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Episode 150 – The "Zoom" Med School Dilemma

Oct 21, 2020

Interested in hearing about taking a gap year, managing your wellness, and learning how to attend med school virtually? On this episode of Talking U & Med Student Life, hear what first-year med student Lilly has to say about what brought her to the U and how she is navigating med school practically virtually.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Chan: Interested in hearing about taking a gap year, managing your wellness, and learning how to attend med school virtually? On this episode of "Talking U and Med Student Life," hear what first-year med student, Lily, has to say about what brought her to The U and how she is navigating med school practically virtually.

Welcome to another edition of "Talking U and Med Student Life." I have a fantastic guest today, first-year medical student, Lily. Hello, Lily. How are you doing?

Lily: Good. How are you?

Dr. Chan: I am hanging in there. We're in the middle of a pandemic. What an amazing, unfortunate, unprecedented challenging time we're living in. How is your family? How are your loved ones doing?

Lily: Yeah, definitely. Well, first, thank you so much for having me on your podcast. I am so honored. But yeah, it's definitely not the way I expected to see medical school start, especially online. I was super excited for all the hands-on experiences we would have, so this has been quite an adjustment.

But everything has been good so far. My family is actually in New York right now. So I'm just transitioning on my own here. But they're all doing good. They're just quarantining and trying to be safe.

Dr. Chan: So I want to start, before we talk about . . . because I'm just fascinated what does medical education look like in the era of COVID. I want to start back at the beginning, Lily. So, when did you first know you were going to be a doctor? When did that first idea come to you?

Lily: Oh, gosh. Well, at first, I actually wanted to go into pharmacy because when I was little, my grandpa was a pharmacist. And he was the wise owl of our family. He didn't speak very often. But when he did, everyone listened. And I come from a really, really large family. I have over 70 cousins and over a dozen aunts and uncles. So that's kind of a big room to be able to quiet when you talk.

And my mom actually . . . so my family is from Afghanistan, and my mom was a pharmacist in Afghanistan as well. So that was just always a career I really wanted to go into. And as I started progressing through high school, I was doing more shadowings in hospitals, and I started to notice how passionate I was about working with actual patients and being able to have conversations with them and check in on them and have more longitudinal relationships where you get to build rapport and trust with them.

And in my experiences, I wasn't really getting enough exposure to patients. I was definitely learning a lot about the medicine side of things, but I realized that I wanted to focus a lot more on patients. And that's when I started to look more into MD perspectives, which was very daunting because I am a first-generation college student, and I am the first female in my family to be attending medical school. So to fathom even graduating from a university and to now be in higher education . . .

When filling out forms for school . . . my parents in America are kind of registered as having a GED or high school diploma. It's just been really mind-blowing to see that transition through just our generations.

But yeah, so as I started college, that's when I started kind of focusing a bit more on medicine and being involved in health science programs that really navigated the ethics side of things so that I could kind of understand the humanistic portions of medicine a lot more. And that just kind of fueled me more and more, and I continue to pursue medicine and here we are.

Dr. Chan: Was it hard coming from a family of pharmacists to pivot to medicine, or are they pretty supportive?

Lily: They're super supportive. So it's kind of interesting because my mom always wanted me to kind of study something and not have a super stressful job. She just wanted me to be able to settle down and have a family and be comfortable. And so just knowing that I want to pursue medicine and be in school for so long, and be stressed out all the time, and studying all the time, she was really nervous for me and kind of wanted me to maybe focus on something else. But my dad was really persistent about me wanting to pursue whatever I wanted to.

That's kind of the American dream, is being able to start from anywhere and get to where you are. And my parents have struggled a lot being refugees here in America, and so I think, for them, it's really like a prideful thing to see that their children have been able to accomplish so much.

So I definitely think he was kind of hesitant at first because we also just don't understand, like, the process of Western institutions and going into medicine. But as I've kind of pursued it, they've become more and more encouraging and supportive.

Dr. Chan: How was that with your parents being refugees growing up? I mean, did they talk about it? How is that part of you? How has that helped you in your journey to become a doctor?

Lily: Oh, yeah, definitely. My parents are very proud of their identity. We're all from Afghanistan, and my parents moved here a little over 30 years ago. And it's really interesting to kind of hear about their experiences and realize how privileged I am from all the hardships that my parents have endured for me to be able to be where I am today.

My dad always tells a story that kind of sticks in my head when he first moved to America. He learned English in three months out of the stress of needing to be able to maintain a job. He can't lose his job, so he needs to understand the language. So he learned a whole new language in such a short period of time in order to maintain a job. And he tells stories about how when he first moved to Utah, he was in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. And he used a hot plate as a heater for his apartment, but also to cook on, and that's just mind-blowing to me. That's not even one of the large hardships that he's faced.

But yeah, so I was definitely raised to be very prideful of who I am and where I come from. And so I've definitely watched my parents work insane hours and incredibly hard to make sure that we feel like we have everything that we need in order to go through college.

But of course, that was a bit far-fetched when it came to medicine just because my parents never actually went through Western education. And so, when it came to FAFSA, or applications to college, or the MCAT, or the ACT, all of those things were definitely very foreign to my family, and I just had to learn to navigate that kind of on my own with them being like, "Good luck."

Dr. Chan: How did your family end up in Utah? The Afghanistan-Utah connection, what brought them here? I'm just curious to learn more about that.

Lily: So my grandma was actually sponsored by her oldest son to be in Utah, and my dad was actually living in Oakland, California, working for the airlines. And so, when my grandma was initially here, a lot of my dad's family was here.

When my parents got married, they were alone in Oakland, California. And my mom did not speak the language. She didn't have a driver's license, no family, nothing. I'm sure it was terrifying. And then my dad was working for the airlines, so she would be home alone, basically, for the majority of the weeks and stuff. And so my grandma was really trying to push for them to move here to be closer to family so that my mom would have more of a support system. And so they decided to pack up from California and move here, and we've just stayed here ever since.

Dr. Chan: That's wonderful, Lily. And then you mentioned being a first-generation college student and navigating the Western education system. How did you do that? I mean, did you have mentors, or what kind of resources did you have? What did that look like when you started looking at colleges?

Lily: So it was actually interesting. I went to school here, and then I also ended up pursuing my undergraduate at the University of Utah. So I've been a through and through Utahn. But it was hard. In high school, I didn't understand anything about scholarships or FAFSA or how to apply for things. And I really wanted to pursue being able to attend college, but I was very nervous about the financial burden and the ability to pay for all of those things and pursue a degree. And so it was a lot of learning from my peers I think in undergrad.

As I was kind of looking at out-of-state colleges, I didn't have the best experiences at my high school with having support to pursue those opportunities. I definitely had advisors telling me, "It's really expensive to go out of state," or, "Some of the schools you're looking at are really expensive," and, "Even if you were to get in, you might not be able to afford to stay." And so it was kind of discouraging going through that route.

And so I ended up asking some of my friends who were also applying to college and whose parents knew a bit better how to navigate the system what they were doing. And that's how I started learning about different application systems.

And my cousin, who was in college, was able to help edit some of my personal statements and stuff. But it was very trial by error and just kind of doing it but not knowing what I was doing. But I was fortunate enough to get into the University of Utah, and from there, I was able to find a lot of mentors, especially BIPOC mentors, who understood my struggles and understood how difficult it was to navigate the system kind of blindly, because you really don't know and there's no one that was kind of ahead of you to explain it to you. My brother went to the University of Utah, but he himself also struggled. And so it was really nice to be able to find mentors.

I was involved with student government and also doing research and a part of the health sciences program at The U, and all of those leaders were able to kind of steer me and explain to me things to focus on or to put my time and energy into. And they were great resources for me.

Dr. Chan: Lily, what did you do for student government?

Lily: So I actually did a couple of things. I was involved in student government for four years, and I sat on assembly, representing my college for one year during bills. And then I also was the director of diversity for two years, doing programs and conferences, educational seminars and trainings. And then I also was the chief of staff my senior year, so just kind of doing more of the administrative duties.

Dr. Chan: That's so cool. It sounds like it grew year after year too. The entire time, were you still medicine all the way, or did you think about political science and law school, or anything like that?

Lily: Yeah, what was really interesting was, in my undergrad, I probably didn't even seem like a pre-med student because I surrounded myself with people outside of medicine. And so I was involved in student government where those were kind of the predominant majors like you were explaining. And then I also was an anthropology major. And so a lot of people in that field were also not pre-med, and they were interested in research, or they were interested in going into Ph.D. programs.

And I honestly really enjoyed that because I didn't feel like I was always talking about medicine in my classes, or there wasn't this constant kind of competitive atmosphere with being pre-med and wanting to achieve great things.

But it never really steered me in a different direction. If anything, I think I had a different perspective in those spaces, where I was able to kind of relate what I was learning in student affairs to how that applies to healthcare and patient care, and then also bringing in my very different experiences because I wasn't a political science major in that environment.

Dr. Chan: And it sounds like heavy academic load, you're involved in student government, and yet you still have time to volunteer. What kind of community service activities were you doing during this time?

Lily: Honestly, looking back, I'm amazed that I was able to do so many things. But I think that that's the time in your life where it's really important to push yourself to do all these things.

For me, honestly, as I was pursuing extracurriculars to do, I obviously was referencing what schools wanted you to kind of hit in regards to subjects and categories. But I didn't want to pursue any type of extracurricular activity that was just checking a box because I didn't think I would enjoy it. I was putting in so much time every week to be involved. And so I wanted to make sure that whatever I was doing was going to be something that I was genuinely passionate about and something that I would be doing outside of a pre-med check.

That being said, I kind of tie back into my identity and what I was passionate about. And so I tutored refugee women at the Women of the World Center. And that was an amazing experience. I did that for about two years. I was able to help them just navigate basic English skills to be able to describe symptoms when they go talk to a doctor, or how to find groceries in the grocery store, or navigating public transportation, and really just the essentials in order to survive in Salt Lake or wherever they're living so that they're able to do their daily activities.

And that was really nice because you build friendships with them, and they end up feeling like they're a parental figure to you. A lot of them would call me their daughter and stuff, and so when I left, it was really sad. But I think that doing those kinds of volunteer trips were really enjoyable.

But outside of that, I also was in a student organization called United in Service for Humanity where we fundraised for the children of conflict in Syria. And we would do ice skating events downtown to raise money for these foundations. And we would also participate in a Day of Dignity downtown, where we would have health screenings, and we'd collaborate with the School of Dentistry for dental screenings, and then have hygiene kits just for people experiencing homelessness, since that is a pretty large population in the downtown area.

Dr. Chan: So, Lily, everything I'm hearing . . . and again, you're on the podcast so people know you got into med school, obviously. But it sounds like you have all these activities, all these experiences, you have these wonderful defining moments that are making you you. Leading up to the decision to apply to med school, though, I do know that you took a gap year. So can you just talk about that? What kind of went into your decision for that? Because it sounds like you could have applied right after you graduated or during your last year, but you decided to wait. So can you just talk about that a little bit?

Lily: Yeah. It's kind of interesting. I think people have either really strong feelings about a gap year or really strong feelings against a gap year. I actually decided to take a gap year because I was shadowing a lot of physicians during my last two years out of college. And I'd always ask them these questions and a lot of them were telling me, "Take a gap year. Take a gap year because you're going to be studying, you're going to be in school, you're going to be doing this full-time for the next eight years of your life. And during your gap year is when you're able to really focus on things that you're passionate about and also kind of grasp that this is really what you want to go into."

And so I didn't want to just take a gap year and just kind of sit on the couch and do nothing and relax, even though that's well deserved for any students who are graduating, especially during COVID times. So that's totally a valid reason also, if you wanted to spend time with your family. But for me, I just wanted to make sure that medicine was something that I genuinely wanted to go into and that I was passionate about. And I also wanted to make sure that I was giving my body and mind a break to be able to be recharged for medical school.

So during my gap year, I ended up working in mental health at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute. That was an amazing experience that I honestly think contributed a lot to my ability to answer questions during interviews and experiences that I was able to pull from. I honestly think that that was one of the largest things that I was able to utilize during interviews. I just learned a lot during that experience.

But I also was able to just learn like adulting skills of being able to cook and pay bills and take care of life outside of college, which was really nice because now that I'm in medical school, you don't really have time to figure that out. You kind of have to just do it all at once.

Dr. Chan: Lily, I love how you worked at UNI for a year during your gap year. What kinds of responsibilities/jobs did you have at UNI?

Lily: So I worked in UNI as a psychiatric technician, and so my basic role was to make sure that patients are safe. I actually worked the night shift, so I was just making sure that they were safe throughout the night and making sure that they have whatever they need.

The specific unit that I work on actually works a lot with individuals experiencing homelessness, undocumented domestic violence, a lot of very vulnerable populations in Utah that I really hadn't had as much experience with as I would have wanted going into medical school. So I'm really grateful for that experience.

But since it is a unit where it's a free service, we really get anyone from any walk of life, whether it's college students or older parents or whoever it may be. And so my main priority was just to make sure that they were healthy and safe, that they felt comfortable, that they had whatever they needed.

My unit also had a social worker and a medical provider as well. And so I was able to really learn those interprofessional relationship skills as well during my time.

Dr. Chan: I'm sorry, Lily. Did I ever interact with you? Did you ever see me on call? Was I ever floating around? I feel bad because I wasn't like, "Oh, yeah, Lily." I can't remember seeing you there, so . . .

Lily: No. I don't think that we actually ever overlapped. My unit is kind of isolated from inpatient. We're more of a transitions unit.

Dr. Chan: Oh, I see. All right. Because when you said UNI, I'm like, "Oh, I'm there sometimes, a lot of time." Cool. All right. So you're wrapping up your gap year. You have your eyes towards medical school. What was your strategy applying to medical school? Did you cast a broad net? Did you put all your chips on Utah? How did you kind of approach this decision?

Lily: So I actually spent my gap year also studying for my MCAT. I wanted to really focus on that because standardized testing is very stressful. And so I kind of started that after I graduated. I was doing that and taking my exam.

And then from there, I made a list of the schools that I wanted to prioritize. Definitely the University of Utah was at the top of that list because I have family and friends. And growing up at this institution, I just was able to kind of understand the values of the school.

And so I really didn't cast a very large net I would say. I think it's important to be very intentional about the schools that I was applying to since it is a very expensive process and I didn't know how I was going to pay for all of those applications.

I actually didn't apply as vast as people may recommend sometimes. But I applied to 15 schools, and the ones that I focused on were ones that had a focus on inclusion, diversity, and social justice efforts at their universities. And also, I looked at institutions that would be closer to any extended family that I may have on the East Coast. I think it's really important to have a social support system while you're in medical school, so that was something that I prioritized.

And then I also kind of focused on what types of specialties that they had and what were the things that I was passionate about going into.

But then from there, even if I received interviews, I really prioritized, "Do I see myself being happy and being well there in that environment?" And there were some schools that I decided to not pursue interviews with because I didn't feel like they would be as prosperous to me as other schools that I was willing to interview at. So I think it's important to be kind of selective, but also not so selective that you minimize your ability to get in.

Dr. Chan: I totally get it. It's fascinating, again, because I've done this for a few years now, and just to hear your experience wending your way through the process, being very thoughtful and mindful of your values, and the direction you went ahead in your career, and just the research you have to do into this stuff.

I always tell people all med schools look the same, and we have accreditation standards we all have to meet, but, yeah, there are different priorities, different cultures, different programs that are kind of nestled and embedded within all the different med schools you look at, and to find one that resonates with you and mirrors your core values, I think, is extremely important.

Lily: Definitely. I was surprised also with how much research you ended up having to do. I had an entire spreadsheet color-coded of all of the pluses and minuses for institutions. And then from there, you kind of have to even go outside of the school and wonder, "What is the community like? What is the city like? Will I feel safe there?" and other things that you have to process as well.

Dr. Chan: And then, Lily, when did you get in? When did I call you?

Lily: It was, like, the second to last week of November.

Dr. Chan: So pretty early in the process. Did you ever waver? Did you ever think about going somewhere else, or did you feel pretty committed?

Lily: I felt very committed to the University of Utah. I did have some pending interviews before and afterwards, but once I got the call, it just kind of clicked and it felt right.

And I was really excited to go to The U. I feel like I was almost thinking of these other institutions as more of like, "If I don't get in, then this is where I could be happy at." But I was also wondering if I didn't get in, which I thought definitely was something that could have happened of maybe being waitlisted and applying again next year. Then that was kind of where my mindset was at. Would I want to pursue a different school, or would I want to wait on a waitlist and reapply next year?

So I think just as I was processing all that, I realized what school I definitely wanted to go to.

Dr. Chan: And I think when I talked to you on the phone, if I recall correctly, you were pretty shocked and just overwhelmed with joy. I remember it was really a good conversation.

Lily: Yes.

Dr. Chan: So I guess to kind of pivot to what's going on now, I'm curious, from your standpoint, you're coming to The U, you're an incoming medical student, and then COVID starts happening, and it gets worse and worse and worse. Before med school started, what did that feel like knowing that you're going to be a doctor, but you're not yet at med school, but we're just being consumed by this public health crisis? What was that like as an incoming student from the outside looking in?

Lily: I felt like it was a lot of . . . "hurry up and wait" is a phrase that I've heard a lot. And I definitely think that's how I felt. You're stuck inside, you're quarantining. It's the time where I would want to be able to be more involved and more engaged and see what things the School of Medicine is doing for outreach and participating in those things, especially before our course load gets busy and stuff.

But I just felt very out of the loop. It was difficult because a lot of my classmates and I wanted to get to know each other, but because of COVID, no one really wanted to meet in person and no one knew anyone yet. And so it was a lot of navigating kind of the unknown and a lot of just impatiently wanting to be involved, especially since I was still working at the time up at UNI.

We had medical providers who were talking about potentially going to New York and helping at their hospitals there. And for me, that's something that I resonate with so much, especially having family that's in New York and stuff, being able to kind of be at a crisis and help out as needed.

But kind of being stuck and knowing that I didn't really have the skills to help in that sort of way yet was kind of frustrating. But also, I was really, really excited to see how this would shift our curriculum and what we would be prioritizing in the upcoming years. And I've been really impressed with how much that's been integrated into our learning so far.

Dr. Chan: Lily, what does medical school look like for you? With the pandemic and everything going on, what does your typical day or week look like? I mean, how is that going?

Lily: Honestly, just learning off of off Zoom University, as we call it, I am even more impressed for everyone who was going to medical school in person. I really don't know how they had time to do everything they did because I already feel so incredibly busy, and yet I am not even leaving my home to commute anywhere. So just impressed by all the students that came before me.

But basically, I wake up pretty early in the morning, probably around 6:00 a.m. and I just take the dogs on a walk and start getting ready for the day. And then I'll just be reviewing material and studying until classes start. You attend classes in your sweats or whatever you're comfortable with. But we'll sit in class for a few hours. And then once classes are over, it's typically a reviewing of that day or reviewing for the next day.

And I feel pretty consistently it can get a little rundown if you just stay at your desk all day, and you stare out the window and see other people outside, but you're kind of inside just staring at a screen. So I've been trying to learn how to navigate Zoom fatigue and potentially sitting outside, or taking breaks and going into other rooms and just getting more sunlight in the day.

But it hasn't honestly been as hard as I was imagining it going into it because I've never really been an online learner before. A lot of my classes were always in person. But at the same time, I'm really grateful that we're able to have one day of classes in person so that I'm able to see my peers and my colleagues and also be engaged with anatomy in person. I think that's something that I was really excited about.

Dr. Chan: So it sounds like, as I know the schedule, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday are all Zoom. Correct?

Lily: Yes.

Dr. Chan: And then Wednesday is in person. So what's different about Wednesday? Is that your highlight of the week, and what kind of learning activities are you doing on Wednesday where you come to campus?

Lily: Definitely. Wednesday is definitely the highlight of the week. You're going through quizzes on Monday, or you're going through really dense material on Tuesday, and you feel like this is a really long, tough week, and then you get to Wednesday and you get to go on campus and feel like a medical student wearing your scrubs and with your badge and going through the hospital and going through the labs. It kind of rejuvenates you for the rest of the week, at least for me.

But yeah, I get to school, and we have anatomy labs in the morning, and we have our cohort there. We're masked up and wearing our goggles, but we're able to look at cadavers and talk about things and relate them all in person from what we've been talking about online. So that's really, really nice. I've always really enjoyed anatomy lab, so I'm grateful that we were able to do that.

And then from there, we go through Histology. It's kind of a hybrid version where we're not necessarily at the microscopes looking at slides, but we're able to sit with our same cohort and go through slides and talk about the activity in that manner.

And then from there, we go to Clinical Methods. So really, Wednesdays are like a full day of classes from 8:00 to 5:00. But they breeze by. They go so fast. And with Clinical Methods curriculum, we get to learn the process of actually being a doctor in regards to taking patient histories or vital signs or doing different types of examinations, and then correlating that to different diseases that you may see.

So it's really the process of learning all of the things that you actually see in clinic versus what you read about in your books. And it's been really enjoyable. I'm really grateful for all of the instructors that bring their experiences into the classroom to help us navigate that.

Dr. Chan: You kind of talked about earlier with COVID, with Zoom, it was initially difficult to kind of get to know your classmates, and build a culture, and get to know them. Is it still kind of a struggle, or is it good to have that one day a week in person? How is that going, just that connection with your classmates?

Lily: I think it's hard because a lot of us have immunocompromised people at home or maybe ourselves. And so it's definitely been difficult to pursue a lot of friendships outside of classes and whatnot. Also, just with COVID and quarantine in general, you want to make sure that you're following all of the state guidelines.

But it really has been nice to be able to see people in person, connecting faces to masked faces, I guess. It's nice to get to know the people, at least in my immediate groups, and build friendships from there.

One of the girls in my group, her name is Arielle, and we actually take our dogs to the dog parks on Fridays now since we met through these in-person labs. And it's just been nice to kind of get outside in a safe way.

But outside of that, I think that I definitely would love to get to know my classmates more. Hopefully, as the curriculum goes forward and as things change with COVID, that may happen at some point. But I think that our cohort does a good job of communicating online and then also studying together. So I feel like I'm getting to know some people. It would be nice to get to know more people as time goes on, though.

Dr. Chan: And going back, as we talked about earlier, Lily, your core values, what you're interested in with healthcare disparities in Utah, with cultural humility, have you been able to do activities during the first few months of med school? I guess just how does that look like now for you? Have you been able to do those types of activities to kind of go back to your core passions and values?

Lily: We do have a Friday class called Layers of Medicine that I really enjoy going to. My group there is the same group that I see on Wednesdays, and we're able to have conversations relating specifically to kind of the major issues that we see in society and those disparities that are observed in healthcare.

It's been really nice to have those conversations as well as having different ethics professors come speak to us throughout the weeks and really pinpoint some of these issues and have us dialogue on them.

So I do feel like I am, curriculum wise, getting exposure to those things. And I'm excited to see how that progresses as we move forward.

Outside of that, because of COVID, it's been kind of difficult to get involved with student groups and interest groups that are focused on those things, since they're not really meeting in person because of the large group sizes. But I have been able to meet some people who have been involved in those groups and find out more about what they're doing.

I also currently sit on an anti-racism working group with the School of Medicine administrative staff, and that's been really nice to meet with them every week and get to know my peers in other years and really discuss what the future of our culture here at The U looks like and how we want to be a more inclusive and equitable place.

Dr. Chan: Lily, I appreciate your insight as you've gone on this journey towards becoming a doctor during these incredibly challenging and unprecedented times. And you alluded to it with going to the park, but what do you do for wellness? What do you do for resiliency? What do you do to take a step back and make sure that your batteries are charged? What would you share with others out there listening?

Lily: It's really interesting because no one is going to tell you, "It's time for a break," or, "It's time to go take a bath," or, "It's time to go eat something." There's no one kind of hovering that's going to know your schedule the way you do and have those mindfulness checks on you.

And I really have struggled with that because that's something that I've had to learn to navigate as opposed to, "Class is done, and I've finished studying, and now my night has begun." It's really been a lot of learning, "Okay, now I need to cut it off," because you could always study and you could go on for hours and hours. And so that's something that I'm still learning how to navigate.

But I definitely think having a schedule has been very helpful. I will schedule in my breaks for the week and when I want to be done. After class on Friday, Friday night, that is the night that I'm free, that I'm able to spend time with the dogs and spend time seeing my friends, or even just talking to my parents on FaceTime, or just making time for things that kind of help you take a break from the workload.

I also think it's nice to just have small rewards to look forward to. Like, maybe you want to go on a hike, or maybe you want to go on a drive, or get ice cream on Saturday. Just small things to kind of look forward to throughout the week really help to energize you to get through your materials and you can enjoy those breaks.

But on the daily schedule, I think it's just good to schedule in those lunch breaks and breakfast breaks, and, "I'm going to go on a walk outside," or, "I could keep going, but it's 9:00 p.m. and that's my cutoff." Just having those kind of reminders are really helpful.

I definitely felt, "I don't have enough time for baths," but you definitely can schedule time for baths if you really want to. And so I think it's just kind of really managing that and having people around you that support you but also know when to say, "It's time for a break."

Dr. Chan: Lily, it sounds like you're doing really well given the circumstances of everything going on, being a first-year med student in the era of COVID.

I guess the last question before we wrap up, any advice for anyone that's listening out there who is thinking about going to medical school, or is considering it, or maybe just questioning their decision and trying to figure out what their path is? What would you say to them? What would be your advice?

Lily: Definitely. I would say don't be afraid to pursue great heights. I think that medical school sounds incredibly daunting and difficult, but it's not impossible. I'm here and there are so many other students that are here, and you can definitely get there as well.

Reach out to mentors, your peers, people who are in medical school. Gather bites from them. One of the biggest things that I've learned is people are always willing to help you in medical school. No one wants you to fail. No one wants you to do poorly. And I think that that's something that's really, really important.

And just be involved as much as you can, even with COVID. If you're able to do something online to be a part of the healthcare system, or to be doing something that kind of gives you more exposure to that, I think it's important to have that exposure to see if that's something that you're passionate about. But also recognize that there are so many different fields that you can go into and you don't need to have it all figured out by the time you step in the door. And it's okay to feel that way.

Dr. Chan: Lily, I'm just happy you're here. I'm happy that you're going to be taking care of my family and loved ones one day. And I'm excited to see . . . I'll have to have you come back on the pod, but I'm really curious to see if you become a psychiatrist. We'll have to talk a little bit more about that when you get a little bit closer to making a decision. But I appreciate your time and I just appreciate you. So thank you for being on the pod.

Lily: Thank you so much. And thank you so much for thinking of me. This was a wonderful experience.