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I’m going to be up front with you and let you know that I am not always on top of checking my email inbox. So, months ago when I was clearing out the dozens of unread messages in my inbox, I saw an email about the Clinical Reasoning Elective (CRE) at Michigan and deleted it without a second thought. Fortunately for me, my friend and classmate does read her emails and texted me to see if it would be something I would be interested in. This course has turned out to be one of the most meaningful experiences I have had during my time here at Michigan.

The Clinical Reasoning Elective (CRE) is an optional course for first year medical students. Students who choose to participate in CRE work one shift a month in either the adult or pediatric emergency room, or on an inpatient floor. My partner and I were placed in the fast-paced adult emergency room, where we have the opportunity to see patients and work with our attending to hone our clinical reasoning skills.

CRE has given me the opportunity to take the skills that I have learned in the classroom and use them in practice, and has taught me so many new skills that I can bring with me onto the wards in a few months. Perhaps more importantly, connecting with patients and being part of the health care team in my preclinical years has helped to keep me motivated through our weekly quizzes and exams. The patients I work with during my CRE shifts always give me a renewed sense of purpose, and I value the time that I spend in the ER as an integral part of my education as a student physician. My time spent during CRE has helped to make me more confident in my skills, more caring for my patients, and more careful about reading my emails.

Julia Cartwright is a first year medical student at UMMS interested in a career in surgery. When she isn't in the library, she can usually be found waiting for a squat rack to open up at the gym.