Only at Wash U

Advisors and Societies

You get sorted into one of three societies on your first day of orientation, which is a good way to get to know one-third of your classmates rather quickly. Some of my best friends now are those I met during a society meet-and-greet. However, beyond orientation, societies don’t really play a large role in your social routine (and unfortunately there isn’t any sort of Harry Potter-esque competition between societies). Societies are most beneficial for the advisors that come with them. Each society has an advisory dean or two who will support you throughout medical school. You can meet with them for help with your transition into school, career counseling or other advice you may need. It really is reassuring to have that longitudinal relationship with a faculty member to guide you toward residency.

— Alex Yahanda, M1

Big Sib/Lil Sib

The Big Sib/Little Sib program is an easy way for new M1s to meet older students at WUSM. I was introduced to my big sib on the first day of orientation when she was featured in Dean Moscoso’s PowerPoint presentation for having played varsity basketball on Wash U’s Danforth Campus throughout her M1 year and having won an AOA National Honor Medical Society research fellowship, so she has obviously been my no. 1 resource when it comes to figuring out how to balance classes and the rest of your life outside of school. The M2s understand exactly what you are going through and help you get through it, whether that be through supportive lunches or through a gooey butter cake (a St. Louis special!) left in your mailbox after the first Anatomy exam. They are great sources of advice and encouragement, and, like so many others you will meet at WUSM, they also are just great people!

— Trisha Bhat, M1

Lunch Talks

Lunch talks are what they sound like: Multiple times per week, speakers hold presentations or discussions after morning classes, and those in attendance get free food. The food (which ends up becoming a nontrivial part of an M1’s diet) is actually more of an afterthought since the topics are so appealing. You get to hear from physicians, researchers, student leaders or community health activists. You learn to better navigate all of the opportunities present at WUSM. Most importantly, you gain information that could be practical and important to your medical career. Want to learn more about a particular health demographic? Unsure what specialty interests you? Attend all the lunch talks you can, and have these and many other questions answered in spades.

— Alex Yahanda, M1

Post-Exam Parties

Tick-tock, tick-tock. You’re in the middle of an Anatomy exam, with the pungent scent of the embalming fluid slowly intertwining itself in every strand of your hair. A bead of sweat drips down your brow as you carefully examine the pin on the cadaver, hoping that the answer you scribbled down was correct. BZZZZ! Two minutes is up and you quickly shuffle over to the next station. Finally, after 60 grueling minutes, it’s over. You throw up your hands in celebration, knowing that your reward for your sleepless nights is just hours away. It’s 9 p.m. You strut towards Shell Cafe, the thump of the bass growing ever louder as you make your way to the post-exam party. The social chairs have spent the day gathering the finest spirits (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic) and delicious snacks to celebrate your triumph over the intricacies of the human body (free of charge). Your comrades in limbs are all there, bonding over your shared triumph. High fives all around. The clock strikes midnight. The festivities are winding down, but you know the night is young and there is more merriment to be had in St. Louis’ finest establishments. As you make your way to the Uber awaiting you, you peer back at the cafe doors, a wave of anticipation washing over your body. Only a few weeks and another exam stands between you, your friends, and another much-needed Shell party.

— Will Tzeng, M1

Dancing away your sorrows with your classmates at a post-Anatomy exam party is ideal for mental health.

Study Abroad

Studying abroad during the summer between first and second year was one of the best choices I made so far in medical school (besides my original decision to go to WUSM of course), as it was a nice reminder that medicine exists outside of the WUSM bubble. I went to Malawi. Other classmates went to Uganda, Germany, Italy, Tanzania, Guatemala and Singapore. Almost all the things that you can do here in St. Louis, you can do abroad: You can do clinical work in Africa, seeing extremely sick patients while experiencing different cultures and the impact of poverty on health care; you can do research and get publications in Europe while learning a new language and taking awesome weekend trips; or you can pretty much go anywhere you want to do anything medically related. To spend the summer abroad, you need to start planning early, and it is a little more work, but it is well worth it.

— Tasha Evanoff, M2