What do Advent and Christmas Have to do with Medical Education, Anyway?

By Virginia McCarthy

As a Jesuit, Catholic medical school, we have had several preparations for Christmas that may not be as “front-and-center” in other institutions.  These traditions are deeply engrained in our culture and expected by our students.  With the flurry of academic activity in the final weeks of the semester, the true miracle of Christmas might lie in the simple fact that anyone shows up to spend time together at all.  In the busy-ness, we pause, but what exactly is it that we are trying to remember about ourselves, the community, the world?
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Beginning Your Medical Journey: Advice for First-Year Students

By Steve Goldstein

On August 19, 2017, I offered the keynote address at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Class of 2021 White Coat Ceremony.  It was an honor to address this class, my first as dean.  I had welcomed the students during orientation when they were absorbing a great deal—rules, responsibilities, schedules, safety, organization– and met with them during discussions of a book we all read recounting the rich, complex career of pediatrician– events when they were in a focused, serious mood.  This day, however, the student’s were with their families and excited, bolstered by well-deserved pride, and filled with the shared mission of improving the world through the practice of medicine.  Below are the thoughts I shared in my address to the class as they began their formal training as first-year medical students…
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For the Love of Medicine: Remedies for Surviving “Specialty Shaming”

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By Shoshana B. Weiner

“You’re making a terrible decision.”  The surgical fellow was on a rant.  I stood silently for some thirty minutes trying to maintain my composure as he criticized my decision to apply for a pediatrics residency. This memorable event occurred during my surgical rotation, and yes, during a surgery. Apparently, in this fellow’s view, the biggest problem with pediatrics is that it is a team-based field.  When people work as a team, he insisted, everyone “needs to have their own say and nothing gets done.”  Instead, he argued for a more directive approach – say what needs to be done and that’s it.  End of story, no questions asked…

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Growing Up with Doctors: A Mother’s Reflection on Physicians, Healthcare Teams, and a Lifetime with Spina Bifida

By Marsha Miller

Almost ten years ago, I wrote a story about my experience navigating the healthcare system as a young woman with a myelomeningocele baby.  It was a story about “forgiveness” because my baby was two-months old before his back was closed, his brain shunted, and his prolapsed rectum repaired. It was a system failure.  Now, I would like to talk about how different medical encounters can be when a person with a disability is an adult rather than a pediatric patient…
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“I Never Considered That.” Medical Student Professionalism Peer- Evaluations and the Self-Identity of a Future Physician.

By Anna Lama

I recently presented a workshop on the assessment of professionalism at the Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) conference.  I planned to discuss the elements of assessment: developing a framework to define professionalism, discussing successful assessment practices and reviewing the various tools available to assess professionalism.1  Much to my surprise, the discussion quickly moved into deeper inquiry on student participation, perceptions, and self-identity through the use of peer evaluations on professionalism…
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Medical Students Can Handle the Truth; Their Mentors Should be More Open About It

By Shannon Tapia

Medical School is rough.  Fortunately there is a recent movement to make medical education more humane.  The movement to bring humanity, ethics, and love back into the molding of our future physicians is crucial. Personally, I felt my medical school was on the forefront of this push.  Perhaps it was because we had Jesuit priests for attendings and the hospital’s motto of “We also treat the human spirit” filtered into the treatment of students.  Whether it was something about myself or my medical school, I was fortunate to never experience the depression, competitive urges, burnout and isolation that is so prevalent during American medical school years…
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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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