The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

How to Stay Happy and Excel in Med School with Dr. Ariela Marshall

Dr. Ariela Marshall, a benign hematologist at Mayo Clinic, discusses developing leadership skills and prioritizing personal wellness to excel in medical school.

  • [01:08] Why Hematology?
  • [03:07] Medical Students’ Role in Patient Care
  • [06:45] How to Develop Medical Students’ Leadership Skills
  • [11:00] Prioritizing Personal Wellness in Medical School
  • [16:57] COVID-19’s Impact on Residency & Fellowship Transition
  • [22:46] Dr. Marshall’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen chats with Dr. Ariela Marshall, a practicing benign hematologist at Mayo Clinic. She also serves as associate professor, director of student wellness, and co-chair of physician wellness among other things at Mayo Clinic’s hematology division. Today, Dr. DeRouen and Dr. Marshall talk about developing leadership skills and prioritizing personal wellness while in medical school.

Why Specialize in Hematology?

Dr. Marshall has shown great interest in hematology and oncology even as an undergrad. Her research and shadowing experiences were always related to those fields. As she furthered her medical education, she gained more research and clinical experience in hematology. It was during her fellowship when she realized that she was especially drawn to thrombosis and hemostasis.

Dr. Marshall likes dealing with acute conditions where thrombosis and hemostasis are often present. She enjoys the challenge of making quick decisions under time pressure to improve treatment outcomes. As an advocate for women’s health, she also helps women who have disorders of thrombosis and hemostasis. Hematology is perfect for Dr. Marshall because all her interests are tied together in this specialization.

Medical Students’ Role in Patient Care

A good medical student is someone who shows interest and involvement when caring for patients. Students have the greatest opportunity to sit down and talk to patients. Take advantage of this time to get to know people and their circumstances. By asking patients about their background, you obtain important information on what socio-economic factors impact their healthcare. Relaying this knowledge to the residents and attendings helps the whole healthcare system to improve.

How to Develop Medical Students’ Leadership Skills

Students may not see themselves as leaders because they are at the bottom of the medical hierarchy. They may not realize it but patients already look up to medical students as doctors. The first step to developing leadership skills is to acknowledge that you are a leader.

All great leaders are emotionally intelligent. They know how to listen and respect everyone’s views. You can practice this skill by asking other people about their thoughts on specific topics. Although leaders take into account different opinions, there are instances when they have to be firm with decisions. As a student, you can do the same when advocating for patients. If you have an opinion about patient care, don’t be afraid to speak up.

Prioritizing Personal Wellness in Medical School

Medical school can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing with all its requirements. Outside class hours or rotation, you may even be asked to attend meetings or do extra work.

It’s important that you learn how to decline favors and requests, especially when it infringes on your personal time. Evaluate if the extra activity will contribute to your professional growth or if it’s required. You’re allowed to refuse certain tasks so you can prioritize personal wellness.

Demands from school or work will only grow over time. Know how to set boundaries as early on. The more comfortable you are in learning to say no, the better it is for your well-being in the long run.

COVID-19’s Impact on Residency & Fellowship Transition

All residency and fellowship interviews are now conducted virtually. Applicants no longer have to spend a lot of time, energy, and money to attend in-person interviews. However, it may be harder to gauge what their potential workplace will be like without an actual visit. It’s a big decision to make based on just virtual assessments and tours. Once a vaccine is commercially available, some aspects of the digital application process may still persist.

Dr. Marshall’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students

Medical students are typically advised to choose a specialization based on their interests. In addition to this, you should also consider how you would like to interact with patients. Do you prefer consultations or procedures? Are you more comfortable with inpatient or outpatient care? Your field of specialization will determine how you interact with patients. Don’t forget to consider doctor-patient relationships and interactions because it will impact your work life balance and career satisfaction.

Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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