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Notes from medical school students

Notes from Medical School

Thoughts about our medical school experience in our own words

This is a forum for us to share our stories about our journey through the PURCH track at UMass Medical School-Baystate.

February 7, 2019

Yesterday, I practiced my physical diagnosis (PD) skills with a fellow PURCH student in preparation for our upcoming PD exam. We spent a couple of hours going through each item, which ranged from testing cranial nerves to the assessing musculoskeletal function. Even though I am not the most coordinated individual, I enjoyed bettering my doctoring skills and familiarizing myself with medical equipment such as a stethoscope, otoscope, and ophthalmoscope. 

For the past 8 PURCH sessions or so, our PURCH advisors have guided us through each portion of the PD exam. I have greatly enjoyed practicing with other members of my group, and it provides a wonderful opportunity for each of us to ask questions in an open, non-judgmental, and affirming environment.

— Alex Kaplan

April 22, 2019

PURCH Students attend QMed Conference 2019Three of us from the Class of 2022 went to the "Q-Med: Building LGBTQI+ Leaders in Health Care Conference" at Yale in New Haven, CT from March 30th to the 31st.(Left to right:Bronwyn Wada-Gill, Simone Thibault, and Alex Kaplan)
This conference was directed at LGBTQ+ and ally students/faculty/staff in all arenas of the medical field to discuss LGBTQI+ leadership within medicine, health disparities in the LGBTQI+ community, and improving medical curricula to better educate students to the health needs of queer and trans individuals. 
One of the most PURCHy/inspiring concepts we learned about was the idea of queering leadership or teaching how each person’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) could improve leadership roles by bringing unique perspectives, diverse lived experiences, and a deep sense of empathy to the table. 

The entire weekend we networked and befriended students and faculty at medical institutions ranging from the East to the West coast. Excitingly, we are now working with medical students at Tufts and UVM to improve the UMass LGBTQI+ health curriculum and advance LGBTQI+ initiatives on the UMass campus to make it a more affirming space for queer and trans folks.

I think that we each draw inspiration from each other’s programs to help advance LGBTQ+ health education within medical school curricula and create a more accepting and affirming environment for queer and trans folks. 
This conference also provided helpful resources to navigate difficult conversations as a medical professional interacting not only with patients but also with peers and senior colleagues. 
Additionally, we learned about how to better care for trans patients, both in terms of treatments as well as making a more affirming clinical environment.

Both Simone and I are co-leaders for QMass (the LGBTQ+ student group at UMass) and we are planning to use the knowledge we gained to improve the LGBTQ+ health elective that we’ll lead in the Fall on the Worcester campus. Also, I am creating the LGBTQ+ population health clerkship (PHC) for the second years on the Worcester campus, and I’ll be utilizing the knowledge that I learn while organizing and creating the PHC. 

This was the first QMed conference! The organizers are not sure if this will be a biannual or annual event, but we were pushing for it to be annual!

— Alex Kaplan 


PURCH diary entries are not official statements. The entries represent the personal views of their respective authors. They are not official statements from the University of Massachusetts Medical School or Baystate Health.
PURCH diary entries are not medical advice. The entries are informational and educational. Content on this website, including text, images and media, does not replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a health professional.