August Orientation Week

Finally, the time has come to become a medical student!!! Most of my future doctor friends have started school as early as August. Thanks to Stony Brook, I get a full summer off, post-graduation (though most of the days were spent at summer camp). Well, here’s a run-through of a fun-packed orientation week, where I (hopefully) met friends for life and had an incredible end to a long summer.

Day 1, 8/23 Monday: NUTS AND BOLTS

Dark and early, rainy and blustery, 1st year medical students congregate in a large lecture hall at Stony brook and chow down on breakfast bagels. It’s the one day where we’re all fresh and foreign to each other. No cliques, no enemies, no best friends, and no juicy gossip. It’s the first real chance to swagger up to a complete stranger, smile, and establish rapport without awkwardness. Introductions like these kick-start friendships, and there’s no reason to be shy and sit alone in a corner; we’re all in the same, fresh boat.

There’s a new Dean of Admissions, Dr. Ken Kaushansky, a renowned hematologist. Unfortunately, he could not welcome us in person, so we all had to watch him on an overhead 2-D video. Technology these days, you do not even need to be present anymore. Other introductory presentation took up the bulk of the day: Welcome from Student Affairs, Registration, Public Safety, Student Health Services, Sexual Harassment Prevention (in the workplace), and Financial Planning. My favorite quote from today:

“You really need to try not to be here [at Stony Brook Med]”– Dr. Jordan (Now I really feel like med school’s an adventure).

So I learned a few things about today: 1) Sexual harassment entails intent vs. impact, quid pro quo, and hostile environment, and 2) I’ll be in a financial black hole until I’m retiring! Seriously, with $150,000 medical school debt (even after in-state tuition), $30,000+ in NYU debt, and morbidly meager residency pay, how will I survive? After 4 years of hard-core pre-medicine preparation, a Biochemistry degree, monstrous MCATs, and more years of books, memorization, and sleepless hours, residency has to be a hellish job? Instead of enjoying my “MD” sticker after my name, will I be a medical slave for at least 3 years?? Where’s the paradise in my dream job? Well, the first lesson of the future started that early Monday: I must learn to manage my finances NOW and start saving. Yes, I’m very glad to be in medical student, sporting surgical scrubs/white coat and dissecting my first body, but I’m not too hot on limiting my girly instincts, and that’s shopping!

Day 2, 8/24 Tuesday: More Rain & Lectures

What a sleepy day! Talks on the curriculum, competencies, etc… I’m really looking forward to the grand Clinical Skills Center, where most of my trainings will be before we whip out our skills on live patients. There are simulations (like living, breathing rubber dummies) and standardized patients (actors who get paid to make our jobs living hell). I’ll be excited to sport my fluorescent white coat and new stethoscope.

Day 3, 8/25 Wednesday: Thank You Wireless!

Today, I used my spanking new Macbook Pro, FOB (Fresh Out of the Box) for the ITS session. I spent the bulk of my time surfing Facebook, Gmail, and the usual. When the guy for the “Wireless Networks” session was looking to show us how to log on the HSC net, only to find the whole class glazed over their laptops (a favorable mix of Macs); he said, “With all the laptops out, I guess you guys figured THAT out already.”

I hate how Stony Brook has five different websites-Cbase for curriculum, Pronto for email, SOLAR for university stuff, Noteservice for video lectures and transcripts, The Body Online, etc… too many passwords and user names to keep tabs!!!

Well, for the first day this week, Stony Brook was not being cheap. Lunch was greasy cheese pizza, while we were lured with free goodies to join American Medical Association. I was convinced, but I’m not liking the pizza lunches in the future, speaking it’s medical institution where future doctors are supposed to be fighting against unhealthy foods and rising obesity. Three thumbs up for SBU Medical Center contributing to heart disease in your future physicians. I felt better when I ran around the intramural fields playing frisbee with fellow medical students =)

Jesus and Frisbee

Day 4, 8/26 Thursday: Cedar Beach

What more can I ask for? Sun, waters, breezes, and sand in picturesque Mt. Sinai! Well, really hard rocks on the North Shore. Though I’ve lived on Long Island all my life, I have not had enough beach excursions to be a proud Long-Islander.

Though painfully rocky, I still liked the beach social. Most of the hot day was spent lounging on my pseudo-beach blanket (large, un-green plastic bags work rather well), meeting and chatting with new classmates. When my butt got sore and the sun was coming back down, I played some catch-football (does that even exist?) with a few guys. Oh, people are so nice and fun here =)

Day 5, 8/27 Friday: The End, No Wait… It’s Only the Beginning!

Another casual day: International Opportunities Session, Student Q&A Panel, and Club Organizations. I’m most looking forward to global health opportunities, especially clinical exchange programs in Asia, like Korea. I plan to do some traveling next summer, the only summer off for a long time, since it’s been 8 very long years since I’ve been out the country. I need an overseas excursion, so I’m just itching to travel before getting tied down with slavish residency hours.

I do not think I ever enjoyed shopping like that Friday. That’s because I shopped for my first pair of scrubs, for anatomy though. After orientation, the bookstore was packed with student shoppers in the scrubs section. A group of us just dived right in, matching and mismatching tops and bottoms. It was rather entertaining, but I felt bad for the saleslady fixing up the racks like it was Forever 21 mayhem. But, she was nice with helpful advice and all, speaking she’ll be making off us.

My First Scrubs

I was in a self-induced conundrum, not sure what colors to buy. I did not like dark colors, though it hides stains well. I vowed to get pink scrubs or even sky blue, but I’m only dissecting cadavers and flying flesh is bound to stink up my new outfit. I was also gravitating towards the Hello Kitty scrub top, but it was $21, way too expensive for only anatomy lab. Not exactly suitable for the morbid atmosphere of anatomy lab… In the end, I matched light blue bottoms with a green top. Call me Dr. Jekyll & Hyde. I think our anatomy group will be quite the character with all the clashing colors, perfect for the next Skittles commercial (or not). Man, scrubs feel so comfortable and warm! I wore it around the house like PJs, before they get dirty =D

Last Remarks:  Funny how I’m not one-of-a-kind anymore. I started to introduce myself using my awkwardly funny last name instead of simply “Connie.” There’s another girl with my first name, and another guy with my last name. People who I’ve met, shake my hand and say, “Haven’t I met you already?” I respond, “Uh, no… I’m the other Connie.” So now I just solve the problem and simply say, “I’m Connie Why-You. Nice to meet you.” (Puns intended, I’ve gotten so many jokes about my name since elementary school that I’ve become immune.)

There’s also a bunch of doubles in the class, whether it’s first names, last names, undergraduate schools, etc… it’s almost bizarre and coincidental. And there’s an influx of California students, mostly (of course) Asian kids… There’s roughly 124 students in our class, and I’ve nearly given up meeting EVERYONE. There’s just too many faces and names to remember; worse, there’s doubles. I don’t have enough memory capacity to track the class, even when Stony Brook is a relatively small medical school. Either way, I’m super-excited to be with everyone here, because we’re in this together for the next 4 years. No more competition, it’s all about team-work and lasting friendships now.


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