Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

July 28, 2006

Whitworth Alumna Gives Insider's View of Challenges, Joys of Medical School

Meghan McGarry, a 2005 Whitworth alumna who majored in biology, is a second-year student at the University of Washington School of Medicine. In the following Q&A, McGarry reflects on her first year of medical school, shares why studying up to 18 hours per day is worth it, and reveals what med students really think of "Grey's Anatomy."

Q: What field of medicine are you focusing on in your studies?

A: I'm not quite sure at this point. I am very interested in emergency medicine. However, I'm also interested in a pediatric specialty, such as pediatric emergency medicine or pediatric cardiology.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your first year of medical school?

A: I think the most challenging aspect was the amount of time that was required. Classes would run from 8 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. Then I would study until 10 or 11 p.m. The week before an exam, it wouldn't be uncommon to study for 18 hours a day, which includes studying during all meals. But it's worth it; I really enjoy it.

Q: What did you do this summer?

A: I worked in Grand Coulee, Wash., for one month as part of the Rural, Underserved Opportunity Program. I worked with two physicians in the clinic and the hospital. I saw patients, assisted with surgeries, and worked in the emergency room. While I was there I also worked in the clinic on the Colville reservation. Now that I am done with that, I am taking time off enjoying my last summer vacation ever before moving to Seattle. I will also work a couple of days with a few pediatric specialists in Spokane.

Q: What is the most enjoyable/fulfilling about med school? The most surprising?

A: The most enjoyable thing is definitely working with patients. I love interviewing people, figuring out what is wrong, figuring out what to do, and the surgeries! I also really like to assist with deliveries. I think I am up to 15 babies now - I've lost track. The most surprising thing is how amazing and complex the body is. Even when I am memorizing cell physiology or biochemistry, I am still in awe of what God has created.

Q: What will your course of study look like in the upcoming years?

A: This year, my second year, I will be in class full time. My classes are organ-system based this year, which means I will have one class just on the skin, one on cardiovascular, one on endocrinology, and so on. At the end of the year, I will take my first set of board exams.

My third and fourth years will be entirely clinical. I will be doing six- or eight-week rotations in hospitals and clinics. My rotations will be in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. There are also opportunities to do international rotations. I'm hoping to spend some time working in Africa.

Q: How have your experiences at Whitworth - such as in the classroom, with faculty mentors, and through your work as an on-campus medic - helped prepare you to succeed in medical school?

A: I feel like I received a very well-rounded education at Whitworth that exposed me to many different areas that will make me a better physician. At the same time, the small class and lab sizes gave me a great science background for my med-school classes. Being an emergency medical technician on campus put me leaps and bounds ahead of other students in my med-school class on interviewing patients and in my clinical classes.

My Whitworth education gave me a heart for serving others and taking care of the less privileged, which I believe is very important for a doctor. I feel like I was better prepared than most med-school students to become an active community member.

Q: What are your career plans?

A: I'm not quite sure yet, but I'm leaning toward a bigger city. I did enjoy working in a small-town environment this summer.

Q: Okay, final question: So what do you think of the hit TV show "Grey's Anatomy" - love it, hate it, never watch it, does it get the medical stuff right, or is it completely off base?

A: I love it! My whole class takes a break from studying to watch it. It's especially great because it is set in Seattle. But I don't think that is how the first year of residency really is - if only there was that much free time and everyone was that good looking.


Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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