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LMSA Conference 2017

It was 8 a.m. on a clear Saturday morning with hardly a medical student in sight. I walked briskly past Taubman Library, momentarily thinking of the endocrinology final I would take there tomorrow. But for now, I was excited to attend the LMSA (Latino Medical Student Association) regional conference – an annual conference being hosted by Michigan Medical School this year.

As I walked into the conference room, I was greeted by the resounding voice of President Mark Schlissel as he delivered the welcome address at the conference. This speech was followed by Dr. Justin Dimick and Dean Steve Gay, who also spoke to the 150 medical and pre-medical students who were gathered around carefully listening to what each of them had to say.

LANAMA (Latin American Native American Medical Association) and its board were then introduced. Their mission was clear: to bring together the Latino Michigan medical students and celebrate the deep cultural heritage of Latin America with the rest of our peers. This was the student organization in charge of coordinating the LMSA regional conference, and also the organization I would have the pleasure of serving for the upcoming year. In this moment, seeing the diversity of interest and the excitement that was shared among faculty, medical and pre-medical students, I could see LANAMA’s potential to stimulate academic interest and connect students, not only in the medical school but also on the greater Michigan campus.

Lanama Executive Board 2017

In its effort to involve the medical school community, the conference hosted a mock MMI interview workshop for the pre-medical students who were attending this conference. This activity was designed in conjunction with the Medical School Admissions team to simulate the rigors and challenges that are characteristic of the application process. Besides the MMI interview, other workshops included research posters by current medical students, as well as a panel where medical students related their own experiences in terms of both deciding and applying to medical school.

Facilitating these conference activities with the LANAMA board, I had moments of introspection that I had not experienced before. For example, during the mock MMI interviews, I realized I was no longer a timid interviewee, but rather a confident interviewer. This marked a moment that “the tables had turned” in this aspect of my life, and that I could not forget the various mentors who had enabled me to overcome challenges in the admissions process.

As LANAMA president for 2017 and a current non-traditional medical student at Michigan, I am personally invested in bringing mentorship opportunities to the Latin American and Native American community at Michigan Medical School. So far, we have hosted numerous faculty-student gatherings in which Latino and Native American physicians have not only presented their journey to a fulfilling medical career, but also have offered to guide students with research, volunteer projects and various other opportunities best tailored for their personal interests. Expanding upon this, it is my belief that mentorship can transcend the traditional faculty-student relationship, and can be simply demonstrated through a supportive student community. I am fortunate to have found this at the University of Michigan Medical School, especially thorough LANAMA, and I hope to encourage and continue to foster la familia that I have found here.


Anatomy: May the Forceps be with You

Our second year of medical school is over! I can’t believe how fast it went by. I am very excited to start our clinical years and talk to actual patients, but I will definitely miss M2 year and the unique opportunities I have had at Michigan Medicine.

My favorite part about this year started last May, when I was asked if I would be interested in working for our Anatomy Department’s BlueLink team over the summer. BlueLink is an educational resource for the anatomy courses offered at the University of Michigan that utilizes a plethora of multimedia and lab resources to enhance the anatomy experience. My role on the team was to perform detailed dissections for photographs used in lab manuals and online study resources. Needless to say, I was thrilled to accept. Anatomy was easily my favorite course of first year, and this was a chance to continue my education in an intensive way.

Over the summer, my concentration was on head and neck anatomy for the new dental student lab manuals. I had never enjoyed a job as much as this one. The Department of Anatomy is filled with fantastic faculty and my fellow team members were a joy to work with. When the fall came around and classes started, I decided I couldn’t give it up. It was too much fun to walk away from. And lucky for me I didn’t, because with the fall came exciting new opportunities: the chance to be a teaching assistant for M1 and undergraduate anatomy courses and to work on an unprecedented project: constructing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for anatomy!

Though my part in the MOOC was small, I continued to do what I love best and dissect. The faculty and other team members worked to create a comprehensive course for anatomy that is free and open to the public. The first course opened for enrollment is Anatomy: Musculoskeletal and Integumentary Systems. In January, it was recognized as one of the top 10 most popular MOOCs of 2017 based on enrollment numbers. Considering world class faculty were teaching the course, it was no surprise to me that it quickly rose to the top. Stay tuned for the next segments because trust me, you won’t want to miss them.

Working for the Department of Anatomy is easily one of the things I am most proud of from this year. The friends I made and the mentoring I received are unforgettable. My last day ended with a salute to the team, and nothing could have been more fitting as I take off into M3 year.

Almost M4s

It’s hard to believe that we now have less than two weeks before we finish our last M3 required rotation. On one hand, it seemed like that the clerkships have been flying by, but it’s also hard to imagine a time without the clinical knowledge I have amassed. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to be coming to the end of my M3 year. I have learned and grown so much, but I am looking forward to greater flexibility in my schedule and electives during M4 year.

March and April are still technically part of M3 year, where we partake in career electives before officially being considered M4s. We assembled our schedule for that back in November/December; now we’re working on scheduling the rest of our M4 year. Our current system allows us to select one class at a time for your top two choices in a similar system to the NFL draft. Then, after everyone has selected each of those individually, there will be an open enrollment period for choosing the remainder of our schedule. Picking our new classes definitely makes us excited (and a little apprehensive) about the year ahead. That means it’s time to start getting ready to apply for residency (*shudders*).

Right now, we’re still in the transition between curricula, so our system for core clerkships/M4 electives will not apply to future classes. The core clerkships will transition to M2 year, freeing up more time for career electives and M4 experiences as part of the Branches. I’m excited for the chance to have more elective time, especially since I plan to apply in Family Medicine. With my upcoming schedule, I will hopefully have time to explore complimentary fields that will prove valuable in my future practice. Like Dermatology, where I can learn to recognize the scary rashes vs the not-so-scary rashes and how to best manage them.

After our last shelf of M3 year at the end of next week, we’ll have two weeks of Intersession, including taking the M4 CCA (Comprehensive Clinical Assessment), UMMS’s version of USMLE Step 2 CS.

Around this time, the current M2s will also be entering the wards for the first time, beginning their “M3” core rotations. It’s definitely quite a ride, but an incredibly enjoyable one. Good luck to them!

Earlier this season, the Michigan Marching Band performed on the court during halftime at a Michigan Men’s Basketball game. Including the drum major performing a back bend!

eMpower: Succeeding Together through Peer Mentorship

Hello from Jonathan (M2) and Kylie (M3)!

Over the summer, we had the chance to sit down and reflect on our time in medical school thus far. A major theme that kept popping up was peer mentorship, and the vital role it has played in positively shaping our experiences at UMMS. Over the last year or so (by complete chance quite frankly), we both befriended different upperclassmen who have offered invaluable guidance to us as we progress along our journeys towards becoming physicians. They have provided support across the board, from how to best study for anatomy, to introducing us to student groups or research opportunities that best fit our interests.

As we talked more and more about this, the two of us began to wonder… Wouldn’t it be great if we could create more opportunities for peer mentorship in medical school? Why doesn’t a space like this exist, where M1-M4s and MSTP students can come together to have discussions about the obstacles many of us face, as well as strategies to overcome them?

With the help of two other passionate M3s, Alia Ahmed and Christine Wu, the four of us decided to create that space. We polled students for their perspective, worked closely with UMMS faculty within the M-Home learning community, conglomerated our ideas and soon enough, UMMS’s newest peer mentorship program was born — and we named it eMpower.

In designing eMpower, instead of the traditional dyadic mentoring format, we decided to try something new: small group mentorship. We envisioned these groups, composed of students from all years, meeting periodically to discuss topics that medical students frequently seek guidance in. The topics we ultimately decided on were: succeeding academically, discovering one’s path through extracurriculars and research, finding wellness, and thriving in the clinical environment.

For the first year of the program we had nearly 300 students sign-up! This then led to the creation of 19 different small groups where students could ask questions freely, discover newfound interests, and reflect on the challenging, yet exciting road ahead.

We recently held an eMpower session that focused on providing mentorship for the clinical years. M3 and M4 students shared what being a clinical student is like with the M1 and M2 students in their small groups. Many students talked about some of their best experiences, some of their most difficult ones, and emphasized the importance of resiliency during these years.

Five sessions later, the inaugural year of eMpower is coming to a close (as is this lengthy blog post). Helping to develop this mentorship program has been an exciting process, and we feel fortunate to be at an institution like UMMS, which supports its students in transforming their ideas into reality. We look forward to seeing how this program will continue to grow and evolve next year! If you’re an incoming M1 reading this, we look forward to you joining us next year, where students are committed to building a strong medical school community that empowers one another to achieve both personal and professional success.


Jonathan and Kylie

Biorhythms 2017!

Twice a year, I am amazed by the talent and grace (and silliness) of my classmates in our medical school dance show — Biorhythms.

January 2017 Biorhythms performers. Photocred: M2 Rana Kabeer

This year I participated in the dance “Racy Desi,” which featured Bollywood music. I really looked forward to our Monday night practices for the chance to take a study break, see some wonderful people, and move to fun music. Even if I started practice thinking about the never-ending list of lecture and research tasks, I would always end it smiling (and marveling at the boundless energy of one of our choreographers, Nikki). Biorhythms was also a great chance to get to know classmates and students in other years who we wouldn’t otherwise meet. I’m so grateful for our wonderful directors, Karlie, Chrystina, and Connor, who put their energy into creating such a great show!

“Racy Desi” dance group. Photocred: Rana Kabeer

Schoolwise, we just wrapped up our Hematology sequence, the last one of our pre-clinical education. We are now completing a capstone course prior to starting on the wards. As an M2, it has been rewarding to see the same physiologic principles appear in different organ systems throughout the year. For example, my understanding of immunology has been greatly strengthened by seeing its topics reappear in infectious disease last year, and then in renal, rheumatology, and hematology this year. Every time when we add a new layer of clinical presentation, I find that my comprehension of the basic principles is strengthened. Which is good, because immunology made a lot less sense the first time around last year!

In the next few weeks, I look forward to consolidating some of our basic science knowledge, and then taking a few weeks off to recharge before the next big adventure: M3!

Reaching the End of M2

Happy New Year! It’s 2017, and the M2s are quickly wrapping up with our preclinical curriculum. In six weeks, we will bid goodbye to the lecture halls and anatomy labs for good, don our short white coats, and step into the hospital. I can’t wait! Between now and then, we have a two-week Hematology/Oncology unit (our last unit of new material!), a two-week review period, and a two-week vacation. The vacation is a particularly nice and unexpected gift; it will be wonderful to take a break to relax and fill our sleep reserves before hitting the wards.

Our clinical rotations (these are traditionally done during the M3 year, but we’re getting a head start due to Michigan’s updated curriculum) include blocks spent working with Internal Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Neurology, and Psychiatry. We’ll be working in clinic six days a week, though the specific hours will vary depending on which service we are with. I’ve been told I’ll be very busy, but that I’ll also feel more engaged and enjoy clinic more than lectures. Hopefully it works out that way! I start on Pediatrics, and I’m excited to simply dive in and see what working in the hospital and clinics is all about. That, after all, is what I came to medical school to do! Most of my classmates feel the same way: somewhat nervous since there are so many unknowns about working on the wards, but also excited to get started. As much as we’ve learned thus far, I know we’ll learn even more during our clinical time, adding real life experience to what we’ve memorized from our text books and lectures.

Last week we had a short Rheumatology unit, in which we learned about autoimmune conditions affecting the joints. Now that we are reaching the end of our preclinical material, a lot of this unit was review of concepts we’ve seen before. It was nice to see things a second time; while I definitely needed the review, things were a bit easier to remember this time around.


The Botanical Gardens had an exhibit of “botanical clothing.”


I managed to take the test on Friday (we have from Friday afternoon until Sunday night to take our weekly quizzes or exams), which meant I had an entire weekend to enjoy! My free days allowed me to take full advantage of some of Ann Arbor’s many great things to do. On Saturday I went to a movie at the beautiful historic Michigan Theater and had coffee downtown with my parents. Sunday was very cold but beautifully sunny, so I bundled up and went for a run by the Huron River – one of my favorite things to do here whether winter or summer! I spent the afternoon at the UM Matthaei Botanical Gardens, enjoying the warm steamy air and many-colored plants, and finished up the weekend with a game night featuring Settlers of Catan. School keeps me busy, so I always appreciate free time and try to make the most of it.

Stay warm out there!