SMS (“Stanford Medical School”) Unplugged was recently launched as a forum for students to chronicle their experiences in medical school. The student-penned entries appear on Scope once a week; the entire blog series can be found in the SMS Unplugged category.
This past February, five fellow Stanford med students and I found out that we had been accepted to present at this year’s Western Group on Educational Affairs (WGEA), an annual meeting focused on topics in medical education. This year’s conference took place March 23-25 (i.e. last week) in – wait for it – HAWAII!!!
As you can imagine, the six of us were pretty excited when we found out, particularly since the conference dates coincided with the end of our Winter Quarter final exams and the start of our spring break. Our excitement grew further when we generously received funding from Stanford to support our trip!
As with many trips these days, ours kicked off with an airport snapchat of me, Victoria (MS1) and Fred (MS1):
Which was followed by, naturally, another snapchat, upon arrival in the Aloha State:
And then finally, by some non-snapchat phone photography - with each photo, just so you know, taken with a background soundtrack of “oohs” and “aahs” and “oh-my-goodness-how-is-this-place-so-beautiful:"
Rest assured, we didn’t spend our entire time at the beach (Full disclosure: We did totally consider this option but our upstanding moral compasses rightfully led us away from the beach and back to the conference). There were three days worth of sessions, from students, staff, and faculty not only from schools in the U.S. but also from countries like Canada, Japan, and Thailand.
We came away from the conference with multiple new friends and rich discussions surrounding new initiatives in medical education. Two of my favorite sessions featured a discussion on the imposter syndrome (IP) in medicine, where individuals attribute their success to external factors and not themselves, and a joint presentation and activity on shared physician-patient decision making. In the former, we actually took a survey, the Clance IP Scale, to measure where we stood on the spectrum of IP experiences. (Highly recommend this, super interesting). And in the latter, we role played shared decision-making in pairs. To my pleasant surprise, this role playing didn't feel unnatural or intimidating, and in fact, it closely mirrored what we learned in our Practice of Medicine (POM) clinical skills class.
Outside the official presentations, the best part of this conference, for me, was to spend time with Stanford faculty and staff outside the traditional classroom setting. Because this was a medical education conference, quite a few faculty members, including my E4C, were in Hawaii as well:
Together, we went on a hike, took over half a Japanese restaurant with our entourage of 22 Stanford people, and bonded at an evening luau. It was surreal to chat with my clinical skills instructors with a lei around my neck and sand stuck between my toes.
Sadly, this paradise of a trip came to a close after four short days, and now, I’m back in school, kickin’ off the first week of the new quarter fully rested - and maybe even a little tan. Till next time: Aloha!
Hamsika Chandrasekar is a first-year medical student at Stanford’s medical school, with an interest in medical education and pediatrics.
Last photo, from left to right: Victora (MS1), me, Dr. Basaviah (my E4C), Fred (MS1), Jai (MS4), Vivian (MS4)