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Applications to medical school are at an all-time high. What does this mean for applicants and schools? – AAMC

At Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, applications for admission to the class of 2025 are up more than 35% compared to the same time last year. At Boston University School of Medicine, theyve risen by 26%. And at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, admissions officers have seen applications increase by 27%.

In fact, nearly two dozen medical schools have seen applications jump by at least 25% this year, according to AAMC data.

Final tallies wont arrive for another month or so all schools application windows must close first but early numbers are striking. So far, there are more than 7,500 additional applicants nationwide, according to data from the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which processes submissions for most U.S. medical schools. Thats an increase of nearly 17%.

Consider some edifying context: In the past decade, the year-over-year increase has averaged less than 3%.

Weve been experiencing a leveling off in recent years, so the large increase was quite surprising, says AAMC Chief Services Officer Gabrielle Campbell. Its also inspiring.

Experts don't know exactly what's behind the increase, but they point to several likely factors. Some are rather mundane, including students having more time to focus on applications as college classes moved online. But at least some of this year's applicants are driven by COVID-19 patients terrible suffering and front-line providers extraordinary heroism.

I make an analogy to the time after 9/11, when we saw an increase in those motivated to serve this country militarily, says Geoffrey Young, PhD, AAMC senior director for student affairs and programs. This certainly seems like a significant factor this year.

Even in a usual cycle, applying to medical school is no simple matter. Candidates spend many months preparing for the MCAT exam, writing essays, and collecting recommendations. Applying for entry in 2021 meant completing the AMCAS application in the spring or summer of 2020, followed by individual schools required secondary applications. Once applications are completed, applicants anxiously await interview invitations, which could extend into the spring of 2021.

I make an analogy to the time after 9/11, when we saw an increase in those motivated to serve this country militarily. This certainly seems like a significant factor this year.

Geoffrey Young, PhDAAMC senior director for student affairs and programs

Now, many candidates wonder if increased competition will make landing a seat tougher than ever. For their part, schools say theyre determined to review all candidates fairly, especially given the upheaval many applicants faced during COVID-19. That means admissions teams are working longer hours, extending timelines, adding interview slots, and offering some sage advice to worried candidates.

Schools want to make sure that when they accept someone, its a good fit for both the school and the applicant, Campbell says. They also want to be sensitive to the many applicants who have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Thats a lot of work, but theyre highly committed to it.

The larger application numbers to date likely stem from several factors, among them that some applicants are seeking a reliable profession in uncertain times. Some aspects of the application process also got easier as medical schools extended deadlines. And of course, theres the motivation to help patients and communities in a time of crisis.

During COVID-19, my hunger to help continues to grow, says Alan Mauricio De Leon of Houston, who teaches at a majority Hispanic charter school impacted by the pandemic. One student, he recalls, slept in his familys car to avoid infecting them. I want to be a change agent to bring equitable, effective care to my community, he says.

Creson Lee is among the applicants motivated at least in part by the dedication of front-line providers. Lee, 24, was deeply impressed by hospital staff when her research job took her to a Penn Medicine COVID-19 testing site to enroll study participants this summer.

Testers would be out there all day under the sun wearing full gear, drenched in sweat, recalls Lee. Theyd always try to keep positive, sometimes putting on a silly PPE fashion show in the driveway. Lee, who already knew she wanted to be a doctor, fleetingly considered waiting for a more typical year to apply. Ultimately, though, it was important to me to run with this inspiration to pursue medicine right now, she says.

During COVID-19, my hunger to help continues to grow. I want to be a change agent to bring equitable, effective care to my community.

Alan Mauricio De Leon Medical school applicant

Some candidates likely were influenced by more practical considerations.

For some people, the job market looked too uncertain, and a lot more people might not have taken a gap year because there were fewer opportunities, says Valerie Parkas, MD, senior associate dean of admissions for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. And then there were helpful changes to the application process. For example, most schools decided early on to move this years interviews online. Its a lot easier and less expensive to put on a nice shirt and log into Zoom than to travel across the country, she says.

For her part, Joanna Wasvary appreciated the extended application deadlines. That, plus my classes going online, means I can give my applications a lot more attention, says the University of Michigan senior. Wasvary therefore decided to forgo her planned gap year and potential work as a medical scribe. Itll be great to be a doctor one year earlier, she adds.

At Boston University, admissions officers have received more than 11,000 applications for 125 spots. Still, Associate Dean of Admissions Kristen Goodell, MD, doesnt think shell need to enlist additional reviewers. One reason is a protocol released last year that guides reviewers to keep certain criteria in mind. The process was designed for fairness, to reduce unconscious bias, says Goodell. But it turns out that knowing what to focus on also helps move through applications faster.

Other schools are building in more time to process applications. Tulane University, which has 16,000 applicants vying for 190 seats, is taking longer to extend interview invites. It just made sense to ensure that were reviewing the majority of applications before we give away all our interview spots, Woodson explains.

Kristen Goodell, MDAssociate deanof admissions at Boston University School of Medicine

One step medical schools dont plan on taking, though, is greatly increasing class sizes. Thats because substantial expansion requires approval from the medical school accrediting body, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education no simple matter. Plus, there's the issue of resources.

Schools usually decide their class size well in advance because they want to be spot-on in matching spaces with resources like clinical training sites, says Young. They dont want to find that they cant adequately train any additional students.

As aspiring doctors face more intense competition this year, admissions officers also offer their advice on some of candidates key concerns:

The increased numbers really shouldnt impact someones decision to apply. If they feel ready, they should apply. If they think their application needs bolstering, theres always next year, says Parkas. Careers are marathons.

Like many other admissions directors, Ivy Nip Asano, MD, director of admissions at the University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, reminds applicants that she is sensitive to extenuating circumstances this year. We understand that we need to take into consideration the effects of the pandemic on students ability to secure opportunities and experiences, she says.

At Boston University, Goodell emphasizes that she is seeking the same traits and abilities shes always sought and never uses some rigid checklist.

Weve already embraced admissions based on competencies. That means applicants dont need specific courses in a certain area, for example. They just need to demonstrate their abilities in that area, she says. This approach offers flexibility, which comes in really handy at a time like this. In addition, Goodell notes that Boston University uses holistic review, which considers an applicants full range of attributes and experiences.

For his part, Tulane Universitys Woodson advises applicants to make clear why they selected his school. Of course, we want people who will be a good fit for us, but with so many applicants, we also want to focus on those who will actually come here if accepted, he says.

Asano sums up her advice simply: I hope that applicants will share their authentic selves.

If you are a super-strong candidate, youre always going to get interview invitations. If youre a bit weak, no matter what the year, you wont get many. Then there is the group in the middle. For them, applying to more schools might increase the chances of an interview invite, Goodell says. A prehealth advisor can help you figure out which group youre in.

Could all the setbacks this year mean that fewer applicants from underrepresented backgrounds wind up in medical school?

We were concerned that all the disruptions could discourage people from racial and ethnic minority groups or lower socioeconomic backgrounds from taking the MCAT, says Cynthia Searcy, PhD, AAMC senior director of MCAT research and development. But the percent of those examinees actually mirrored those from 2019.

So far, application numbers also look encouraging.

To date, racial and ethnic minorities are applying to medical school in higher numbers compared to the same time last year," says the AAMCs Campbell. "For example, weve seen double-digit increases in the number of Black and Latino applicants.

This could still change, but given the stresses of the pandemic and social unrest that weve seen across the country, this is a positive early sign," she adds.

Once those applications land, holistic review should help ensure that schools consider the full picture of a candidates attributes and experiences, Young notes. He encourages admissions teams to use the AAMCs equity-related resources, including a recent webinar on how to prevent implicit bias in virtual interviews.

Other steps have helped support lower-income applicants. This year, the AAMC dramatically broadened its Fee Assistance Program, which provided $9.1 million worth of support last year. Qualifying applicants can receive a waiver for all AMCAS fees for one application submission with up to 20 medical school designations as well as MCAT benefits.

This year we raised the poverty level cut-off [so more potential candidates could benefit from the program], says Campbell. So far, weve had a 54% increase in [Fee Assistance Program] applications and a 76% increase in approvals.

Meanwhile, Goodell sees a quest for racial and social justice as helping to spur some of the rising application numbers.

So many people have seen that different groups in our country are facing such different effects from COVID-19 based on their ZIP code or their race, she says. This year, applicants are motivated to get out there and fix societal problems. Theyre saying, I need to do something to make this country more equitable, and I think the best way for me to do that is through medicine.

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Dr. Kimberly Gilbert Chronicles Her Experience in Medical School in New Book Free Press of Jacksonville – Jacksonville Free Press

By Rolling Out Dr. Kimberly Gilbert, a board-certified Atlanta-based physician has penned a new book, So When Do I See the Doctor? The book is about her journey to becoming a physician and the challenges she faced as a result of her race and gender and how she found the strength to complete medical school, residency, and beyond despite hardship.

What inspired you to write So When Do I See the Doctor?

When I started my journey to becoming a physician, there were not any easily accessible stories to read that spoke candidly about the trials that many Black students and doctors, especially Black females, would experience from different perspectives on the road to success. More physicians are starting to tell their stories online, in magazines, and on TV, but I wanted to also give something a little old school in the form of a book. I wanted it to be comprehensive and honest. I also wanted it to be inspirational. The book not only addresses racism and sexism but also intra-racial and intra-cultural issues, and how people in positions of influence can oftentimes encourage or destroy whoever is listening to them.

What is the story behind the title?My first patient in private practice was an older White male. After clearly introducing myself when I entered the patients room wearing my long white coat and name tag, spending over one hour with him listening to his concerns, examining him, reviewing imaging studies with him, and discussing my recommendations, he told me that I had a great plan before asking, So when do I see the doctor?

Name three takeaways for the reader from the book. Despite how society may portray us, Black people are equal and worthy of the same safety, education, respect, and opportunities for success as anyone else. Our ancestors are the reason why we have the opportunities that we have today, and our decisions each day will determine the opportunities of tomorrow for those who follow our paths. No matter what struggles you go through on your journey to success, you can not only persevere but also maintain who you are along the way.

At what point did you know it was time to write this book, was it a deliberate decision or did it evolve?

My husband and friends have been telling me to write a book for years, after hearing my stories as they happened, telling me that very few people outside of medicine think Black female physicians also go through race and gender bias because our accomplishments and career are so prestigious. When the pandemic hit, it exposed so much racial injustice in America, I felt it was the perfect time to bring awareness of its existence in health care.

What is the best piece of writing advice that you received?Be authentic

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Abstracts now accepted for Medical Education Research and Innovation Conference – The South End

The Wayne State University School of Medicine will hold its second annual Medical Education Research and Innovation Conference on Dec. 8 to showcase completed and in-progress medical education research and innovation projects conducted by students, residents, staff and faculty.

Last years inaugural conference saw more than 80 posters and oral presentations submitted, said Jason Booza, Ph.D., assistant dean of Continuous Quality Improvement and Compliance.

The virtual conference will take place from 2 to 6 p.m.

Featured speakers include Holly Gooding, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine and co-director of the Harvard Macy Program for Educators in the Health Professions; and Anna Cianciolo, Ph.D., associate professor of Medical Education at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and editor in chief of Teaching and Learning in Medicine.

Submit abstracts for a completed or in-progress project using the links below:

Medical Education Research:Research related to the learning process that occurs within a medical education setting. Topics include, but are not limited to, learner characteristics, optimizing the learning process, assessment and evaluation, professional development, instruction design, technology in the learning environment and wellbeing. Research at any level (undergraduate, graduate, practitioner, faculty) of medical education is welcome. Medical education research can also include quality improvement projects.

Medical Education Innovation: Innovative curricula that address a current issue within medical education. The innovation should be based on learning principles and be designed to meet a specific need. Examples include, but are not limited to, health and wellness, quality improvement, patient safety, interprofessional education and service learning. You can submit a project as Works in Progress," which includes research and innovation projects that are being developed or have yet to be completed. In place of results in the abstracts, please submit your analysis plan and lessons learned thus far.

To attend the conference, RSVP here.

Contact Dr. Booza @ for additional information.

Abstracts now accepted for Medical Education Research and Innovation Conference - The South End

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Revising the history and physical for new era in medicine – American Medical Association

Even setting aside the once-in-a-lifetime impact of the pandemic, the physicians role in 2020 is substantially different than it was a decade ago. Todays patients are often sicker, and illness is compounded by numerous nonbiomedical factors, such as inadequate social support to comply with treatment plans and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is complicating things further by stalling many clinical research and quality improvement efforts. But a project funded by a grant from the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative continues training students at four U.S. medical schools to incorporate a new history and physical (H&P) modelthe H&P 360to collect biopsychosocial data, better manage chronic disease and address social determinants of health.

The four medical schools receiving the H&P 360 implementation grants are the University of Michigan, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Florida International University and University of Chicago.

While the H&P is the primary process through which a physician obtains key subjective and objective patient information, the traditional H&P was developed decades ago when the physicians role was more limited.

Medical practice is necessarily undergoing a paradigm shift, and the new paradigm has to do with accounting for social determinants and behavioral health, said Brent Williams, MD, MPH, director of the Global Health and Disparities Path of Excellence at University of Michigan Medical School.

The H&P 360 is meant to help physicians stop making the mistakes that are in built into the old medical paradigm, which is based exclusively on biomedical disease diagnosis and treatment, Dr. Williams added. It pushes them to take a realistic view of why so many patients bounce back into the hospitalfor example, because they didn't have access to their medications or they didn't take them appropriately.

Based on a format developed at University of Michigan Medical School, the H&P 360 was expanded and refined by the AMAs Chronic Disease Prevention and Management interest group in 2017 and piloted at four medical schools in 2018.

The idea behind the H&P 360 is that by including at least a few questions in each of six domains besides the traditional biomedical information in the routine history, physicians care of patients will improve.

Those additional domains are:

For example, in the relationships domain, students are being trained to assess the level of support available to their patients. They might ask questions such as:

The effectiveness of the H&P 360 is supported by a 2019 randomized-controlled trial with standardized patients. Nearly 160 third- and fourth-year medical students at four medical schoolsUniversity of Michigan, University of North Dakota, University of Connecticut and University of California, Daviswere randomly assigned to either the traditional H&P or the H&P 360 and further randomized to either see a patient with hypertension or a patient with type 2 diabetes.

For each encounter, a standardized patient doubled as a trained observer and completed a grading rubric that measured:

Analysis of the data demonstrated average total scores on the performance rubric were substantially higher among the intervention group in both cases, at all four schools and across all four standardized patients.

Dr. Williams noted that the grant groups students have returned to clinical settings and are now implementing H&P 360 during both in-person and virtual visits.

While the pandemic has disrupted or delayed some of the work, it has also made it easier to apply the H&P 360, he said. With video visits, medical students are drawn more directly into patients living environments and social support systems.

No matter the type of visit, however, what makes the H&P 360 such a practical tool is that its not a checklist that has to be included in every visit, Dr. Williams added. By gathering just two or three pieces of information each time, the physician will gradually get a more complete picture of a patients health and the paths to improvement.

The long-term goal for H&P 360 is to make it the standard tool in medical practice for improvement of all aspects of chronic disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management. The H&P 360 template and supporting materials are available for use at all medical schools.

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Revising the history and physical for new era in medicine - American Medical Association

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Research Finds Few Links Between Schools And COVID-19 Cases – NPR

Students attend the first day of school in the small town of Labastida, Spain, on Sept. 8. A recent study found no link between coronavirus spikes and school reopenings in the country. Alvaro Barrientos/AP hide caption

Students attend the first day of school in the small town of Labastida, Spain, on Sept. 8. A recent study found no link between coronavirus spikes and school reopenings in the country.

Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job.

Combined with anecdotal reports from a number of U.S. states where schools are open, as well as a crowdsourced dashboard of around 2,000 U.S. schools, some medical experts are saying it's time to shift the discussion from the risks of opening K-12 schools to the risks of keeping them closed.

"As a pediatrician, I am really seeing the negative impacts of these school closures on children," Dr. Danielle Dooley, a medical director at Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., told NPR. She ticked off mental health problems, hunger, obesity due to inactivity, missing routine medical care and the risk of child abuse on top of the loss of education. "Going to school is really vital for children. They get their meals in school, their physical activity, their health care, their education, of course."

While agreeing that emerging data is encouraging, other experts said the United States as a whole has made little progress toward practices that would allow schools to make reopening safer from rapid and regular testing, to contact tracing to identify the source of outbreaks, to reporting school-associated cases publicly, regularly and consistently.

"We are driving with the headlights off, and we've got kids in the car," said Melinda Buntin, chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, who has argued for reopening schools with precautions.

Emerging evidence

Enric lvarez at the Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya looked at different regions within Spain for his recent co-authored working paper. Spain's second wave of coronavirus cases started before the school year began in September. Still, cases in one region dropped three weeks after schools reopened, while others continued rising at the same rate as before, and one stayed flat.

Nowhere, the research found, was there a spike that coincided with reopening: "What we found is that the school [being opened] makes absolutely no difference," lvarez told NPR.

What we found is that the school [being opened] makes absolutely no difference.

Enric lvarez, researcher at the Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya

Spain does extensive contact tracing, so lvarez was also able to analyze how much schools are contributing to the spread of the coronavirus. lvarez said his research suggests the answer is: not much. He found that, for all the students and staff who tested positive, 87% of them did not infect anyone else at the school. They were single cases.

"We are not sure that the environments of the schools may not have a small and systematic effect," said lvarez, "But it's pretty clear that they don't have very major epidemic-changing effects, at least in Spain, with the measures that are being taken in Spain."

These safety measures include mask-wearing for all children older than 6, ventilation, keeping students in small groups or "bubbles," and social distancing of 1.5 meters slightly less than the recommended 6 feet in the United States. When a case is detected, the entire "bubble" is sent home for quarantine.

Insights for Education is a foundation that advises education ministries around the globe. For their report, which was not peer reviewed, they analyzed school reopening dates and coronavirus trends from February through the end of September across 191 countries.

"There is no consistent pattern," said Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, who heads the organization. "It's not that closing schools leads to a decrease in cases, or that opening schools leads to a surge in cases."

Some countries, such as Thailand and South Africa, fully opened when cases were low, with no apparent impact on transmission. Others, such as Vietnam and Gambia, had cases rising during summer break, yet those rates actually dropped after schools reopened. Japan, too, saw cases rise, and then fall again, all while schools were fully reopened. But the United Kingdom saw a strong upward trend that started around the time of reopening schools.

"We're not saying at all that schools have nothing to do with cases," Grob-Zakhary said. What the data suggests instead is that opening schools does not inevitably lead to increased case numbers.

What about the U.S.?

On Oct. 14, the Infectious Diseases Society of America gave a briefing on safe school reopenings. Bottom line? "The data so far are not indicating that schools are a superspreader site," said Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Michigan's medical school.

One place in the U.S. where systematic data gathering is happening Utah seems to echo the conclusions drawn by the new international studies. Utah's state COVID-19 database clearly reports school-associated cases by district. And while coronavirus spread is relatively high in the state, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson believes that schools are not, for the most part, driving spread.

"Where you see cases on the rise in a neighborhood, in a county, we see that tend to be reflected in a school," Dickson said. "[But] we're not seeing spread by virtue of being in school together."

Tom Hudachko of the state's health department said that after both colleges and schools reopened in early September, there was a rise in cases among the 15-24 age group. But with targeted public health messaging those cases have started to come down.

For the most part, Hudachko said, K-12 school clusters have been concentrated at high schools. "We have had some outbreaks in middle schools. They've been far less frequent. And elementary school numbers seem to be one-offs here and there."

And these clusters including one large reported outbreak with at least 90 cases have largely been traced to informal social gatherings in homes, not to classrooms. (lvarez, in Spain, also said that clusters among young people there have been traced to social gatherings, including rooftop and beach parties).

Few states are reporting school-related data as clearly as Utah. And that's a shame, said Buntin at Vanderbilt. "One might argue that we're running really a massive national experiment right now in schools," Buntin said, "and we're not collecting uniform data."

The largest centralized effort at such data collection in the United States the unofficial, crowdsourced COVID-19 School Response Dashboard has gotten a lot of publicity. But it is self-reported, not a representative sample of schools.

Buntin and other experts said it's likely that the dashboard is biased toward schools that are doing an exemplary job of following safety precautions and are organized enough to share their results. Also, the dashboard doesn't yet offer the ability to compare coronavirus cases reported at schools with local case rates.

In the absence of data, there are scary and tragic anecdotes of teachers around the country dying of COVID-19. But it's hard to extrapolate from these incidents. It's not immediately clear whether the educators contracted the virus at school, whether they are part of school-based clusters, or what safety precautions were or were not followed by the schools in question.

A recent study from Yale University could potentially shed some light on these questions. It tracked 57,000 childcare workers, located in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, for the first three months of the pandemic in the United States. About half continued caring for very young children, such as the children of essential workers, while the other half stayed home. The study found no difference in the rate of coronavirus infections between the two groups, after accounting for demographic factors.

Walter Gilliam, lead author of the study and a professor of psychology at the Yale Child Study Center, cautioned that it's difficult to generalize this report to a K-12 schools setting, because the children were mostly under the age of 6 and kept in very small groups and, he said, the childcare workers were trained in health and safety and reported following strict protocols around disinfection. However, he said, "I think it would be great to do this study with school teachers and see what we can find out."

Risk and benefit

When you add up what we know and even what we still don't know, some doctors and public health advocates said there are powerful arguments for in-person schooling wherever possible, particularly for younger students and those with special needs.

"Children under the age of 10 generally are at quite low risk of acquiring symptomatic disease," from the coronavirus, said Dr. Rainu Kaushal of Weill Cornell Medicine. And they rarely transmit it either. It's a happy coincidence, Kaushal and others said, that the youngest children face lower risk and are also the ones who have the hardest time with virtual learning.

"I would like to see the students, especially the younger students, get back," said Malani at the University of Michigan. "I feel more encouraged that that can happen in a safe and thoughtful way."

Chicago Public Schools, one of the largest districts in the country, seemed to take that guidance into consideration when it announced recently a phased reopening starting with pre-K and special education.

Kaushal said it's important to keep in mind that Black, Latinx and Native American communities are much more severely affected by COVID-19. And that many of the "children that are at the severest risk of disease, are also at the severest risk of not having a school open, whether it be for food security, adult time, security, losing the time to learn or losing the skills that they have acquired over the last year or so."

Any decision made on school reopening, she said, has to focus on equity as well as safety. There are no easy trade-offs here.

Research Finds Few Links Between Schools And COVID-19 Cases - NPR

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Healer’s art: Integrating the humanities into medical education – Arizona Daily Wildcat

During the last decade, there has been a strong initiative by medical schools around the nation to integrate medical humanities into their curriculum. This movement seeks to train resilient medical students with holistic approaches that will better address the complexities of healing diverse patients.

The University of Arizona College of Medicine Tucson has made its mission to be in the forefront of this movement. At UACOM-T, the Medical Humanities Program provides students with enrichment electives that serve as a journey through medical humanities in order to learn and practice the tools that will aid [students] in becoming more compassionate and empathic physicians.

This academic year the "Healers Art" elective has been a favorite amongst students. The purpose of this course is to allow students to explore areas not fully addressed in the curriculum and feel connected to the real reasons for becoming a physician, said Dr. Patricia Lebensohn, professor of Family and Community Medicine and director of the Healers Art elective.

During each session, students get together to discuss mindfulness, grief, the meaning of service and the awe of medicine. Through these conversations, students share personal stories, beliefs and experiences that have impacted their ongoing journey through the medical profession. These conversations are enhanced by faculty mentors and physicians who contribute their personal experiences and share valuable lessons with students.

I think it is a precious opportunity to have physician mentors who can share their unique life stories inside and outside of medicine, said Hannah Korah, a first-year MD/PhD student. It is truly a humbling experience to see physicians be human beings who are vulnerable and so emotionally strong after everything they have gone through.

As expected, many of these conversations can be difficult. Students often share how emotional experiences such as the passing of a loved one or a personal failure have shaped or continue to shape their lives.

Rosemarie Turk, a second-year medical student at the UA, is grateful to participate in these conversations.

"I was not quite sure what to expect going into the elective. Now that we are half way through, I feel like I have learned that people carry so much with them in their everyday lives and don't always have an outlet to express it," Turk said. "I feel very grateful to gain more perspective through the Healer's Art elective."

Another common topic for students is the physical and mental demands of medical education.

During each session we are able to talk about particularly stressful days in medical school and our mental wellbeing, said Jarrod Rulney, a first-year medical student. It is very comforting to know that we all have a common struggle. Everyone is very supportive and eager to help.

Conversations about mental health have proven especially important. Decades of research has repeatedly shown an increasing rate of burnout, cynicism and anxiety amongst medical students and new practicing physicians.

Healers Art has taken initiative to address the vulnerability of being a medical student and physician, Korah said. The emotional toll of what we are dedicating our lives to is often hidden under shadows of textbooks, lectures, and clinical skills. This course teaches me to embrace the struggle, keeps me grounded, and reminds me that I am not alone on this journey.

By emphasizing the ways medial humanities can improve student wellbeing, UACOM-T hopes to mitigate burnout and mental health concerns early in training. Lebensohn said that she believes that Healers Art will serve as an antidote to the hidden curriculum that over time make students less empathic, more jaded and burned-out.

Around the nation, similar efforts have shown promising results. A recent study by University of Washington School of Medicine suggests that the integration of humanities education into their medical school curriculum has led to an increase in student performance, well-being and empathy.

The Healers Art elective has also served as way for students and faculty to appreciate and share a common passion for the humanities. The intersections between medicine, music and art are frequently explored during each session, adding greater depth to already complex conversations.

Turk explained that cultivating her interest in the humanities will make her a better physician.

The humanities are important in every aspect of life. They are embedded [in] everyone's life because, after all, we live a human experience. With such rich and unique experiences and different ways of processing them, the humanities allow us to better understand our patients and one another," Turk said.

Lebensohn said she shares these sentiments. In her personal life, she reads non-medical fiction, enjoys music and explores cinema. She believes that these interests make her a more complete and compassionate professional.

The humanities are an integral part of my role as a physician and how I connect at a human level with [my] patients. They are an important part of my personal and professional life," Lebensohn added.

Ultimately, renewed interest in medical humanities highlights the need to address curricular gaps that push non-medical courses to the sidelines. Educators around the country recognize that medical students need training beyond the scientific principles of medicine to become competent physicians. Through courses like Healers Art, UACOM-T seeks to close this gap in training.

For students like Rulney, Healers Art brings a refreshing focus to the humanistic foundations of medicine.

Courses like Healers Art remind me why I wanted to pursue medicine in the first place. At its core, this profession is about connecting with people, understanding their human experiences and collaborating with them to improve their quality of life. Healing is incomplete without a humanistic approach," Rulney added.

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