Today I met with our most recent group of medical students. Bright eyed, paying attention, staying in the moment.

This is a day of a new beginning for our school and for these students. A beginning of a new end, which we experienced as our most recent class graduated, who is now participating in advanced training at programs throughout the country.

At each level, the competition rises.

For example, this year, we had about 5000 applications for the 110 positions in our class. That ratio is not exclusive to our school, but is representative of many. 

Wow!

With this extreme competition come the achievements that many of our faculty would be proud.

These students are precocious in their achievements. The School of Medicine Class of 2020 represents 17 states with half of those students from West Virginia. This class consists evenly of 55 females and 55 males ranging in age from 21 to 38.

Two are veterans – one a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the other a radio operator for the U.S. Air Force.

Several have already obtained master’s degrees and one student is a doctor of pharmacy.

Other interesting facts about the WVU School of Medicine Class of 2020:

  • Several are athletes involved in sports including ultimate Frisbee, rugby, swimming/diving, and running;
  • One is a nationally ranked equestrian competitor;
  • A National Collegiate Athletic Association Woman of the Year for 2015;
  • An event singer; Irish dancer; classical pianist; community choir members; music composer; and, an orchestra flutist.
  • One student also participated in a 46-hour dance marathon;
  • Several world travelers and study abroad trips to countries such as Tanzania, Morocco, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Denmark;
  • Several peer tutors and teachers;
  • Many were student leaders involved in various community service organizations;
  • The class also claims last year’s alternate mountaineer as one of it’s own!

However, with great achievements and historical performance come sometimes unrealistic expectations of themselves.

That is why our first week focuses on team building and personal information for health and wellness.

While students were getting to know each other through various activities, I also tried a watercolor!

From eating the right foods (less sugar and red meat with more vegetables); to exercise; to sleep; to stress reduction (no one is perfect, you can control how you see things and how you respond to them, and don’t confuse self-worth with performance); to the importance of connections to purpose and people, we offer them strategies on staying healthy and happy during these next four years.

It is our job to help these students navigate, as they are now part of the Mountaineer family.

It is a good start that they are loved, cared about, and have the opportunity to get to know each other.

Special time for us with this gifted group of people – doctors in training that create the future of the healthcare of our state.

From learning about the students’ backgrounds and accomplishments and meeting virtually each one of them, I know we are in good hands