John Nan is an M4 who recently returned from his one-month clinical elective rotation at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China. John found out about this opportunity through Global REACH, which partners with institutions around the world to match Michigan med students with clinical electives in more than a dozen countries. Here he shares his observations about what it was like to participate in a different healthcare system and how he thinks it will impact his future medical practice.

“Michigan offers a wide spectrum of international opportunities and resources, and has a culture that encourages students to pursue these opportunities. This rotation offered me the opportunity to be exposed to and become more familiar with the philosophy behind traditional Chinese medicine, which otherwise is very difficult to see.

“It was also very interesting to see how different the workflow was and how the tremendous patient load affected patient-doctor interactions. The average physician sees 50-100 patients per day in clinic so history and physicals were extremely abbreviated, and patient education was very minimal. However, clinics always ran in a very efficient manner and seemed to be quite good at avoiding medical errors as well.

“Traditional Chinese medicine is very different from that of Western medicine, so sometimes it is difficult to understand why certain patients would refuse certain treatments, or take herbal supplements rather than other medications. After this experience, I understand better the attitudes of many patients from an Asian culture. 

“As fourth-year medical students at Michigan, we have a good balance of medical education, time and freedom in order to pursue these types of experiences. I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity early enough in my training so I’ll be able to apply what I’ve learned to my future practice, which will hopefully allow me to better relate to my patients.”

One day in his first year of med school, M1 David Haidar came across an email he didn’t expect: an offer to participate in the Wolverines for Life Transplant Shadowing Program, a special program designed to give med students a chance to observe and understand the impact of transplant surgery firsthand. As an undergrad, David had shadowed a trauma surgeon and loved it, so he jumped at the opportunity for more surgical exposure. He shares how this experience was much more engaging and satisfying than he ever could have imagined.

 

“So many people’s lives are affected by what happens during the few hours in the operating room. Not just the patients, but also their families, friends, and others hoping to have similar operations. The kidney transplant I shadowed took place just a couple of weeks after finishing our renal sequence, so most of the anatomy and physiology explained to me by the head surgeon made sense. I actually understood the logic behind where to ligate an artery or vein to avoid accidentally cutting off blood supply to other areas of the region, and was also able to recognize the images in the radiographs (thank you, anatomy lab). This blew my mind.

“The magnitude of the operation and the ease with which the surgical team completed it was incredible. Here was this person giving up a fully functional organ, willingly undergoing an invasive procedure to save the life of another. Two people’s lives are at risk in this situation, yet everything seemed like business as usual for the experts in the room who, while still respecting the delicacy and import of the situation, seemed to easily maneuver through the body, remove the organ, transport it, and implant it into the other patient.

“The transplant surgery program of Wolverines for Life is so user friendly. I signed up months in advance and received all the information necessary regarding proper protocol leading up to the shadowing experience. If I had any questions, the answers were an email away. We were given numerous options for when to sign up with many dates available, so I picked one that fit my personal and academic schedule so that it would not affect my studies at all. This experience was so incredible that I am now pursuing multiple others to learn about other potential specialties in the surgical field.

“The opportunities are plentiful, and it’s overwhelming when you realize how much you can do, especially here at the University of Michigan.”

Photographs by Leisa Thompson

Rashmi Patil (pictured in top center photo) is an M2 and MedArt Coordinator. MedArt, one of the initiatives supported by MedStart, is a student organization that hosts biweekly arts and crafts activities in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, just a few steps from the Medical School. Here Rashmi talks about her role in MedArt and how a little bit of extra time—and glitter—will make her a better doctor. 

“I first heard about MedArt at the Med School’s student organization fair held at the beginning of my M1 year. I was immediately intrigued by the prospect of craft projects, kids, and this interesting take on providing care to patients.

“As one of four MedArt coordinators, I scope out creative and crafty project ideas, then make a trip to my favorite craft store to buy all the necessary supplies…and stickers.  We always, always have plenty of stickers!  On a couple of Mondays per month, we lead a group of five or so med students over to Mott to do the crafts with the kids. It’s nice to step out of the classroom and into the hospital, if only for a few hours. The kids are always adorable, and give to us far more than we are able to give to them.

“My favorite part of participating in MedArt is seeing a child’s face light up when we help them create something that can be hung up in their hospital room while giving their little minds a break from the usual. Through this experience, I have learned that whether healthy or grappling with a life-threatening illness, kids are just kids.  An important part of caring for them in a health care setting is allowing them to be just that—kids.

“The wonderful thing about the incredible breadth and depth of the medical student organizations at Michigan is that they allow you to truly personalize the time you spend giving back to the community. MedArt is the perfect medical school extracurricular activity for me—low time commitment, highly rewarding!

“These opportunities not only encourage meaningful interaction with our vibrant surroundings, but they also help us develop important qualities that will enhance our future practice of medicine—a strong devotion to community, personal discovery, and above all, a humanistic approach to care.”

Photographs by Leisa Thompson

A world-renowned researcher—and University of Michigan Medical School alumna—Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D. leads the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, which funds senior-level scientists in a diverse range of diseases.

Recently Dr. Feldman and her colleagues launched the first clinical trial for the intraspinal transplantation of stem cells in patients with ALS. Here she talks about what makes her work possible at U-M and how she feels about training the next generation of doctors.

 “I feel privileged to work at the University of Michigan, which offers one of the best-funded medical research programs in the country. Even more important are the human resources that I get to work with—my remarkable research colleagues.

“It is of the greatest satisfaction for me and my team to see this landmark stem cell trial for ALS take place at the University of Michigan. This is where we performed the years of research that led to this breakthrough technology. If it succeeds as we envision, we think it can be adapted to many other neurological diseases. It happened here because of Michigan’s collaborative environment, which breeds innovation.

“Like most of my colleagues, I take my educational role very seriously.  We always have medical students working in my lab. They are doing hands-on, cutting-edge research side-by-side with some of the most dedicated and talented scientists in the field.

“As an M.D./Ph.D. myself, I believe passionately in the importance of nurturing the next generation of clinician-scientists. I truly believe that the best clinicians also do research, and the best researchers also see patients. The combination fosters the best possible medical care for patients now and in the future.

“I can say without hesitation that there is no better place to launch a medical career than the University of Michigan. I’ve helped trained dozens and dozens of doctors, many of whom have gone on to accomplish great things in the medical profession. I think every one of them would say Michigan was great place to start. So would I.”

Photographs by Leisa Thompson.

 

Farhan Huq is an M4 and research fellow in the University of Michigan’s Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery. He has recently returned from a trip to Bangladesh where he is planning to start a research project he initiated through his fellowship: a collaborative, multi-institutional study to explore the genetics of deafness in Bangladeshi children. Next summer, he will involve several M1s through Global REACH as part of this work. Here he reflects on his experience abroad and why this project matters to him.

“I have long been passionate about global health and finding a way to integrate my background as a Bangladeshi-American with my love of otolaryngology. My research project is scheduled to begin next summer at the Society for Assistance to Hearing Impaired Children (SAHIC) in Mohakhali, Dhaka, Bangladesh, which neighbors the world-famous International Centre for Diarrheal Disease where oral rehydration therapy was first pioneered.

“Luckily, I know and have worked with many Bangladeshi otolaryngologists. My mother went to medical school in Bangladesh and is a physician here in the U.S. today. Through these connections, I have facilitated collaborations between U-M and the largest preschool for deaf children in Bangladesh, the Integrated Preschool for Hearing Impaired Children (IPHSIC). The school serves children from families from different parts of the country, most of whom do not make much money – approximately the equivalent of $100-$200 per month.

“Dr. Nurul Amin, the founder of the SAHIC, made sure that the Specialized ENT Hospital and rest of the clinical facilities exist to complement IPSHIC. All proceeds from the hospital and the facilities, such as the operating rooms, speech therapy and audiology, go to help pay for the school. It is here that I will be performing my study next summer, with the help of several M1 students during their Global REACH summer projects.

“I am excited to be able to see the fruits of my labor first-hand. Without the phenomenal support from the University of Michigan, I would not have been able to accomplish nearly as much. My trip to Bangladesh is as much a culmination of my research background with the MSCR program as the tremendous guidance and support I’ve received from my mentors.”  

Brice is a talented M4 with a very busy schedule. As a full-tuition scholar, he enjoys the flexibility to pursue his passions in- and outside the med school curriculum. Moving from the San Francisco Bay Area, Brice found Ann Arbor to be a pleasant surprise with plenty of local trails for biking and running, foodie-friendly restaurants, and cool festivals for every season. Here, Brice shares his insights on the reality of finding everyday balance as a dual-degree student, husband and future physician.

“School/life balance was one of the reasons that my wife and I chose Michigan over other top programs. The flexibility of the curriculum during the pre-clinical years allowed me to continue previous research collaborations as well as begin new ones, resulting in a shared first-author publication just a few months ago.

“The desire to pursue a dual degree definitely played a role into my decision to apply to the University of Michigan Medical School. Michigan has the best dual degree opportunities of any school in the country. Period. Few other medical schools are located within a stone’s throw of a University with so many top-tier programs.

“The culture of collaboration and love for shared discovery is rampant across the entire University, and this is likely why almost one-third of my classmates will choose to take an additional year to pursue dual degrees or other collaborations within the University this year.

“I committed to pursue an MBA at the Ross School of Business just a few months into my third year. I like that all of our courses are action-based and focus on teamwork and collaboration, as well as developing critical thinking and leadership skills.

“I plan to apply to emergency medicine residencies in next year’s match as my hope is to work as an emergency medicine physician with administrative duties. The Ross MBA will absolutely provide the skills necessary to excel in a challenging environment.

“Michigan expects the best of its students, but they also believe in the value of balance. The administration is very supportive of that. From the moment I declared my dual-degree intent until the day that I was sitting in class at Ross, I felt like there was a small army of helpful people in the OMSE guiding me and keeping me on track. The transition has been incredibly smooth.”

Photographs by Leisa Thompson.

 

Lindsay Brown (M.D. 2012) is a second-year obstetrics and gynecology resident at the University of Michigan Health System’s Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. Here Dr. Brown shares her personal experience learning from many mentors, choosing her residency and living in Ann Arbor. 

“The wonderful role models I was exposed to as a student were the most rewarding part of my medical school experience. My Family Centered Experience  leader always sparked great conversations regarding ethical dilemmas in medical care, socioeconomic factors contributing to health outcomes and the importance of kindness. My research mentor, as well as residents and faculty during my M3 and M4 rotations, helped to cultivate my interests. It is definitely inspiring to have so many great people to look up to during a time when clinic practice can seem so far away!

“I couples-matched for residency with my partner Andrew, who is now an internal medicine resident at Michigan. As we traveled back and forth across the country for interviews, it very quickly became clear to both of us that few institutions offered programs that were strong in both of our specialties. We looked for programs that would provide us with comprehensive training as generalists and exposure to subspecialties within our respective fields, while allowing us both to explore our passions and hone our skills in research and public health.

“As a resident I spend about half of my time taking care of laboring women and delivering babies, and the other half of my time operating and taking care of gynecology patients in the Emergency Department and on the wards of the University Hospital. I love that I get to meet and interact with so many inspiring women through my work. 

Ann Arbor is a great place to live. I knew if I stayed here for residency, even if I didn’t have a lot of time off, there would be plenty to do in any free time that I did have. I love the great coffee shops and restaurants in Kerrytown, going to the Farmers Market, reading at Nicola’s Books on the west side of town, or spending the day at one of the many local parks.”

Photographs by Leisa Thompson.

University of Michigan Medical School students, faculty and donor families recently gathered for an annual memorial service that honors the men and women who generously donate their bodies and make it possible for future doctors and health professionals to learn the details of anatomy. As an M1, Darci Foote (in top picture, first collage) is a direct beneficiary of these donations in the anatomy lab. Here she talks about her personal experience with dissection and its impact on her med school education. 

The ceremony was a wonderful way for students to express gratitude to the families of our donors.  It was also wonderful to meet the families who mentioned that the event helped them to come to better terms with their loss. 

“It is comforting to know that the bodies we study in the anatomy lab were intentionally donated for the purposes of our education. I was actually surprised when one of the schools that I interviewed at said that dissection was not required and that prosections would be available for those who wished to opt out. 

“Now, several weeks into anatomy, I understand that no textbook can replicate the integration of nerves, blood vessels, muscle and bone found in the human body. Equally striking is the variation between bodies. During each dissection, especially the challenging ones, my lab partners and I are reminded that every body is different, just as every patient is different.

As med students, we look forward to serving within the Ann Arbor area and in our future communities by providing superb healthcare. Our magnanimous donors are giving back to the Michigan family of which they proudly were a part. We cannot thank them enough for this. Theirs is a gift to me, a student, but also to every future patient whom I will treat.”

Photographs by Leisa Thompson.

Between her M1 and M2 years, Alexandria Dulchavsky (in blue jacket, lower right image) participated in a Global REACH summer program as part of a team who worked with Ecuadorian medical students and faculty to plan, teach and evaluate classes designed to empower patients to better manage their diabetes care in Quito, Ecuador. Here she talks about her experience, what she learned about being a health care provider, and how Michigan facilitates her personal and professional interest in global health.

“The availability of opportunities to participate in community and global health initiatives played a large role in my decision to come to Michigan. From the GHD track, Global REACH summer opportunities, and the many rotations abroad, it was apparent that the University of Michigan Medical School is dedicated to improving access to quality health care both locally and globally.

“My time in Ecuador opened my eyes to the true importance of connecting personally with patients and incorporating their inquietudes, abilities and beliefs into their care. The unexpected speed bumps we faced in our research caused us to reflect upon cultural differences and ultimately taught us all valuable lessons in diversity, collaboration and compromise.

“I hope to translate the open, trusting and collaborative relationships I witnessed between Ecuadorian patients and their providers into my own clinical practice. Working in global health provides me with a fresh perspective on the role and importance of health care, yet inevitably leaves me wanting more as I realize truly how much remains to be done in the field. This experience has been formative for me as a developing physician, and has certainly furthered my interest in pursuing an international rotation. I have learned valuable skills that will help me to address the needs of my patients and be a more effective team member to my peers.”

Arno Kumagai, M.D.

Arno Kumagai, M.D. (pictured upper left), is the director of the Family Centered Experience (FCE) at the University of Michigan Medical School. Each spring, M1 students work in small groups to create interpretive projects that represent what they have learned through FCE. These original works of art have included sculpture, paintings, books, multimedia presentations, songs, poetry and dance. A selection of these pieces is shared with fellow medical students, FCE patient volunteers and their families at a special annual reception.

“How does one teach empathy? One way to do this is through stories. Through the Family Centered Experience (FCE) Program at Michigan, we harness the power of stories for incoming medical students that help foster a humanistic view of medicine through ongoing visits with a patient volunteer and his or her family, along with supplemental small group discussions, reflective essays and readings. Through these activities, students reflect on their own identities, life experiences, thoughts, feelings, values and biases in approaching health, illness, suffering and care.

“For us, we gauge this type of learning through the creation of art. Through various media that students choose, we see how they understand the stories and struggles of individuals with illness, as well as the ways in which these acts of interpretation impact their own worldviews. 

“Above all, these interpretive projects created by medical students reaffirm a sense of community, of shared human feelings, fears, values and aspirations between individuals with chronic illness and their future health care providers. While portraying individuals’ difficulties and challenges with illness, students place a highly personal stamp on their emerging professional identities and become active agents of their future by committing their whole selves to the humanistic enterprise.”

Photographs by Leisa Thompson