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HMX Moderator Profile
Ashwini Joshi

Ashwini Joshi, Harvard Medical School

Ashwini Joshi has long been interested in pursuing a career in medicine, as well as in helping others grow and succeed. She’s combined those interests through her work as an HMX intern, answering questions in HMX Fundamentals course discussion forums as she embarks on clinical rotations and determines her path after medical school.

What got you interested in pursuing medicine?

I was always really interested in science in school, and I have people in medicine in my family as well. I heard about what they were doing and was really inspired by that. So in high school, I volunteered at a hospital and I really enjoyed talking with patients and learning about them. Part of my job was sitting with older patients who maybe didn’t have as many visitors and so I got to talk with them, learn about their lives, and that was really meaningful. So going into college I already knew I wanted to go into medicine.

What was your educational background like before entering medical school?

In college, at the University of Connecticut, I studied biomedical engineering, because I really liked technology and wanted to keep the math and physics side of things, and also I wanted to learn about some of the new frontiers in medicine. And then I came directly from undergrad to Harvard Medical School. I took a lot of science classes in college, of course chemistry, physics, and biology, but also biochemistry and genetics. So I felt like I was really prepared for the basic science courses in medical school.

What made you want to work with the HMX team?

I started towards the end of the first year of medical school; I got the opportunity through a program called Ed Reps, where we serve as liaisons between students and faculty and provide feedback on how to make courses better. I thought HMX was a really nice opportunity to teach people and answer questions and do medical education.

In high school I actually served as a TA for the freshman French class; I thought it was really nice to be able to share my skills with students who were younger. And then in college, I did a lot of mentoring and extracurricular activities, helping people step into leadership roles and help them become leaders themselves. I always knew I liked interacting with people who were just a little bit more junior to me and helping them get to that point.

What has the experience been like for you?

I’ve really enjoyed talking with the students and answering questions and just seeing how interested and invested they are in the material. Most of the questions that the students have are really good questions, and it forces me to really go back and review the material and make sure I understand what’s going on so I can explain things to them. It also makes me go back into the literature to see what is some new information out there about this topic, because a lot of students are interested in the new frontiers in the topics we’re learning about. So it’s really nice for me to look at recently published journal articles and help guide them and help show them, even beyond HMX, here’s what you can find in the scientific literature.

Also, I’m surprised by how much I’ve learned myself. It’s been really helpful for me to go back to the basic science aspect of things as I’m on the wards and seeing patients, and coming back and answering questions getting back to the basics, the nitty-gritty – I think it’s really helped me be a better medical student and will help me be a better doctor.

What advice would you give to students who are considering learning with HMX?

I think it makes sense to go into HMX with specific goals in mind – what do you want to learn more about, why are you taking this course, what is the end goal? If the end goal is to learn about some of the topics that you’ll learn about in medical school, then it makes sense; if the goal is to get a little bit of exposure to patient scenarios, it also makes sense, because one of the great parts about HMX is you don’t just learn about the basic science, there’s also this integration with the patient cases. There’s the section where they take you into the cath lab, and that’s really cool – it helps you get a glimpse of what doctors do and what medical school can be like. You would need that in conjunction with true clinical experiences to know if medicine is right for you. But I think it’s a good introduction into some of the fundamental concepts you need to know.

How can HMX participants get the most out of their course experience?

A big thing that people can do is to stay on track with the course. I know people have other things going on, and it can be challenging, but what I’ve seen quite a bit moderating the courses, is when the final exam is coming people will start going back and doing everything, and sometimes it seems like a lot is happening right at the end of the course. I think that if you want to get the most out of it, you need time to process what you learned and go back and review. The weeks build on each other, and to get the most out of the course you want to stick to the timeline so that you’re not trying to learn too many things at once. And also, do the assessment questions as independently as possible so that you’re applying what you know so you’re not just looking it up. So the more engagement you can have with the course, the better.

And definitely ask questions, that’s what we’re here for – we’ve kind of seen it all in terms of the level of question and the granularity with which people ask questions. So I would definitely say to students that if you have a question, please ask; there are no bad questions. Probably if you have a question other people have questions, too. One really nice thing about the discussion forums, too, is students can answer other people’s questions, which I think is beneficial to everybody involved. The person who’s asking the question gets their answer, and the person who’s answering is solidifying their knowledge and making sure their understanding is correct – because we only mark them as correct if they’re actually right.

The takeaway I hope students can have from this is the people that answer their questions also learn from their questions, and we really enjoy what we do and encourage them to interact with us in the way that they see fit.

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