Student Snapshots

We asked some first-year students for their impressions of the first few months in the new curriculum. Below are their responses, which run the gamut from appreciating a wilderness medicine course, to talking to patients about nosebleeds, to going fishing with classmates.

Widya Adidharma
Laramie, Wyo.

“I love learning about the mechanics of the human body. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

I chose to be a physician because I want to change lives. I’m specifically interested in surgery because of its direct approach to treating diseases — plus, I love learning about the mechanics of the human body. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

My favorite part about the new curriculum is the early exposure to clinical experience. My friends in medical programs elsewhere don’t get this opportunity until their third-year rotations. This early exposure supplements our in-class learning — I understand a concept better when I see the clinical relevance. I also enjoy the emphasis on active group learning during lectures. Working through case studies helps us build our problem-solving capabilities and remember important concepts.

For immersion, we went to the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) for a wilderness training course. It was unique because we learned about the history and clinical examination in the context of an emergency situation. I learned skills that day I wouldn’t have learned otherwise if not for this course.

 

Ian Isby
Anchorage, Alaska

“Immersion set us up to be productive in clinic from the get-go.”

I was born in Anchorage, Alaska, but spent most of my life living abroad in England and Kuwait. I chose the UW School of Medicine because you can’t beat its opportunities, faculty and research programs.

I am enjoying the new curriculum, and I wouldn’t trade our condensed 18-month program for the traditional two years of eight-hour lectures. I also love the early clinical exposure we get. Immersion set us up to be productive in clinic from the get-go. Without immersion, we basically would have been pre-med students job-shadowing, considering we would have had next to no clinical skills.

Our wilderness rescue immersion experience was very memorable, especially the LifeMed helicopter being called in. In Alaska, a wildlife medicine scenario is something most will encounter while living here, whether or not you have medical training.

My favorite moments of medical school so far involve hanging out with my classmates outside of school. When you put studying aside and go do something together, it builds camaraderie and lifts morale. I’ve gone hunting and fishing with classmates often, sometimes even before class. It doesn’t get much more Alaskan than that.

 

Chau Nguyen
Spokane, Wash.

“Learning to communicate with each other and combine our unique expertise helps us provide better care.”

I was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where my mother was a physician. I grew up hanging around the hospital where she worked, and seeing her change the clothes of a soiled patient revealed to me the humane and caring nature of physicians. Later on, I moved to Vancouver, Wash., and volunteered at the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington as a clinic specialist. Watching the staff and volunteers’ dedication and the patients’ gratefulness for their service drew me to becoming a physician in underserved areas.

Our immersion experience in Post Falls, Idaho, emphasized the importance of teamwork. As physicians, we don’t work alone — we work in teams. Everyone has strengths, and learning to communicate with each other and combine our unique expertise helps us provide better care.

I’m enjoying the combo of clinical medicine and classroom-based learning. It motivates me to do a better job in the prep work before class, which helps tremendously when it comes to reviewing for exams. My favorite moment thus far was learning about ultrasounds. The opportunity to practice on our classmates was a valuable hands-on learning experience.

 

Aera Shin
Seattle, Wash.

“I’m confident this new curriculum will continue to improve, and I’m really excited to see where it goes.”

When I was young, my dad showed me videos of impoverished citizens in North Korea. When I mentioned I wanted to help them, he showed me a video of a doctor who did just that. This is one of the first times I became genuinely interested in being a doctor.

I chose the UW School of Medicine because the WWAMI program allows me to explore medicine in a variety of settings and gain a broad and diverse experience. And I absolutely love that we practice our clinical skills alongside our academic work. The diversity in our schedule keeps the material fresh, and it helps me stay engaged.

Of course, every new program has areas that need improvement, but the professors and administration have been incredibly open and responsive to the feedback we provide, which is encouraging. We’ve already seen positive improvements in the first few months, so I’m confident this new curriculum will continue to improve, and I’m really excited to see where it goes.

The camaraderie in our class is strong, and we are really supportive of each other. My favorite moments so far have been singing “Happy Birthday” to classmates. It’s really simple, but it’s cool to see 100 people take 30 seconds out of their day to show they care.

 

Christine Sonners
Spokane, Wash.

“It was really exciting to apply the knowledge I learned in class to a real-life patient, and it made me eager to learn more.”

I’ve loved science since I was a little girl because it simultaneously provides answers to many questions while leaving you to search for a greater understanding of the unknown. I also like understanding why people act the way that they do. Medicine combines these areas and uses science to have a direct, positive effect on people’s lives.

I chose the UW School of Medicine for the unique clinical opportunities it offers throughout its curriculum. I liked the idea of traveling around the WWAMI region on rotations and being able to get hands-on experience while learning the hard sciences my first two years.

The new curriculum is definitely working for me. There are so many times I learned something and then saw it the next day in clinic. In fact, my favorite moment of medical school so far involved exactly that — we had just finished an in-depth day about pneumonia, and the next day at preceptorship, I saw a patient with a cough. I auscultated the crackles, ordered and interpreted a chest x-ray, and diagnosed the patient with pneumonia. It was really exciting to apply the knowledge I learned in class to a real-life patient, and it made me eager to learn more.

 

Connor Tice
Bozeman, Mont.

“I never thought I would have so much fun talking for 20 minutes with a patient about nosebleeds!”

I chose the UW School of Medicine because of its strong connections to my home state of Montana. As someone who wants to practice medicine in the community where I grew up, I like that the WWAMI program allows me to gain the medical skills I need while learning about the unique challenges to delivering and managing care in Montana.

Part of our immersion experience included learning about public health in different counties around our state. We visited three of Montana’s Indian reservations to learn how Indian Health Services operates in different locations. This was a powerful experience that showcased many of the diverse challenges to healthcare delivery in Montana.

My favorite part of medical school so far was my first one-on-one patient interview. I never thought I would have so much fun talking for 20 minutes with a patient about nosebleeds!

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