The foundation of leadership and professionalism is a commitment of the self to something greater than the self. When applying to medical school, all students had a vision of how they will serve in the profession of medicine. While experiencing the pressures of medical school, this vision and purpose may be neglected or dismissed as too “impractical” or “idealistic”. We believe that it is not.
We believe that the medical school experience should enhance a learner’s connection with their sense of purpose, or in other words, their commitment to something greater than themselves. This sense of purpose can change and evolve over time. It must be engaged through action and reflection throughout the learner’s experience in medical school.
The RealMD program seeks to design experiences which re-engages the student with his or her purpose for entering medicine. For example, during the white coat ceremony, students are asked to reflect on why they are entering the profession of medicine, write down their purpose on a small card, and to keep that card with them.
As a result of a greater connection to purpose, we believe that students will have greater resilience, learn more deeply and act in a more authentically professional manner.
When a learner is connected to purpose, the actions they take will naturally be of a higher quality. Activities are not for building a CV or to satisfy requirements, but mainly done for intrinsically meaningful reasons of service, learning, and leadership. In order for learners to take meaningful action, they must know their purpose and be able to connect their actions to that purpose.