Maggie’s Musings:"D.O."-ing Medical School
Becoming a "D.O.," a Doctor of Osteopathy, is this young medical student's mission. There are two paths to becoming a physician--becoming an M.D. (a Medical Doctor) or a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy). The osteopathic philosophy (which teaches the ntegration of Mind, Body, Spirit, and considering the person, not the disease) made "D.O."-ing the right choice for this Penn State grad. Starting her medical education in the middle of a pandemic, however, is NOT what the doctor ordered!
I’d like to introduce myself to the Physician Outlook family as I chronicle the most amazing journey of my life. My name is Margaret Hurley but I go by Maggie. I was born and raised in State College, PA, home of Penn State University where I earned my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and where I decided to commit myself to a career as a physician. Last year, I interviewed at various DO and MD programs and found my new home for the next four years at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM).
This past fall I had the honor of presenting myself as Margaret Hurley, Student Physician. I get goose-bumps just typing that. I’m flooded with emotions - excitement, gratitude, anticipation, and undoubtedly some nerves.
Medical school is no cakewalk. It was intimidating to have to start amidst a global pandemic in certainly unnavigated territory and it compounded my fear of the unknown. I have never preferred an online modality of learning and when it was announced that our first two weeks and orientation were going to be entirely virtual, I was filled with self-doubt.
How was I going to adjust my learning style to the rigor of online medical school? How was I going to make new friends? How will I get involved? How will I meet mentors/professors? My list of questions was never ending but, and as cliche as it may sound, I realized that the one thing that IS in my control is my attitude towards it all. Instead of worrying about how I was going to adjust to the rigors of online learning, I adjusted my mindset.
I reminded myself of what a privilege it is to be learning the art of the human body. Instead of worrying about how I would make new friends, I realized that I was not alone. The other incoming first-year medical students were going through the same thing as me. I realized that I would just make friends in a nontraditional way (Zoom for the win!). Instead of worrying about getting involved, I have started researching clubs/organizations and have reached out to some current PCOM students. Instead of worrying about how I was going to meet mentors and professors, I am reminded that my school (and every other medical school) offers an endless list of supplemental resources- they want to see us succeed! I am slowly accepting that a lot of what happens is out of my control, but the beauty of this journey is that it is mine. It will be unique in so many ways but I am here for it, ready for whatever it throws my way.
I hope that by documenting my journey, I can offer reminiscing for experienced physicians, relatableness for my fellow physicians in training and inspiration for future physicians!
Day 1 of Term 2
Hello again! I just finished my first term! We started with cellular and molecular foundations of medicine - my favorite (said no one ever)! But in all honesty, I finally had the “AHA!” moment with a lot of the basic science content and why it is SO IMPORTANT to medicine!
Today I started our anatomy, physiology, development, embryology and histology block and of course, given the current circumstances, we are entirely virtual. Part of my training as an osteopathic medical student is in osteopathic manipulative treatment which is a very hands-on art in palpating, diagnosing, and treating what we term somatic dysfunctions. It was arguably the best part of my first term because I got to see how the structure and function of the body are interconnected in real life. I’m going to seriously miss this in person lab now that we are virtual - it’s like a little piece of what makes me, me is gone. We are also all online for anatomy but our school is frontloading lectures and then giving us all anatomy labs after winter break once we have quarantined! I definitely miss in person interaction, but I am so amazed by what our educators are doing for us during this unprecedented time.
So far, this has been the hardest thing I have ever done. In this past term I got more stressed than I knew was possible for myself, but I also learned how to cope with my stress (Dove chocolate, exercising, a good country music playlist and an occasional glass of red wine). I cried during online lectures when things were going too fast and confusing me, but I let myself cry because I have learned how to embrace my emotions, good and bad. I even got feedback from one of my first standardized patients that my empathy was natural! I panicked many times when I did not accomplish all that I had planned for the day, but I learned that you can only do what you can do. Do not compare your progress to others, because ultimately you are just taking time away from becoming the best version of yourself. I even suffered the loss of my dear grandmother my first term, but I was reassured that everything happens according to God’s plan and that gave me peace of mind - not only with respect to the loss of my grandma but in all aspects of my medical education.
I’d like to end by talking about what keeps me going. I am motivated by my future patients and how special it is that they will be depending on me and my experiences to help them. I am motivated by my enthusiasm for many different fields and all of the cool clubs at my school. And, after the loss of my grandmother, I am motivated to keep going. She was my number one supporter in all endeavors of my life - my religion, my academics, my sports, my (currently non-existent) love life and she was most supportive about my choice to go into medicine. I miss her dearly, but her loss reminds me how much of a factor she plays into my WHY medicine!
Always remember your WHY!
Until next time,
Student Doctor Maggie