After a week of orientation, I now know the following things:
1. My classmates are rad. I went to a social thing last night at a dance club, and realized that I was sitting at a table with some funny, brilliant, down to earth people. When you meet a group of people who have the same sense of humor that you do, the rest of it - age difference, cultural differences, political differences - will not be nearly as much of a barrier. Doesn't hurt if they're deep thinkers and creative, too. I feel like such a dork saying this, but I am so happy that I get to spend the next four years with these people. I'm looking forward to going to hang out with them on Monday at school. I want to babysit their future offspring and go to their future weddings. In case you don't know me well enough to understand the gravity of what I just said... THAT RIGHT THERE IS DEEP. It is a rare child that I'm willing to spend more than 1 hour of unsupervised time with unless they're besties with my kids. I don't go to weddings anymore.
To sum up...
2. Yesterday I called the Dean of Students. He answered, "Hello, Shemena!" on the first ring. I texted a picture of my cat hissing at my dog to the chair of our clinic course, she texted back, "NICE." She was also wearing Doc Marten's. We get told about 200 times a day from every single person who works there that "THE DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN." The security guards will drive me home if I need them to. Also, they already remember my kid's names. So basically, what I'm trying to say here is that the administration, faculty and staff are real people, invested in our well being as human beings, and from what I've heard from the 2nd and 3rd years, this is not bullshit. They are the happiest (and most insanely successful) medical students I've ever met in my life. I heard that one of the top Step 1 scores this year came from our school, and the average (so far - not all of the scores are in) is unbelievably high.
While the way that they teach medicine probably has a lot to do with this, I think just as importantly, these are a group of students who aren't competing, and aren't as stressed about their outside lives because the administration recognizes (and has emphasized all week) that we have outside lives, and those lives sometimes must take precedence, and that doesn't reflect on you as a person or a professional. Not to say that they don't expect professionalism - you best answer your emails and treat them with respect, or you will end up in front of the promotions committee. But not once have I gotten the message that if my kids are sick or need my help, tough shit, suck it up, you're on your own.
3. The policies about promotion and appeal are liberal, clearly defined, discussed often, and I would have never had to leave the other medical school if they'd had the same policies. Has that created huge slackers who will be horrible doctors? UM NO. Cleeeearly not the case. If you keep your students engaged, happy, healthy and motivated, you don't need draconian policies to prove that you're a rigorous medical school.
4. A majority of our education comes out of active learning groups, where they give you a case, you go home and research it, you talk it out with a small group of people and some facilitators, and try to hit the learning objectives.
I already completed one case in the week before school actually started as part of a pre-matriculation course I took, and all I can say is that everything I learned in there actually stuck. And I learned a LOT. Bilirubin cycle; labs used and their meaning; treatment; liver enzymes; cholesystitis; blood cell cycle and causes for hemolysis; autosomal dominance vs. compound heterozygous genetic disorders; liver blood flow and basic hepatocyte structure and functions; cell membranes and proteins. I learned all of that in 4 hours of discussion time, and maybe 4 hours of study time, and it was fascinating the whole time. I killed it, btw.
I need to take my kids to the aquarium now. It'll be interesting to read this a year (or three) from now. But right this second, it's all like: