Second-year medical student Philip Maynard never expected to use his NYMC Basic Life Support (BLS) training early in his medical education. But that’s what happened when a man collapsed, and Phil had to quickly put his skills to the test and administer CPR. The experience only served to reinforce his core motivation for pursuing a career in medicine: the need to do something that could meaningfully help others—including to help save a life.
What led you to New York Medical College?
First impressions are important and the NYMC interview day left me with an amazing first impression that set the ball rolling for me. The College uses the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format, which tests how you interact with people, or patients, in various scenarios. In many ways you can’t prepare for it, making it interesting and fun. I also think that it ends up building a class with a great group of students because the process helps reveal how students communicate and interact with other people—especially under pressure.
You have been at NYMC for almost two years. What achievement are you most proud of in your time here?
Besides being proud to have just made it this far, I actually got to put some of my medical training to use this year. I was out at an event in New York City one weekend, when a man collapsed. Upon realizing I had the most medical experience in the room (the BLS training we receive during Orientation Week), I initiated the code. I never thought that I would be in this position at this point in my training. Luckily, I was able to keep my cool and use the skills I had learned. It was a real confidence-booster right when I needed it, since second year is all about studying and taking tests. I took it as a sign that I made the right decision to go to medical school.
Tell us a little about your own personal journey. What motivated you to pursue medical school? Was there a specific trigger or moment?
My mom is a doctor, so I grew up with a physician parent who really enjoyed her career in medicine. She never pushed me, but gently encouraged me to consider medical school. It was when I was getting ready to graduate from Brown University that I began to realize how profound a career in medicine can be, and that it was something I wanted to do. My senior spring, I applied to Columbia University’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program, and it was clear as soon as I started, that it was the right choice.
You are part of the SOM student government. What has that experience been like?
I am the Secretary of the School of Medicine Student Senate for the 2016-2017 academic year. It’s a very special experience to represent the Class of 2019 to the College leadership on academic, social, and campus issues. It’s been a real learning experience for me to see how a school is run. Something that might seem straightforward to us students, like a lecture, may be planned years in advance and may be planned and placed as such to cover some specific LCME competency at a strategic time for reinforcement.
Being part of the student government has also been great on a personal level, since I’ve met lots of third and fourth-year students with whom I wouldn’t normally interact. The advice and insight they’ve given me have made a significant (positive) impact on my stress levels!
What do you see as the most positive forces for change in medicine today?
I’d have to say, my fellow students. It gives me hope that a lot of students here are interested in social justice in medicine. I see students at NYMC thinking they can change the world—and they seem to be working towards that end! It’s very fitting since NYMC has a fascinating history and legacy of social justice.
What do you think are the greatest challenges for medical students?
It’s a challenge to stay on top of everything—and then it’s another challenge to take care of yourself while staying on top of everything. One thing that’s too easy to put off is our own health, especially entering a field focused on taking care of others. NYMC does a good job providing resources for students who may need help with their medical school experience—like counseling and wellness services—but students need to reach out and get the support they need.
That said, one thing that’s reminded me that it’s possible to succeed in academics and still have a personal life is how many students in our class have families—or are just starting them!
What area of medicine interests you after graduation?
I’m not sure yet—that’s what I’m hoping to figure out during my clerkships next year. However, I think I would like to work in a hospital, an in-patient setting. Also, I’m interested in healthcare management as a field. Healthcare is approaching 20 percent of the GDP and part of a career in medicine is going to be figuring out how this money is spent. I’m lucky to be part of the Health Policy Elective, run by Dr. Joseph English, in which we get to explore some of these topics.
Have you had any experience in a clinical setting before medical school?
During the year before medical school, I worked as a Project Coordinator at Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center, which NYMC is affiliated with. As part of my job, I supervised a volunteer program for premeds, as well as helped run the monthly Huntington’s Disease Seminar Day, which NYMC students attend during their Neurology clerkship. I remember being very impressed by how the students interacted with the patients, since it can be difficult and intimidating to communicate with people with advanced illness.
How do you think medical school academics compare to your undergraduate and post- baccalaureate studies?
We’re in a new era of medical education, which focuses much more on active and integrated learning. It’s certainly more team-oriented than undergraduate academics. Many people have study groups, study partners, or peer tutors. I started working with a study partner this year and it’s hard to go back to highlighting a text book since it can be so much fun working with him. This group approach also makes a lot of sense since so much of medicine is team-based.
What advice would you give incoming SOM students?
Incoming students should be ready to jump in with both feet. You can’t do medical school part-time, and you should really treat it like a job.
One thing that has helped me a lot is being proactive in tackling challenging topics. One of our student groups—the “Medical Educators Society”—runs rapid reviews before each exam. One of my study-hacks has been to take topics that intimidate me and figure out how to teach them to the class. Not only do I learn the topics very well, but I can have fun with it. If you have students organizing their own education like this, think about what kind of academic and clinical lives they will go on to lead.