As August and September roll around, students of all ages are preparing to go back to school, including medical students. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year and much of the world shut down, I’m not sure any of us could have predicted the environment we are facing today, where the virus continues to take the lives of too many loved ones, more people are losing their jobs, wearing masks has become politicized and online learning has become the norm. The changes we are experiencing as a country – as one planet – are enormous, a daunting backdrop as our Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine welcome a new class of osteopathic medical students.
“Let us not be governed today by what we did yesterday, nor tomorrow by what we do today, for day by day we must show progress,” said the founder of osteopathic medicine, a sentiment just as relevant today as it was almost 100 years ago.
As we mark A.T. Still’s birthday today (August 6), I think it’s important to consider what this means for all of us, regardless of where you fall on the medical education continuum.
I believe he was telling us that we need to be willing and able to embrace change, even changes brought about by a global pandemic. We are not even close to being on the other side of this, so we must all continue to prepare for potential disruptions and disappointment. And that’s hard when so little seems to be within our control.
The coronavirus is truly the defining event for this next generation of medical students. It has and will continue to affect education and training, including graduate medical education. Career choices will be shaped by this experience. I think for most of our students, it reinforces why you’ve chosen to be physicians in the first place – to save lives.
So please remember this: We need you more than ever right now. Don’t lose hope. We will get through this. Your colleges are prepared to give you the best education possible during an increasingly challenging time. They are committed to help you transition from learner to healer, “for day by day we must show progress.”
Robert A. Cain, DO, FACOI, FAODME
President and CEO
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine