Taking It All In, Part 1: Transitioning To A Special Medical School

After receiving the acceptance phone call from Dr. Maurer, College of Human Medicine Assistant Dean for Admissions, it kind of seemed surreal that I had been accepted. That feeling could be from dreams I would sometimes have of being accepted only to wake up realizing it hadn’t happened yet.

I know. The waiting game is the worst. It didn’t really hit me that I was going to be a doctor until I received my white coat. That made it real.


Since the white coat ceremony, we hit the floor running since the first day of class was the day after the ceremony. There was an adjustment period trying to figure out how best to study the material. It wasn’t that the material was difficult to comprehend, it was just the shear volume!

You naturally try to find a balance between personal life and school. I think I’ve developed a good balance now to keep myself sane (although I’m sure my classmates will say that’s debatable). After the first couple months of medical school, I’ve definitely learned that you have to prioritize things that are most important to you.

I’m definitely on top of my fitness and nutrition game more than I’ve ever been—and I used to be a certified personal trainer. My favorite part of medical school so far is probably knowing that the stuff we’re learning is actually going to be used to change people’s lives in the near future. Sometimes I find myself just understanding material because it’s interesting. I don’t have to memorize as much, in a sense.

A pleasant surprise has been how close everyone in the class has gotten in such a short period of time. We’re all on this journey together, and there is definitely a sense of no man/woman left behind.

We look out for one another, keep each other accountable. If there is ever anything going on outside of School—for example, if one of us is dealing with something personal—classmates will notice and reach out to help, to talk.

There really is a strong sense of family at CHM.

We've begun our clinical experiences. I’m very excited to be out in the “real world" and able to use some of the knowledge we’ve gained over the last couple of months—though it definitely feels like we’ve learned a year’s worth of material already!


I expect the second half of my first year to be a bit more intense, but not in an overwhelming way. I feel like during the first half, the school was trying to get our feet wet, so to speak.

I expect us to be more submerged in the material as this half continues to progress. I feel that we have already learned so much in first half of the year, that I am excited to see what we can do over the second half now that we are more comfortable with a medical school schedule. We can focus less on the logistics and more so on the actual material.

I also expect to deepen some of the friendships I’ve developed with my classmates. The way the college is set up allows us to work collaboratively—in fact, it encourages working together—so it will be natural to continue to build a bond with classmates as we go through this challenging journey together.

A mentor once told me that I would build some of my strongest friendships in medical school and how he had just gotten back from a vacation trip with his classmates from 40 years ago. I am beginning to see what he meant and why this time is so special.

But transitioning to medical school is one thing. As a California-native, transitioning to the Midwest is another. Stay tuned for my next post: "Taking It All In, Part 2: Transition to Michigan" coming soon!



Harminder Sandhu is a first-year College of Human Medicine student from California. As an Office of Admissions blog contributor, Harminder will be periodically offering an inside look at the college from the student perspective. Learn more about Harminder from his initial post.  

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