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Life Doesn't Stop for Medical School

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Name: Mariam Gomaa
Med School: Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Year: Fourth Year*
Though she is now a fourth year, these questions were answered as a third year.

1. What is your #1 study tip?

Find what works for you and stick to it regardless of what's working for everyone else.

2. How do you keep yourself motivated or get out of study ruts?

I get out of study ruts by trying to keep my routine a little different, whether that's changing location or changing topics. I find that keeping things moving helps me stay on task.

3. What does your daily study schedule look like?

I'm finishing third year so often it entails going into work, then coming home to do Uworld questions or read a little (which I handwrite notes on) and reviewing my patient's ahead of time depending on the specialty.

4. What would your classmates be most surprised to learn about you?

I am a photographer! I had a blog in undergrad where I interviewed strangers on the train in Chicago and took their photo! I used to do photo gigs for pay as well.

5. What unique extracurriculars do you pursue outside of medicine?

I write! I have been published many times in major publications because I use it as a stress reliever.

6. Who are your mentors?

In the medical profession, it's a group of physicians who value diversity in racial and socioeconomic representation as well as in thoughts and ideas. My best mentors are those who care about my passions outside of medicine and encourage me to pursue them!

7. What book would you recommend to all medical students?

I recommend the book The Great Night by Chris Adrian, who is a physician, theologist and writer. It is a gut-wrenching and beautiful story.

8. What would you been doing if you weren't in medical school?

I'd be a journalist 100% and I'd be writing a novel :)

9. What is the most important lesson you've learned so far in medical school?

You have to be really flexible and calm. Not everything will go well or the way you want, and the bumps in the road only make you more equipped for the difficulties that come across in residency. Also - life doesn't stop for medical school! I was really ill and had to have surgery my first year of medical school. I ended up leaving for a medical leave and returning. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I am happy to elaborate on this if you'd like!

10. What is your curriculum like at your school?

It's changed for new students, but for me 2 years of book learning, lectures recorded and attendance mostly not required (required for case-based learning and clinical skills, etc but not straight lectures) followed by third year that includes emergency medicine and 4th year for electives

11. What was your most memorable "first" experience in medical school?

My first patient. He was a pediatric patient with cancer. We talked about life and death while playing cards and Uno. It was a profound learning moment for me.

12. How are the topics of burnout, wellness, and work-life balance addressed at your school?

We have established a really amazing wellness program at our institution, which was not as robust when I first started. I have been fortunate to help with this and utilize it! We have free massages, raffles for gift cards, intramural sports, counseling, and so much more.

13. How can medical students better support each other inside and outside the classroom?

Be kind and know it's not a race to the finish. We all end up where we want to be and are meant to be, and at the end of the day, we're better doctors when we are kind to one another. And be friends! I appreciate when my classmates know things I don't and when we practice kindness and friendship, we learn so much more from each other.

14. Which rotation has been your favorite? Is it what you expected it would be?

OB/GYN! Not what I expected at all. I thought I would never do it but now it's what I'll be applying to for residency, I think.

15. What is the best advice a resident/attending gave you?

Don't be afraid to assert yourself and say what you think or advocate for your patient. You can be wrong, but you'll never learn if you don't put yourself out there. You're also, hands down, the person who knows your patient best. No one else has as much time to get to talk to your patient about their life! Use it!

As far as life tips - don't fret. Be strategic, smart and find the things that make you happy. If you need help, ask for it. There's no shame. We're all a team.

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