Class of 2015: Four Years a Family

An earthquake shook Baltimore our first day of anatomy.

Days later, a hurricane moved through. That was our first week of medical school, and Mother Nature welcomed us in perfect allegory. Almost four years later, we’ve arrived at the 2015 Match Day.

Friday, more than 26,000 medical students learn where they will be training for the next three to seven years. They have interviewed all over the country and ranked their preferences, and Friday at noon, they are given the name of a single residency program: their match.

To date, over one-third of the medical school class of 2015, myself included, have taken additional time to conduct research, obtain another degree and more. Luckily, Johns Hopkins is so supportive of our varied interests, and we have such incredible resources for all kinds of inquiry. But despite the fact that we will not all be graduating together, the class’ bond has withheld, and this day arrives with an incredible amount of excitement and emotion. We’ve become a family over these past four years, and Match Day is the ultimate celebration and send-off.

Students and their significant others pose in the Bahamas during their last trip together.
Students and their significant others pose in the Bahamas during their last trip together.

We learned to do physical exams on each other, and we struggled through the rigors of our first two years. During our big meeting before transitioning into the hospital in our third year, we packed into the lecture hall and played with our newly obtained pagers, which periodically — and loudly — beeped in the middle of the talk. I worried that being split up in the hospital setting would loosen our bond, but if anything, sharing a collective experience brought us even closer.

Baltimore has served as our home, regardless of wherever we left to come here. Our patients are incredible, and they teach us not just the clinical components of medicine but also the profound impact of environment and culture. As Johns Hopkins students, we’ve been threaded into that world, which has shaped our experience as we’ve progressed.

The learning experience of medical school is not unlike a comedy of errors. The safety net of a medical team is there to catch your mistakes before they reach the patient. But you learn from those mistakes, and your pride survives through sharing your experiences. As such, a common third-year bonding activity is sharing stories of learning through folly, each one of us trying to outdo the other in the hilarity of our own realized inadequacies in the hospital.

Of course, amid that humor, there were struggles. Working in the hospital makes you part of the defining moments in the lives of others. As a class, we have been there for each other through these struggles too. And, at least for me, that has been an invaluable component of defining both the physician and the overall person I want to be.

quote: Regardless of the elements you face, your classmates are your environment, and they are your drive to be better

We also have had incredible adventures together outside of the hospital. Johns Hopkins’ 2015 school of medicine class travels en masse, and we could write books about our adventures to Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Panama, Nicaragua and, most recently, a trip that almost one-third of our class took to the Bahamas this past week before Match Day.

Now, realizing over one-half of my class is about to move on to their lives as doctors, I see how far we have come. Discussions no longer center on mistakes but rather visions of the road ahead. The student white coat is clearly now too short on my friends; they are ready to exchange it for the long coats of the doctors.

Without a doubt, the men and women of the 2015 school of medicine class here at Johns Hopkins have made my world a better place and made me a better person, all before officially receiving their M.D.s. I can only imagine the good they will do for their patients.

Lighting struck in a big way when the class of 2015 came to Johns Hopkins. Well … rain, wind, lightning and a shifting of the tectonic plates. But regardless of the elements you face, your classmates are your environment, and they are your drive to be better. I am so honored to call them peers, and I cannot wait to see the impact they have on the world. If it is even a fraction of the impact they have had on me, the world is about to become a much brighter place.