Allison Martin, MS2
St John’s College, B.A. Liberal Arts
SUNY Fredonia, B.S. Biochemistry
SUNY Fredonia, MS Biology
From Decatur, AL
Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
What does your typical day of medical school look like?
That varies wildly. I don’t attend lecture, and I’m a night owl. So the time I get up is entirely dependent on how many meetings I’ve scheduled for that day. But I am usually up by 10AM at the latest, spend an hour or two getting it together, then go to school and either do something related to the multiple extracurriculars I’m involved in or go to a mandatory afternoon lab. When I come home, I take some time to do dinner, maybe errands, spend time with my husband, then go into my office to study around 7 or 8PM. I watch lectures/pathoma/sketchy on double speed until midnight or 1AM, then have an hour or two of wind down and go to bed around 2 or 3AM.
How do your classes and lectures compare to those at your undergraduate institution?
The quality of lecturers and their notes is variable from class to class, but still generally better than the “average” undergrad lecturer. Also, we cover a college semester’s worth of material every 6 weeks. The pace is so much faster that you have to adapt anyway. Even if you have a bad lecturer, they’re usually just a blip on the radar and you figure out how to learn the material in spite of them, good or bad.
How has your approach to learning and/or studying changed since you were an undergrad?
I used to be a staunch lecture-goer and took detailed notes in undergraduate. Now, I never go, learn everything by listening/reading, and spend way less time per unit of material to commit it to memory. Partially, this is because I just adapted to the pace. Other folks in my class do it differently – with notes or reading textbooks or using Anki. It really just becomes a process about figuring out how you personally learn most efficiently.
How would you describe the student culture at your school? Are there special events or activities that you consider very representative of the culture at your institution? What influence has this culture had on your experience in medical school thus far?
The students at my school are generally very involved in things outside classes. Everybody’s got something, be it student council or clubs or volunteering or research. And we all support each other in those pursuits – whatever somebody else is doing might not be my jam, but if they throw a fundraiser or an educational talk, for example, we will show up to help support them or learn something. When folks are having difficulties, we also come together as a class to do whatever needs to happen to support that person. That supportive, collaborative atmosphere was what led me to choose CMS and always makes me happy that I did.
Can you give us a brief description of the area surrounding your school and the things you do for fun? What are some things you like and dislike about the city/town you are located in as a student?
The first 2 years we are in North Chicago, which is a quiet suburb of Chicago. There’s enough around there – restaurants, gyms, shopping – to provide the necessities, but its still pretty quiet. The last 2 years, everybody moves down to Chicago, which is, well, Chicago.
What would you consider strengths of your medical school?
The faculty cares, the administration listens, and they really try to do the best they can for the students. It might not always work out how you want it to, but you do have a voice and it is taken into account. Also, many people would say that not having a hospital affiliation is a minus, but I think it’s a plus. We get to rotate through most of the hospitals in Chicago-land plus many small clinics. This lets you see all kinds of different styles of medicine as well as different EMR systems, different administration protocols, and different patient populations, which prepares you for wherever you end up on residency.
What resources have been most useful to you in self-learning medical school material or in expanding on material taught in class? Can you briefly describe how you have incorporated them into your learning routine?
Pathoma, Sketchy, and talking it out with classmates or professors/physicians.
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?
Not as much as I would like, but we do have a preceptorship in 2nd year that gives us some experience. Also, our class council is working with the administration to get more simulation added to the first 2 years.
What is one thing you would do differently if you could go back to your undergraduate years or the time between undergrad and medical school?
I would have applied differently in my first application cycle. Otherwise, nothing.
Given the number of obstacles we face en route to a career in medicine, everyone at some point feels doubtful of themselves. How has this affected you and what has helped you persevere through these sorts of feelings?
1) Therapy. Everybody’s school has a counseling center. I use it and I encourage all my classmates to use it too.
2) Having outside interests. It helps keep everting in perspective, both by giving you something else to think about and by reminding you that med school isn’t the only thing happening in the world. Outside interests force you to interact with other people who almost uniformly will give you positive feedback. Being in med school is really impressive to anybody who isn’t in it and doesn’t suffer from imposter syndrome.
You have to make time for things outside of med school because that is what will keep you sane and grounded.
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