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90 Years of Tag Days Magic

I was first introduced to Tag Days when I was an undergraduate student here at Michigan. I was walking to class on a cold December day when a guy dressed in a red poncho asked if I would like to donate to kids in Washtenaw county. I listened to his spiel and when I realized he was a medical student I decided to give him a couple dollars and call it my pre-med karma for the day. I tied the red tag to my backpack and went on with my day.


I now know that this was my first taste of Tag Days magic. Fast forward two years and I am a first-year medical student excited to don my red poncho and hit the streets of Ann Arbor with my bucket. I had heard stories from the M2s about dressing up in onesies, singing songs, and eagerly waiting for attendings to deliver hot chocolate as they stood outside in the cold. There was a tangible camaraderie surrounding the event and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it. That year I learned just how deeply rooted an Ann Arbor tradition Tag Days really is. Locals would stop to drop a dollar in the bucket and share a Tag Days memory or tell a story about a time their child was cared for at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. I even heard a story from two physicians about how they fell in love during Tag Days! I was fascinated to hear how this event meant so much to so many people.

This year is the 90th annual Tag Days. For the past three years I have had the pleasure of experiencing this magical tradition and it has become very close to my heart. I have been inspired by the organizations that Tag Days supports. We have funded projects that provide at-risk youth with books to read over summer break, sent children with terminal illnesses to summer camps, provided education to teen mothers, supported pediatric neurorehabilitation initiatives, and so much more. I have also been inspired by the patients and families at Mott who I spent time with during my third-year pediatrics rotation. They truly are little victors!


This year is particularly special to me as I have the honor of serving as the co-director of the event, or co-czar as we call it. A huge honor, and a big responsibility! Last year the event raised $90,000 and we are gearing up for this weekend’s event in hopes of breaking that record once again. So if you’re in Ann Arbor this weekend, stop and drop a dollar in the bucket and get tagged!

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Bump, Set, Spike

It snowed this week. I couldn’t believe it. I was at the Student-Run Free Clinic, and from the window, I saw snow falling to the ground. I’m still not entirely sure why this was surprising, as this is Michigan, and I have lived here my whole life. However, the day before, it was approximately 70 degrees and sunny, so I guess I’ll just chalk it up to that. Regardless, winter is coming, and it’s actually starting to feel like it.

Since the last time I wrote, I finished Ob/Gyn and Psychiatry. Both were really great experiences. For psychiatry, I was on the child and adolescent inpatient service and adult consult-liaison service. Both were really good experiences in different ways. On child and adolescent (CAP), I got to know the patients really well. Med students were allowed to join the patients for some activities like art therapy (coloring is amazingly calming) and conditioning (gym class!). My favorite of all was beach ball volleyball during conditioning—patients, staff, and the med students were all very competitive, and it made for a lot of fun (and some good-natured jabs at the med students). We also were able to dress up for Halloween (which the patients loved), which is yet another reason why working with the kiddos is always a fun experience. On the adult side, it was really interesting to act not only as a consult team but also as advocates for patients and intermediates between the patient and the medical teams (the liaison side).

It’s now the week of Thanksgiving, and we have the whole week off. Without clinical duties, I have no idea what to do (just kidding, I’m thoroughly enjoying my time off). Naturally, that means this week is a time to catch up on life and catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while. I’ve been doing just that. My apartment is now sparkling, and I’ve met up with so many friends who I haven’t seen in quite some time. Right now, in fact, I’m at a local coffee shop enjoying a lavender latte and coworking with a friend (and taking sufficient breaks to talk about life, etc.).

On Monday, I start internal medicine, my last core rotation of M3 year. It is the longest of the rotations and will go all the way through the middle of February. However, in the middle of the rotation, we will have a 3-week winter break that I am very much looking forward to. After internal med, we will have the M4 Comprehensive Clinical Assessment (CCA), and then we have 2 months of electives in March and April before we start M4 year in May. It seems like time has gone by too quickly. I don’t feel ready to be an M4, but at the same time, I am very ready for all of the electives in my areas of interest. We’re starting to work on our schedules for next year, and I love my March and April electives. It feels good to have narrowed career choices down, and I am really excited for what is to come.

A lot has happened in the past month or so in my med school life and in the world as a whole. Good and bad things have happened, and there have been things that have made me happy as well as sad. In this season of thanksgiving, I can say that I am thankful for the family and friends who get me through it all. I couldn’t make it through the bad days without them, and they’re the first ones that I go to when I have something to celebrate. I am thankful for their ever-present love and compassion in a world that needs a lot more of both of those things.

Nothing is better than dinner with my favorites.

Nothing is better than dinner with my favorites.

That said, I’ll be enjoying the crispness in the air (which is a nice way of saying, “it’s actually really cold outside right now, but I’m trying to be optimistic”). If nothing else, it’s the best motivation to stay inside and study (or to make tea and coffee). As always, thanks for reading. Until next time, spend time with those you care about, be sure to find something that you’re thankful for, and try to spread a bit of love to the world and those around you.

Angelica is a third-year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School. When she’s not on the wards, you can find her on a run around Ann Arbor or passionately discussing medicine and public health over tea.

Feeling Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It’s crazy to think that we’re already most of the way through November; July doesn’t seem like that long ago…

In the tradition of this great holiday, I thought I’d share the things for which I am most grateful this year:

  • My family: I grew up not too far from Ann Arbor, so my home is only a quick drive when I need to escape a bit. Mostly in terms of escaping the stress of M3 (and the constant studying) and reconnecting with the sunshine (something that is occasionally lacking in the hospital, especially with the recent advent of Daylight Savings Time. Instead, we enjoy the sunrise while in our team rooms, as in this one from the VA). But the best part is being able to relax with my family as we go on walks, shop, or even just watch TV.
  • My health: this is always something I am grateful for, but working in the hospital has a tendency to make minor aches rather, well, minor. I’m currently recovering from a cold and am amazed at how even that brief disturbance can throw off my usual balance. It certainly makes you appreciate how out of sorts our patients and their families must feel.
  • My happiness: M3 year can have a rather negative perception when you consider the long hours, the struggle to become competent, and the never-ending amount of studying to be done. But, nevertheless, I have loved this past year because I enjoy helping my patients. Yes, the hours are long and I never get as much studying in as I’d like, but I can see the impact I’m having on my patients, and I can also see how far I’ve come since starting on the wards. The vast majority of the time, I’m loving my time in the hospital and in the clinics, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Furthermore, I’m learning how to be more efficient with my “free” time and realize what outside activities are most enjoyable (such as running, embroidery, and writing – I still have over-commitment issues as you might guess)
  • This past week off: Has been glorious. Thank you, UMMS curriculum people! This year marks the first time the M3s have been given the entire week of Thanksgiving off and it has been so incredibly beneficial in terms of recharging my (metaphorical) batteries and accomplishing some of the random side projects that have accumulated (see previous statement about over-committing to things). Plus, there’s only three weeks between now and our winter break so we are hitting the home stretch!

Despite being on Internal Medicine, I was still able to attend the annual Halloween Concert in Hill Auditorium. This year’s performance featured some special guests with an…interesting…set of instruments. Playing the vacuum, (from left to right at the front of the stage) we had Dean of the Music School Aaron Dworkin, UM softball coach Carol Hutchins, UMS conductor Kenneth Kiesler, and UM marching band director John Pasquale (who took a selfie while running the vacuum on stage).


Well, now that I’ve written this all down, the turkey has had a chance to digest, which means: It’s time for Pie! Enjoy!


Sara is a third-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.

AMA Interim Conference 2016 – Orlando, FL

As you might imagine, attending a health policy conference (AMA Interim Meeting) two days after a Presidential election was quite a whirlwind! The workshop that my committee coordinated on post-election advocacy overflowed with students and physicians ready to learn how the coming changes to our government may impact health care, and access to care for their patients. Though the results of this election have challenged my optimism, I left feeling *slightly* more empowered with a better idea of where our national health policy discussions are headed.


Todd Askew, Director of AMA Congressional Affairs Division addresses students & physicians

At the conference, students, residents, and physicians pushed for and passed a resolution that calls upon the AMA to actively engage the incoming Trump Administration and Congress in discussions on the future direction of health care, with a special focus regarding patient access to care and patient health insurance coverage.

In the student section, another resolution that I helped craft regarding the integration of patient drug costs into electronic medical records also passed! My classmate and leader of this resolution team, Vinay Guduguntla, spoke with confidence and conviction on the merits of this resolution in assembly. Now the hard work of refining our thinking and establishing support in the overall physician membership to the AMA House of Delegates begins.


AMA Research Symposium (Alex Kelsall, Nonie Arora, Hannah Cheriyan)

While at the conference, I really appreciated the opportunity to see friends and colleagues who I’ve been working with remotely on our AMA-MSS national Committee on Legislation and Advocacy. Working with these students from around the country has been a highlight of my second year of medical school.

In addition to the policy portion of the conference, several of us presented research. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my work in newborn quality improvement and for the financial support from UMMS that made this possible.

Thankfully, there was some time for relaxation and even “studying” by the pool.




Shubhangi (Nonie) Arora is a second-year medical student at University of Michigan Medical School. She is deeply invested in health policy initiatives and quality improvement research. She can be followed on Twitter @nonie_arora.

The first 48 hours

img_7580Greetings! Fourth-year medical student here, hailing from the University of Michigan. I am also proud to call myself half Washingtonian and half Floridian having spent equal parts of my life in both states. I am in Seattle as one of the 28 UMMS students attending this year’s AAMC Learn Serve Lead Conference.

Some of the brief highlights from my first 48 hours include: the Cultural Barriers to Learning seminar, Group on Student Affairs (GSA) poster session, and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s plenary speech. The Cultural Barriers seminar was a great way to share each program’s commitment to diversity as well as reflect on current challenges, such as effectively incorporating cultural competency longitudinally in medical education.

I found the GSA poster session particularly impressive because of the great breadth of student engagement in medical education. Notable topics included everything from interprofessional education and team-based learning to student leadership engagement and student run clinics.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s speech could not have been more relevant and appropriate for this conference. As a future physician and leader, my biggest take-away from her great speech was how to better evaluate leadership. As a historian, she effortlessly conveyed the achievements and shortcomings of United States presidents. Her message offered both hope for the future and the significance of the narrative for assessing leadership. I am both inspired and excited to see what the rest of the conference has in store!

4th year medical student hailing from central Florida and Washington state. Hobbies are people, history, food, and languages.