The Inaugural “Penn Talks” Competition

An inside scoop on a new event for Penn Med students!

This past year has been an exciting one. I applied for residency in internal medicine and took some unforgettable elective rotations. Actually, as I’m writing this post, Match Day is only a week away! The most exciting part of this year, though, was seeing months of planning come to fruition in the PennTalks Teaching Competition.

Back in September 2015, I went to the administration with an idea: let’s hold a competition where students compete against one another to give the best 8 minute talk they can on a topic of their choice. Each competitor would be paired with a faculty mentor, to help them refine their talk. The winner would be selected by a panel of “celebrity judges” (read: the student body’s favorite faculty), with the audience voting, as well. This TedTalks-meets-American Idol event would be advertised to the entire School of Medicine and celebrate how much we can teach each other as Penn medical students. Ultimately, the administration liked our pitch and gave us the go-ahead. Although a lot of work lay ahead of me and the rest of Penn’s Medical Education Club, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Want to know how excited we all were? See for yourself:
LEAKED Penn Talks Training Video

After many months of planning and preparation, on February 25th, 2016, the first annual PennTalks Teaching Competition opened to an auditorium full of Penn medical students and medical school faculty. Our eight competitors, chosen from a pool of initial entrants, spanned all 4 medical school classes. Their talks covered a wide array of interesting topics. Examples included “Keeping Creativity Alive in Medicine,” “How to Insert an Ultrasound-guided IV,” “What are My Chances, Doc? – Why Biostatistics Are Important to Everyone,” and “What a Whale can Teach Us about the Human Body.” This year’s winner, Natalie Stokes, a 4th year applying in Internal Medicine, gave a stellar talk entitled “The Science of Swole: What are in those GNC Supplements Anyways?” All of the talks were fantastic, and everyone learned something new during the event.

JFL_0099Casey McQuade, MS4 and co-president of the Medical Education Club, explains the rules for the night to the panel of celebrity judges.

The success of this event demonstrates two key points about Penn. First, we have an administration who listens to our ideas and is willing to partner with us to make our ideas a reality. Without the support of our administration, and the faculty members who were either judges or mentors, the Teaching Competition would have remained another unfulfilled “good idea”. Second, our students are rooting for each other, and we naturally want to see our peers succeed. That willingness to share what we know with one another makes Penn students truly outstanding, and makes the School of Medicine a wonderful place to become a doctor.

JFL_0412Natalie Stokes, MS4, launches into her award-winning presentation.

Casey McQuade is a fourth year student who matched in Internal Medicine. He is interested in cardiology and general internal medicine, and served as the co-president of the Medical Education Club at Penn.