Loyola University Chicago

Loyola Magazine

Aaron Michelfelder

Aaron Michelfelder (MD '97)

We spent time with books for the first two years and then we finally started seeing patients. Now, students see patients in their very first year. They get their white coat in the first month, and they’re seeing patients in the second month. There’s a lot more practice and simulation involved now than when I was a first year.

Med students actually now participate in a lot of interprofessional learning. The medical school was not connected to the nursing school when I was here like it is today. Now medical students are learning alongside nursing, exercise science, and dietetics students, which are all professions the future doctors will eventually be working with. 

First year med students taught by nursing students how to prevent infections and put on gloves. We did not have these kinds of interactions with nursing students when I was in school, even though you work so closely with them when you’re a practicing physician.

We also spent many hours dissecting cadavers when I was a student. It was an amazing way to learn anatomy, but it also took a lot of time and was relatively inefficient. Now students learn on cadavers that are dissected for them, which is much more efficient. For me, anatomy lasted seven months. For them, it’s 14 weeks. 

In that first year, the most valuable things I learned were how complex the human body is and also how to take care of people in the context of their family, society, and the world in general. In medical school you learn about every little intricate action in the body, like how sodium and potassium work, in the context of the whole human. 

Sometimes med students think about people in pieces and parts because that’s the way you’re learning. But at Loyola, I learned that you should care the most about taking care of the whole person.