Default image

On Being an MSTP Student

Kendall B., M1

If you’re sitting in lab right now watching that SDS-PAGE run (blot, blot, western baby) or generating metabolic capacities of individual metagenomes, look no further than the WashU MSTP, because this program is for you! Here, you will be surrounded by hardworking and supportive peers in the classroom, the clinic, and the lab. You will interact with faculty who are passionate experts in their fields of study, and they will be your mentors and guides. Furthermore, the MSTP administrative staff is an amazing group of people who will really look after you and your peers throughout your time at WashU (thankfully, you will have many peers in our sizeable program). Personally, the main reason I chose the WashU MSTP is the wide variety of novel science to which I am exposed on a daily basis (the free food at weekly journal clubs, weekly MSTP meetings, and monthly research opportunity seminars only sweetens the deal). This type of experience will undoubtedly help me and my classmates to grow as future physician-scientists. In short, if you want to be at the forefront of medical science in the company of the smartest and most compassionate colleagues around, consider making WashU your home for the next 7-8 years!

Default image

On Being Heavily Involved in Student Activities

Connie G., M1

One of the reasons why I love WUSM is the multitude of extracurricular opportunities offered to medical students. As someone who has been interested in medicine and community impact for a long time, I feel blessed to be given these chances to explore different specialities through various interest groups, develop leadership skills with administration, and become an activist in St. Louis health care disparities through volunteer organizations. I believe that classes are important, but our learning doesn’t only occur in the classroom — these extracurricular opportunities are uniquely afforded to medical students and I am determined to make the most of it!

I am involved in the Dementia Understanding Opportunity (DUO), salsa club, coordinating for Schnucks screenings, AMWA, and shadowing with interest groups, but by far my largest commitment is in my role as class president. Although it can be hectic at times, I find balancing schoolwork with extracurriculars very manageable with some organization and efficiency. Each student has his or her own priorities, and it is important to take some time to figure out your own limits. It’s definitely a learning process of where and when to say “no”, but this is a skill highly needed as we continue on in our medical careers. There are amazing experiences waiting, and I can’t wait to see what you all will do!

Default image

On Being Highly Focused on Academics

Jesse H., M1

Shockingly, you won’t be surrounded by die-hard library dwellers in medical school. Instead, many of your classmates will need surprisingly little study time to do well, or take pass-fail to heart. Much of medical school is about finding the balance of things that makes YOU happy. If that means minimizing studying to high yield sessions, then go for it. If that means focusing on academics, that’s also great! Professors and TAs are always open to talk more about what you learned in class, and there is no shortage of material to discuss. There are also a ton of ways to dive into medicine beyond class material. If you’re interested in conducting research, then contacting multiple professors, reading about their work, and meeting with them is a great way to learn about the frontiers of medical discovery, and perhaps push that frontier farther forward yourself. If you enjoy clinical medicine, physicians are very open to shadowing. During this semester I’ve shadowed specialties such as neurosurgery, Ob-Gyn, cardiac surgery, and many more for fun! I find shadowing a great way to experience medicine hands on. If you want to focus on academics, the material covered is fascinating, and there are plenty of ways to get plugged in beyond going to class.

Default image

On Coming Straight from College

Ryan P., M1

A year is a long time. Having been dreaming of being a physician for over 20 years, I decided against taking an extra gap year before medical school. For me, waiting another year was too much to bear after countless years of education. Although some of my classmates had exceptional experiences during their gap years, I have found plenty time to check off my own bucket list items during summers and recesses without delaying the pursuit of an MD. Now I find myself back in the swing of classes without having to relearn how to study. While I’m sure gap years were exciting and rewarding for those who utilized them, I’m happy to be on my way, notably a year sooner than some, to becoming a physician.

Default image

On Going to Class

Cory B. F., M1

I made it through four years of undergraduate education without intentionally missing a single lecture, and I plan to do the same during my graduate education. Some would call it an impossible goal, but I would say that anything is possible when you set an alarm. I will admit that it can sometimes be difficult to make it in at 8:30 every morning — especially when you live the caffeine-free life like me — but lectures provide structured, protected time for the auditory learning that I need. If you ever do need a break, Moore is just a short walk from Becker for free tea (or coffee for the weak) and candy. With some key exceptions, lectures are recorded and attendance is neither mandatory, nor essential to learn the material. There are countless educational outlets available; you just need to decide what blend works best for you.

Default image

On Skipping Class

Arjav S., M1

While it may seem that medical school will be so intense that any time you miss class, you will inevitably end up behind your classmates, that is definitely not the case for a sizable chunk of the WashU student body. Medical school is about finding what works best for you academically while making sure you remain happy and mentally refreshed. For me, this involves waking up when I want, coming only to required classes (of which unfortunately there were more than I wanted during the first block), and relying solely on Anki and digital resources provided by the school and the previous classes. And even if you are an auditory or visual learner, all our lectures are recorded, so nothing will stop you from listening to them at 2x or even 3x.

P.S. Make sure to figure out how many classes you are allowed to miss for each subject per block. There is no regret like the regret of attending a class you could have skipped.

Default image

On Studying in the Carrels

Lekha P., M1

After an exhausting day of class, lab, and small groups, your carrel will always be there for you. For a lot of us who prefer to study on campus, the carrels are our home away from home. Everyone’s assigned desk in the carrels has several locked cabinets, which you can stock with snacks and coffee and a warm hoodie. Given that the M1 small group classrooms open up into the carrels, there are always people around between classes — if you tend to stream lectures, this may be one of the few times you actually see some of your classmates! As exams approach, the atmosphere in the carrels simmers down to become more serious, but generally this is a casual study space that is a welcome reprieve from the intensity of Becker or the solitude of your apartment.

Default image

On Taking Gap Years

Samantha L., M1

If you took a few gap years to make sure you really wanted to be a doctor, make money, have a crazy experience, etc. I understand! I took three years off between college and med school, spending winters ski instructing in Colorado and summers dabbling in health stuff. Let me calm some common fears. First, you’ll ask yourself, “Do I remember how to go to school?” The answer is yes! WUSM really lets you ease your way into studying and you’re encouraged to figure out what works best for you. All of your peers are in the exact same place, even if they came straight from college. Med school is a whole new animal for everyone. You might also fear being older than your peers. But you’re likely more confident in yourself, you’re better at adulting, and you will be totally prepared for all the amazing opportunities that come your way literally every day. I have found that I truly appreciated my time off, I can balance school and life, and I’m ready to capitalize on these years. So yes, sometimes your classmates will remind you they’re just 22 and fresh out of college and yes, sometimes you’ll feel older than them. But in the end, you will totally fit in here, be successful, be happy, and pursue your goals!