Gather a group of American and Chinese first year medical students in one lecture hall, and you will notice some obvious differences right away. The Americans will likely be older with more work experience under their belt already. There will be more women on the Chinese side, and most have been full-time students all their lives. Dig beyond appearances and ask them what their daily curriculum consists of, and you will find even more interesting differences. Although they are two of the world’s largest producers of doctors and healthcare professionals overall, the Chinese medical system greatly differs from its American counterpart in both composition and organization.
This column is for the non-traditionals, like me. We graduated with a goal, worked with a purpose and returned to school with a dream. I left health care for more health care; I switched stethoscopes on my first day of medical school.
After submitting the ERAS application, you might let out a deep breath and feel a transient sense of relief. But submitting also means that interviews are around the corner — a reality that can quickly bring about excitement, worry, and anticipation.
We shuffled out of the room, but before closing the door, I could hear her bangles ringing as her hands fell with defeat into her lap. Behind the closed office door, Dr. Altman gave us his three-word assessment: “She’s just crazy.”
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects in the culture of medical school is the integrative class of students that survive together through the obstacles in this metamorphosis. Individually and as a collective whole, we trudge through the same curricular rigors, learning to balance life, work, and all that in between. Many of us form significant bonds with our fellow classmates, whether through celebration or suffering. Through our mutual bonding, what quickly becomes apparent to us is the diverse background and hidden talents that make each big family unique and multifaceted. Beyond our scientific acumen, some of us juggle side-hobbies as musicians, some as chefs, some as craftspersons, others as comedians — and the torrent of talent runs abundant.
We began medical school orientation with several anonymous ice breakers. The idea was to learn more about the class’s demographics through a few clicker questions. Most were innocuous: are you in-state? Did you take a gap year? Were you a science major? They were standard questions in the boring small talk repertoire of medical school orientation. One question though, incited murmuring among students: How many of you came from households with six figure incomes?