HMX Moderator Profile
Jordan Said is a fifth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, with plans to pursue residency training in dermatology. As a researcher, he is interested in rheumatology-dermatology and the skin toxicities of anti-cancer drugs. Jordan’s strong interest in medical education and science led him to join the HMX team as an intern. He has developed assessments and answered questions across all five HMX Fundamentals courses.
What got you interested in pursuing medicine?
I became interested in pursuing a career in medicine as a product of a few passions I developed in my undergraduate career. While I was a student at the University of California, Berkeley, I noticed that I was spending my time working in education. In my sophomore year, I was a TA for an organic chemistry lab; in later years, I invested time in UC Berkeley’s robust program for student-founded elective courses, where students take other student-run courses for credit. I loved curriculum design, working with students in small-group capacities, designing lessons, and giving lectures. As a result of all this, I realized that I wanted a career with a strong teaching and education component.
Beyond teaching, I also loved science and advocacy work. In science, I spent a few years working on research in cytoskeleton biology using CRISPR/Cas9. I was also doing a lot of advocacy work with LGBTQ health and volunteering in underserved areas. For me, medicine lies at the intersection of advocacy, education, and science.
What was your educational background prior to entering medical school?
I studied molecular and cell biology and chemistry in my undergraduate years at a strong research-driven university. I felt comfortable with my foundations in biochemistry, genetics, and immunology when I began medical school. HMX was a great tool to gauge where I was with my basic science knowledge going in.
If the HMX Pharmacology course had existed when I was beginning medical school, I would have jumped on that. Students get little exposure to pharmacology prior to med school, and it is such a rich and important part of learning medicine. I think having that foundational knowledge would have been transformative.
What made you want to be a part of the HMX team?
I love teaching, and I have had similar experiences back in college working as a course TA – answering student questions, designing curricula, writing questions, writing explanations. I enjoyed getting to use my knowledge of science in a way that benefits others by developing teaching tools. For me, teaching is a way of practicing the pay-it-forward attitude – someone taught me this well in college or elsewhere, and now I want to use that knowledge to help other people acquire this knowledge.
Has there been anything that has surprised you about the experience?
I have been very impressed at the number of questions [from students] that are not asking for clarification or explanation, but rather are asking concepts that are at the frontiers of where science and medicine are. A lot of students are thinking about not just what the known facts are that we are teaching them, but also where the holes and gaps in our knowledge lie. What are the things that we don’t know, and what they mean? It is great to see students, some of whom are learning this for the first time, picking up on those frontiers.
What advice would you give to someone considering taking HMX courses, or someone who wants to get the most out of them?
HMX is a fabulous tool for transitioning into medical school. Whether you are applying to or beginning medical school, or you have been out of school for a few years, HMX places students back into thinking about science. It also encourages students to answer questions that are not just recall questions, but instead requires thinking about and applying the material in the very same way that medicine asks students, trainees, and doctors to do. HMX nicely ties concepts you might have seen at some point before in your college years to medicine; it helps make that connection from studying things purely in a scientific discipline to studying things in a medical context. That is huge for adjusting to medical school.
For someone who is in HMX and wants to get the most out of it: ask questions, often. There are always students who are moderating the discussion forum – sometimes we see there has not been a question in a day or two, and we definitely have the bandwidth to answer more questions. Some of the most interesting discussions and elements of the course come out of the great questions that students ask: not just clarifications and explanations, but those asking what is at the frontier of the field. These discussions are some of my favorite parts of moderation, when people ask things that we do not know that drive us to look in the literature, and we ultimately end up having a riveting discussion in the forums about it.