Embracing Challenges of the Pandemic

Lili Szabo, Allegra VanderWilde and classmates pose for a rare, pandemic-appropriate selfie.

February 19, 2021
Lili Szabo, MS1 and Allegra VanderWilde, MS1

As first year medical students, we’ve been anticipating the start of medical school for years. Many of us dreamed about donning our first-ever white coats, surrounded by the friends and family whose support got us to this point. But on our first day of classes, instead of gathering in a room together, buzzing with excitement and energy, we all opened our laptops at home and logged onto Zoom. On that first day, we all felt a bit sorry for ourselves, wondering how in the world we’d make friends and learn how to be competent physicians in a pandemic.

Fast-forward 6 months, and my cohort jokes we may be the closest-knit bunch that has ever passed through the UW-GU Health Partnership. We often do not know how tall our classmates are until we meet them in-person (it’s a bit hard to tell over Zoom!), and we have never been in the same room with our entire cohort of sixty students. Nevertheless, from Zoom game nights (guessing who is who from baby photos), scavenger hunts to orient ourselves to our new snowy home (we love Spokane!), impromptu socially-distanced small gatherings, and walks, we are learning to embrace the challenges of a remote education while starting to serve the community that welcomed us in. Be it at weekly free clinics at the Union Gospel Mission, helping with COVID-19 vaccination efforts, or virtually mentoring local students, we are thrilled to be included in the tight-knit community that is UW-Spokane, here in Eastern Washington. The resilience, endless support, and camaraderie between the students, faculty, and community here is truly unparalleled and we feel so fortunate to be a part of it!

See how the University of Washington School of Medicine – Gonzaga University Health Partnership is expanding and enhancing top-ranked medical education in Spokane.