Check out highlights from last year's conference, and see what's in store for 2013!
Today marks the end of my first semester of medical school and what a ride it's been. It was definitely challenging, thrilling, fun and...challenging. Many sleepless nights and stress-eating guilt trips later, I have to say it was so worth it. Knowing that I've gotten to this point (surviving anatomy and still having time to make it to the gym regularly) is such an amazing feeling and makes my journey here so much more fulfilling.
To be honest, I struggled with my decision to become a doctor for a long time. The thought of being in school "forever" and the seemingly lack of a social life enjoyed by physicians were constantly pitted against my desire to just help people get healthy and feel better. This issue was further complicated when, after becoming president of a student organization in college, I realized I also had a passion for administration. To help me make my decision once and for all, I started volunteering at a free health clinic in my community. Since my medical knowledge was limited, I took an administrative role but was also able to shadow a few physicians. I didn't realize how life-changing my experience would be.
During my tenure at the clinic, I helped to institute an electronic health record. This did wonders to alleviate our patient flow and duplicate record problems and allowed us to provide our services to more community members. It also helped me to realize how important administration was to the practice of medicine and that a doctor could fill the administrative role. More importantly, doctors should fill those positions because they understand their patients' plight the best. To confirm my realization, I spoke to a few MDs in leadership positions and they all agreed. Most of them further added that they wished they had attended business school, or at least taken a few business courses.
After my experience at the clinic, I made my final decision. I was too passionate about medicine to allow my fears to consume me. I applied to the MD/MBA dual degree program at the University of Rochester and completed my MBA coursework last year. As expected, I learned many important business critical thinking skills, including how to maximize the bottom line (which is equivalent to minimizing costs in the healthcare field).
There are two faces of healthcare: the administrative focus on cost-cutting and improving efficiencies and the medical focus on strong patient outcomes. The two are intimately connected and require individuals that understand how they relate to each other and how to manipulate both for the long-term benefit of the patient. I believe that my MD/MBA education will provide me with the knowledge and skill set to do just that. Looking back, I am more than thrilled with my decision to apply to the MD/MBA program at URMC.
The American Medical Association interviews 11 physicians about their journey toward a career in medicine!
Hi everyone, my name is Felipe Juarez and I'm a 2nd year medical student at the University of Rochester. It is hard to believe the first year flew by so quickly! Before I know it, I will be worrying about the boards but actually, I'm already worried. It is easy to begin my introduction in the present. However, we all have a unique past that probably helped us be where we are now.
Although I was not born in this country, I immigrated with my parents from Mexico when I was just a child. I quickly adapted to my new life in Yonkers, NY which is where I have spent most of my life. I'm not implying that growing up in Yonkers was a smooth sailing, but in my opinion challenges provide some of the most valuable life lessons. It was through life experiences that I learned of the great disparities in society.
Health care issues continue to be a major topic of debate. Proper care should not be a luxury but we can all agree there is much room for improvement. Nonetheless, I knew the only way to contribute to a solution was through education. Science classes captivated me growing up and this lead to my early interest in the medical field.
In a sense, applying to medical school seemed like a selfish act because it meant leaving everything behind to focus on MY DREAM. 350 miles away from home definitely exonerated me from many responsibilities. However, after a few weeks in school, reality became apparent; I realized that living a dream is not without sacrifices. First year taught many lessons and among those to appreciate every aspect of life. Those little things I once took for granted are now very significant; family, sleep, past responsibilities, and the list goes on. This is not to say that I regret this new stage of my life. At the end of the day I can sit down and share the selfless life of a medical student.
I have two genuine passions in life: ballet and medicine. My interest for ballet came at a very young age. I started dancing at the age of 6 and, ever since, ballet became a great part of my life and biggest passion for some time.
As a ballet student, I had the opportunity to train and dance with some of the best schools of the world, American, Cuban and Russian. At the age of 15 I earned a scholarship with The Washington School of Ballet, and by the age of seventeen I was dancing with a professional company in Puerto Rico. These experiences not only gave me the opportunity to travel to different countries where I learned and explored different ballet techniques, but also allowed me to explore other cultures, thus widening my perspectives towards life.
I am a firm believer that the art of classical ballet taught me about self-control and commitment, widening my will and disposition to work hard towards any goal I set in my life. Long daily hours of training and practice helped me become a more organized and disciplined individual, therefore enhancing my ability to work in a group, and to adjust and balance my time between studies, work and ballet. I learned to make advantageous use of my time as a result of discipline and great effort.
Even though ballet absorbed a great deal of my energy and time, it did not impede me from focusing on a professional career in science and the pursuit of my goal to become a physician. Both disciplines—my ballet and my academic studies--definitely complemented one another in my life, with positive results.
My decision to become a physician was greatly influenced and empowered by both of my grandfathers, who served as very positive medical role-models, as well as a result of personal experiences with disease, volunteer summer work with autistic children, and ballet teaching to disabled children. Ultimately, I was drawn into the medical profession by my commitment to serve others in need, especially those underserved.
In preparation for my goal, a career in medicine, I participated in summer medical and investigative programs, specifically, the Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program (SMDEP) at Columbia University and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at The University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. I also participated in hospital clinical experiences (shadowing) in various fields in medicine in Puerto Rico and United States. As a result, these experiences increased my genuine interest in the care of the disadvantaged, disabled and those in need.
I firmly believe that the biopsychosocial emphasis at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry will provide, develop, strengthen and enable me with the necessary skills and tools to give others in need the best health care.
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I AM MEDICINE, Who are you?
It is so easy to lose yourself on the path toward a career in medicine. With all the studying, PIMPing (see earlier post), clinical rotations, and more studying, you can forget who you really are. I can almost hear my wife saying, “What happened to the David I fell in love with.” She often continues, “You know, that guy who used to own a business, play the saxophone, cook, and go out on the weekends.” Looking for some type of excuse, my inevitable reply is, “Medical School.”
Although a certain level of dedication is required to feel the least bit comfortable with someone’s life in your hands, I am beginning to learn the concept of balance. It seems so simple it’s almost crazy. If you can somehow manage to ground yourself in the midst of chaos, you can approach life’s challenges with passion, focus, and intensity.
So, newly married, I have set out on a journey to find the old David. Particularly, focusing on ways in which I can interweave my interests with medicine. The goal – to become a more centered, well-rounded husband and future physician. Here, I will briefly share two areas of interest, and plan to elaborate in later posts.
1. Cooking – I absolutely love food and cooking brings peace to my life. Recently, I have viewed the kitchen as my personal operating room – a place where I can transform food into something spectacular. Not only does it help me get brownie points with my wife, but also it allows me to hone in on my surroundings. I am able to develop a strong sense of how to work with different elements by focusing on what I smell, taste, feel and see. Immersing myself in the kitchen is pushing me to develop a sense of awareness that will translate into an actual operating room one day.
2. Music – Although my saxophone playing days are over, I am able to relax through finding deeper meaning in the things I listen to. At its core, music is a form of communication. I am learning how interact with others, improvise, and tell stories by studying the great jazz artists. I am learning to worship God whole-heartedly and look at life with purpose by studying gospel music with my wife. I am also learning to incorporate music into my work-life, by playing classical music and setting an atmosphere conducive to intellectual activity.
It is my goal to share this journey with you through my blog posts, in hopes that you might find yourself (or never lose yourself to begin with). That’s the key to medicine, and more importantly life. Knowing who you are should play a major role in career choice and specialty selection. Once you have found the key, it naturally unlocks the doors of passion, focus, and intensity. Have you found your keys?
My name is Amber Robins and I am a 3rd Year Medical Student at the University of Rochester. I have to be honest....I still can't believe that I am a medical student! It has always been my dream to be a doctor, but just being this far along in my journey is still a dream for me.
I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a warm and a very loving family who continuously triumphs when adversity shows its face. I saw the power and life-changing side of medicine at a very young age. My dad had a spinal cord injury when I was 4 years old. I saw his battle and triumph as a patient in the hospital. I also saw his amazing doctors who kept motivating him to fight to walk and fight to have a normal life. That's just what my dad did. Every since the then my dream has been to be a physician and give that gift of motivation to others.
Over my next couple of posts, I will try my best to give you a picture of what the life of a medical student is all about. Yes, it's about studying hard. Yes, it's about seeing patients. But it's also about finding your inner strength, your purpose, and your passion. I hope my journey inspires your journey in medicine!
-Amber Robins, MS3
Hello everybody, seeing as this is my first post I’d like to quickly introduce myself. I grew up in Michigan about 30 miles from the lake, loved playing with Legos as a kid, and participated in several sports. I am currently conducting research between my second and third year of medical school.
PIMP-ed [verb] – Put In My Place, a term used to describe the feeling when an attending physician asks the lowly medical student a seemingly impossible question for which the student replies, “ughhhhhh, hmmmmm.” The student proceeds to scratch their head and wait for even the most dim of light bulbs to flicker on. An eternity of time might pass before the professor replies; “blah, blah, blah, blah… didn’t they teach you anything in medical school?”
Being pimped is pretty much one of the most humbling things a medical student can experience. Sadly, with so much knowledge to learn, it is easy to feel like a deer lost in the headlights much of the time. Getting used to thinking on your feet, while acquiring seemingly vast amounts of material is definitely a daily challenge. As an academic research tract student, temporarily removed from the clinical aspects of medicine, I somehow managed to escape this tradition. That was until two days ago. This week I fell prey to a hungry attending, while recruiting patients for a research study.
30 minutes before lunch the attending physician turns to me and says; “I think it’s about time I start torturing you with questions…” He pulls up an MRI of the brain and asks me to find the insula. Feeling slightly confident, I scroll through the MRI and point it out. Easy enough – wrong. From there we begin discussing the venous drainage system in the CNS, “Tell me where to find the Great Vein of Galen, what drains into it.” By this point I was literally shaking in my boots and much less confident about anything that came out of my mouth. Now here was the killer, “What drains into the Internal Cerebral Vein?” My response, “ughhhhhhhh, hmmmmm.” It felt like almost 5 minutes of silence had passed before the attending replied, “either you know or you don’t.” Now, beaming with a smile, he turns to the resident, who strongly answers; “Thalamostriate.” Duhn Duhn Duhn.
In that brief moment, after two years of medical school and having studied the entire human body, I realized that my journey has only just begun. Sometimes we need these reality checks along the way to solidify knowledge and accurately assess our level of competence. Without attending physicians or tests, etc., we will never know what we don’t know.
So, for the moral of the story: Find somebody in your life that is willing to tell you the truth. Someone who can help you grow by giving you honest feedback. I think we get too comfortable with where we are, and this hinders us from moving forward. Who plays this role in your life? Are you moving forward? If you don’t know where to start, you can learn more at the conference.