Brittany Stelmar, MS2

Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
UCLA, B.S. Biology
Age 24
From Moorpark, CA

What does your typical day of medical school look like?

Lecture all morning, lunch break, and then OMM/pathology/anatomy/histology/neuro labs in the afternoon.

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

Touro uses a flipped classroom, so we’re expected to watch the lecture videos before going to class. In lectures we have clicker questions with clinical vignettes that apply what we learned in the lecture videos. Undergrad at UCLA was never like that, it was always just a straight up lecture with some clicker questions for attendance points. They’re similar in that they use clickers for attendance though.

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?

I like how involved the professors are with all of us. If anyone gets a subpar test grade, they reach out via email to schedule a meeting and set up tutoring. Touro is extremely proactive about giving people help when they need it. I like the flipped classroom, but it gets overwhelming because of how many videos are assigned. Even if we have an hour of lecture, some professors will assign 3-4 hours of videos to watch beforehand. And if you show up without watching the videos, you have no idea what the clicker questions in class are asking. I wish the video lengths were cut down. I also wish classes weren’t mandatory… because if you’re not caught up on lecture videos, you’re still required to go to class. But you sit through the lecture clueless/unable to answer the questions, which I think is a waste of time. We could use that time instead to catch up with the videos, and then go over those questions later on our own.

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?

I think location is important, I knew I didn’t want to be in the heart of a huge city to avoid distractions, but I also didn’t want to be completely in the middle of nowhere. I got a nice balance with Middletown because it’s an hour bus/train from NYC so it’s easy to escape when we need to.

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?

Our campus is in Middletown, NY and it’s about an hour north of New York City. I think the location is perfect for us as medical students because it’s a small town that’s not overly distracting. Our distance from NYC makes it easy to go in/out via train, bus, driving, etc. if we want, but it’s also not overly distracting from school because of the distance.

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?

I’m a member of Sigma Sigma Phi, which is a national osteopathic medicine honors fraternity. I’m also treasurer of the Health & Wellness Club on campus. There’s a ton of clubs on campus for every specialty too.

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?

First year was all classroom based. We got exposure in our Physical Diagnosis class and lab with hands-on clinical skills, but our only classroom “interactions” were with our lab partners or with the actors during our graded OSCE’s. There are also health fairs outside of the classroom that a lot of clubs put on, where we give free health screenings to members of the community, and a lot of mission trips, so there’s opportunities to put clinical skills to work.

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

Getting through a year of medical school was exhausting! It gave me a newfound respect for doctors and everything they had to go through to get to the point they’re at.

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?

I really like First Aid, and I followed along with it all year to help prep my mind for boards too. SKETCHY IS AMAZING for microbiology & pharmacology, and I wouldn’t have survived without it. It basically takes microbes, medications, etc. and creates a picture storyline out of it. Each symbol and part of the storyline is some sort of characteristic of that medication or microbe that you’re learning about. It makes it impossible to forget things because you can just visualize the whole storyline and all the symbols/characteristics in your head whenever the name of that microbe or medication comes up.

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?

I would definitely recommend a science major like biology, physiology, etc. If I came into med school with no background knowledge I think it would’ve made things a LOT harder. It would’ve taken a lot more time having to learn the basics and it would’ve been really hard to keep up.

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

Winter formal!!! it’s a big formal dance at a fancy venue with really good food & drinks

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

I wish I knew more about D.O. schools and osteopathic medicine. There was a bad stigma against D.O. schools in undergrad because people were never exposed to it. It wasn’t until I worked as an ER technician alongside many osteopathic physicians that I learned what D.O. schools are really all about. I saw firsthand that D.O.’s were working alongside M.D.’s with the same exact job title, with absolutely no difference in the way patients, nurses, technicians, or any other healthcare professionals addressed or interacted with them. I learned that the only difference between the two was that D.O.’s were trained in OMM, or osteopathic manipulative medicine. I really enjoy my OMM classes, it ties everything together and has been a great supplement to everything else, and it’s definitely a tool I plan on using as a physician. It’s definitely one of the most hands on classes we have too. We diagnose each other in lab and perform treatments like myofascial techniques or HVLA (like cracking backs).

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