News : 2016 : April

Student Spotlight – Curtis Chen, M.D. Candidate 2019

1) Why did you choose to study at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine?

I was fortunate and lucky to be a part of UM’s Honors Program in Medicine when I was accepted into medical school, and undergraduate studies out of my senior year of high school. I chose Miami because I love hot weather and going to the beach, but I didn’t have many opportunities to do so because of studying.

Ultimately, I chose Miami because I knew the clinical experience that I would gain here would be unparalleled to anywhere else in the nation. To me, learning and doing “doctorly” things is a lot more important than being able to regurgitate medical jargon that most likely only my colleagues and I would be familiar with. I am in no way trying to be pretentious or overbearing, but truth be told, scientists and doctors use very big and complicated words that can seem intimidating to the general public. I strive to be a doctor that can educate and help others understand seemingly complex and challenging conditions.

2) What’s been your experience as a first-year medical student at the Miller School?

Medical school is an incredibly humbling experience. I came to medical school with an open mind and few expectations. The first eight weeks were grueling and a difficult transition, but were extremely clinically relevant as I could immediately apply what I learned to my experiences in the ER and in the trauma center resuscitation bay. Since the first module, I have had time to sleep more, thank goodness. Otherwise, I have been able to meet people in my class, as well as all the other classes above me. Everybody is super-talented and smart here, and I feel really fortunate to be a part of this wonderful medical family.

3) In August of 2015, you and your classmates were the first to receive engraved stethoscopes, donated by alumni and faculty, during your Miller School orientation. What did it mean to be welcomed to the medical school family in that way?

The stethoscope was an emotional as well as a physical gift. I can speak not only for myself but my classmates as well when I say that we are all very grateful for this generous and beautiful gift. It means a great deal to be welcomed to the Miller School family; many people worked really hard to get to where they are today in medicine and to receive a stethoscope was symbolic of my class continuing and adding to the Miller School legacy. My classmates and I will cherish this one-of-a-kind gift and always think of the wonderful alumni who helped make this happen every time we use it. A big thank you to all the alumni and the committee for making this possible.

4) What medical extracurricular activities have you had a chance to pursue?

I personally enjoy hanging out at the Ryder Trauma Center. The staff there, and I mean everyone from the secretaries and nurses, to the residents, fellows, and attending physicians, have adopted me as a part of their extended family. The trauma bay is a fast-paced, high-energy environment and I really appreciate how the resuscitation effort is very much a team effort. The nurses and residents are always super patient and willing to teach me new skills or review old ones. They often challenge me to think outside of the box, as well as within the textbook to find the best approach to saving a critical patient’s life.

I also help out with the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service (DOCS) program by attending the health fairs around Miami. It gives me a great opportunity to engage the community and help those in need. I really enjoy the venipuncture station because it gives me a great chance to teach and help other students how to do venipuncture (I had a good amount of experience with my past EMT experience and in the trauma center) and also learn from others who have different tips or advice.

5) What medical specialty would you like to pursue following medical school?

I am not sure yet, but I have interests in surgery because I like working with my hands.

6) How about outside the classroom? Any other interests/hobbies you pursue when you are not studying?

I enjoy biking, but I tend to bike less and less judging by the number of bike traumas I often see.

I also really enjoy talking with people. I believe that anyone can teach me something about how I can become a better person and future doctor. On Wednesday afternoon or Friday morning, there is a homeless man that percusses on a couple of big paint buckets. I am a violinist and pianist by training, and I have some sense of rhythm, so I make sure to sit for a couple minutes and borrow one of his makeshift drums and drum along with him. This literally makes his day, and makes mine as well, as I am able to share a mutual love of music with someone.

I feel that oftentimes people get burned out in medical school, and they really don’t notice it until it’s too late or someone points it out to them. I think it’s imperative to find any way you can while in medical school to stay human and not let the pressure of books and testing make you into someone who you really are not at heart. So I try my best every day to keep myself and those around me happy and healthy!