The Practice of Medicine (POM) course helps to prepare us for the day-to-day skills of being a doctor. One thing that makes it special is the amount of hands-on experience we get. When we learn the basics of taking a history and performing the physical exam, we watch a demonstration by a guest speaker then break into small groups immediately after. In those groups, we have the chance to practice the exams we learned, while receiving tips and feedback from the doctor in our room. We’ve also been paired with clinical mentors, M4s who volunteered to take us into the hospital and help us hone our skills. I’ve already gotten to see real patients, take their histories, and perform physical exams. I say real because another component of our education through POM is the standardized patient experience. Standardized patients are actors and actresses who pretend to be a patient so that we can practice on them. This has been so helpful because it’s a low-stakes environment for learning, and we get to debrief the interaction with the standardized patient right after. Aside from these standard skills that are generally expected of any trained physician, we also learn about other components of patient care — social disparities that can negatively affect patient outcomes, proper communication, various spiritual and religious beliefs, and practicing medicine, just to name a few. I’m extremely glad we have this course because it helps me feel less nervous about going into the clinical years!