18 March 2012


Every student has a faculty member assigned to them as an advisor. If students were to choose their advisors rather than have them assigned, I doubt I would have known to select my current professor. My interests lie in adolescent medicine and public health, and I'm rather boisterous. He works as an internal medicine hospitalist (he exclusively sees hospital patients) and is introspective and unassuming.

In our first advisor meeting, he said that I'm welcome to join him as he sees patients in the hospital. I gingerly took him up on his offer. And so, we occasionally meet at the hospital entrance and crisscross the halls of the hospital to check on his patients.

When I join my advisor, I am not an observer but a student. Before we see each patient he reviews their lab results, imaging studies, and clinical history with me. If he finds something unusual on his physical examination, he has me take a look or a listen. And after a few hours, we go for a walk and he asks me what questions I have about what I saw that day. When I go home, he has sent me medical journal articles relating to the day's cases. I feel guilty that his day becomes several hours longer because of how much time he spends teaching me.

Yet I learn quite a lot. Not only do I get to review what I learn in class, but I also see how my advisor talks with his patients. I learn the layout of the hospital and better understand how the house staff interacts. I become more familiar with the abbreviations the residents use and the format of how they present their clinical cases to their colleagues. These are things that can't be learned in a lecture hall. And seeing patients with unfamiliar diseases and medications motivates me to read up on them and master them.

Students entering medical school use all kinds of metrics to decide where to attend: location, U.S. News rankings, whether the school is pass/fail, whether the students are attractive...but some things can't be known until you get there. I couldn't have known how lucky I would be to get an advisor who genuinely cares about being a good teacher and a good mentor. And it has made quite a difference.