Harvard Medical School (Photo by Noor Beckwith, courtesy Harvard Medical School Review)
“I spoke with the most amazing patient today — three chronic diseases, but still defines herself as ‘well.’”
“It’s like we need to redefine what ‘illness’ is.”
“Just because I say we should figure out the genetic basis of intelligence, that doesn’t make me a eugenicist!”
“Oh, no? Do you know the stats for Down syndrome abortions?”
“I’ve been hopelessly overwhelmed with this clinic work in Malawi. I just feel like I can’t get anything real done.”
“Been there. For the last seven years. Let me tell you what I figured out about what really matters.”
These are the kinds of conversations that take place among students in the vaunted hallways of Harvard Medical School, but have had no dedicated outlet to the broader public — until now.
This week, Harvard Med students delivered a baby of the literary sort: A new, student-run journal titled the Harvard Medical Student Review. It aims to offer an online, more permanent venue for those hallway-type conversations and much more, from personal essays to policy positions.
I spoke with its four co-founders, online and by phone. Our conversation, edited:
Harvard Medical Student Review co-founders, from left to right: Teaching assistant Adam Frange, students Jay Kumar, Omar Abudayyeh, Noor Beckwith
The introduction to your first issue cites the first American medical journal, launched in 1797 New York during a Yellow Fever epidemic. But why this and why now?
One of the most common comments we received when we pitched this idea to friends and advisors was, “Oh of course! Why doesn’t this exist already?!” Medicine, and healthcare more broadly, are in such flux today and today’s health students – medical and otherwise – are training right through these dynamic changes – in curriculum reform, reimbursement reform, delivery redesign and otherwise.
Also, as the majority of students have not yet worked as qualified health professionals, they have a uniquely fresh perspective. Fresh, of course, because we have yet to work in the trenches for a living. Unique in the sense that these students have a highly vested interest in shaping the future of health and medicine – their careers and lives depend on it! They bring their youth, energy, and creativity.
Plus, we think medical journalism and publishing and medical humanities from the student perspective are a rising force. After we began we working on this, we noticed a couple other medical schools have blog-style student journalism sites that have received positive reception. We’re trying to take this a step forward by introducing the first medical student online, peer-reviewed journal.
What topics do you most hope your writers will cover? What are the most burning issues? Continue reading