I actually don’t remember his name; he wasn’t my patient. I just saw him during rounds every day during my internal medicine clerkship. He was in his late-80s, and he was very ill. He had a long history of COPD, most likely attributed to his even longer history of smoking. He had been admitted to our service for a severe respiratory infection a few days prior to me starting the rotation. This was my last rotation of my 3rd year, and I walked in thinking I had seen enough COPD patients to know exactly what to expect.
Anxiety defined me more when I denied its existence than it does now that I’ve faced it head-on. Maybe the anxiety helped me get to where I was, but it was a burden I didn’t have to bear — especially not alone. Even knowing how important mental health is as a future physician, it embarrassed me to admit that I might need a prescription to help me cope with my fears and anxieties.
Given the staggering time commitment required for a pre-medical student or an NCAA athlete, one may question whether it is smart or even viable to take on both of these roles in college. By giving you a glimpse into my routine, I want to show you that it is possible to successfully pursue both your athletic and academic goals.
I applied to medical school twice. In retrospect, I was unsuccessful the first time for a few reasons: my timing was terrible, I had too much humility about my achievements and I didn’t ask for enough opinions about my application from people who were rooting for me. My trauma was also too raw and recent to write in a way for strangers to understand.
Tanner always planned on becoming a physician, but found himself with a gap year before medical school. During this time, he began teaching different levels of students and soon realized how much he enjoyed tailoring concepts to fit the needs of his varied audience. He told me about his first failed lesson in anatomy, when he learned the hard way that kindergartners can get rowdy and don’t quite know their colors yet.
After four years of adapting my schedule based on the results of my experiments, I once again look forward to having a guided regiment based on monthly shelf exams and the ever looming threat of standardized tests.
Interviewers who ask these questions in a professional setting typically consider these issues to be academic — purely topics for discussion that might provide useful insight into the way the applicant views the world. But for applicants who have been affected, these issues are not merely academic and their discussion can invoke significant emotional turmoil. So before we continue to tacitly accept this shift in interviewing, it is important to consider its purpose and impact on those being interviewed.
Back in late March, I was a medical student in D.C. studying for exams. Today, I am a 23-year-old living with my parents again. Despite being in school 5+ hours away, my bedroom in upstate New York has become my new classroom. Being at home has its perks: I get food from my mom again, and I can wear pajamas all day if I wanted to (not that I actually do that). However, there are many things that don’t feel right about being a medical student who has no connection to the medical world right now.
I packed up my new backpack, laptop, notebooks and pens early in the morning. The anxiety was palpable as my housemates and I dressed up to make our best impressions on our first day of medical school. This was unfamiliar territory. I had become so accustomed to my hectic routine as a college student by day and a nurse in the emergency department (ED) by night, but what would life be like as a “professional” student?
The same four walls surround us for hours on end while we try to marry the responsibilities of medical education with those of social distancing. While these new restrictions may at first seem conducive to much desired additional study time, gym closures and social gathering restrictions only deepen the isolation already felt by so many medical students.
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.
On March 17, 2020, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) jointly issued a statement supporting “medical schools in placing, at minimum, a two-week suspension on their medical students’ participation in any activities that involve patient contact.” The joint recommendation leaves thousands of third-year medical students, who will soon enter into their final year of school, contemplating their role in the face of this evolving pandemic.