What do you like most about your medical school experience so far?
I have particularly enjoyed the clinical nature of our curriculum. Every aspect of our program has done an amazing job of emphasizing the clinical relevance of what we are learning. In Scientific Principles of Medicine (SPM), everything we learn is related back to the context of a clinical scheme presentation. In Medical Skills, we are able to practice our history taking and physical exam skills related to the schemes we are learning in SPM. The use of standardized patients and clinical simulations in Medical Skills further enhances our learning. In the Master’s Colloquium, we have the opportunity to discuss relevant ethical issues in medicine. Finally, in SCI, we can relate what we are learning to sociocultural determinants. In addition, SCI offers the invaluable community clinic activities, in which we are able to go out to primary care and specialty clinics in the area, and apply what we have been learning to a real clinical setting. All in all, I feel that this highly clinically-oriented curriculum has prepared me well for my upcoming clinical years.
Have you participated in any service learning opportunities and how has service learning enhanced your professionalism as a future physician?
I have participated in several Service Learning opportunities throughout my medical school experience. Some of these opportunities have strengthened the bond I feel with my local El Paso community — for instance, the student group, “Seeds of Change”. This group’s mission is to promote science and higher education to young children in the El Paso community. In particular, we volunteer at Clardy Elementary School a couple times a month, and spend some time with the 5th graders, demonstrating cool concepts in science related to what they are learning in their curriculum. We are hoping that these activities will not only get them more interested in science, but also get them more passionate about education in general and help foster a lifetime of learning for these children.
I have also volunteered several times at the Child Crisis Center. At these activities, we usually spend a couple hours playing with the children. Both of these service learning activities have opened my eyes to the importance of fostering a nurturing and stimulating environment for our youth. Children have tremendous potential, but need a supportive, nurturing environment at home and a stimulating, engaging environment at school to help them succeed.
I have also volunteered several times with the Baptist Clinic and with the Medical Student Run Free Clinic. Through my experiences at both of these clinics, I have gained irreplaceable knowledge related to patient interaction and patient care. In addition, these clinics have opened my eyes to the fact that so many people lack basic healthcare rights in this country, especially among patients living along the border. I believe that all human beings are entitled to basic healthcare rights, and these clinics have inspired me to continue to volunteer in free clinics throughout my career, so that I may be able to provide help to all who need it.
How have you grown as a student by shadowing your preceptors?
I remember being extremely shy toward both Dr. Esteban Quirarte and toward the patients. Although I was eager to learn and practice my clinical skills, I was afraid of saying the wrong thing or making the patient uncomfortable. Over time, Dr. Quirarte and the other preceptors taught me several invaluable skills related to patient care and communication. Gradually, I saw myself becoming both more knowledgeable and more willing to talk to patients and even perform physical exams. I feel that my shadowing experiences were vital to this transition; after all, there is no better teacher than practice and experience.
What advice would you give to incoming medical students?
There are three vital pieces of information that I will tell all incoming medical students. The first piece of advice is that they should feel confident in their ability to succeed as a medical student and eventually become a physician. After all, they were accepted into medical school by the admissions committee because they were deemed capable of this endeavor. All medical students will feel overwhelmed at times, but it is vital to maintain confidence in our abilities. With enough tenacity, we can all succeed! Nevertheless, it is never prudent to have too much confidence in our abilities. There is always something new to be learned in every situation, and we must never become so hard-headed as to think otherwise.
Secondly, I would advise medical students that the most important part of succeeding in the medical school curriculum is staying on top of things. Never fall behind! The quantity of material presented in medical school is indeed massive, and it requires a diligent schedule in order to stay on top of things. Come up with a schedule early on that works for you and make sure to be consistent with this schedule. Also, do not compare yourself to others! There are a wide variety of study tactics and styles employed by medical students; just because you are doing something a little different does not mean that it is wrong!
Finally, it is of vital importance to have fun outside of medical school and maintain the hobbies that you had prior to entering medical school. For me, this consists of spending time with my friends and family on a regular basis, and running for exercise. These activities are necessary for maintaining my emotional and spiritual health. Although it may seem hard at times to juggle these non-school activities, they are of integral importance and should not be sacrificed!
Where is your hometown?
I am a native El Pasoan. I graduated from Coronado High School in 2008. Go T-Birds!!
Which medical specialties interest you the most so far?
This is an extremely difficult question, because I have found that I am interested in so many fields! If anything, I am very interested in specialties which allow for continuity of care, such as internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics. Nevertheless, I am still very open-minded and am looking forward to learning more about all of the specialties once my rotations start this summer!
What were you doing before you entered medical school?
Prior to entering medical school, I attended Washington University in St. Louis, where I majored in biology and minored in Spanish. I graduated from Washington University in 2012, right before starting medical school.
Joshua Kallman’s community clinic preceptor for both his MS 1 year and current MS 2 year is Dr. Esteban Quirarte.
(Profile courtesy of SCI Newsletter, Spring 2014)