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Notes from medical school students

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.

Leo Kuwama, PURCH Class of 2022

Leo is working side-by-side with PURCH faculty and staff at the Baystate campus this summer. He has a key role in developing a new advocacy curriculum for his fellow PURCH students.

Follow along as he updates us each week.

Week 1

This past week was my first week working on a summer curriculum development project for PURCH. 
Leo Kuwama PURCH Student
After a long first day of general orientation for new Baystate staff, I felt that I hit the ground running from the second day. I was not exactly sure what to expect going into this curriculum development project over the summer, but I am really happy to see that it’s a really engaging experience so far. 
It feels somewhat surreal that I am working with the PURCH faculty.
These are the same familiar faces that led and taught our PURCH classes this past year. It boggles my mind that I am working in a team of people who are much more accomplished than I am. Perhaps this is similar to white coat syndrome? Perhaps it’s the part of me that is just always very cautious about being overconfident about anything. Whatever this feeling can be called, it keeps me questioning how I can better contribute to such a powerful, experienced and knowledgeable team. 
It’s strange that I feel much more comfortable with my responsibilities on this team than I could have imagined just a few days ago. 
Or perhaps not so strange given that I’m working with PURCH faculty.
To summarize, my task in a few words is to do a “Needs Assessment” for the advocacy curriculum we are designing over the summer. This includes interviews and literature review. I’m completely used to the literature review. As for interviews, not so much. I was somewhat intimidated by the number of interviews I would conduct and who the interviewees are.
I'm interviewing state elected officials, community organization leaders, and community members. However, my team made sure that I was supported by leading an interview for me at the beginning and then being present for the next few interviews while I led. They made sure I was comfortable and got constructive feedback until I felt confident enough to effectively do the interviews on my own. 
I’m excited for the next week when I’ll be doing more interviews and literature review. 
I’ll also be starting my analysis on the data we collect and take the first steps to thinking about the content of the advocacy curriculum.

—Leo

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Week 2

The second week felt like it has gone by much faster than the first. 
PURCH Student Leo Kuwama
I think I’m finally getting over the nerves of conducting interviews with the key informants—especially for my interviews with the elected officials. I guess that should have been expected, given the sheer number of them that I did this past week. 
The interviews are really enjoyable since I’m able to really delve into each interviewee’s experience and perspectives on advocacy. The interviews are also held in various districts throughout Hampden County, so it’s nice to be able to drive around and see more of the community which Baystate serves. 
The only downside that I feel about this summer is the fact that I have to drive out to Springfield almost every day for the interviews and important meetings with faculty to discuss our progress. However, I’ve started to really appreciate the long rides because it’s really nice to carpool with my other PURCH classmates who are also doing other things in Springfield over the summer. 
I’ve been able to bounce back ideas with them to try to gauge what our class might be looking for in terms of an advocacy curriculum. I feel really lucky that I have classmates who are interested and willing to pitch in ideas that may help to shape the curriculum into something that will be engaging and in line with the interests of PURCH students.
The next week will be pretty much the same as this past week—a continuation of key informant interviews, literature reviews, and analyzing the data collected.
Apart from work stuff, I’ve been able to play tennis, eat out, or cook with my friends who are also staying in Worcester for the summer. I feel really lucky to have friends that want to hang out after their long days at work and make use of the extra daylight we get in the summer to go out and have fun! I’m happy I’m able to have a fun, relaxing, and productive summer so far. 

—Leo

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Disclaimer

Student Notes 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.
Student Notes 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.