Default image

Hospital Conferences and Grand Rounds

Maggy B., M1

Morning conferences and grand rounds are always super welcoming to preclinical students. It’s a great way to check out different specialties, see the variety of procedures they cover, and meet the faculty and attendings. A lot of times, during the lecture portions for the residents, the speaker will lob you a softball question they know you can answer with the little first-year knowledge you have, and there’s always a nice intern who leans over and explains complicated stuff to you. I really enjoy going because it’s a fun way to ground the preclinical “textbook” stuff we’re learning in our classes in actual clinical problem-solving.

Default image


Joseph B., M1

Spencer K. (M4), Avira S. (M3), Ella G. (M3) and Kristin P. (M1) in Arizona with their P.I. Dr. Kamlesh Patel and team to present research at a national cleft and craniofacial conference.

Mentorship is an important part of the WashU experience, and before you even set foot on campus, you will be set up for success with easy access to student and faculty mentors. All entering M1’s receive a “Big Sibling” in the M2 class who is an excellent resource for questions about how to approach particular classes or for recommendations for a new restaurant to try. In addition to your M2 “Big Sibling,” every student is matched with at least one M4 clinical mentor who will be your guide through your first clinical experiences and patient interactions. These M4 mentors are experienced but not so removed from the M1 experience that they don’t remember what it was like going into the hospital with a white coat for the first time. This connection means they provide excellent advice and help the M1’s immensely when it comes to navigate those early clinical experiences!

On the faculty side of mentorship, WashU could not provide better resources for the students. Before matriculating, M1’s are matched with an advisory dean who will help to make sure you are on track academically. Something you will quickly learn at WashU is how genuinely interested faculty members are in interacting with students. This is great for students when it comes to mentorship as meeting with a physician in a particular specialty of interest and getting shadowing or research set up is as easy as sending a quick email or talking to the physician after they deliver an excellent lecture.

Default image


John W., M1

Reyan C. (M1) presents at MSTP Journal Club

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at WashU is a huge draw to the school in my (admittedly biased) opinion. First of all, the class is huge! We average around 25 MSTPs per year. Not only is this the largest class of MSTPs in the nation, we are also 20-25% of each incoming medical school class at WashU. This helps us have an incredibly supportive atmosphere – there are a large number of people going on the same path as you! It is great to have others to talk to about choosing rotations, seminars you are interested in, smart ways to use your stipend (Roth IRA anyone?!?!), or any other MSTP specific thing. We also have journal clubs for each class of MSTPs to help you get to know each other and your various research interests. None of this is to say that we are in any way separate from the medical school class – on the contrary! The MD and MSTP classes are very well integrated – it is just as easy to make friends with MD students as MSTPs, and you will make many as you progress through the preclinical years.

Besides your peers, you have a large support network from the MSTP itself. We have weekly MSTP talks with students from all years – dinner is provided! This is a great opportunity to talk to higher years and get their perspectives on classes, research, finding mentors, or life in general. Also, your TAs in the preclinical years are 3rd year (G1) MSTPs just entering the graduate years – they are great resources for you to talk to! When you inevitably are looking at labs to join, chances are one or more students is either in the lab or has rotated through the lab. They can provide you with a valuable student’s perspective to help you decide. Furthermore, the MSTP office with Dr. Wayne Yokoyama, Brian, Linda, Liz, and Christy are excellent at handling administrative tasks and making your life as smooth as humanly possible in all situations.

Default image

NICU Cuddling

Chioma O., M1

One of my favorite pastimes since starting medical school has been getting involved as a NICU Cuddler at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. As volunteers, we spend at least four hours a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) soothing, playing with, and reading to babies during their hospital stay. Parents and other caregivers can’t always be there 24/7, and so it can be really helpful to have another friendly face in the NICU. Having those extra hours with another person can really help with development and reaching milestones. The most rewarding part is finding out a NICU baby “graduated” and was able to go home. And what’s better than holding babies?!? They don’t judge if you sing off-key, and it’s the best de-stresser after an anatomy exam. If you’re interested in child development or pediatrics, or just want to feel more comfortable around tiny humans, I suggest applying to be a NICU Cuddler in the fall.

Default image

Research Opportunities

Gopika H., M1

If you have an interest in research, WashU is definitely the place to be! WashU is known for being a world leader in basic biomedical research, but also has significant clinical and translational projects across every major medical subspecialty. The vast majority of M1 students will choose to engage in funded research through the Summer Research Program, which allows students to spend 8-12 weeks working on projects in anything from global health to immunology to medical education to clinical outcomes. Many M1 students will choose to join a research group sometime during the school year (no pressure to do so, of course) and the Office of Medical Student Research serves as an extremely valuable resource for finding mentors, funding resources, IRB information, etc. Most faculty at WashU/BJC participate in research and have mentored medical students in the past; they tend to be quite receptive to students publishing or co-creating their independent research project. If medical research isn’t a burning passion of yours, many WashU students will choose to instead do a Primary Care Preceptorship, global health work, or public policy internships throughout the summer or school year!

Default image


Steven Y., M1

It’s hard for me to imagine a school where people care as much about medical education as they do here at WashU. Even physicians you may otherwise not even meet until your clinical years are eager to mentor and work with first-year medical students. As busy as they are, most, if not all, physicians at WashU will either allow medical students to shadow them or connect us with other physicians in departments that may interest us. On top of that, I’ve found that the administrative processes we have to go through to shadow are way faster and simpler than what you may have experienced as an undergrad. For example, when I wanted to start shadowing, I contacted a surgeon I was interested in working with and the next week, I was in the OR watching my first open-heart surgery!