Progress Notes

An MS1’s letter to friends and family

Julia WangBy Julia Wang, MS1

To friends and family:

I see medical school as a transformative process. The silly kid next door grows up, goes to medical school and transforms into someone you can trust with your health decisions. Don’t you wonder — what kind of training did he go through to earn my trust?

That’s why I’d like to introduce ourselves, first year medical students, to everyone around us who are just getting used to the idea that we are all becoming doctors eventually.

What do first year med students talk about these days? We love chatting about study strategies and bragging about how much we know (or don’t know) about medicine. Our daily conversations range from exotic cuisine to brain surgeries we’ve scrubbed in on (I can’t count how many times the word “formalin” and “food” have been mentioned in the same sentence). We ponder the “whys” of life processes: Why do we get sick? Why do we feel pain? Why do we grow old?

As for who we are? The public’s general idea seems to be — smart and intense. Heck, even our own professors have labeled us as type A, competitive, and ambitious. They must be right to some extent. But I think out of the three descriptors, what ties us together the most is ambition. From a Darwinian perspective, we are all attempting to reverse or prevent the course of nature! If that’s not ambitious, I don’t know what is.

Dr. Goodman’s introductory lecture summarized our goal as being able to move from the genetic and molecular basis of a disease to the impact of the disease on a patient’s personal and social life to the political policies behind the health system as a whole. However, we all have our own little niches within the health ecosystem to fill. What Dr. Goodman described is a collective goal, rather than an individual quest.

For now, we look no different than your typical college student, but very soon (maybe even next week) you will see us in our white coats, taking/recording your medical history and attempting to measure your blood pressure. I promise that the awkward silences and fumbling of the blood pressure cuff will help transform the kid next door to a compassionate, knowledgeable, and trustworthy doctor.

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