Welcome to Washington University’s School of Medicine! As you prepare to enter the next chapter of your life, the Dis-Orientation Guide will introduce you to the ins and outs of life as a medical student. Before you enter the guide, take in some words of wisdom from the Dean of the Medical School, the Dean of Admissions, and the medical student editors of the Dis-Orientation Guide.

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From Dean David Perlmutter

David H. Perlmutter, MDDear Members of the WUSM Class of 2022, 

Welcome to Washington University School of Medicine.

You were each selected from a highly gifted pool of applicants based on what we believe is your potential to be one of the health care leaders of tomorrow. But just as importantly, you chose us. We are extremely fortunate that you have decided to begin your medical career at our school, where you’ll find a medical program designed to support your unique talents and goals.

The school’s mission — to conduct groundbreaking research, provide skilled and compassionate patient care and prepare the next generation of leaders in biomedicine — is complex, and its success requires the dedication of the community of scholars of which you are now a part.

As you experience the challenges and rewards of medical school, you’ll be surrounded by a diverse group of peers with extraordinary talents and abilities, as well as distinct perspectives. You will learn with them and from them as you form connections that will influence your personal and professional pursuits for years to come.

One of the School of Medicine’s greatest strengths is its faculty, whose members have an impact that reaches far beyond our school, into our community and communities around the world. They have chosen Washington University, as well, as the institution where they work to promote the mission of health care by training the next generation of physicians and scientists.

Mentorship is one of the hallmarks of the school, and students consistently cite their interaction with faculty as a highlight of their experience here. As you take your place within our collaborative learning environment, you’ll be encouraged to use your talents and time to advance science and serve others.

Like the school itself, the city of St. Louis is rich in culture and history, and it serves as an ideal location for you to gain an understanding of the challenges of modern medicine. Step outside familiar learning spaces and immerse yourself in the city’s diverse communities, many affected by disparities in health care.

You have chosen to begin this significant chapter of your life at an institution committed to helping you acquire the knowledge and skills you’ll need to achieve your full potential. I first chose the School of Medicine as a faculty member, and now I’m honored to lead this exceptional institution. Together, we will shape the future of medicine.

Best Wishes,

David H. Perlmutter, MD
Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor
Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and Dean

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From Dean Valerie Ratts

Valerie S. Ratts, MD

The editors have graciously given me room to say, “Welcome to Washington University School of Medicine and the Dis-O Guide.” This is a document truly written by our students for you. One of the purposes of the Dis-O Guide is to show the many facets of our school — its people, its spaces and its strengths. As you read this guide, you may be an accepted applicant sitting in a crowded airport and facing a big decision, or a matriculated student moving into the Core and waiting to start the Washington University Medical Plunge (WUMP). Since 1987, the Dis-O Guide has been produced to show you what Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM), our medical students and St. Louis have to offer. Hopefully, while reading, you will smile and recognize a part of yourself in the descriptions.

The Washington University School of Medicine mission statement calls for the training of the next leaders in biomedicine. Attracting the very best students — as we have done and are dedicated to continue doing — is a key step in meeting this goal. The next step is to make sure we provide the knowledge, experiences, resources and mentorship to support our students in the journey to an amazing medical career. For those still making a decision, this guide will show the possibilities available here. For those who have made their decision, I like the suggestion that the Dis-O Guide will provide “insider advice” to a great medical school and education.

What advice can I give you? 1) Get to know your classmates. Like you, they are amazing. Many will become lifelong friends and colleagues. 2) Do not lose your enthusiasm. You are starting down a pathway that will require diligence, sacrifice and hard work, but will also bring tremendous reward. Doctors play truly special roles in the lives of people. It is an honor and privilege to practice this profession. As Hippocrates said, “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there also is the love of humanity.” 3) Rely upon the skills and characteristics that have brought you to this point. Attitude makes a huge difference. You were chosen because you have unique, elite attributes that will allow you to contribute to meeting the challenges of health care and biomedical research in the future.

There are so many people at WUSM who wish to mentor, support and grow young physicians. We hope the Dis-O Guide will be one source of information to assist you on your path to an unbelievably satisfying medical career.

Valerie S. Ratts, MD
Associate Dean for Admissions and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

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From the Editors

Group Profile of Editors
Dis-Orientation Guide Editorial Team. Back row (left-right): Cory B. French, Alex Scott, Jamie Moffa, Michael Nehls, Priyanka Parameswaran, Connie Gan, Shariq Khan; Front row (left-right): Rebecca Chen, Gina Rhee, Samantha Lund, Amisha Parikh, Reeti Pal, Lekha Pandya, Faith Williams, Sharon Abada, Mary Zhu. Not Pictured: Iris Kuo, Nisha Bhat.

For more than 30 years, the first-year class (AKA M1s) has come together to pass on their accumulated wisdom to incoming students. We were in your exact position just a few months ago, so we know all the questions you probably have right now!

For prospective and accepted students, the Dis-Orientation Guide is a resource unlike any other. Medical school ranking lists, internet forums, even the main WUSM web site can only give you so much information on what it’s actually like to go here. For students interested in attending WashU, the guide has a wealth of information on the school’s culture, academic and extracurricular options, and what it’s like to live in St. Louis. For accepted students, the Dis-O will give you a unique view into what your life will be like as a student at WashU. From detailed information on the various housing options, to student perspectives on our diverse backgrounds, interests and identities, to friendly advice from faculty and M4s, the Dis-O Guide has the answers to almost any question you could have about life as a WUSM student.

The three of us, and many of our classmates, decided to get involved because it helped us through the medical school admissions process, while we were making difficult decisions about where to actually spend the next four (or more) years. We have loved having the opportunity to pass on what wisdom we’ve gained during the course of this past year, and want you to enjoy reading this guide as much as we enjoyed making it. WUSM is an amazing place filled with unique opportunities and welcoming people — we hope this guide gives you a glimpse of the innumerable reasons why we love this school.


Shariq Khan, Jamie Moffa, and Priyanka Parameswaran