Study Buddies, Dissection Partners, and Dear Friends: Looking Back at the First Year of Medical School

uvmmedicine blogger Alexandra Miller '18
uvmmedicine blogger Alexandra Miller ’18

Many medical students may very well have heard advice like this as they applied to schools: “It doesn’t matter where you go to medical school, you’ll all end up as doctors,” or “school doesn’t matter as much as residency.” Here’s the reality, though – medical school is a long, hard slog. You want to be in a supportive environment, and a place where you can feel at home for four years. For me, it was important to be somewhere that valued class camaraderie and non-traditional students, and had faculty members that I would want as mentors. It was important for me to be on a campus where the medical school and hospital were connected, but also in a place where I could take off and go for a run or find wilderness close by to rejuvenate my mental and physical well-being. When I came to visit UVM on interview day, I found all of this and more. I still feel that way now that the first year of medical school is over.  What’s more, the lunch served on interview day at UVM was better than others, and being pregnant at the time had a strong influence on my experience!

I have discovered many things about UVM that I had not considered during interviewing such as global health, Doctoring in Vermont and our public health projects. I did not know much about global health, and many schools do not offer international health opportunities for first year medical students. This summer, eight first years, including myself, are going abroad. I can’t believe that soon I will be in Uganda! The global health project has reminded me why I wanted to go into medicine – something which is easily lost when you are buried in book work.

At UVM, I have met many incredible female physicians who exemplify the kind of doctor I want to be someday. I have enjoyed more flexibility in my schedule than I anticipated, which has allowed me to have some experiential learning opportunities by shadowing doctors and interacting with residents. These interactions have also been critical in maintaining my mental well-being.

Life as a medical student is busy and exhausting, but also exciting and fulfilling. I do not believe any school can be absolutely perfect, but the UVM College of Medicine is always trying to improve the program. Group learning can be challenging but rewarding when you are dedicated to improving the outcomes of each experience. I have felt I have been able to develop professionally by some of the more challenging experiences.

Above all, meeting fellow students has been the highlight of my first year. During the darkest hours and the wee hours of the morning it has been my study buddies, my dissection lab partners and people who I can now call dear friends that have made me grateful that I chose the University of Vermont.

What are your thoughts about this topic?