“Becoming a Doctor:” Student Anthology Spurs Reflection

The stories, both told and untold, in the world of medicine and being a medical student are diverse in nature, sharing a wide array of experiences, challenges, victories, and learning experiences. What many outside of a medical school perspective do not always realize is the challenges that come with developing patient and physician relationships in the short time of that medical specialty rotation before cutting ties and moving on to their next clinical rotation site. Many medical school trainees see patients through part of their care and have to leave the care team before getting to see the exciting day when the patient gets to leave the hospital. Even though it’s hard to break those connections, many medical students are learning the importance of attention and care in medicine at all times, as those small interactions can make a big difference.

At the University of Minnesota Medical School, third and fourth-year students are required to take a course titled “Becoming a Doctor” designed and co-directed by Department of Pediatrics Physicians Andrew Olson, MD, Associate Professor in the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine, and Johanna Scheurer, MD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Neonatology. This course aims at helping medical students reflect and process their experiences, focusing on drawing themes and insights from what they’ve learned. As a final assignment for the class, they must construct a reflective writing piece or anthology to synthesize their reflections and experiences into a form of creative writing. This year, Dr. Kim, who at the time was a fourth-year student, took charge of the project with the help of advisors, to utilize stories and anecdotes from her classmates to develop a book. The theme of the book focuses on the respiratory sequence of inspiration, pause, exhalation and how these themes relate to our world shifting from normal day-to-day life to a pandemic laced with protest surrounding racial injustice. The book features work from 45 medical student authors reflecting on their experiences both in medicine and in the events of recent years. To read more about the “Becoming a Doctor” course and the new book written by recent medical students to describe their experiences, follow this link.