Harvard Medical School
If there’s one word Rebecca Hammond would use to describe what drew her to study medicine, it’s “intensity.”
“Medicine’s a place where you combine academic, emotional, and physical stimulation,” says Hammond, a second-year student at Harvard Medical School considering a career in surgery or neuropsychiatry.
Rebecca took HMX Physiology before her first year of medical school, and has since helped to write questions and moderate forums for other students taking the course. She took a break from her intense schedule to discuss her experience.
What did you find most useful about HMX coursework?
The animations really help you stay engaged. You can watch them at whatever speed you want, so that you can really move at your own pace, and it’s interactive. The problem with a lot of classroom learning, unless it’s a really well-run classroom, is that either the pace doesn’t match your pace, or there’s nothing requiring you to stay engaged. So here you’re watching the video – a short video, short enough so that you’re not getting bored – and then you’re answering questions immediately afterward, so you’re really thinking about things.
Would you recommend HMX to other medical students?
Definitely. You can do it anywhere, you don’t have to go into a classroom somewhere and sit there just to get a check on the roster. You do it at your own pace and you will learn things, and it gives you a good conceptual basis for physiology and immunology, and that’s really valuable. I think a lot of courses don’t do that, they focus on memorizing specifics.
How has your HMX experience impacted your experience in medical school?
Doing it before medical school helped because learning concepts helps make difficult subjects intuitive. You can start to construct a model in your head instead of having to work it out each time. Each time you’re given a question you can kind of think, ok, ‘if this goes up then that goes down’. Instead, you’re kind of thinking about it as a whole and able to manipulate the information and see what happens, as opposed to just following the steps.
What have you learned from working as part of the HMX course team?
Oh, I’ve learned so much! You really learn the concepts when you’re having to answer people’s questions and come up with questions. Coming up with questions, you have to know all the possibilities that your answerer might be thinking about. That’s really fun. And answering people’s questions, you have to figure out what’s confusing them and how to illustrate a concept – or if they’re not really asking something, figuring out what they’re actually trying to ask.