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Ten surprising things that Stanford med students do

Stanford Medicine Unplugged (formerly SMS Unplugged) is a forum for students to chronicle their experiences in medical school. The student-penned entries appear on Scope once a week during the academic year; the entire blog series can be found in the Stanford Medicine Unplugged category.

Megan Deakins-RocheMy family keeps asking me why I want to write novels. After all, I’m in medical school. Isn’t that enough? No, I tell them. That’s just it. That’s why I have to write. I haven't even started my clinical rotations, yet I've already seen some patients at their most vulnerable moments. I have seen myself and my classmates struggle to balance impossible expectations and inspiring dreams with the reality of our very human limitations. And so I argue back, what's wrong with me letting my brain imagine a world in which I get to choose the outcomes? What's wrong with letting myself create villains I like and protagonists who surprise me?

That is my way to process medicine, my way of being myself in a career path that is highly defined by my superiors. And I'm lucky to be surrounded by classmates who have their own unique, thrilling ways of living their individuality while in medical school. Stanford attracts some of the most creative, productive students in the world, and I’d like to share a small glimpse of the incredible people who inspire me with what they do outside of their careers.

Here, then, are ten of my fellow medical students and their surprising hobbies:

gourmet salad

  1. Sarah Cheng has her own gourmet food blog. The first year of medical school, she made coffee Oreo cupcakes for my birthday, and I nearly died.
  2. James Pan is a photography enthusiast. One of his photos is my profile pic. #instagood
  3. Brian Hsueh is a ballroom dancer who competed in the national USA Dance circuit for the first four years of his MD/PhD. He trained three days a week and teaches introductory classes.
  4. Cesar Lopez and (former Scope contributor) Jennifer DeCoste-Lopez came to Stanford's medical school already married. I met them when I was an undergrad and was inspired by how grounded they were. I met them again on my interview day and they were having a baby as third year students, a testament to their ability to balance life in medical school.
  5. Megan Deakins-Roche is on the U.S. Mountain Running Team. She and her husband are sponsored by Nike and are a part of the Nike Trail Elite team.
  6. Justin Norden is a professional Ultimate Frisbee player. He's a member of the San Jose Spiders and was a part of the team that won the 2015 championship.
  7. Austin Cook is a national champion in Judo. He now trains for fun… so I wouldn’t recommend taking a shot at him in a bar Friday night.
  8. Sheun Aleuko is a certified yoga instructor. It’s not trivial to meditate away stress… but if anything can help, it’s yoga.
  9. Ben Robison is a violinist, composer and producer who has performed around the world. He was won international prizes and has collaborated with luminaries such as David Finckel, Ani Kavafian and Luciano Pavarotti.
  10. Steven Sloan grows brains in a petri dish. He is an MD/PhD student in the neurosciences. During one of our recent conversations, he excused himself to go check on the neurons that were self-assembling into mini-brains. Just a side project, yo.

Natalia Birgisson is between her second and third year of medical school. She is half Icelandic, half Venezuelan and grew up moving internationally before coming to Stanford for college. 

Photo of Megan Deakins-Roche courtesy of Deakins-Roche; photo at lower left courtesy of Sarah Cheng

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