Monday, August 8, 2011

Welcome to Perelman! (You Now Have One of the Longest Email Addresses in the World)

As an MS4, I’d like to congratulate all you new rock star MS1s on working hard to get to medical school. You’re about to embark on an incredible journey of learning, love, laughter, and other words not in my vocabulary that start with the letter “L.”

Medical Student Government-organized
basketball at the Wells Fargo Center
after a 76ers Game
Time flies in medical school. To be cliché, I feel as though it was yesterday that I sat in my own White Coat Ceremony feeling nervous yet excited about the experience that was to come. I remember putting on my white coat and thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m going to be a doctor one day…”  Now, I see my classmates applying for residency and finishing their clinical electives. That “one day” of being a doctor is now only 9 months away for the MS4s. Yep, time flies; but that’s because you have a lot of fun in medical school.

Penn Medicine does a Ninetendo Halloween
Since I’m having so much fun in medical school, I decided to take a year out to pursue a Master’s in Translational Research (MTR), one of the many dual-degree programs available to you at the Perelman School of Medicine. What is “translational research”? Most people define it as research that can easily be applied “bench-to-bedside,” i.e. you make some therapy or gene discovery in the lab and then take it to a patient. You’ll definitely hear about the program throughout your time at Penn though, and if you think you may be interested in taking a year out to do some research and adding more letters behind your name after you graduate, please consider it.

My specific translational focus is on surgical education and simulation. I want to better understand how surgeons acquire expertise and to apply educational interventions in the simulation center to improve patient outcomes by reducing morbidity and mortality related to technical errors. Or, in English, “Can we use video games to train better surgeons and prevent mistakes in the operating room?” Penn let me turn my love of video games into a research career.
Medical students assisting the former Chief of Surgery at the
VA in simulated aortic aneurysm surgery at the

Penn gives you the opportunity to pursue your passion -- research, community service, world travel, consulting, or working in the TV business. The best advice I can give you is to take advantage of the many resources that will be available to you. Talk to fellow classmates, upper classmen, faculty, and Suite 100; everyone is more than happy to help you make the most of your medical education and your time here at Penn. To borrow an advertising slogan from an Italian chain restaurant, “When you’re here, you’re family.”

Oh, and about that email address, just write “…” on any school event form and you’ll avoid writer’s cramp. Trust me, I’m almost a doctor.

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