Emily He, MS1

Rush Medical College
USC, B.A. Biological Sciences, M.S. Global Medicine
Age 24
From Cerritos, CA

What does your typical day of medical school look like?

Our schedule depends on the day of the week. We are broken up into morning and afternoon groups. A normal class day for me would involve an 8am quiz from the self-study material in preparation for the class. These sessions are under the flipped classroom model in which we no longer have lectures for class. We get self-study packets that are based around a patient case. We get a video presentation of an actor with a certain chief compliant, the patient chart, and then the rest of the packet provides our material ranging from microbiology and immunology of various disease processes, pharmacology to treat potential diseases related to the case, pathology and histology of the organ systems, anatomy of the body that’s involved, and various other subjects depending on the case such as genetics of family inheritance, psychology if the patient is experiencing alcoholic withdrawals, and the clinical skills to test for different related illnesses.

Our flipped classroom setting meets twice a week for the hard science material and once a week for clinical skills. Each class is a group of 16-17 students and within the class, we work with a smaller group of 4 or 5 students on interactive case-based activities to apply what we learned from the self-study packets.

After class, the time is yours. You can research, study, volunteer, or explore the city. If I had to put down a “typical class day”, it would be wake up at 7:00am (snooze the alarm until 7:30), quiz at 8am, class from 8:30am-12pm, lunch from 12-1pm (there is almost always a lunch talk with free food) and I study until around 5 or 6:00pm. For the rest of the night, I have extracurriculars, grab dinner with friends, binge TV with my roommate, and do random house chores.

How do your classes and lectures compare to those at your undergraduate institution?

Because our medical school has flipped classroom and no lectures, the style is very different from college. My undergraduate classes provided me with not only the foundational skillset to understand the basic science of our material but also the work ethic to study the large amount of information that we are given. My advice would be to go into studying with an open mind. Don’t be afraid to change up your study habits. Even if it was working before, try something that’s new and more efficient. Talk to your friends, ask around, and see what works best for you.

What have you liked about the teaching practices at your institution? Alternatively, how satisfied are you with the class structure at your institution? Are there aspects that you would like changed?

Rush has recently gone through a curriculum change where it remodeled its curriculum to have a flipped classroom. Initially, it was overwhelming to have a huge breadth of information from every discipline ranging pathology to pharmacology into a single case. Even now, I still struggle with the amount of information that we need to know. But looking back at our previous blocks, it’s exciting to know that we have an understanding of diseases from the micro level to the macro level and a clearer understanding of how to apply these integrated fields into clinical care.

Looking back on when you were applying to medical schools and deciding which school was the best fit, what do you think are the most important things to learn about a medical school when you are deciding which school is right for you?

My main advice is to know what you are looking for. When I was applying for medical schools, it was very important for me to grow as a student and as a person. I have lived in Southern California all of my life and even though I was tempted to stay, I knew it was important to push myself to explore something different. Because I would be venturing out of my comfort zone, it was incredibly important for me to find an institution that was supportive and aligned with my passions. I found that at Rush. When I came for my interview, I felt a sense of warmth from the faculty and students. Even now for our clinical rotations, one of my attendings always addresses her emails to us as her colleagues. These may be little things but they foster an environment of collaboration and support from students and faculty. I don’t feel like just a number. I feel like my passions can be supported here and they have. It is important to consider what is important to you. Do you think this place will support you? Can you see yourself living here? Medical school is hard and you want a place that will foster your growth.

Can you give us a brief description of the area surrounding your school? What are some things you like and dislike about the city/town you are located in as a student?

Rush is in Chicago, so there is a big city feel surrounding the area. I love how there are many choices of coffee shop options near us since we are close to Downtown and Millennium Park. Also, as students, you get unlimited public transportation so getting to and from places is very easy. The main concern for my parents when I was moving to Chicago was the safety. We didn’t know much about Chicago besides vaguely hearing that it is unsafe. Like most big cities, there are areas that are unsafe. But Rush is not in those areas or the places in Downtown that are close to the school and my apartment. When we first started school, Rush did an amazing job in talking about safety and brought in Chicago PD to talk to us. I’ve never felt like my safety was in jeopardy during my time here.

What organizations or activities are you involved in outside of your regular classwork? Additionally, are there any organizations (even if you aren’t a part of them) that you think are unique to your school?

Research, free clinic volunteer work, suture and intubation team, student professional interest groups, Asian American student organizations. One of the main things that drew me to Rush and what I love most about the school is its overwhelming commitment to the community. Every aspect of volunteer work always goes back to the community. For example, the extra food from the hospital and cafeteria kitchens that have not been served are packaged and delivered to the Franciscan Homeless Shelter. Initiatives like these at Rush empower me to continue giving back the community.

How much/well have you been able to develop clinical skills alongside your classroom work first and second year? What does your institution do to help you develop clinical skills before the clinical years?

We started hands-on patient care during our 3rd week of school. During each semester, we are immersed in a different clinical setting. In the past year, my clinical placements have been primary care, urogynecology, and this semester I’ll be working in orthopedic oncology spinal surgery. My friends had been able to gain OR experience in ENT, anesthesiology, and many other surgical specialties. Rush does an amazing job exposing students early on and emphasizing the importance of clinical skills. We are also routinely tested on clinical exams that correspond to each block. For example, for the MSK block, we had to learn all of the associated clinical tests.

What is one way your outlook on medicine or understanding of medicine has changed in your time at medical school?

I learned that medicine is becoming more and more integrated. No single healthcare discipline can do it on their own. During the past year, we had Interprofessional Education (IPE). We were with the same small group of 6 or 7 first year students from different graduate colleges at our institution. Some disciplines include nursing, medical lab science, speech pathology, audiology, health administration, cardio perfusion, OT, PT, and many others. In our group, we met every month to work on interdisciplinary cases and learn the importance of integrative patient-centered care.

Are there any resources that stand out to you as most useful to you in self-learning medical school material or for expanding on material taught in class?

Besides the usual resources like Sketchy and Pathoma, I have found that my classmates were the most useful. Because our curriculum is flipped classroom, there is no one resource that has it all in one place. Our faculty and upperclassmen really encouraged us to share notes, information, and resources. It’s important to talk, share, and teach each other. Our class is very collaborative where we have a Google drive and GroupMe message group for our entire class where we share notes, helpful resources, reminders, and other helpful tips.

If a young undergraduate interested in applying to medical school came to you seeking advice about ‘which major is best,’ what would you tell them?

If you are interested in science, pursue a major that fulfills most of the pre-med requirements for medical school. Then for a second major, minor, or masters, you can explore your passion and find what else interests you. Studying science is always great, but it’s also great to explore other topics to add depth to your knowledge and provide a different perspective so you can bring something different to the table.

What is your favorite event of the year put on by your medical school? Tell us a little bit about it.

My favorite event has been the Chicago Bulls games. Rush are the official healthcare team for the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox. The stadium is walking-distance from our school. One time, I got free tickets in the library, walked with friends to the game, and then came back to campus for our backpacks. These games have been new and exciting, especially watching a new NBA team since I’ve been mainly a Lakers fan.

What do you wish you had known as an undergraduate and/or as a student in the medical application process?

I wish I knew that everything would work out. I had a lot of doubt and always worried if I wasn’t doing enough. It’s hard to stop comparing yourself, but comparison is never really helpful. In the application process, know yourself, be proud and supportive of your friends, and you’ll get through the application cycle together.

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