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Behind the scenes:
Student shares story

Editor’s Note: Chelsey Baldwin of Little River is a first-year medical student. This is the first of a monthly column that will follow her journey through all four years at MUSC as she trains to become a doctor.

At the beginning of each college semester, I always dreaded the routine first day questions between the instructor and students, which always seemed to include: “What interesting thing did you do this summer?” and “Who here wants to go to medical school?”
More times than I care to remember, I was one of 20 students in our class of 30 who wanted to attend medical school and who incidentally never traveled to Europe the previous summer, instead spending the months of June and July shuffling rats around on the fourth floor of the Basic Science Building. I can’t remember when I stopped raising my hand for the roll call of medical school hopefuls, but I did. The reason wasn’t so much that I was discouraged or losing sight of my dreams. It was that I was tired of being a faceless drone in a mob of students for whom the odds predict will never end up applying to medical school or who will be faced with the disappointment of a rejection letter.

This “mob” of students was my peers, my friends and my competitors. It’s an odd feeling to wish your friend well on an exam, while secretly including the stipulation—as long as I do better. However, I feel as if it’s only natural. Entrance into medical school was an objective that I achieved not through the love of science, but through my dedication to beat the odds. Surely this is not due to a lack of compassion for others, nor a replacement for a desire to learn, but out of necessity. I had watched my beloved sister face rejection two years in a row to medical school before she was accepted. To see someone so deserving, so genuine not rise out of the mob, has instilled a drive, a fear so powerful that it’s hard to remember who I was without it.
Even upon acceptance to MUSC, the battle has been hard to relinquish. Yet with my diploma in a paper tube in the closet and the summer heat at my window, a much welcomed relaxation has come over me. This summer prior to medical school has been a glorious, lazy lull that I have spent basking in the rays of my social life, reading novels, and waiting tables at the Boulevard Diner. This I regretfully bid goodbye as the days leading up to orientation slip past me.
Goodbyes and last days become more frequent as the end of August draws closer, and I’ve come to find that everyone has advice, and everyone has a story. There has been a wide assortment of anecdotes ranging from suggestions on how to conduct myself in school to stories about people’s trips to the emergency room. It is amazing to witness the emotion and memories that just my future plans to practice medicine evokes in people. Each story, piece of advice and well wish has been like a seal of approval on an accomplishment that I’ve strived to reach for so long. It’s a very exciting time. It’s as if  I am approaching an enormous cusp in my life, one that I can only hope to face with as much dedication, resilience, and grace as I can muster.
Chelsey Baldwin, (third from left), joins in the reading of the medical student oath during the White Coat Ceremony Aug. 21 at the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, attended by 163 students of the Class of 2014.

Orientation has been a whirlwind of introductions, pep talks, and warnings about possible pitfalls. I think the sheer number of classmates has been the most surprising to me. There are so many people to meet that I fear I haven’t even come close to half despite my best efforts. We are all so different: ages, marital statuses, backgrounds and interests. However, as it has been pointed out to us at our White Coat Ceremony, we do all have a common goal: to become the best physicians we can. This commonality and the fact that we will go through much of this upcoming journey together is bonding and comforting.       

Friday, Aug. 27, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.