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As my first year of medical school begins to wind down, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come since August. This is really made clear by the fact that Second Look weekend is next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Approximately 200 prospective students (the M0s) will arrive in Ann Arbor to learn more about our school and to meet those who will become their future classmates.

This year, the MSTP and MD Second Looks are combined into one (last year, the MSTP one was in mid-April and the MD one was in mid-May, because students can only hold one MSTP acceptance after April 30 but can hold multiple MD acceptances until May 15).

Typically, the Thursday and Friday morning of Second Look is devoted to diversity and health equity, which includes meeting physicians and faculty that are passionate about these issues and a clinic visit to see more first-hand.

Friday afternoon, students get an inside view of each year’s curriculum at Michigan, including participation in a small-group discussion, learning more about the anatomy labs, and participating in clinical activities in various hospital departments (such as the Emergency Department). On Saturday morning, students learn more about life outside of medical school – extracurriculars, dual-degree programs, and more.  Last year, our day finished with a visit to an iconic Ann Arbor landmark – the Big House!

It’s hard to believe that was a year ago already – the really crazy part is that I remember seeing the M1s and being amazed at how much they must know. Now, we’re in their position, talking to the new M0s, and I feel like I’m in Freaky Friday or something!

In honor of Second Look, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things about UMMS:

Sporotrichosis and scratches from kittens,
Mowing down bunnies and not wearing mittens,
Thick ID coursepacks and Histopath too,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When dog’s flea bites could be plague,
When I’m feeling bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I’m still paranoid!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist 🙂 To translate for everyone out there – we just started our Infectious Diseases (ID) unit and have been learning all the myriad ways in which our environment can hurt us. And yes, we are becoming very paranoid.

Sporotrichosis is a fungus that grows on rose thorns and is sometimes called rose-gardeners’ disease. Cat scratch fever is a legitimate disease that is caused by Bartonella henselae bacteria.

Tularemia is a really rare disease caused by Francisella tularensis bacteria and can be transmitted after handling mammals that had been infected by ticks or deer flies – the stereotypical example is a hunter skinning a rabbit. One outbreak of tularemia occurred in 2000 in Martha’s Vineyard, where infectious particles were aerosolized after rabbits were mowed down by lawnmowers. Tularemia was also a potential diagnosis on a recently aired episode of House, and I’m pretty sure we all cringed this week every time a bunny was featured in an Easter advertisement!

The weather has finally warmed up (hopefully) for good. We had a bit of a scare earlier last week – Ann Arbor had about 2-3 inches of snow the day after it was 70°F. But no worries, temperatures rose back to the 60s by the weekend. No more mittens in this Mitten (please!!).

Our ID coursepack is a whopping 888 pages, and we are concurrently learning some of the basics of Histopathology (which we first learned back in Patients & Populations, causing many of us to look back wistfully).

We also learned that the bubonic plague does still exist in the US (about 2000 cases each year, mostly in the Southwest) but is very treatable. It is mainly spread through fleas, and the diagram included a picture of someone sleeping with their dog.

Now, my actual favorite things about UMMS:

  • My Classmates. I love all 175 of them. They are the most amazing people, and I’m constantly surprised by all that they have done. Usually, in any undergraduate class, there was at least one person who annoyed me on a daily basis – this is not the case here.
  • Pass/Fail Grading. This really helps us all focus on learning the material while not bringing out our über-competitive nature. We were all pre-meds once – the urge to beat everyone else is hard to suppress, but this grading scale really allows us to compete against ourself, not against others.
    Flextime Quizzing. We can take our weekly quizzes any time between Friday afternoon and Sunday at midnight. This gives everyone the flexibility to take the quiz when they are ready and work around social activities (like football games).
  • Streaming. Especially when the wind chill was actually -50°F (it was an abnormally cold winter in Michigan, we promise), it was wonderful to be able to watch the lectures from my couch or even, gulp, my bed. It also gives students the flexibility to schedule other activities, such as physician shadowing, during normal business hours, when we are normally in class.
  • UMMS Class Wiki. This repository of study materials contains guides/hints/tips from several classes above us, giving students the opportunity to easily share material and see those compiled by previous students.
  • Galens Smoker. I loved the Smoker, the play where students roast faculty in song. I loved being part of the creation and production of Grand Roundhog Day this year! It connects students from all years in medical school (even the MSTPs who are off earning their PhD) and is just hilarious. It almost makes you excited to be in school for 7 more years, just in order to be in more Smokers.
  • Biorhythms. As medical students, we like learning something new. In my case, I am now learning how to tap dance in preparation for the spring show – think of it like Dancing with the Stars, without the Stars. All level of ability is welcome and provides another opportunity to hang out with your classmates and enjoy medical school.

To those of you coming to Second Look, I look forward to meeting you. To everyone, Go Blue!

Sara is a fourth-year medical student at UMMS. When not in the hospital, she can usually be found on the golf course or at a Michigan sporting event cheering on the Wolverines.