AMSA On Call

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Thinking about going back

Andrea Knittel
AMSA Member
6th Year MSTP
University of Michigan

Every dual degree student I've ever spoken with has expressed extreme trepidation at the prospect of returning to clinical duties.  This includes friends who've taken off time between 2nd and 3rd year, 3rd year and 4th year, and 4th year and internship, as well as those who took off a couple of months in the middle of any part of their training to train outside of clinical medicine.  This includes friends who completed a 1 year MPH, MBA, MPP or another condensed masters degree, friends who spent a year working outside clinical medicine in some sort of global health setting, as well as my steadfast colleagues in dual MD/PhD programs who take anywhere from 3-5 years to immerse themselves in the writing a dissertation before starting their clinical rotations.  Finally, this includes everyone from the most confident and well-prepared re-entering medical student to those whose confidence has been shaken by more extended periods away or less structured programs helping them to go back.  In spite of these gigantic psychological barriers, however, most of us make it back.  Most of us successfully return to clinical medicine and learn to be doctors, and those that don't usually have a really good reason unrelated to clinical incompetence. 

This post is the first in what will be a long (-ish, depending on your point of view) series about my imminent return to my third year of medical school after four years of doctoral work in public health.  I am a 6th year in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of Michigan Medical School, and I was in the entering class of 2005.  I took Step 1 of my USMLE in 2007 and started my doctoral work at the University of Michigan School of Public Health that fall.  Now, just over 3 years later, I'm starting to think about going back.  These posts will talk about the experiences I have through this process.  You can follow me through my experiences with a low-key clinical preceptorship, re-entry.

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