Families and Friends Experience "A Day in the Life of a Medical Student"

Fourth-year medical student Kathleen Bren, with assistance from Patricia Smith, M.D., delivers a baby during "A Day in the Life of a Medical Student."

Fourth-year medical student Kathleen Bren, with assistance from Patricia Smith, M.D., delivers a baby during "A Day in the Life of a Medical Student."

In the labor and delivery room of the Clinical Learning and Simulation Skills Center at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), parents, spouses, friends, and siblings of medical students gathered around the delivery table. With coaxing from Kristin Gorelik, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at SMHS, her “patient” – a mannequin manned by third-year medical student Kat Dunne – delivered her baby to applause.

“Wow, that’s amazing,” said Nutan Misra, mother of first-year medical student Shantum Misra.

Misra was one of several attending “A Day in the Life of a Medical Student,” a biennial spring event organized by a student committee representing the four classes of SMHS medical students.

“Collectively, our students and faculty have compiled the highlights of our medical experiences,” explained Parisa Kaviany, a fourth-year medical student at SMHS and committee member, “and we are so excited to share this with you.”

For organizers, the event was long in the making and featured lectures and close to two dozen discussion groups, ranging from “All Stitched Up” to “Vitalssss,” designed to immerse participants in medical student life.

“I know you diligently filled out your applications, carefully chose your courses, and got your applications to us in a timely manner,” said Rhonda Goldberg, associate dean for student affairs at SMHS, to the crowd. “You then waited to hear your acceptance. Finally, the letter came. Congratulations, we’re thrilled to have you here and in the Class of 2015, Day in the Life of a Medical Student.”

Following registration and breakfast at the start of the day, medical students and their accompanying guests toured the SMHS facilities and posed for photographs with GW mascot George Washington. They then broke off to file into two lecture halls for introductions by Jeffrey S. Akman, M.D. ’81, RESD ’85, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, vice president for health affairs, and dean of SMHS, and Richard J. Simons, M.D., senior associate dean for M.D. programs at SMHS.

“I really want to acknowledge you for all of your efforts with whatever you’ve done in terms of raising your kids,” Akman said. “You’ve been amazingly successful. You need be incredibly proud of your kids and your siblings and your grandkids. They’re incredibly proud of their experience here. They’re excited to show you what their life is like on a day-to-day basis, even though we’re going to go a little easy on you.”

The mild approach to the rigorous schedule medical students typically endure included lessons by Afsoon Epstein-Roberts, M.D. ’92, associate professor of medicine and of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine at SMHS, who spoke about syphilis, and Zhiyong Han, Ph.D, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at SMHS, who focused on fat-soluble vitamins.

“[The lecture on vitamins A and D] was pretty interesting, and I learned a lot of new things, so I did pretty well on the quiz,” Misra said of Han’s presentation. “I got only one question wrong.”

Meaghan Leidig, along with her husband, Gil, daughter, Molly, and daughter-in-law, Ellen, also raved about Han’s lecture and the “Hey, Baby” simulation.

“It was great,” said Leidig, whose son Patrick Leidig is a member of the Class of 2015.

Unlike Misra, who doesn’t work in health care, Leidig is a nurse, as is Ellen, Patrick’s wife, and Gil is a physician. They were particularly interested in the day’s events, she explained, and the care taken to present GW and its resources to family members and friends.

“You get a feel for the staff, the lectures, and the facility,” said Leidig, who was attending "A Day in the Life of a Medical Student" for the second time.

At “Hey, Baby,” the medical-minded family – minus two sons who were with Patrick at a separate seminar – took turns delivering babies, encouraging each other with “push, push, push” and “perfect, don’t drop the baby!” while laughing at the experience.

“It’s a great thing,” Leidig said. “GW is the only school that does something like this.”