Dear Entering Class of 2016…

Welcome to the Perelman School of Medicine family! We are so excited that you are joining us. My name is Ducky, and I am the President of the Medical Student Government and the head of the Wellness Leadership. I am originally from the northern suburbs of Chicago, moved out to sunny Southern California for college, and had a brief stint in Baltimore before landing at PSOM. Fair warning—you will see a lot of me next year and I will send you many emails (apologies in advance, but I can 73% guarantee that you will learn to love them).

The transition to medical school is a unique one. To get to this point, you’ve all crushed college and made it on your own in the (pseudo) real world. I arrived at PSOM thinking I had figured things out in college and med school would be no different. On the first day of orientation, I felt a rush of excitement—I was here! Finally at the place I had been dreaming about since I was 16. I quickly found myself overwhelmed by our schedule and struggling to reconcile the material we were learning with the care I was hoping to provide my future patients. I was excited and proud, yet I found myself feeling out of touch with my mission and purpose—with the very reasons why I came to med school in the first place.

I’m here to tell you: whether you seamlessly adjust to this new environment or you have a more challenging transition, please know that everything you are feeling is valid and others around you are feeling similar emotions. I got over the hump by reaching out to the incredible people around me, and I want to encourage all of you to do the same. PSOM should never be a place where you feel alone; we are a wildly dysfunctional family and you become a member on day one.

Today I want to let you know about the variety of Wellness programming we provide to help you connect with your new classmates, smooth your transition into medical school, and make your first year live up to the experience that your teenage self fantasized about while studying for the ACT (please, I’m from the Midwest.)

The Community Conversations dinner series is offered monthly and cosponsored by the House System and student groups. The series provides an opportunity for students from across the classes to gather and discuss hardships and successes. Recent “Conversations” have highlighted challenges faced by medical students in both the preclinical and clinical years and allyship. The events feature a series of speakers followed by facilitated small group break-out discussions to talk about our own experiences in a safe and understanding setting.

Dinner with Acquaintances continues the theme of connecting students between and across classes through potluck dinners offered each month in Center City, Grad Hospital, and West Philly (basically everywhere). We purposely pair up students from all years to promote inter-class unity. Feel free to bring store-bought cookies that you put in your own Tupperware.

Perelman Pals groups students together to facilitate near-peer mentoring and socializing across the classes. In the Fall, Pals groups are composed of MS1s with MS2s and in the Spring, MS1s and MS4s are matched (Mentors! Role models! Best friends!?).

The Workout Buddies program is exactly what it sounds like. We pair PSOM students from different classes with each other based on their own fitness level and goals, and then check in monthly to help students get as swole/cut/lean/mean/yucky as they want.

Penn Med Yoga offers free yoga classes at school twice weekly. They even have mats you can use for free! ~Namaste~

Screenings and Games Nights are offered on Thursdays following the MSG Happy Hour (I challenge you to find $2 Blue Moon and $0.25 Skittles anywhere else.)

Before I leave, I’d like to offer you one final piece of advice. Get to know your classmates—both those that enter with you and those who are already here. Every day I have the enormous privilege of spending time with truly exceptional and inspiring individuals. Do not take these people for granted!

I can’t wait to meet many of you on Thursday. Once again, welcome to the family!

Love,

Ducky

Ducky is an MS1 from the suburbs of Chicago, IL. Her passions include lemurs, Bud Light Lime, and listening to Continuum-era John Mayer on vinyl.

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