Sharing at the Free Clinic

By Megan Masten

I recently had the opportunity to spend a month at a free health-care clinic in Flint, Michigan as part of my third year Internal Medicine clerkship.

I am in an underserved medicine program and I have a deep interest in working with people who have characteristically been left out of healthcare.  I loved working with the population who receive their healthcare services at the free clinic – I have mostly been impressed with patient’s willingness to feel vulnerable.  I have spent my third year of medical school in a variety of medical settings, and my favorite type of patient interactions are the ones where patients are willing to be completely honest with me and share things about their life that they might be ashamed of or have complicated feelings about.  I feel like I am doing what I’m called to do when I get to have difficult discussions with people about medical and non-medical issues that affect their lives, and my ability to have these discussions has been strengthened by my time at the clinic.

I spent time with a patient at the Free Clinic who opened up to me about his mental health issues.  He was recently started on a new antidepressant medication for depression and anxiety, and he was open and honest about his challenging feelings.  He shared with me that he was feeling really depressed and had frequent suicidal ideations – and he was quick to say, “I’m sure you don’t struggle with depression, I’m sure your life is really good.”  It was such an important and unexpected conversation to be had; although I don’t personally struggle with depression at this point in my life, I can’t say that I never will, and I can’t say that I don’t understand how he feels.  I shared this with him, and I shared with him the fact that I have family members with depression and bipolar disorder who have been suicidal in the past.Read More »

The Past Today: A Southern Physician Visits the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

By Suzanne Minor

At this year’s Southern Group on Educational Affairs conference, the University of Mississippi hosted an outing at the Two Mississippi Museums, consisting of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

I focused my visit on the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.  It was exhausting, difficult, heart-wrenching, and, in the end, hopeful.  Growing up in rural Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida, I witnessed legalized segregation through small private schools and experienced rampant racism as the norm. Thankfully, college and medical school broadened my perspective, particularly gross anatomy.  Once without skin, all of those black and white cadavers looked so similar.  Not better than or less than, but equal in skinless death.  I dove into former slave narratives, reading Frederick Douglas and trying to reconcile the message from my upbringing – that I was better than because I was white – with my new learning in gross anatomy and in my direct experience with people who looked different than me.  I was learning that we were all just human, no better and no worse than each other.  My professional career has been dedicated to attending to the medical and holistic needs of the underserved communities of Miami, Florida, a diverse area in which I’m in the minority.

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Switching Roles: A Physician, An Educator, A Patient

By Nalini Juthani

On a bright early morning while getting ready for work, suddenly, something went “Swoosh” in my head. I saw double and felt dizzy with eyes open. Horrified, I returned back to my bed. In a few moments I began to play out various scenarios in my mind. Each potential diagnosis that flashed in front of me had an ominous outcome although my mind was clear. I woke up my husband, a physician, who examined me and said “I am calling our neurosurgeon neighbor”. It was a remarkable Friday when the world seemed to be crashing down on me.

I was a 40-year-old, happily married doctor with three loving young children. Our family had just moved into a new home. I was also enjoying a successful academic career. I wanted to live.  I was simply afraid to die!Read More »

My Classroom Is Empty: Is That a Problem?

By Kamran M. Mirza

I am no stranger to disseminating information to a group of individuals junior to me.  As a resident and fellow, I have taught many medical students in a classroom setting.  As I think back to these sessions now, I find that they were all in a setting where the student’s presence was mandatory; a review session, a laboratory etc. Nevertheless, my love for teaching grew in those sessions.  My passion for novel pedagogical approaches to pathology education led me to seek a faculty position.  I felt that there was so much I could try and achieve.  I was very excited to become pathology faculty.  What a great honor.  I couldn’t wait to meet my students.

Last fall, as I walked in to my first lecture, I found a half-empty classroom. Rows upon rows of…. no one.  Who will be the beneficiaries of my innovative theoretical pedagogy?  This was even more unusual since the lecture in question is one of the first three lectures of the M2 curriculum, typically scheduled for the first day! In the few years I have been teaching this course, I always found the entire class showing up for Day 1.Read More »

Closing the Door on the “Closing Doors” Metaphor: Reframing our Step 1 Advice

By Emily Green

Anyone who advises medical students about USMLE Step 1 will be familiar with the metaphor of “closing doors”.  Upon receiving their Step 1 score, worried students wonder if the sound they are hearing is the slamming shut of gateways to particular specialties.  The problem with the pervasive “closing doors” metaphor is that it presents career options as being either available or unavailable, with little in-between.  In a student’s mind, a score of 240 might mean that the door to a particular career is open, but a 239 means that it is closed.  Convincing students the wrongness of this thinking is a challenge.Read More »

In My Panic Zone: Teaching Feedback Seeking

By J.M. Monica van de Ridder

Teaching is something that I have been doing for over 20 years. So, in general, I don’t worry about it. I think I know what works and does not work.

Things were very different for me this time. I was worried, and I felt very much out of my ‘comfort zone’ almost in my ‘panic zone’ (Brown, 2008; Palethorpe & Wilson, 2011). I had developed an intersession for M1 and M2 medical students on how to optimize their learning processes in the clinical setting through goal setting, self-regulation, receiving and seeking feedback. The content on feedback I am familiar with, from goal-setting and self-regulation, -I assume- I know more than average.

I tried to discover my fears. What is worrying me?Read More »

Extension

By Tim Lahey

Every March I run the last required course at our medical school. It’s a three-week-long, 47-hour sprint – a sort of boot camp for professional formation. We polish clinical skills, revisit foundational sciences, let students pick from a menu of interesting tutorials, and discuss professional formation.

Students grapple with hypothetical gastrointestinal crises on scatalogically-named student teams. They resuscitate rubbery patients with various flavors of hypotension. I don a sparkly red bowtie to MC a game show called Antibiotic Jeopardy.

Throughout, we discuss the evolution of their professional identities. I ask how their idealism has changed during medical school, and every year over 60% say it has waned. We share the stories that shape us, and how they can stay true to the values that brought them to medical school in the first place. Then they hand in a tall stack of confidential essays that I reply to on nights and weekends right up until the day they speak the Hippocratic Oath. Read More »