Students share lessons learned during annual speech competition

At the annual "What I Learned in Medical School" speech competition, students took to the stage to share perspective and lessons gained during their medical training.

Students share lessons learned during annual speech competition click to enlarge Ben Kaplan (Photo by UNC SOM student Michael Robinson)
Students share lessons learned during annual speech competition click to enlarge Margo Hedlin, Jocelyn Wang, and Daniel Gardiner pose after the event (Photo by UNC SOM student Michael Robinson)

There was a split at the annual What I Learned in Medical School speech competition. Older students sharing hard earned insights on resilience in the face of medical school’s challenges, and newer students sharing their perspectives on overcoming early obstacles and their personal reasons for pursuing medicine.

But, there were lessons for everyone in the speeches from five students representing the School of Medicine’s Advisory Colleges. In the end, a panel of judges selected first year student Ben Kaplan as the competition’s winner.

Kaplan’s moving speech began with a few humorous anecdotes about how he as a native New Yorker was apprehensive about the amount of driving he’d be required to do in North Carolina. He connected that anxiety to his first experience working with a cadaver in the anatomy lab. Though he didn’t think he could do it, he eventually began to feel more comfortable working with his assigned cadaver. “You just have to shift into drive,” Kaplan told the crowd.

In her remarks, fourth year student Margo Hedlin reflected on lessons learned during the process of connecting with an initially difficult patient.

“He was not an obstacle to my story, I was a character in his,” Hedlin said. “The best way to treat a patient is to try and see them in the way they see themselves.”

Jocelyn Wang, also a fourth year student, assured the younger students in attendance that though there will be times during medical school where they feel overwhelmed and unsure of themselves, they are not alone in these feelings, and they will make it through these experiences.

“With the right support, work ethic, and attitude, you will never fail,” Wang said.

Daniel Gardiner, a fourth year student, said when he first arrived at UNC SOM, he was intimidated by the talents and skills of his classmates. He has found success focusing on his passion for science, and finding a group of supportive classmates.

First year medical student Vinayak Subramanian said the uncertainty of medicine is what appeals to him.

“There is complexity and beauty in uncertainty,” he said.

Josh Hartford, a third year student, offered tips for remaining true to yourself during medical school.

“Remember what your anchors are,” he said. “And acknowledge that your definition of success may not be the same as those around you.”


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