Interview with a Medical Science Graduate Student
One-on-one with a real, live medical science grad student
Last Updated February 22, 2011
A fourth-year student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, William Greenhut, MS-IV, MPH, recently received a degree in osteopathic medicine (D.O.). He is currently applying to emergency medicine residency programs and was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions to shed light on what it’s like to participate in a graduate medical sciences program.
Q. What did you major in, as an undergrad? Did it help your graduate studies?
A. I majored in Human Biology, which is a combination of biology and anthropology. This major provided a strong foundation in the human organism, which was obviously beneficial for a future education in osteopathic medicine. Biochemistry, genetics, physiology and anatomy are continually revisited during medical school, so I encourage students to try these courses at the undergraduate level.
Q. What is the most difficult aspect of the program/field? Most rewarding?
A. The most difficult aspect of an education in osteopathic medicine comes when the medical student must learn to understand the dialogue and professional interactions within the hospital. The medical student is essentially insulated for the first two years of school and then experiences a major culture shock during clinical rotations. It is most rewarding when the medical student has proven his or her clinical knowledge and is finally accepted as a competent member of the medical team.
Q. What advice would you give students considering the field?
A. Find outside interests beyond the field of medicine and actively pursue them whenever you’re not studying. There are plenty of extracurricular activities in medical school. Have fun while you still can!
Q. What do you expect to get out of the program?
A. I expect my degree in osteopathic medicine from PCOM to be recognized and respected among successful residency programs and physicians across the country. I am happy that I will be known as a PCOM graduate.
Q. How do you view your future given your education choices? How will your degree figure into your future?
A. I anticipate a career in emergency medicine. I have a strong foundation in EMS and public health and believe that the culture of emergency medicine closely matches my personality.
Q. What interdisciplinary electives do you think enhanced your education?
A. At the undergraduate level, my experience in public health and volunteering within the medical field greatly augmented my understanding of medicine.
Q. What is your biggest regret regarding your education?
A. I regret all the anxiety I wasted during college trying to be like the ideal medical school applicants I observed around me. One of my happiest moments was when I realized that medical schools were looking for unique applicants, not people who fit a standard mold.
Q. What are you involved with, outside the classroom?
A. During medical school I have been actively involved with community service, student government and athletics. You’d never believe what kind of creative fundraisers can be spawned from an interest in all those activities.
Q. Does involvement outside the classroom enhance your learning?
A. Absolutely. As I previously suggested, the medical student must be able to adapt to the foreign culture within the hospital. During medical school, students should practice their networking skills by going to conferences, enhance their clinical knowledge while volunteering for community service and learn how to enjoy life with some of the best friends they will ever meet.
Q. How much does geography figure into the study?
A. Polling has shown that geography is the most important factor in deciding where medical graduates select their medical residencies. Considering that residency programs are often linked to medical school networks, the medical school applicant must recognize that geography plays an important role in their future. Although Osteopathic Medicine is practiced similarly across the country, patient populations and pathologies vary greatly among different medical schools and hospitals.