At orientation, new medical students meet Student Affairs office staff members who will provide constant support throughout school.
"It was impressive how much time was spent introducing the staff and support teams," Dr. Laiwalla says. "We even played a game to really get to know each person and their role. I was thinking, 'man we are spending a lot of time on this.' But then as I continued through my first year of school, I realized that they are an integral part of our education. I felt so incredibly supported even from that first day, I knew all of those people were in my corner."
After introductions, everyone bonds with music. Teams of first-year DGSOM students write and perform songs. Dr. Laiwalla says the event helps students build lasting friendships. “Immediately we had integrated and created partnerships, so we already had classmates that we could rely on for support."
During orientation, students also get a preview of graduation. "They asked us to look around and then close our eyes. Then they painted a vivid image of us four years from now — after four years of the difficulties of medical school, that we would walk across this stage and graduate,” Dr. Laiwalla explains. The Students Affairs staff said they would help the first-years get across that stage. Dr. Laiwalla always remembered that when school grew hard.
The White Coat Ceremony marks the transition into medical school, an event where proud family and friends celebrate the newest chapter in medical students' lives. For Dr. Laiwalla, the ceremony symbolized the responsibility, duty and respect the medical profession requires.
"The White Coat Ceremony didn't change who I was, but people's perceptions changed," he remembers. "It impressed on me that what I say and do can have an impact on the people around me. People look at me differently and because of that, I would always be careful to practice with humility and humanism."
Every spring, first-year medical students organize an event to honor the individuals who donated their bodies to education. Family members of the deceased attend a banquet reception where the DGSOM community shares poems, songs, and appreciation for selfless donations that enable true excellence in medical training. "These people, they are instrumental in your learning. They are as much a part of our education as the professors. The ceremony reminded me about how important that person is, that this person donated their body to learn, they wanted us to improve medicine and they live on in us as we apply our knowledge in our care for others," says Dr. Laiwalla
By Kyleigh Roessner