Last Friday, March 20th, MS4s and their friends and family gathered in Dunlop Auditorium for the Match ceremony. One by one, students were called up to receive the envelope that would reveal where they matched for residency. To celebrate their amazing accomplishments, this week Penn Med Voices will be publishing pieces written by some awesome MS4s.
Intimidating…diverse…loud. These were the first things that came to mind when I was introduced to the student body at our medical school. Looking back upon the last 5 years I’ve spent here, I can say my impressions have drastically changed—for the better. Instead of the word intimidation, I should have used future stars, or better yet, leaders. It’s not everyday that a medical student is the centerpiece of a NY Times article about game-changing HIV research. And seeing other classmates with editorials in journals like NEJM and JAMA so frequently, you would’ve thought they had their own editorial column.
With diverse, I should elaborate further. In my class, about 42% of people were considered underrepresented minorities—that’s almost half of the class. While this is something that every medical school should strive to achieve, there are so many other ways to be diverse. Age, schooling, political beliefs, etc. I found I’ve learned the most from my classmates who did not attend an Ivy in the northeast, or from those who have worked in finance or a non-profit during their gap years. I cannot overstate how much I have learned from them, how much they have shaped me into a better doctor, and more importantly, a better human being.
Loud—I was right on the money with that one. Think back to all the fun and crazy times during your college’s “new student orientation” week. I would say my med school class continued our new student orientation week for all 4 years. There was always a pregame going on somewhere, a dance party downtown, or an intramural team to join. The best part about our social life was that it was social. We didn’t talk about school or work. We really got to know one another as friends.
And this word—friends, or more accurately, lifelong friends, is what I really want to impress upon you, the future medical student at XXXX Medical School. When I was starting my second away rotation last fall, which was also my 3rd “audition” rotation in a 3rd new city back-to-back, I needed a break. (By the way, away rotations are month-long sub-internships at other programs that are required for more competitive specialties. They’re seen as a 24/7 interview for the month and they basically make-or-break your chances of matching.) So at that point, all I wanted was to sleep in my bed and know where I could go to do my laundry. That didn’t happen. But when I saw who the intern was at the beginning of the month, I knew then that I had caught a huge break. You see, I took a year off for research, watching my classmates graduate and become doctors in the meantime. So when I found out my intern for the month was one of my best friends from school, I was overjoyed. He let me in on all the little things that would expected from me, showed me where everything in the hospital was, and put me in the best position to succeed. More importantly, he became my biggest advocate.
The comforting thing is that I know any of my schoolmates would have done exactly the same as this intern. And that is truly rare in today’s world. I can’t overstate the incredible impact my classmates have had on me and how they’ve changed the way I approach both work and life away from the wards. For that, I will forever be grateful.
Marten Basta is a graduating MS4 pursuing a career in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, originally from small town Georgia. He graduated from the College at Penn in 2009, majoring in Biological Basis of Behavior with a minor in creative writing.