A Day in the Life of a Medical Student
by Kevin Moser
Most current students and recent alumni are familiar with Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Mediasite, two newer components of Penn State Hershey's medical school experience, which I wrote about in previous entries. One thing that is brand new, however, is the creation of societies.
The societies program was formed to provide learning communities for underclass students so that they can foster stronger relationships with their peers, fourth-year students, and their advisor, who also serves as their clinical skills instructor. Each society was named after an influential physician in the Penn State community: Dr. Judith Bond, Dr. Rodrigue Mortel, Dr. John Waldhausen, and Dr. Al Vastyan. In true "Harry Potter" fashion, these houses, um…I mean societies, were assigned the colors red, green, blue, and yellow, respectively.
One of the greatest benefits of the societies program is the increased level of student involvement. In the spirit of friendly competition, students participate in different activities or events to earn "wellness points" for their society. Just to prove that the "Harry Potter" analogy was not lost on the administration, the four societies competed in the inaugural Society Cup in early May. Activities ranged from athletics, a talent competition, trivia, and art exhibits to a medical jargon spelling bee and even a game of Quidditch. Those alumni who are "Harry Potter" fans will remember that this is essentially the plot of the fourth book.
In addition to being fun, these societies really serve to improve upon an already great community within the medical school and cultivate relationships among students of all years. As the societies program continues to grow, be sure to stay tuned for more student wellness and Hogwarts-inspired news!
A few months ago, I told you what a typical day is like for me as a medical student. But lately, I've been thinking about how new technology has transformed the "typical" into a more unique experience for each student. Instead of a "one-size-fits-all" educational model, Penn State College of Medicine has evolved and implemented current technologies to provide the best education possible for its students. Whether it is new equipment in the simulation lab or integrating social media into a course, technology has become an important part of our medical education.
One of the most obvious uses of technology today is Mediasite. Some of you might be familiar with Mediasite, but others might not. Coming from college, it was certainly new to me. With Mediasite, every class lecture is recorded and then uploaded to a website so that students can view and listen to the lecture at any time. The ability to watch any lecture online allows for much more freedom and individuality in each student's education. Rather than adhere to a set schedule, students can now benefit from watching lectures on their own time and in the environment of their choosing.
For some, it can be easy to lose concentration in a large lecture hall, but Mediasite offers a solution. Now, students can pause, rewind, and jump between sections of the lecture, or even re-watch old lectures if some concepts were confusing the first time. With the ability to choose when and where to watch lectures, students can take control of their own education and experience medical school in the way that helps them learn best—whether that includes using Mediasite, attending class lectures, or a combination of both. By employing new technology, each student can choose his or her own unique pathway to success in medical school.
As for me, my coffee is ready and my couch is calling; time to catch up on today's lectures.
I start my mornings the same way just about every day. I drive to the hospital, walk down the long main hallway past the Nittany Lion statue, pick up a coffee from the cafeteria, and make my way around the Crescent over to the lecture hall. To you alumni, this might seem like the average routine you had in medical school as well, except there's probably one major difference: as a second-year medical student, after two hours my lectures are over. Instead of sitting in a classroom for hours hearing lectures about basic sciences or organ blocks, three times a week we meet in our Problem Based Learning (PBL) groups and work through a patient case.
The next two and a half hours are devoted to hearing a chief complaint, developing a differential diagnosis, and discussing the details of that case. You may be familiar with the idea of PBL. After all, PBL started way before my time here at Penn State, but over the years its prominence in our learning has increased.
Classroom time is now over, and my classmates and I focus the rest of our day on researching and learning about what we have come across. Instead of hearing someone tell us the properties of a disease, we're discovering them for ourselves.
My average day in medical school might seem like a far cry from what some alumni remember, but I think these changes are for the better. We are encouraged to think clinically from the very moment we enter medical school. There's a sense of pride in figuring out a diagnosis and then spending hours at home delving into the details of a case. As students, we own our education, and in many ways set the course for our future development as physicians.
It's all in a day's work…