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Sketchy Spotlight: A MS4 With a Drive To Be Selfless in Medicine
Sketchy Spotlight Series - stories from our community: Meet Gurbani Kaur, a MS4 at UCSF University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.
Gurbani is starting her fourth year at UCSF University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and is interested in ophthalmology. In her interview, she talks about her drive to do good in this world, the importance of mentorships, and studying for Step 2 with Sketchy.
School: UCSF University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
I love Sketchy because… it provided memory anchors that laid a foundation for me to build upon through my infectious disease block, clinical rotations, and USMLE Step 1 study time.
I am passionate about… validating my patients’ identities and honoring their desires as we partner in holistic healing.
*interview has been lightly edited for clarity*
Q: What interested you in medicine and ophthalmology?
Gurbani: I'm one of those people that just loved everything in medical school. When I got to surgery, I knew I loved surgery. It's very hands-on. I'm also someone who is obsessed with immediate gratification and there's something magical about cataract surgery in particular, in that you can literally take someone from being blind to seeing in the matter of 30 minutes.
Q: How important is it to have a strong support system in medicine?
Gurbani: I think that support systems and mentorship are absolutely critical in this work that we do. Medicine is a team sport. Surgery is a team sport. Every single field of medicine is like that. I think, when we look at the pandemic, it's not affected just people who are directly on the front lines in ICUs, but every aspect of the healthcare system, all the way down to trainees and medical students as well. If I look throughout my trajectory of even wanting to become a doctor, it takes having teachers who believe in you from elementary school and saying, yes, it is possible.
Q: What drives you in your medical journey?
Gurbani: The drive to be selfless or to try to be selfless per se motivates me and that comes from faith. I'm a Sikh American. It's the foundational values that resonated with me and are so central to who I am in egalitarianism and wanting to fight for equity and selflessness is a part of that.
I have had role models to look up to who have embodied these values in every step of the way from the attendings here at UCSF, chief residents, interns, my classmates and my peers. I think that's why I want to be helpful and I want to leverage my privileges and knowledge and strive to do good in the world.
Q: How has your fourth year been?
Gurbani: I just started my last year of medical school. So now it's time to put my story together again and hope that I can match into my desired specialty, which is ophthalmology. So right now, I'm doing some research. I'm actually studying for Step 2. Thank you Sketchy, and trying to put my application together. Then I will hopefully do some interviews this fall, winter, and then we'll see what happens from there.
Q: How has Sketchy helped you?
Gurbani: Sketchy made it so much more manageable to learn than if I had tried to learn, honestly, the way that you're supposed to learn, where you're supposed to build all these tables and memorize, this tree or this pathway. It's just not fast. When you get to the wards, your attendings are asking you, “what do you want to do for this patient?” You need to be able to make quicker decisions and you have to be able to justify them.
Only the people who use Sketchy are the ones who know these strange cartoon references, but you can do it quickly compared to people who tried to do it the traditional way of learning per se. So for me, Sketchy has been a really fun way to learn medicine.
Q: What advice do you have for pre-meds and other med students?
Gurbani: For premedical students, just keep trucking, keep doing. All the studying that you're doing will eventually pay off. Don't give up. For younger medical students, a very common adage that people know is that medical school is like drinking through a fire hose. A lot of information is coming at you, so you just have to figure out the containers in which to contain the fire and the water that's coming out. Then how to divide it up, to make it more manageable so that you can drink one water bottle at the time.
You just do that and find ways to take care of yourself. So get Sketchy, watch some cartoons, find whatever makes it joyful.