by Editt Nikoyan
There are a lot of amazing opportunities that come with being a Mayo medical student. One of the aspects that has really made an impression on me is the school’s dedicated focus on student wellness, and I attribute a lot of that to the Student Life and Wellness Committee and their generous Student Initiated Wellness Activities (SIWA) grants. That’s a mouthful, but basically these grants fund activities related to improving the well being of the class, whether it is physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual. So far, our classmates have come up with some pretty cool ideas. To name just a few, we’ve done weekly yoga sessions to help de-stress, local escape rooms to help us bond in the beginning of the school year, and cross-country skiing with the second years as a fun outdoor winter event. We even get funding for our Baking Committee to bring treats to class to celebrate our birthdays.
My favorite SIWA funded event so far has been our M1 Iron Chef Cook-off competition. By early November our class was deep in the last few weeks of anatomy and was preoccupied with preparing for the final. Elias, Aunika, and I thought it might be nice to have a fun class activity that would not only take our minds off of studying for a few hours, but also provide some home-cooked nourishment that our anatomy studying had taken priority over. Little did we know we have some very creative chefs as classmates!
Our classmates formed two teams – “Netter Better: We Put the Fun in Fundus” and “The Leaky Parotid: Letticimus Turnip the Beet”. You can tell we’re medical students in the middle of anatomy, right? We invited everyone else in the class to taste-test the creations on Cook-Off day. We invited celebrity guest judges Dr. Bostwick, Dr. Garcia, and our Anatomy TA Paul to be our panel. But, there was a catch - a secret ingredient that would be revealed only the morning of the event itself, so that both teams would have to deal with the element of surprise. Seeing as it was apple-picking season, we revealed the apples that Saturday morning and started the 1 hour timer for the chefs to create their dishes.
The Netter Better team made a tasty, rich risotto with and baked apples for dessert. The Leaky Parotid team made delicious chicken and vegetarian gnocchi with salad and homemade French toast. Each team got to present their inspiration behind their creations and how they incorporated the use of the secret ingredient to the judges before they took their first bites. The judges passed positive commentary, such as “It felt really warm to me, like raking autumn leaves” or “This is a really good use of squash.” They also passed more critical judgments, like “This chicken is irrelevant,” or “I liked the vanilla cream, but this looked like an eyeball to me.” We were at the edge of our seats in suspense for who the winner would be. Finally, the judges coincidentally tallied their votes to a tie (really, not on purpose!). We had to hold a People’s Choice Award, which went to The Leaky Parotid team.
Although it may seem a little silly to hold a cook-off competition before our anatomy finals, it was a really fun event that boosted the class morale and gave us something exciting to do to keep our wellness in check. We look forward to holding events like this again in the future and encouraging future first year students to do the same!
Editt is a first year medical student originally from Glendale, CA. Before coming to medical school, she completed a Master of Science in Global Medicine and worked for a nonprofit that provides access to critical surgical care to children worldwide. Editt continues to be passionate about global health and pediatrics, and plans to incorporate both into her future career. In her free time she enjoys coming up with cupcake recipes, playing piano, and exploring new places.