For Michael Hagstrom, the road to the University of Minnesota Medical School was anything but clear-cut. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Hagstrom didn’t know where he would spend the four years he needed to learn about the medical profession.

Raised in Minnesota, Hagstrom was unsure if he wanted to attend medical school near home. However, it was ultimately the advice of a close friend that led him to the U of M.

“I heard that it’s really nice to have friends and family, or a support network, around because there’s challenges you face in medical school,” he said. “I’m definitely glad I took that advice. Another reason I chose the U of M was that I feel like everyone I met here was very genuine—I got no pretentious vibes from faculty or students. I also remember there was a diversity representative for the medical school and I remember feeling relieved that the school was putting in work to ensure that students like me would feel supported in our specific struggles or interests.”

Now, Hagstrom will be entering his second-year at the U of M Medical School and he hasn’t looked back. “It’s such a privilege and honor to be able to care for people in this way. I’m learning to treat people as though they are feeling creatures that think, rather than thinking creatures that feel,” he said, referencing author Jill Bolte Taylor, ”I think this will be a good reminder of the common humanity shared by my patients as well as  myself, especially in stressful and tough situations.”

A typical day for Hagstom includes studying, exercise, class and healthy eating— a routine that keeps Hagstrom level-headed, healthy and happy. He credits most of his success to his prioritizing “wellness, mental health and relationships with loved ones,” as well as his reminders “that productivity should not come at the cost of any of those things.” And, now, Hagstrom is excited to pass some of that advice along to prospective medical students.

For current and future medical students, Hagstrom has some advice. He said, “Be brave. Show-up. Take risks. Give it your all. Go into medical school with the goal of learning; it’s such a privilege to get in. The reality is that there are so many amazing applicants that don’t get into medical school so you need to go into it with the goal of making the most of the opportunity. Be brave and lean into discomfort. That’s what will make us good physicians."