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August 16th, 2017

Beginnings in Arizona

By Reese Imhof

By Erin Bolen

No matter what level of education you are at, the first day of a new school always brings both nerves and ritual. Pick out an outfit in advance, make sure you know where you are going for that first day and get into bed early to make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Except for the students in the inaugural class at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine – Arizona Campus, sleep was a little hard to come by the night before the first day of orientation. Sure, most of that was because of the percussive monsoon that rolled through town after midnight, but the opening of a new chapter of our lives, and a new chapter in the hallowed history of Mayo Clinic, was heavy weight on at least my pillow.

As that first week of orientation unfolded, those nerves eased significantly. Yes, there is prestige and responsibility that comes with being in the class that sets the precedent for those who follow, and yes, there are a few tiny kinks to work out as the technology manager in the classroom can attest, but the group of people who have been brought together to form and guide the class of 2021 are more than up to the challenge.

Photo 1: The Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Arizona Campus, Class of 2021

My classmates are some of the most talented, interesting people I have ever met. There are veterans of the military and emergency medicine, many with experience of living and working in countries from Slovakia to Qatar and degrees from biochemistry and immunology to classical languages and philosophy. We all bring something different and positive (I like to think my contribution is best expressed in baked goods) and make up a group that I’m quite certain will be ready to change the world in a few years.

Photo 2: The Class of 2021 participating in a ribbon cutting event to celebrate the first day of medical school in Arizona.

But for now, we’re settling into the rhythm of our basic science classes. With clinically-focused lectures in the morning and a variety of small-group activities in the afternoon, it’s a challenge to work through the huge volume of science concepts we are expected to master. Still, the school is working hard to make sure we can get involved in the community in the meantime. We had a great time volunteering at St. Mary’s Food Bank downtown during orientation, and many of us used a “Day in the Life” assignment in our first block as a jumping off point to better understand the opportunities for improvement in our community. Soon we’ll be heading down to Maricopa Integrated Health Systems to learn about newborn exams, something my pediatric-leaning heart is super excited about.

Photo 3: Volunteering at St. Mary's Food Bank

There’s been plenty of time for socializing and getting to know each other as well. We had at least two unofficial get togethers before school started and have put together some sort of group activity at least once a week since. Plenty of my classmates love hiking and have been up both Humphry’s Peak in Flagstaff and Piestewa Peak in Scottsdale, something I wouldn’t even dream of trying in the summer months. As someone who has lived here for the past several years, it’s been so fun to see them discover all the unique things about this area.

Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Arizona Campus

Erin Bolen is a first year medical student who is originally from Dallas, TX. She has a passion for pediatrics and is excited to learn more about the implementation of palliative concepts with cure-seeking care. Before coming to Mayo, she worked as a professional sports reporter. In her free time, she loves playing ice hockey, experimenting with baked goods and hanging out with her cat.

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