News » Friends, Family Spend a Day in the Shoes of an SMHS MD Student

Friends, Family Spend a Day in the Shoes of an SMHS MD Student

On a warm spring Saturday, Ross Hall filled with people, but the crowds were not made up of George Washington University (GW) medical students. The lobby, library, and halls teemed with students’ moms and dads, sisters and brothers, and friends and spouses, all on campus to get a firsthand look at their loved ones’ daily lives.

Yvonne Bierdz was one of dozens of attendees at “A Day in the Life of a Medical Student,” a biennial spring event put on with the support of Rhonda M. Goldberg, MA, associate dean for student affairs at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS); Ali Johnson, executive coordinator in the SMHS Office for Student Affairs; and a student committee representing the four classes of SMHS medical students.

Bierdz’s daughter, Brooke, is less than a month away from graduation, after which she’ll head to San Diego Medical Center for residency.

“It’s been nerve wracking, but I’m very proud [of her],” Bierdz said. “I like being here, walking the halls she’s walked for four years, seeing where she’s been every day, day in and day out. It’s really nice.”

More than 130 MD students volunteered their time to make the event a success. For those organizers, the event was long in the making. It featured close to two dozen activities and discussion groups ranging from “Grey’s Anatomy” to “Hey, Baby” to “Vitals R Vital,” all designed to immerse family and friends in medical student life. In addition, participants also attended one of two full medical school lectures given by SMHS faculty members, and lunch on the Georgetown Waterfront.

Following registration and breakfast at the start of the day, medical students and their guests toured SMHS facilities and posed for pictures in the lobby with medical school themed props.

They then broke off into two lecture halls for introductions by Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, vice president for health affairs, and dean of SMHS, and Rhonda Goldberg, MA, associate dean for student affairs at SMHS.

“I love this day. This is such a fun day to celebrate our families and loved ones and celebrate the great work that our students do,” Akman said. “It’s a pretty amazing, complicated day to put on. You get a taste of what the medical students go through."

After the introductions, families and friends split up to do different activities throughout Ross Hall. A group gathered in the Clinical Learning and Simulation Skills (CLASS) Center to learn how to intubate and take blood, including Nancy and John Andretti, who traveled from Charlotte, North Carolina, to see their first-year MD student, Olivia.

“We’re excited to be here, especially to see Olivia, obviously. We get to see where she takes classes, the library. She showed us where she sits and studies. Just putting your eyes on where she is every day makes you feel better,” said Nancy Andretti.

John Andretti added that he enjoyed seeing what his daughter is being taught and seeing the faces of some of the people who will be teaching her and mentoring her during her time at GW. “It’s also nice meeting the other parents who have kids here, we’re kind of in this together,” he added.

Event attendees also had the chance to sit down with their medical student during a relaxing lunch on the Georgetown Waterfront, taking in the sites and catching up with each other.

Andrea Richards, wife of second-year MD student Stephen Richards, said she had a lot of fun seeing the places her husband talks about and knowing more about where he spends his days.

“We did the third-year clinical rotations activity, and it was nice seeing what he will be doing this upcoming year,” she said. “I have other friends with husbands in medical school and they don’t do this, so it’s a fun and unique experience.”