Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Look Back at Gemstone: An Alumna Perspective

Now in her first year of medical school, Anastasiya Latushko looks back at her time at Maryland in the Gemstone Program: 

When I first started college, I wasn’t sure that Gemstone was for me. I was never really interested in research so signing myself up for four years of it seemed scary but ultimately, I decided to do it because of something a senior said during an accepted student’s panel I attended. She had been interviewing at medical schools and her interviewers were so impressed by the unique opportunity Gemstone offered undergrads, they spent the entire interview talking about it. I hate to say it but it was what sold me on Gemstone. Four years later, when I was applying to medical school 30-40% of my application consisted of Gemstone-related things. Whether I talked about the actual research Team RODENT did, the teamwork aspect of the program, or the leadership experience I gained both from being part of my team and also being a GEMS100 section leader I really did spend a big chunk of time at interviews talking about Gemstone.
Alumni Anastasiya and Alex at their White Coat Ceremony
I remember the sense of awe I experienced when I went to the Senior Thesis Conference as a freshman seeing everything the senior teams accomplished. It all seemed so daunting, I couldn’t imagine producing that quantity and quality of work. But somehow, after a lot of hard work and long hours, we did it. 
When I started at the University of Maryland School of Medicine three months ago, I had this same feeling of anxiety when professors started telling us everything we would have to accomplish before graduation. But just like in Gemstone, you have to take it one day at a time. Med school is as hard as everyone says it is. There’s a common analogy that people use to explain the amount of work you have: if college was drinking from a hose then med school is like drinking from a fire hydrant. So, even when you think your brain can’t possibly absorb another piece of information or you spend hours in the anatomy lab the week before an exam making sure you can identify the 12 cranial nerves and their locations, you just do it and move on to the next task. For me, it was always important to see the bigger picture, our end goal, when we were doing our research, even though it was easy to get caught up in the little details. That’s exactly how I feel about med school now. When I start to lose track of why I want to be a doctor because I’m frustrated about having to memorize some minute details of the Krebs cycle, I go and shadow a doctor to remind myself of what the end goal is, and that’s to be able to have an impact on someone’s life by helping them feel better.

Gemstone was a big part of my life in college and now that I’ve graduated, I feel like it’s still having an impact on me. It helped me get to medical school and now that I’m here, I still use what I learned during my four years in the program.

-Anastasiya Latushko: Class of 2013: Team RODENT

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