by Sydney Larkin
Real talk for a second: I’m currently at home in Cincinnati lying on the couch and cuddling with my cat by the fire. It’s snowy and cold out so I’m happy to be relaxing and writing this post under my big, fluffy blanket. Ha! My little brother is still at college taking finals until Wednesday, but at Mayo Med we get the whole week off! One of the best things about Mayo is how they structure their selective weeks – which is how this whole blog and couch situation is made possible. I’m currently using this week to shadow surgeons at home and recharge after a difficult week of Anatomy finals.
One of the many reasons I chose to come to Mayo was the flexibility that they offer in their curriculum for career exploration. While I was nervous at first, I have really enjoyed living my life in a blocked schedule. This means that we learn one subject intensely for 6-8 weeks and then have a “selective” week that can be used for anything we wish. Many take vacation to recharge their minds and bodies, while others use it as a chance for career exploration, shadowing, learning practical skills, doing research, or even going abroad!
After 4 months in the Mayo system, I seriously question how I learned any other way. I feel more prepared for class and more knowledgeable at the end of the day about each subject than I ever did in college. Our whole class attends lecture every day, so I get to use the professors, TAs, visiting residents and consultants, AND 50 brilliant peers to answer my questions! Seriously… I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to use your wonderful, talented, creative, and diverse classmates. While many other medical schools that I interviewed at during my premed days touted the fact that they offered lectures online, here I learn more because each of my classmates teaches me in different ways. They bring up questions I never even think to ask and help me learn in so many different styles that it is hard not to pick up mnemonics or tips and tricks from each one of them.
Another selling point of Mayo for me was the small class size. I love learning in small groups, so Mayo’s small class size (which is tiny in comparison to the wealth of clinical resources, teachers, and mentors that are available for each one of us) is the perfect fit. Not only do you create bonds with each one of your classmates, but you also have so many mentors available to teach you that you never feel lost in the shuffle. This was especially true in Anatomy, where we work with a team of four classmates per donor cadaver. I loved how the TAs and professors would walk around during dissection to give us pointers or expand upon some of the clinical correlations our group did not fully understand. Small group learning is especially important in blocks where it is easy to become both mentally and physically tired. The bond I created with my group was incredibly strong by the end of our seven weeks. When a group member was struggling, it helped to have three other people who were experiencing the exact same thing and could help alleviate some of that stress with you. Now, I have a group of friends and teachers who I could call in any crisis.
Overall, although medical school can be stressful, there are countless opportunities for you to find guidance, support, and inspiration. And, in a season where it is increasingly important to be thankful, I am constantly reminded just how grateful I am for my new Mayo family.
Sydney Larkin is a first-year Mayo medical student, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is passionate about community outreach and global health and is interested in the fields of orthopedics and pediatrics. In her spare time, you can find her running, exploring new cities, or playing soccer.