— MEDICAL SCHOOL —
University of California Riverside
— GRADUATING CLASS —
The medical profession has a long history and is filled with complex clinical knowledge. What makes it more confusing to medical students is how to navigate medical school, manage successes and failures, and prepare for future residencies. This May, ACP hosted its first conference focused on medical students and resident/fellow trainees: the Future I.M. Experience. This virtual conference addressed both the academic and wellness components of choosing a career in medicine. Several sessions, highlighted below, allowed medical students to explore different aspects of the medical school experience!
In this panel, Christin Giordano McAuliffe, MD, Christina S. Shoushtari, MD, MPH, MS, and Romela Petrosyan, MD, gave their advice and wisdom to graduating medical students, as well as medical students who are currently navigating their academic experience. The following are some takeaway points that would be good for medical students to remember:
- When you arrive at your residency, take some time to adjust to the environment and learn about your new hospital. Once you are adjusted, perform due diligence, ask for the expectations of your attending, and go above and beyond.
- When you have found your niche, find a support group, notice when you are tired, take things at a reasonable pace, set boundaries, and ask for feedback.
- When relocating to another city, live as close to campus as possible. Consider purchasing a house using the physician loan if possible, and use your senior residents as mentors to consider where the best locations are in town.
- In terms of research, it depends on your future goals. If you want to do a fellowship, consider being on committees in the hospital (either within that department or in the hospital generally). In addition, gauge how much of a time commitment it will take so that you can set boundaries for mental health and wellness.
- Take some time to educate yourself using different resources, such as ACP videos for graduating medical students, the New England Journal of Medicine, podcasts, and OnlineMedEd for graduating medical students.
This panel was led by three program directors (R. Dobbin Chow, MD, MBA, MACP, Brian P. Gable, MD, FACP, and Karen Law, MD, FACP). The discussion revolved around successful steps to match into a program that is a fit for both the program and student. Here are some pearls of wisdom from the panel:
- Programs determine which candidates would be good for their program based on academic success, the candidate's approach to medicine, inquisitive nature, community engagement experiences, and “goodness of fit.”
- When applying, remember to submit on September 1 so that you are in line to have your application processed.
- Remember that letters of recommendation can take up to 2 weeks to be processed before being added into your file, so submit those ahead of time.
- Some qualities that program directors look for are humility, willingness to learn, ability to acknowledge mistakes, and interest in asking questions.
- Some do's are: pay attention to camera/virtual appearance, always be comfortable, treat everyone with respect, turn off your cell phone, be engaged and also know some baseline knowledge, sell yourself, don't come off as pretentious, be prepared but not rehearsed, and be professional in e-mail correspondence.
- When applying and writing your personal statement, trace back how your passion for medicine began. Create a logical progression for the maturation of your passion for internal medicine.
Interprofessionalism is vital, especially for the medical field. This concept is well discussed by Dr. Alan Dow, MD, FACP, and Ms. Elizabeth Byland. They used improv as a natural way to increase communication between professionals coming from different backgrounds. They led meeting participants through the “I am” exercise, which required everyone to simply list three things that described their state of being. This exercise increased vulnerability, trust, and support between the different participants, as some shared emotions they were feeling. Participants also shared relatable traits, such as enjoying coffee or eating yogurt. This exercise highlighted the concept of role theory—where we all wear many different hats at the same time. The next exercise emphasized communication. They brought up the golden rule of communication in improv, which is, “Yes, and … .”. When doing this, you are agreeing with that choice, gesture, or dialogue and then adding onto it with authenticity, impulses, and other ideas. Furthermore, take note of nonverbal communication, such as someone nodding their head. This will help enhance your communication and build more rapport. All the exercises that were implemented during this session were used to help future physicians understand how to accept and understand different ideas. And always remember, at the end of the day, “We are all more similar than we are different.”
This session was led by Susan Hingle MD, FRCP, MACP, Christine Todd, MD, FACP, FHM, and Robert M. Centor MD, MACP. This was one of the most inspirational sessions, because as medical students, we are faced with failure on a daily basis. Examples of failure may include failing a quiz or exam block, being rejected from an internship/externship, or not receiving a reply from a doctor/program. Here are some of the takeaways from the session:
- “Do not do what you like, but do what you love.”
- Remember that you have strengths that make up for your weaknesses, and that is how the world works. It is based on balance.
- When you feel like you are down, find a mentor who will inspire and lead you.
- Impostor phenomenon is valid and is felt by many high performers. It is mainly a product of isolation, so find someone to talk with about it so that the emotional burden can be shared.
- As you progress in your career, remember that failure will always be present; what needs to change is your perspective on it. Take the negative connotation out and input a more constructive, creative side to it.
- Remember that there is more than one type of program. You do not always need to go to a highly competitive university program when you could receive a valuable educational experience at a community health center.
- When talking about your failures or weaknesses, address why the failure happened, how you grew from it, and how it led to finding joy in clinical medicine. In addition, always be transparent.
One pearl from Dr. Hingle that truly resonated with medical students is, “Within failure are some of the greatest learning opportunities, and that is how we become who we are.”
Overall, the meeting was incredibly informative and helpful for medical students, residents, and fellows, with many of the sessions targeted to medical students highlighted here. All meeting recordings can be found at the Future I.M. Experience page on ACP's website.