At first glance, it may not seem that increased access to identification cards for homeless individuals, front-of-packaging labels on food products, and accountability in reporting for Medicaid waiver projects have much in common. But all are topics of new policies passed at the November American Medical Association (AMA) Interim Meeting that came from student action! In fact, of the 13 items that the medical student section brought to the House, ALL were passed.
This year, I’ve had the privilege of serving as a Delegate to the AMA. Thinking back to my first AMA meeting, I’ve since learned a tremendous amount about how policy is crafted and implemented. Especially during this Thanksgiving week, I’m thankful to serve as a voice for what medical students find important, especially on policies designed to protect the most vulnerable among the patients we serve.
My stellar policy analysis team for this meeting
One of the things I’ve appreciated most about my time with the AMA is the new friendships with students and physicians from around the country. For this meeting, I had the opportunity to serve as the Delegate lead for reference committee review, and I really enjoyed mentoring students who were new to the process. Much of our work happens in advance of the meeting, including in-depth policy review, providing feedback to student authors of resolutions, and conference calls to determine the medical student section stance on all resolutions and reports. I love having the chance to get to know team members personally after collaborating with them virtually for weeks!
Michigan delegation members in the House of Delegates
As a dual-degree student pursuing an MBA this year, I was also able to apply my new skills and knowledge when thinking through the economic implications of proposed policies. I’m glad to have this flexibility at Michigan to pursue these additional interests and learn more about our health care system through a broader lens.
I’m looking forward to the holiday season, time for reflection this Thanksgiving, and re-connecting with Medical School classmates through Friendsgiving and Tag Days.
As a clinical student, sometimes the days are long but the weeks and months seem to just zip by. It is hard to believe that it is already fall, and harder still because we had a 80-degree day here in Ann Arbor. (I can’t promise those always in October.)
Our AAP prescription to #PutKids1st
The past six weeks I’ve been on my surgery rotation, which was probably the toughest all year in terms of the hours. Despite the challenge of the rotation, I still made time to travel to Chicago with my research mentor for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference! We gave an oral presentation on how often the AAP recommended newborn discharge criteria are followed at our children’s hospital. It was exciting to share our work with a national audience and hear their feedback and hear how newborn care is handled at their institutions. This was a project that I started through the Summer Biomedical Research Program (SBRP) and have continued through the clinical year. Working on research now happens in bits of borrowed time on rotations, and often gets pushed through when it’s time to meet a deadline.
Before surgery, I had completed ob-gyn, psychiatry, pediatrics and internal medicine. It has been very rewarding this year to feel my knowledge building upon itself. Even when it seems like disciplines would have little in common, I’ve been surprised how much some information is reinforced with each rotation. Learning from my patients — really trying to understand each of their medical conditions, medications and individual histories — has been much more gratifying than spending time with books and slides.
The beautiful beach in Saugatuck, MI
Taking time for breaks and wellness has been essential to thriving this year. A particularly memorable break was spending 24 hours on the west coast of Michigan in Saugatuck with my college roommate and her family! Even just that day gave me enough of a breather to reset and come back with renewed energy after a tough couple of weeks on inpatient pediatrics. Looking forward to finding more ways to recharge with our Step 1 study period coming up!
This is my first week as a clinical student! It’s exciting to start my first clerkship – obstetrics and gynecology. It was a little bit nerve-racking to be given a schedule for the month on the first day without any idea of what to expect. However, before I tell you about my first week, let me give you a glimpse of how incredible it was to have a few weeks off between second year and third year.
Up near Yavapai point before we hit Slim Shady trail
I spent my vacation in Arizona and Texas. Even though we’ve had a mild winter in Ann Arbor, it was great to spend time in warmer places! This was a chance to truly decompress: I was without my computer for a whole week for the first time in a long time. I enjoyed taking in the sights with my fellow classmate Crystal as we hiked many of the trails in Sedona, and had an awesome time at the botanical gardens in Phoenix learning all about cacti. We even tried fried cactus in Sedona (really interesting flavor, would recommend).
One of my favorite parts of the trip was looking out on the night sky in Sedona and realizing how many more stars I could see than when I’m in Ann Arbor. Having a chance to reset my brain was fantastic given the chaos that can come with learning in medical school and also with being in the hospital. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to take some of that calm and relaxation with me. Even when things are really busy, it’s nice to be able to remember and to channel those quiet moments of peace.
Amazing pies in Dallas with Michelle! After hearing about Emporium Pies from M3 classmate Kayla, I had to go.
In the second half of my trip, my close friend Michelle showed me around Dallas, Texas. We had a wonderful time trying out many of the restaurants in the city while catching up. I don’t think my taste buds have been happier.
After coming back to a busy week of M3 orientation, I also went to watch the 99th annual Galen’s Smoker, an incredible musical production put together by medical students to roast the faculty. It’s crazy to think we are in our “third year” of medical school since it has been closer to 18 months since we started. We are the first class at Michigan to start clerkships before taking our first board exam (Step 1). I’m currently on the labor and delivery floor and have started in an Ob-Gyn continuity clinic. I have loved my first few days! It just feels like magic to go from having one patient to two. I’m also loving taking a deeper dive into women’s health than we do in the pre-clinical curriculum. It is taking some time to learn how to approach self-directed learning based on clinical encounters, but I’m hopeful that I’m on the right path.
Speaking of which, it’s time for me to hit the books and read more about my patients!
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!
Another semester of medical school in the books! It’s hard to believe that my class will be on the wards in just over two months! I really felt like I hit a studying groove in M2 year more so than last year, but it will be great to switch over to taking care of patients rather than minding the many tabs of lectures, notes, and pdfs on my computer.
The two weeks we have off now are a wonderful chance for reflection, and I’m here now at Songbird (one of my favorite cafés in Ann Arbor—you have to try the triple grilled cheese) thinking about challenges and accomplishments of the last semester. It’s amazing to have time to just sit and think, truly a luxury that can be hard to squeeze in during busy weeks. Many experiences have been meaningful in the past few months; I’ll focus on a few to share.
Surgery Olympics Team Waljee: Tim, Hannah, Tony, Shaina, Nonie
This past month my team competed in the “Surgery Olympics,” a program established by our surgery student interest group (SCRUBS) leaders. You might wonder what exactly a Surgery Olympics entails. I did too. We worked on surgical skills over the summer, and then competed in teams to see who could perform them most quickly and accurately in a competition. Personally, I found the laparoscopic skills (like the bean drop!) to be far easier than the knot tying and suturing: I have some work to do before my surgery rotation.
In addition to the skills contest, each team presented on a research project they had worked on with their mentor at Surgery Grand Rounds. I had the honor of presenting our team’s work. It was exciting to share our results regarding post-operative opioid prescribing, and especially to hear what all the other teams had worked on, too. Overall, it was awesome to be part of a supportive and collaborative team with the best mentor, Dr. Jennifer Waljee. We took home silver!
The second meaningful experience has been more of a shift in attitude rather than a singular event: medical school has changed my mindset on the division between work and play. Before medical school, I had more of the mindset that if there was a big deadline or exam coming up that I should really focus on that and then find time for relaxation or other projects only after it was completed. But I’ve changed. I’m so glad to now be able to turn the “work” part of my brain off even when there’s more to be done because in medical school (and life in general) there is always more to be doing.
Someone told me at the beginning of M1 that every minute you’re not studying is another minute you’re falling behind, but that’s no way to live! So instead, I’ve rejoiced in the moments I’ve spent at yoga class, or at a coffeeshop with a friend, or salsa dancing, even with an exam coming up! Luckily, Ann Arbor has many places to unwind and relax no matter your style. Flex-time quizzing and our pass-fail grading system have definitely contributed to this change, but I’m hopeful that the mindset shift will stick beyond this phase of training.
Finding time for relaxation at our Doctoring potluck. So grateful for this team (including everyone not pictured)!
There’s so much to look forward to in 2017. Most of all, I can’t wait to be on the wards!