Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Earthquakes, and Hurricanes, and Cardio... oh my!

So it’s back to school for the MS2s and it seems that our arrival doesn’t sit well with Philadelphia: since our return there has been an earthquake and a hurricane. The earthquake happened while we were in a doctoring lecture and I didn’t feel a thing. Very disappointing for a born-and-bred east coaster who has never experienced an earthquake... darn the sturdy construction of John Morgan!

In slightly more exciting news... Hurricane Irene came and went this weekend. The media had us convinced we’d look out our windows to see the four horsemen of the apocalypse riding down Walnut Street so I dutifully stocked up on necessities: batteries for my flashlight and some mini Snickers. But despite doomsday predictions of power outages/dangerous winds/flash floods, everyone I talked to reported much the same thing: it rained for a bit and then it was pretty windy.

Après storm my roommate and I decided to head down toward the Schuylkill river trail: a popular running/biking path that winds along the river (whenever I jog there normally I am guaranteed to run into at least 5 other med students). When we got there it was almost completely flooded and an hour later we were up to our waists in water! I hope that my MS3/4 friends are studying up because my little adventure may have left me with a case of Schuylkill-itis.

Above is a picture of the path pre-hurricaine (courtesy of Google images).
Below is me frolicking in the exact same section of the path on Sunday:

Other than that it’s been business as usual for the MS2s: we’ve dived into cardiology and are working our way through understanding EKGs. Before the hurricane we also had our annual big/little sister matching event for the Elizabeth Blackwell Society (for female medical students). We paired each MS1 with an MS2 “sister” that is supposed to give them advice about school and just be a friendly face in the hall. I adore my big sister and I’m also one of the heads of EBS so I was worried about how it would go but I think a good time was had by all and I’m excited to get to know my (2!) little sisters this year!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Welcome to the Perelman School of Medicine blog!

Gail Morrison, MD, Senior Vice Dean for Education
and Director of Academic Programs

We hope that you’ll come back often to read candid reflections from our students about their journeys through medical school at Penn. It’s been a busy summer, and we already have a lot to share with you. Our goal is to give parents, partners, friends and family an opportunity to see what the students are up to, and to give our alumni a sense of what it’s like to go through medical school at Penn in the 21st century.

Penn is an amazing place, where medical students can pursue joint degrees, interact with faculty and students from Penn’s 11 other schools and centers, and make a difference right here in the West Philadelphia community and all around the world.

We are very proud of our students and delighted to share their stories with you. Enjoy! Please bookmark the page and come back again soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Message from the Medical Student Government (MSG)

To the Incoming First-Years -

Congratulations on your decision to come to the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania! On behalf of the Medical Student Government (MSG) and the rest of the student body, I’d like to welcome you to the Penn Med family.

The next four years (or more for half of you) will be some of the most formative of your life. I’m excited for all of you because medical school here at Penn is something you will truly experience as a community. You will spend hours on end with each other dissecting in the anatomy labs, studying with groups in the library, and learning the intricacies of medicine. You will be given access not just to the human body, but also to patients’ lives. It is a hallowed experience that will bind your class together always.

I urge you to get to know as many of your classmates as possible. They are some of the most amazing, interesting and accomplished people in the world. In fact they may be so impressive that you feel you don’t belong, and for that I would like to commend you on your humility. You absolutely belong and the people you find here will become your best friends and resources for years to come. They, along with an incredibly supportive administration, will spur you forward to accomplishing your goals.

The Medical Student Government’s role is not only to help you through this period academically, but also to develop the Penn Med community through events and support of student groups. You can look forward to Field Day (think BBQ, faculty Dunk Tank and Slip ‘n’ Slide), Formal, a Spelling Bee and Medical Quizzo. We’ll be inviting you to welcome events in the fall where you can meet the MS2-MS4 students who will help guide you through the years. If you'd like to be part of the MSG team, class representative and co-chair elections will take place this September.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have. We’re so excited for your arrival!

Again, congratulations!

Grant W. Mitchell
MSG President

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.

To the Perelman Class of 2015

My name is Katie Dillon, and I am an MS 3/4. I am so excited to meet all of you MS1s and welcome you to an amazing next four years. I want to reassure all of you that finally, after the months on the interview trail, agonizing over options, and weighing finances, you have made the right choice. I chose Penn three years ago because I was looking for a school that would give me rigorous training (obviously!), but would also allow me to have interests outside of medicine. I was an anthropology major in college and I wasn’t ready to completely give up the reading, writing, and discussions I enjoyed so much. Penn is an incredible place that wants you to pursue your passions and will often pay for you to do so. In the past three years I have traveled to Thailand for research, taken classes for a Masters in Bioethics, played a ton of golf and tennis, hung out at the Jersey Shore, and eaten at many of Philadelphia’s fabulous BYOBs.

Since I’ve been at Penn, and especially after my time on the wards, I’ve come to realize that I am most passionate about women’s health, and I want to be an Ob/Gyn. Right now I’m especially interested in infertility-I think the medicine is fascinating, there is a ton of great research in the field, and there are even some questions that benefit from a little ethics training. This year I am taking a ‘year-out’ and conducting research through the Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship. Twelve medical schools in the country offer the fellowship, and I have been lucky enough to get to stay here at Penn and work in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility on a number of exciting research projects with terrific faculty.

I am eager to keep you updated on the progress of all of my activities this year, from my research to my ethics classes (Zeke Emanuel, Rahm Emanuel’s brother, just joined the department!) to use of my newly-found free time now that I’m taking a break from the hospital and no longer working ‘rotation hours’. I hope that you’ll enjoy following along, and I wish all of you a fun-filled orientation week!

Back to School

Hello all!

I would like to take this first post to quickly introduce myself but also to wish the new first-years a warm welcome. I couldn’t be happier that you are all here-now we are no longer the lowest on the totem pole. Kidding, of course. I hope and trust that you’ll like Penn as much as I have. I think that you start orientation soon which is actually awesome (and believe me, I went into it with a lot of eye rolling) so have fun and we can’t wait to meet you!

And of course welcome back to my fellow 2014ers, I hope all of your summers have been amazing. From the Facebook posts and emails I’ve been getting I think that’s the case: surfing in Nicaragua, planning a wedding, volunteering at a clinic, learning acupuncture in China, working with refugees in Philly, working with an oncologist in NYC-and that’s just my learning team. To the 2013/2012ers, I don’t need to welcome you back as you’ve been working your butts off whilst we young-uns have been gallivanting around enjoying the last bits of freedom before we delve into the abyss that is cardio/renal etc.

Using VisualDx Mobile with some pediatric residents in derm clinic
OK! Now on to more important things-me :) Who am I? My name is Hayley and I am just starting my second year at the Perelman School of Medicine. I am originally from Boston, went to Brown, graduated on 2009, took a year off and worked in Malawi before heading to Philly for med school. I will be blogging my way through the year in order to give everyone a glimpse of what life is like for one PSOM-er.

I am currently writing this post from Botswana where I spent the summer (you can check out my adventures at doing dermatology work at Princess Marina Hospital. Penn has a fantastic partnership with Botswana and I have had the most amazing summer. As I wrap up my time in Bots and prepare to head back to school I thought I’d end my first post by letting you know what I am looking forward to this year and what I am dreading:

  • Absolutely dreading heading back to my apartment because I know that in my haste to leave, I dumped all my (clean) laundry on my bed without folding it. What a welcome home present for myself. Ugh.
  • Can’t wait to get some Yogorino on Rittenhouse Square and watch all the cute puppies.
  • Not excited about trading this perfect Botswana weather for the heat wave I’ve heard about in Philly.
  • Pumped about planning some events for the Elizabeth Blackwell Society (for female medical students) as well as visiting Covenant House (teenage homeless shelter in Germantown, PA where I volunteer with a few other med students).
  • Very very scared to begin our cardiology block: it has a reputation of being extremely tough. I know that I will be fine once I start but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous.
  • Happy to re-start Pilates classes. Africa and exercise didn’t mix as much as I’d hoped.
  • Mainly I am so excited about seeing all of my friends and hearing about their summers. As I mentioned above, I have been blown away with the updates I’ve been getting via the interwebs so I’m eager to hear about it in person.
Signing off for now!