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Reflections from an “M8”

Eight years is a long time. Eight years ago, 2018 sounded like a mythical year, the one where I would graduate with both my MD and PhD. Eight years ago, I never thought the day would arrive where I would Match and find out where I would continue my training in residency.

Learning some very “real life” skills in the casting lab.

Well, all of those “mythical” things will happen in the next few months! At times, it has felt like an arduous journey. However, it doesn’t feel like that long ago when I was spending hours in the anatomy lab, studying for Step 1, peering through the microscope learning how the small intestine develops, and then starting clinical clerkships after four years outside of the hospital. As I now look forward to the next big step, I have had time to reflect on how being at Michigan has helped me along this sometimes-winding path.

Couldn’t have made it through my PhD years without my awesome mentor, Dr. Gumucio!

Four years of work … condensed into one PowerPoint!

I still remember that first day in Ann Arbor when I met my future classmates. From my interview day, I felt that Michigan was a community where I could not only learn the academics behind medicine and conduct world-class research, but also feel supported amongst a community of peers, faculty and administration. Even now, when many of my friends with whom I started med school are across the country finishing residency, I continue to keep in touch with them and consider them among my closest friends and confidantes.

As I’ve grown and developed professionally, I have had innumerable mentors, formal and informal, who have helped me navigate the intricacies of conducting research, writing a thesis, and now planning to pursue a career in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics (which I didn’t even know existed as a specialty eight years ago!). The support here has been second to none, and as I’ve traveled nationally to look at residency programs, I have sought out that unique personal and professional support.

Thinking back to these last few months on the residency interview trail, it was for sure one of the most exhausting experiences of my life: traveling around the country (literally, coast to coast), being confused about what time zone I was in, and making sure I had my suit and tie freshly prepared each day. Still, it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime ride. When else will I see amazing academic medical centers and experience so many new cities in such a short time, with protected “vacation” time from other obligations? However, I felt that my support at Michigan prepared me for the process, and I had a ton of fun! Now that it’s over, after meeting my colleagues pursing Internal Medicine-Pediatrics, “my people” as I affectionately call them, I truly can’t wait to start training in July.

The interview trail wasn’t all suits and hospitals, I got to explore the country, too! Like hiking in the foothills outside Denver!

Eight years. Eight long years have led up to this moment, this time in my life where I’ll finally no longer call myself a “student.” So many people have been integral to keeping me motivated to remain energized when the end seemed so far off, whether it be through food (I’m Italian, I never say no to pasta), mentorship or diversion. I know that I have been shaped personally and professionally by my time in Ann Arbor. Wherever I go, I know I’ll be a proud Wolverine. Where I go, I will Go Blue!

Andrew Freddo is an 8th year MD/PhD student at the University of Michigan, graduating in May 2018. He conducted his thesis work in developmental biology, and plans to complete residency training in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics.