Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a manual for maneuvering one’s first year of medical school? Imagine possessing a magical tome of wise tips on what to study and how, insights on first-year courses, ways to get involved on campus, how to survive medical school and marriage and even where to go and what to do in Des Moines.
That’s the gift the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery (CPMS) Class of 2017 gave to members of the Class of 2018. Titled “Recipes for Success,” the manual isn’t some stapled-in-the-corner handout, either. The colorful bound publication includes course summaries, ways to maintain a long-distance relationship and good-to-know aspects of DMU and Des Moines.
“Sharing what we know, we hope, will be helpful to incoming students,” says Josh Epstein, D.P.M.’17, who was the manual’s design editor. “We wanted to have something polished, not just thrown together.”
Classmate Audris Fan, who was the manual’s content editor, got the idea from a friend who attends Mayo Medical School. She discussed creating a tailored-to-CPMS version with Dean R. Tim Yoho, D.P.M., FACFAS, who was fully supportive. So were Kendall Dillon, M.B.A., marketing director, who covered the publication’s printing in her departmental budget, and Julie Probst, art director, who enhanced its layout.
“I encourage students to do what they can to help new students get adjusted to a new location and the rigors of the curriculum,” Yoho says. “In addition to the publication’s content, if I’m a first-year student and I see that the class ahead of me was willing to do this, that really tells me that I’ll be part of a community.”
The college already has a “big siblings” program that matches incoming students with upperclass students, as well as a quarterly student-produced newsletter, Footnotes. Epstein — this year’s Footnotes editor — says his class also has enjoyed a “good connection” with the one a year ahead of them. “Recipes” builds on both, he adds.
“We got a lot of great responses from members of our class,” he says. That’s no small thing, either, considering that nine of the 11 contributing writers, as well as Epstein and Fan, were first-year students when they put the publication together.
“We hope it’s a good jumping-off point for sparking questions. As a first-year student, you often don’t know what to ask,” says Fan, now class vice president.
“I picked up information even I didn’t know,” adds Epstein, class treasurer.
That information ranges from the importance of doing the practice tests for biochemistry/molecular genetics, “likely one of your toughest classes of the first year, if not THE toughest,” to comforting comments about the caring, supportive nature of specific “awesome” faculty and assurance that “second year is when everything starts to come together.” “Recipes” includes suggested resources for board exam preparation, ways to seize research opportunities, best spots to study on and off campus and fun activities and entertainment venues around central Iowa.
The manual even offers insights on the college’s six primary faculty, five of whom said in their profiles that if they weren’t podiatric physicians, they’d most likely be “beach bums”; a sixth predicted she’d be “a crazy cat lady with 10+ cats.”
Fan, Epstein and Yoho all hope future CPMS classes will perpetuate “Recipes” — which, in fact, does include
recipes — with their own spin on its ingredients.
“Students now have a template they can follow,” Yoho says. “The recipes might get old, so they might want to change the flavor of the food.”
Here’s just a taste of some of the “Recipes”…
From “10 things I wish I knew ”: “Take time for yourself and remember that your relationships with your family and friends should be your number 1 priority”; “I would have paid more attention to the objectives in Biochemistry”; “Don’t get yourself involved with people who make you unhappy.”
From the summary of Principles and Practices of Podiatric Medicine: “The first class session will often consist of Dean Yoho pointing to each student and asking them to introduce themselves to the entire class; of all the faculty members, he is most likely to know if you’re missing a session.”
From “Married (with kids )”: “You will see that your class will really become a second family. Everyone is in this together, and we all help each other through it… [My spouse] soon made friends with other student spouses, and even with students in my class.”
From the section on outdoor activities : “Most people think Iowa is as flat as a pancake, but the truth is we aren’t even in the top 15 flattest states…We have distinct four seasons, which you will be acclimated to quickly which allows for an array of warm and cold weather sports.”