Foundations Curriculum student experience blog: an Enriching Educational Experience

Nov 11, 2016
Alexandra Majerski, class of 2T0

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher”

 Japanese proverb

 Dr. Adam Millar previews a patient case with first year medical student, Alexandra Majerski Dr. Adam Millar previews a patient case with first year medical student, Alexandra Majerski.

Although first year students can not attest to having completed a thousand days of medical school (although it might sometimes feel that way!), the value of an exceptional teacher can never be overstated. I recently took part in my first clinical shadowing experience as part of the Foundations Curriculum Enriching Educational Experience (EEE) component. This took place at the Murray Koffler Urology Clinic, under the supervision of endocrinologist Dr. Adam Millar. In addition to myself, two residents accompanied Dr. Millar on this day, both of whom smiled with nostalgia when I confessed to my first year status.

It was in this setting that I was privileged to experience and witness medical mentorship at its finest. Quite appropriately, I was warned beforehand that the sensitive nature of patients’ concerns may preclude my inclusion in the medical encounter. I was pleasantly surprised at the willingness among patients and the medical team to welcome me into patients’ lives.

Anticipation built within me as we previewed a patient’s case. Diagrams were drawn, literature cited, and lab tests explained. My mind was riddled with images of arrows and lines linking member organs of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Talking through feedback loops helped me connect the dots in the same way I did with Bristol board diagrams years ago, but I could now appreciate how difficult it is to do the same with a patient. Yet, I saw it done, and done well.

Equally as important as awareness of the relevant biological pathways was the acknowledgement of the psychosocial factors at play. It’s one thing to be introduced to a laundry list of the social determinants of health and quite another to see how they manifest themselves in the patient sitting in front of you. Only by carefully peeling away the layers of an onion can you reach its core. 

I couldn’t help but think that some individuals had had their appointment scribbled in their agendas for months and constructed their day around the few minutes they had to take out of it to engage in the medical encounter. News they receive might be shared with their wives and loved ones; the words spoken by a physician echoed repeatedly.

The enjoyment and value I derived from my first EEE shadowing experience were an outcome of both the explicit and implicit ways in which Dr. Millar made every moment a teachable moment. First year medical students can look forward to having Dr. Millar lead our endocrinology content week during Concepts, Patients and Communities (CPC1).


This student experience article expresses the views of first year MD Program student Alexandra Majerski and is not meant to be representative of the entire student experience, nor represent the MD Program.   

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