The Value of Failure

A while ago, I worked my first shift as an EMT-in-training. I use the word “worked” loosely, as I did very little work and quite a bit of standing and watching. My shift took place after only 3 days of classes, and I felt like I knew very little about emergency medical care. Every time I went to do something on the ambulance, I totally messed it up. That sounds dramatic but let me assure you, it is not an exaggeration. I just wanted to do my best and be helpful, but I felt like more of a hindrance than anything. But I had to work for 12 hours, so I told myself to shake it off, and press on.

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Student Begins Med School. What Happens Next Will Shock You!

Medical school is hard. I heard a lot of people say that when I was applying, and even when I expressed I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was three.

I was never really bothered by people saying this though. People said that BIO 198 would be hard, but I didn’t have to study. So when people said medical school was hard, I just assumed it was hard for some people, easy for others. Continue Reading →


A Commitment on My Family’s Behalf

I was unemployed the day my daughter was born. Instead of taking her home to a decorated nursery, she joined us in the cramped spare room my wife and I had been occupying at my in-law’s house. By the time my daughter turned six months old, I was working at an insurance company, but the modest salary still wasn’t enough to afford our own apartment. I was at my desk waiting for my next customer service call when I received the news from the Office of Admissions.  As the initial shock and excitement settled, my next thought was different from most students’: I thought about the incredible difference this news would make in my daughter’s life. Continue Reading →


Being Just a Medical Student

“I’m just a medical student.” I say it often, especially in front of patients, and pretty much every time I do, some bystander or the patient corrects me, “Not just a medical student.” And I guess the phrasing is a little needlessly self-deprecating, but I say it mostly to announce my lack of expertise, of which I am acutely aware. Continue Reading →


President of the Class of 2020

Brechtel, Leanne (7-25-16) M1The first blog contributor from the Class of 2020 was recently voted as the class president (the first female class president at USCSOMG!). Congratulations, Leanne Brechtel! Don’t miss her first post to Transforming Medical School.


Truth in Medicine

In medicine, the truth hurts. Sometimes. It is complex, multifaceted and murky. Often. It is ugly. Occasionally. It must guide you as you relate to patients, announce good or bad news, and come up with a differential and a diagnosis. Always. Continue Reading →

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My First Rotation: Family Medicine

Shortly after finishing Step 1, I found myself mentally and physically drained. I had spent the past five weeks sitting in a chair the majority of each day trying to put two year’s worth of information into my head. Having finally taken “the biggest test of my life,” all I wanted to do was sleep and never open a book again. However, I was required to begin my first rotation the following Monday in Family Medicine. I had the preconceived notion that my clinical hours would not be too difficult, as I envisioned family practitioners almost as “mediators,” who treated general problems and sent the majority of complicated conditions elsewhere to specialists. I quickly found out that what I had heard and thought was wrong.

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All the lights will start to shine

There is a pile of lightbulbs next to the lamp by my desk.
It’s a rescue, pulled from the clutches of a thrift store shelf.
Due to the curious shape of the shade,
I’ve yet to find a bulb willing to
Shake hands with its rusty edges
Incandescent, energy efficient, and candle flame shaped
Somehow nothing fits.

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The Things I Carry

Medical students wear short white coats, and during our clinical years we quickly discover that the pockets of our white coats can be truly lifesaving. Maybe white coat pockets could be best compared to a purse, because we tend to carry lots and lots of helpful things, sometimes to the point of excess. Residents and attending physicians chuckle at the pure volume of stuff that a medical student can cram into their white coat pockets. We move throughout the hospital so often that if we don’t carry something with us, we may not have the opportunity to get it again until the very end of the work day. From quick clinical references to granola bars for the times when we miss lunch, here is a peek into the many things that I carried over the course of my 3rd year: Continue Reading →


Patience for Patients

Everyone in the world has heard the cliché statement that patience is a virtue. It is the bread and butter of all desirable traits, of all admired characteristics, of all necessary and pertinent qualities that are essential for us as aspiring physicians. It is, simply, an essential attribute that rewards us with persistence. This persistence is vital in helping us continue on the journey toward becoming a medical doctor- life-saver and friend.

Patience. Continue Reading →