Letter to New Medical Students (1)

I teach medical students occasionally, most intensely in a class called the Healer’s Art that was developed by Rachel Remen, MD.  These experiences led me to ideas about education that are presented below as a letter (or speech) to new students on the first day of medical school.  I have never sent this particular letter (or given the speech) but perhaps someday…

Welcome to your new life as physicians.

I sat where you are in 1975 and as you hear that date I can guess what you might be thinking.  Not only was there no Internet back then, there were no personal computers or cell phones.  Most likely you were not around.  Maybe there wasn’t even color television, MTV or slurpees.  So what could I possibly have to tell you?  I will focus on one small area: my experience of completing the first year of medical school.

Let me begin by apologizing for the amount of factual material that is about to inundate you.  Most of your teachers, if pressed, grudgingly will concede that you can become excellent physicians even without mastering every detail of their narrow fields of specialization.  They will, however, routinely seem to expect that you must absorb at least 90% of what they know merely to be adequate.  (… to be continued)

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