Sunday, August 4, 2013

And So It Begins...

The beginning of medical school is quickly approaching, but before Loyola lets us begin the real fun, we had to sit through a week of orientation material. In reality, it’s a pretty good idea – it provides a venue to meet your classmates, get used to the facilities, and generally settle in. It was, however, agonizingly slow at times.

Orientation week kicked off this past Monday with a busy administrative day – getting badges, filling out paperwork, officially registering, figuring out parking, learning the computer systems, getting fitted for our white coats, ensuring that we are not the carriers of any terrible diseases, and so on. The staff at Stritch essentially set up a bunch of booths in the school, gave us a honey-do list, and set us free…which generally translated to most of us aimlessly wandering around hoping that we hit every station that we needed to. The day ended with a barbeque in Miller Meadows, a large forest preserve across the street from the school. It consisted of food, games, and fun times as we got to know some of our fellow classmates a little more.

Tuesday and Wednesday probably the longest days (at least in terms of perceived time). These days were filled with lectures (a lot of lectures…) by some of the staff and faculty at Stritch. On Tuesday morning, many of the professors introduced themselves and their courses. The school provided breakfast and a catered lunch, which was actually pretty good.

After lunch, a physician at Stritch gave a “First Patient Presentation” where a real volunteer patient came in and sat down in front of a 150+ new medical students, told his story, and allowed himself to be interviewed by the class as a whole with the staff physician moderating and guiding the entire conversation. It was actually pretty cool, and the patient eloquently expressed some kind words of guidance to us as a class regarding our future as physicians and the importance of trust and kindness in the physician-patient relationship.  The day ended with a scavenger hunt put on by the M2s that took the new students throughout the school of medicine and into the surrounding villages, eventually ending (three hours later…) at a bar in Forest Park.

Wednesday was more lectures. The Dean of Stritch School of Medicine, Dr. Brubaker, started off with a warm welcome to the students. She was eventually followed by Dean Jones, the assistant dean of admissions who had welcomed each of us into his office on the interview day. He discussed the composition of the class and some interesting facts about a lot of the new students, which was entertaining.  He is the guy in charge of admissions, and mentioned that he and his staff were now just starting a whole new application season, which was a bit trippy. The rest of the morning was spent with various people introducing all of the resources available to Stritch students, like the gym, student services, and all of the activities we could get involved with at the school, like the Medical Spanish course offered by Spanish-speaking students. After lunch, we had a financial aid presentation (particularly bad timing, I thought – after the long morning and a satisfying lunch, we were all ready for a nap…), and the day ended with a security presentation (where we watched an “active shooter education video” – at least it was more interesting than financial aid). Finally, the University Ministry hosted an Ice Cream Social and held a raffle for various prizes, ranging from gift cards to hospital caf├ęs to school swag. That night, the school bused the students who wanted to go to Wrigley Field for a Cubs vs. Brewers baseball game.

Depending on which orientation group we had been assigned to, about half the class had either Thursday or Friday off. I had Thursday off, which was a nice break. On Friday, we had Basic Life Support training and then some of us had gym orientation. The BLS training, by the way, consisted of way more actual compressions than any BLS class I had had before (usually, it seems like the instructor watches you do CPR on a mannequin for 30 seconds and signs you off. This time….not so much). To top it off, the day was already pretty warm and humid and the room was only barely air conditioned, since the class was held in one of the older buildings on campus. That made for a fun afternoon. That night, though, the Jesuits had a catered BBQ at their home in Oak Park. That was some darn good food.

Finally, on Saturday there was an optional service day. Those who attended met in the atrium of the school, where we were given a brief introduction to Maywood (the suburb of Chicago in which Stritch is located) and its history. Then we all dispersed into various service groups around the village, where we helped hand out food at homeless shelters, organize food pantries, clean up the community gardens, and clean up some of the houses around the neighborhood. It was really a lot of fun and a great way to get to know the area.

But now orientation week is over, and medical school begins – for real – tomorrow. I’m actually looking forward to it. It has been nice to have some time off, but it will also be good to get into somewhat of a routine again. It was great that we were able to move here a couple of weeks before everything started – having some time to settle in and get used to the area has been priceless. Some students just moved in a few days ago – one actually just got married on Friday (that, by the way, would be crazy!). I don’t envy them. But I’m sure we’ll all have a blast, and I think everyone is excited for tomorrow.

Here goes nothing!

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