Whispers of Vulnerability and Gratitude: Graduating Medical Students Share their Secrets

By Trent Reed and Sunny Nakae

Many medical students struggle with fear, pride, priorities, regrets, and insecurities, but the liberty to disclose such feelings may be limited.  Students often avoid sharing their challenges and feelings with their peers for fear of looking weak or due to shame.  How can we destigmatize sharing among students to build resilience, foster community, and improve well-being?

A week prior to match day we received almost 70 anonymous secrets from our senior medical students at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.  Dr. Reed solicited these messages from the students by explaining the premise to them.  The exercise is based on the work of Frank Warren who created postsecret.com.  The students were not given guidance regarding topics or tone; they were simply asked to submit an anonymous secret…
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From My Students Most of All

By Zev Leifer

The Talmud (Taanis 7a) quotes Rabbi Chanina who declared that, “I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues and most from students.”  There is a tendency amongst educators, in general and more so, I suspect, amongst medical educators (given their many years of training and vast experience) to take a top-down approach.  This approach assumes that we have a contractual relationship wherein “I have the knowledge and we are here so that I can share it with you”.

In contrast, the digital age has humbled many of “our” generation since the best advice when faced with a new piece of digital equipment or software, is to “ask a ten-year old” (even an anonymous ten-year old).  But our students?!  I submit that example is a challenge – to ego and to the “Central Dogma of Education” that information flow is unidirectional.

I would like to share some of my experiences teaching digital pathology, to perhaps update that notion…
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“Seeing” the Doctor: Depicting the Physician’s Self-Identity

By Stacey McClintick

What do you what to be when you grow up?  Do I even have to?  Can I cry now?  Can I show who I am?  I can only hope you will understand and be able to take away from me all that I have… because that is what I want to give.

I am not who you think I am.  Strong on the outside… an unstoppable ramble of insecurity,  Inquisitiveness and love on the inside.  I am a mom, a Maine, a wife, a soldier, a sister, an engineer, a daughter, a student doctor, a neighbor, a college student, a carpool mom, an artist… my own self gets lost behind all these things.

I lost “rank” to save my kids and my husband, but out of curiosity and hope for challenges and to experience life, I have gained so much more.  But it hurts sometimes to not be recognized in my current position for the experiences I have had.

At the same time it is hard to focus on the facts in medicine when the very curiosity of life which pulled me in persistently tries to pull me away.  ADHD?  Maybe… I have never given up… is that my downfall?

Here, regardless, I can be what I am.  In art my mistakes open up an opportunity for something wonderful I had never thought of before.  In life/medicine my mistakes are lives… more studying and more stress.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do for my mask, and even now I would need two, ten, or even forty more sessions to have my mask relay everything I wanted it to say. However, I understand that this was not the entire point of this exercise and that the goal was to find another way to work through the stress and in that, I was successful! (I only wish I could cash in its value more often)…
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Tough Love for Your Personal Statement: Advice from a Medical School Dean

By Sunny Nakae

The Stritch School of Medicine received 11,355 applications for 160 seats for the 2016-2017 season.  Thousands of applicants have the required coursework, strong grades and test scores.  The word is out that students need volunteer work, clinical exposure, leadership, and research in order to be competitive.  Every applicant submits a primary personal statement as well as responses to school-specific supplemental questions. As an admissions dean who reads hundreds of applications per year, I would like to offer some advice to all the premeds out there who are looking for a competitive edge: reflection is key to achieving and demonstrating personal growth…
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The Aftergift

“… and maybe then you’ll hear the words I’ve been singing;
Funny, when you’re dead how people start listen’n…”
If I Die Young (2010), The Band Perry

By Michael Dauzvardis

It was in the fall of 2015 that I received a call from a Mrs. Jones.  She went on to detail how her husband, Robert, had died from cancer and donated his body to our anatomy lab in 2006.  She further explained that she and her children had finally come to terms with his passing and now, 9 years later, were finally ready to spread his ashes at the family cemetery plot.  She stated that she wanted to hold a ceremony and perhaps have the students that worked on her husband write something about their experience that could be read at the service…
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Loss: The Hidden Barrier to Professional Identity Formation

By Meaghan P. Ruddy

Paying attention to the wider trends in medical education recently makes it difficult to miss the growing voice of Pamela Wible, MD and her crusade to end physician, resident and medical student suicides.  One premise of her argument is that all the language around burnout and resilience misses the point.  The point it misses? This demographic is suffering from abuse.

I tend to agree.  To this I would add that the result is not burnout but the closely related state of grief…
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DACA Medical Students- Making America Great Again!

By Kimrey Van Perre

My friends have been called “courageous” for sharing their plight as undocumented students with the US Congress.  They have been called “DREAMers” due to the Dream Act that has been repeatedly introduced in Congress but never passed.  I call them “selfless” and “unrelenting” in their commitment to the medically underserved despite their uncertain legal status.

I am a 3rd year medical student at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM).  I am not a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) student.  I was born a US citizen.  But many of my friends at SSOM are DACA students.  Their families, like mine generations ago, immigrated to this country.  They wanted their children to have opportunities and to grow up in a safe and stable country…
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