by Jessica Saw
I’ve always valued close relationships with faculty. Some people think getting invited to a professor’s house for dinner is downright awkward while others think it is outright awesome. I am part of the latter.
Part of the reason I chose MMS was its small class size, which enables closer relationships between students and faculty. One faculty member can wear many hats and switch them out to be teacher, dean, mentor, collaborative musician, or cheerleader, depending on the situation. I do not understand how my professors find the time to play all of these roles, but I suppose it has something to do with the Mayo magic that I one day hope to acquire.
I seem to have formed a habit of bonding with professors over food. Here are two of my favorite moments:
WOOD-FIRED PIZZA WITH DR. RIZZO
All second-years are required to spend one selective week with a surgeon. I was paired with Dr. Rizzo, an orthopedic hand surgeon. One day, he pulled out a Ziploc bag full of focaccia to give to the fellow on his service. My eyes got wide – I recognized the distinctive blackened blisters blooming from the dough. “Do you have a wood-fired oven?” I asked.
He proceeded to show me videos and pictures of pizza and bread, and we geeked out about dough and fire. He asked me if I had any New Years’ plans and soon, I found myself firing pizzas and sipping limoncello with his family.
One year later, during my surgical clerkship, I saw him in the cafeteria. Hastily excusing myself from the table, I ran over to say hello. I told him how I was enjoying my current clerkship and had decided to become a surgeon. Next came a congratulatory smile, a hug, and an invitation to dinner. Needless to say, we met again and made future plans for pizza.
SNACKS IN THE BREAKROOM WITH DR. WOLANSKYJ
Studying for the USMLE Step 1 exam was a nightmare. I remember sitting in a lecture with a mini panic attack. In a desperate attempt to do anything that might remotely bring comfort, I e-mailed Dr. Wolanskyj, Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Within fifteen minutes, she responded to my email, and I was in her office.
She gave me resources, people to contact, and methods to study. Then she paused, tilted her head and said, “You need some food. Let’s feed you.” Her instincts were correct – during this stressful time, I had been eating poorly.
And so she brought me to the staff break room. Scanning the vending machine items, she dismissed the items she knew I disliked and eventually settled on a yogurt with almonds. During our snack break, we talked not about medical school, but our personal lives. We discussed shopping at the food co-op, family life, and letting go of our former paths as musicians. As I walked out with a brighter step and a nourished belly, I thanked her for reminding me that life was more than just a series of exams.
Jessica is a third-year currently taking a year off from school to do research and work at Forager, a restaurant and brewery start-up in Rochester, MN. She graduated in 2012 from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music with a B.A. in Neuroscience and a B.Mus. in Piano Performance. She loves piano, local foods, and swing dancing.