor-in-Chief (2017-2018) and Former Medical Student Editor (2016)
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Ria is a Class of 2018 medical student. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a BS in neuroscience. Her interests include human behavior, social justice work, art, public health, and mnemonics.
About three months into our roles as editors-in-chief of in-Training, we had created a system. Mondays, I’d come home from the hospital — usually with some ineffective Anki studying, or commiseration with my roommates, or hastily composing a Chopped-style dinner with leftovers — log into our WordPress backend, and start making my way through the latest batch of submissions.
My mother likes to tell the story of how, as a small child, I referred to the superficial wounds sustained in my first head-over-handlebars accident as an “abrasion.” I remember staring at my knee, fascinated by my body’s ability to heal itself. The sacred anatomy of wounds, atoms as spacious as galaxies, coalescing and woven with no instruction of my own to renew what had been lost.
When I was growing up, I used to love a particular series of video games called Trauma Center. In 2010, they released a version called Trauma Team where you got to play as various medical specialists, one of whom was simply considered a “Diagnostician.” Dr. Gabriel Cunningham’s “cases” were some of the most challenging because you were presented with an array of symptoms, imaging, and lab work and started ruling in or ruling out diagnoses until you got the right answer.
Every day, twenty times a day, I listen to breaths. “Take a deep breath in and out… good… and another…” Mostly clear breaths, sometimes crackly, sometimes wheezy. I place a hand on the person’s shoulder, subtly offering kindness and connection. I enjoy this time to take deep breaths myself.
Simply put, the humanities seek to capture the mosaic of human existence across the chasms of jubilation and despair, life and death, love and fear. The humanities are both disciplines of academic study and modes of expression.
In my high school years, I had an English teacher, Mr. Moon, who once remarked that his dream would be to “write a paper” about a certain book we were reading, and publish it somewhere. “Write a paper”? Was he kidding? In his free time, he was going to write?
“Welcome, everybody, to the last module of your second year.” I froze. There was no way. I pulled up Google calendar on my laptop in the increasingly warm lecture hall. Oh my gosh, they were right!
Ten years ago, I stepped onto the grounds of my medical school for the first time. I remember there was so much anxiety — I was anxious to become a student doctor, anxious to choose a specialty, anxious about my own insecurities around my impressive and brilliant classmates. I wish I could go back in time and sit down with my younger self at my favorite coffee shop. I’d treat her to a hot matcha latte with honey and vanilla (it’s going to change her life) and tell her everything is going to be okay.
Dr. Kevin Dueck, MD is an adjunct professor at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University and practices rural family medicine and addiction medicine, and he contributes this video presentation as a former in-Training writer.
During my Step 1 dedicated study period, I remember looking at these visual comparisons of an early version of First Aid and the most recent edition and feeling righteous indignation bubble up inside me. The former was thin and worn and tattered while the latter was thick, hefty, solid. Hundreds of pages longer, the newest edition felt impenetrable and impossible to commit to memory, expanding yearly with new minutiae to scrutinize.
Ruchica Chandnani, Class of 2024 at the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, contributes this poem as an in-Training writer and current managing editor of the publication since 2021.
Nita Chen, MD, movement disorders fellow at the Normal Fixel Institute for Neurological Disease, contributes this graphic medicine piece as a former in-Training writer, editor, columnist and featured artist for our print book in-Training: Stories from Tomorrow’s Physicians, Volume 2.
Nita Chen, MD (39 Posts)
Medical Student Editor and in-Training Staff Member Emeritus
University of Florida Fixel Movement and Neurorestoration Institute
Nita Chen is a current movement disorders fellow at University of Florida Movement and Neurorestoration program. She is Class of 2017 medical student at Albany Medical College. To become cultural, she spent her early educational years in Taiwan and thoroughly enjoyed wonderful Taiwanese food and milk tea, thus ruining her appetite for the rest of her life in the United States. Aside from her neuroscience and cognitive science majors during her undergraduate career, she holed herself up in her room writing silly fictional stories, doodling, and playing the piano. Or she could be found spazzing out like a gigantic science nerd in various laboratories. Now she just holes up in her room to study most of the time.