Yalies thrive on courses ranging from “Galaxies and the Universe” to “Art History: Renaissance to the Present,” and everything in between. Well, maybe those two aren’t as opposite as they first appear. What is the Universe without context and emotion and creation? What is great art without perspective and exploration and a little stardust? Or maybe that’s just my liberal arts-iness showing…
One very special aspect of attending a liberal arts university is the diversity of interests it attracts. I have friends who are working on political campaigns, researching disease, writing short fiction, and programming for Microsoft. I know people whose ambitions run in multiple directions; who are planning to double major in Chinese and Political Science, or to study engineering and later attend law school. Some freshmen know exactly what they want to do after they graduate, while some are far less sure. Either perspective, I have found, is perfectly okay.
Coming to Yale, I knew my big interest was in studying science. I had done scientific research for over two years during high school, and I was drawn to the creativity and intensity of the work I had experienced during those years. Additionally, I knew that I was interested in the field of medicine, specifically the intersection of medical research and clinical practice.
During my first few weeks at Yale, I looked into several scientific and premedical student organizations. I signed up for pan-lists and was soon receiving loads of emails each week, informing me of the dozens of events and activities happening on campus in regard to my academic and career interests. At first, it was overwhelming—there was so much to do in what seemed like so little time! Soon, however, I began to get the hang of it, and I got to take part in several of the amazing opportunities afforded to Yale pre-meds, STEM students, and really anyone who is interested in the field.
Within only a few weeks of arriving on campus, I was already able to start shadowing a physician at the Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) through the Yale Medical Professions Outreach (YMPO) Physician Shadowing Program. YMPO is an organization run by Yale undergraduates and is focused on providing opportunities for undergraduates to learn more about the medical field through a variety of shadowing, lecture, and volunteer experiences. YMPO also hosts events such as pre-health mixers, which allow pre-health students from any year and major to meet each other, as well as current students at the Yale School of Medicine.
Through my shadowing in the YNHH nephrology department, I have learned an incredible amount about both the field of nephrology (which deals with diseases of the kidney) and the patient-clinician relationship. Each Thursday, I was able to observe an incredible doctor at work. Her enthusiasm, strength, humor, and curiosity made her a remarkable mentor, and she regularly took the time after clinic to talk to me about daily life as a doctor, why she chose her specialty, and how her Yale education (she is an alumna of Yale College!) factored into her training as a physician.
In addition to this semester-long experience, I have been able to attend a number of lectures and events hosted by various pre-health organizations on campus. The week before finals, I went on a trip with MedX (a group devoted to extending the traditional boundaries of careers in medicine) to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Genomics Testing Laboratory. A few weeks prior, I attended a talk at the Yale School of Medicine by Greg Licholai, the current president of Elpidera LLC and a leader in the field of biotechnology.
Next semester, I will be on the YMPO board as a Lecture/Education Coordinator. This new position will involve organizing 3-4 lectures throughout the semester and a Health Volunteering Opportunity Bazaar. I am greatly looking forward to my new responsibilities and getting more involved with YMPO and the medical community at Yale next semester!
Looking back at my first semester at Yale, I am so thankful for all the chances I have had to jumpstart my career in medicine. Truly, the events I have highlighted above only scratch the surface of all the opportunities available to pre-health students. Furthermore, students interested in pursuing other disciplines—engineering, business, politics, the arts… anything!—have countless mentoring programs, internships, advanced coursework, shadowing opportunities, specialized advising, and networking events available to them. This means that Yalies are free to explore any and all of their professional interests with full access to the unrivaled resources and support that Yale University has to offer.