Five years ago, I sat down to write my college application essays and found myself struggling most with questions that read, “Tell us why (insert school name) is the right fit for you.” Despite having perused college websites for hours on end, looking up interesting courses, professors, and organizations, I had very little sense of what the students at each college were like, and as such, I had trouble saying with confidence that I would fit in at the various schools to which I was applying.
Every medical student has a number of amazing, humbling “firsts:” first time interviewing a patient, first time seeing a baby born, first time comforting a family that has experienced the death of a loved one. These are moments that should be captured, frequently revisited, and never forgotten.
Searching for more insight into college student life, I stumbled across MIT’s admissions blog, where a select number of students and admissions officers wrote entries on their day-to-day lives, detailing everything from grocery shopping to homework to summer adventures. As I read entry after entry, I gained incredible insight into MIT culture and began to feel connected to the students there. Several months later, when I was accepted at the university, I immediately applied to be an admissions blogger, recognizing how influential these blog entries were to my understanding of and appreciation for MIT.
Over the next four years, I wrote nearly 85 entries on my life in college and through these entries, had the privilege of interacting with prospective students, current students and alumni who shared their thoughts with me through blog comments or e-mails. In addition, these entries gave me the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on my MIT experience as it sped by, with days fading into months and months fading into years.
As a current medical student, I recognize now more than ever the importance of sharing stories and reflecting on experiences. Every medical student has a number of amazing, humbling “firsts:” first time interviewing a patient, first time seeing a baby born, first time comforting a family that has experienced the death of a loved one. These are moments that should be captured, frequently revisited, and never forgotten.
This ambition to reflect on medical school and related experiences is the inspiration for “SMS Unplugged,” a new series here on Scope wherein five medical students (myself included) will write about their respective medical school lives. The goal is simply to share our stories, with anyone who might be interested, and when we graduate with MDs, to remember what inspired, humbled, and motivated us along the way.
There are some individuals whom I’d like to take a moment to thank, for without them this blog idea would have remained just an idea, not a reality:
- Dean Charles Prober, MD – for listening to me as I excitedly described this medical student blog idea and for facilitating my interaction with the medical school's communications office
- Michelle Brandt and M.A. Malone – for helping integrate SMS Unplugged into Scope and selecting the five blog writers for this new series
- Michael Nedelman, second-year medical student – for the name of this series, SMS Unplugged
- Natalia Birgissonm, first-year medical student – for collaborating with me to get this idea off the ground by creating a blogger application and acquiring funding for this initiative
On behalf of all five SMS Unplugged writers, I want to say thank you in advance to you, the readers, for taking the time to read our pieces. It is such a privilege for us to share our medical school journeys with all of you.
Hamsika Chandrasekar is a first-year medical student at Stanford's medical school, with an interest in medical education and pediatrics.