Tufts Pre-Health

Anecdotes and advice about preparing for a career in health

Category: Undergrad

Contextualizing Your Growth

            I interned in the Emergency Department of Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. An ED is a fast-paced environment, constantly evolving with patient needs that are comprehensive in volume and variety, in urgency and complexity. One of my main responsibilities during my internship was to serve as a patient advocate – I had the privilege to comfort patients, converse at length with them, and hear about their life stories. I endeavored to find ways to improve their stay – short or long – and served as a bridge between the patient and provider. In addition to this role, I had to opportunity to learn from attendings and residents. Everyday presented an opportunity to learn, about the science that underpins the practice of medicine but also the humanity that is integral to delivering equitable and patient-centered care.

            My summer internship was intensive in all aspects – in education, emotion, and experience.  It was easy to feel overwhelmed, and I returned to my dorm everyday with countless stories and notes scribbled with medical knowledge I’d learned. For me, journaling during my internship allowed me the opportunity to digest and reflect on each day. By writing it down, journaling allowed me to synthesize the lessons I’d learned. Journaling motivated me to think critically about ways in which I could be a better patient advocate, and gave rise to project ideas that I proposed to my supervisor that would improve the efficiency of the ED. Journaling positioned me to better utilize my internship, ask more effective questions, and better prepare myself for the next day. From a macroscopic level, journaling allowed me to record my experiences and the valuable memories, lessons, and insights I gained from my internship. Writing down these experiences allowed me to reflect and form connections with my studies and research interests. With these reflections, I was able to analyze my experience, and its interactions with my life, learning, and career aspirations.

            When journaling, be consistent. Try to set aside a scheduled time each day (or week) to write. Let your entries be reflective of what you’re learning – about yourself and the internship. Ask yourself about your goals for the internship, what critical issues you witnessed, moral or ethical questions that arose, and reflect on moments where you took charge. Write about how a particular task or project made you feel, whether or not you enjoyed it, and if you can see yourself doing it in the future. Don’t be afraid to soul-search a bit.

Ultimately, make your journal your space to contextualize your growth.

Andrew Hwang, Class of 2022

Why Community Health and Medicine

When I arrived at Tufts as a freshman I always imagined that I was going to be a “hard science” major. Whether that meant biology, physics, or chemistry, my preconceived notion of being premed demanded that I study science. However, I quickly learned that this was simply not true, and in fact, you can study anything you want and be successful.

As a freshman I followed the advice to take classes that were of interest to me, one of which happened to be Introduction to Community Health. Learning about aspects of health that were disconnected from medicine and science was refreshing and set the stage for my decision to major in Community Health. After taking a few more courses in the major, I knew with absolute certainty the field was for me. Being able to take courses ranging from race, ethnicity, and health to epidemiology was both rewarding and challenging. The field of Community Health allows you to explore areas that interest you, something that not all majors necessarily afford. Furthermore, the faculty in the CH department were constantly available to meet with me to help facilitate my interest in both Community Health and medicine, something that allowed me to pick the right courses and find research opportunities.

For the CH major you are required to do an internship, something that is unique and allows you to gain real world exposure. I selected an internship at Tufts Medical Center in the Department of Infectious Diseases, something that both satisfied my interests in medicine and public health. Through this internship, I gained both clinical exposure as well as opportunities to learn about intersections between public health and infectious diseases, something I had been exposed to in Introduction to Global Health. The ability to have this experience not only bolstered my application for medical school, but showed me that pursuing public health was of great importance to me.

As I now am in my final semester at Tufts I look back on my experience as a Community Health major very fondly. Whether it be the faculty I met, the public health research I have engaged in, or the aspects of healthcare that challenged the way I think I am very grateful for the knowledge I have gained. As I work towards my career goals in medicine, I can say with confidence that I will be not only integrating my knowledge of public health gained at Tufts, but looking to continue studying public health while in medical school.

Jacob Garrell, Class of 2018
Community Health

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