Editor’s Note: Do you recognize this face? If you’re a pre-med student who’s taken a Kaplan MCAT course in the Twin Cities area, you might recognize Justin Lockrem as a highly-regarded Kaplan instructor. Justin volunteered with us at Children’s from August 2010-March 2011, and is currently in his first year of medical school at the University of Michigan. The following is the first of (we hope!) many updates that he will be sending us over the course of his journey to become an MD. Thank you, Justin, and best of luck with your first year!
“Look to your left, then look to your right; half of you will not be here at med school graduation four years from now.” – Med School Deans, circa 1980s
Long gone are the days where med school itself leaves half its students stumbling towards other careers. With attrition rates under 3% nationally, emphasis is now placed on gaining admission to medical schools (42,742 applicants for 18,665 US MD spots – AAMC.org, 2010). Stresses on MCAT scores and GPAs have never been higher, and the emphasis on diversity in age, sex, background, experiences, and motivations are driving forces for admissions. But once you’re in the door, it’s amazing to find the family environment and support services that await your every move. Everyone is in this together; we succeed as an entire group.
Sunday, July 31st was the White Coat Ceremony, where they handed us the official doctor uniform & stethoscope, and were met with a standing ovation recognizing our accomplishments thus far. As we took our seats, the dean addressed us all and said, “There are some of the highest GPAs, MCAT scores, research accolades, international health experiences, and IQs in this room right now. And as of this moment, they officially mean absolutely nothing.” It’s true; we’re all starting back from scratch, ready to embark on the journey of our lifetime. What we’ve done before got us here, but what we do now is all that matters.
I came to the University of Michigan for the opportunity to experience great things. Even with these lofty expectations, I have been absolutely blown away by the trust, respect and freedom that distinguishes medical school from the rest of the world. As soon as we were given our white coats and a gigantic syllabus, we were essentially on our own. Lectures are optional, quizzes are to be taken on your own, tests are pass/fail, and objectives need to be reached however you get there. Talk about daunting – but this is the real world of medicine. No more hand holding, just goals and results, with an equal emphasis on how you talk to patients as well as what you’re able to tell them. They are instilling in us the confidence and responsibility of patient care, trained to be ready to hold patients’ lives in our hands for the rest of our lives. I’m glad to be surrounded by some of the most brilliant, talented, and amazing people I’ve ever met. We will be pushed, we will be tired, there will be highs and lows, great accomplishment and great failure. But collectively, we will take the next step on our pathways to medicine, embarking on great careers of lifelong learning. Or, as I like to say, we collectively are fostering awesomeness.
Looking forward to the next 4 years.
Justin Lockrem, M1 – University of Michigan