Katherine Orr, Class of 2021
New York, NY
Harvard, History and Literature major
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO ATTEND PITT MEDICINE:
In the end, the biggest factor for me in coming to PittMed was the number of non-traditional students. As a med student in my 30s, it was important to me to go to a school that had a large population of older students. Additionally, my husband and I enjoyed our time in Pittsburgh for second look, both the official program and our time exploring the city. Finally, the ranking and reputation of PittMed contributed to my decision to come here.
DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE AS A MEDICAL STUDENT AT PITT MED:
I'm a married med student, and my husband moved to Pittsburgh with me. I have done a mix of attending and podcasting lectures, but tend to go to school every day. While I study sometimes at the library or in the school cafe, I also have some space at home to work. Most weeknights are dedicated to work, but on the weekends we try to explore Pittsburgh--farmers markets in the warm months, museums, breweries, restaurants. Pittsburgh has a great food scene so there are still many more places to try. It's possible to support a romantic relationship, as well as relationships with family and friends. You may not always have as much time as you'd like, but keeping personal ties is crucial to your well being and ultimate success.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE PITT MEDICINE COMMUNITY:
Varied. While most of the students are right out of college or one year out, and the average age of my class is 24, there is a nice group of students in their late 20s and 30s. Not only has this group become my community, older students bring work experience, professionalism and maturity to our class. There is also diversity in terms of race, geography and sexual orientation. Overall, I find PittMed to be a warm and supportive community.
WHAT STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS ARE YOU INVOLVED IN:
I'm a co-coordinator of the Family Medicine and Global Heath and Underserved Populations interest groups. In this role I plan and organize lunch talks and workshops for students, and am a resource to students interested in these fields. I have also volunteered at the Birmingham Clinic, one of my favorite activities. I am part of the Longitudinal Alliance Project which pairs students with a patient with chronic illness to follow throughout all 4 years of school. My patient is a lovely woman in her 80s. I've been with her to several doctor's appointments, and have visited her home. It's a great opportunity to get to know a patient well and learn about living with chronic illness. I took three mini-electives during my first year which were very rewarding--Intimate Partner Violence, Family Planning and one on treating addiction in primary care. They were a great complement to my courses.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WITH YOUR SPARE TIME:
I spend time with my husband, cook, take care of my houseplants, and explore Pittsburgh. I especially love the Carnegie and the Mattress Factory museums. I've tried many terrific restaurants, and in Pittsburgh there are even more to try. I've enjoyed trying many of the cities excellent breweries. When people come to visit I love taking them up one of the inclines to Mt Washington. It may be typical for tourists, but the view is remarkable. Also, baseball and soccer games!
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR STUDENTS APPLYING TO PITT MEDICINE:
You don't have to have a passion for research to come to PittMed! I hope to have a career in clinical medicine and medical education, but I still found an interesting and rewarding summer research project. Give Pittsburgh a chance! It's a small and underrated city. You may have read about the city's renaissance--it's true! Like all cities it still has problems of inequality, but it's a really pleasant and safe place to live.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING IN THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH:
Great neighborhoods. Excellent restaurants. Inexpensive housing (depending where you're from it's all relative). Specifically, I love Grist House brewery, Arsenal Lanes (bowling), and Harris Grill and Senyai Thai on Ellsworth in Shadyside.
WHAT DID YOU (OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO) DO DURING THE SUMMER AFTER YOUR FIRST YEAR OF MEDICAL SCHOOL:
I participated in the funded research opportunity. I did a women's health research project on the availability of emergency contraception at pharmacies in southwestern PA. I also had the opportunity to travel to visit my family, watch some World Cup soccer, explore Pittsburgh and, most importantly, relax.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COURSE AT PITT MEDICINE:
Anatomy! At the time I was challenged by the amount of lab time and the volume of material, but looking back it was just amazing. The privilege of getting to learn about the human body from a real cadaver was invaluable and humbling. I was apprehensive about the dissections at first, but became more comfortable throughout the course. The human body is amazing.
Also, Dr. Schumann who teaches the class is a great teacher and person. He is endlessly patient and kind to students. It was just a great experience.
ANY FINAL ADVICE FOR ACCEPTED STUDENTS:
Come to PittMed! As I said before, give Pittsburgh a chance! It's a beautiful post-industrial city with great neighborhoods and restaurants. Being at a pass/fail school is also important. From my limited experience it makes students more collaborative. It doesn't feel competitive, which is a relief!