I was a third year medical student sitting in what seemed like the 20th hour of OBGYN lectures when I received an email from my EM clerkship director. The subject line was “Cool Student Opportunity in EM”. She raved about this conference called FemInEM Idea Exchange. I did some research and from what I saw on the FIX18 website, the medical student ambassador program looked like a cool student opportunity indeed. The difficult part was that applications were due that same day. But in good old EM fashion, I didn’t stop to eat, pee, or sleep until my application was submitted. To my surprise, I was accepted a few months later along with two other classmates.
As a fourth year medical student, FIX18 couldn’t have happened during a better time. I had just submitted my ERAS application and interview invitations were slowly beginning to trickle into my email inbox. I was anxious 24/7 and imposter syndrome was kicking in. What separated me from the thousands of applicants applying for the same spot? Was I going to match into a residency program? Was I cut out for this? These thoughts persisted up until FIX18 when I was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of female EM physicians. I met students, residents, and attending physicians from various backgrounds with different stories to tell. After each conversation and every FIX talk, I learned that these women I aspired to be one day all had battled and overcome similar doubts and challenges. I left the conference feeling empowered and recharged with a newfound confidence in myself. But most importantly, I was no longer a lonely otter floating in the EM world by myself. I was now part of this enormous raft of emergency medicine bitches.
When I matched into my residency program, one of the first things I did was reach out to Shivani Mody, the leader of the FemInEM medical student ambassador program. I had met Shivani at FIX18 and as fate would have it, she was now one of my APDs. I contacted her because I wanted to be involved with FIX19 and give back to a program that had such a positive impact on me. When the process started, the transition from student ambassador to member of the committee was interesting. A few months ago, I was a medical student who wrote applications and now I was a resident physician reviewing them. Amidst the preparation for the conference, I was working alongside Dara, Shivani, and the entire FemInEM organization. I had finally gained a seat at the grown up table and even earned an invite to the FIX Slack group channel. This was quite an eye opening transformation, but definitely an exciting one.
As FIX19 progressed, the students reminded me of my fellow FIX18 ambassadors and myself. They were enthusiastic, prepared, and helpful, which made my job as one of the student leaders extremely easy. Beyond organizing and managing their roles, I answered all of their questions and spoke to them about residency applications, interviews, and the little experience I had from intern year. It was both refreshing and fulfilling being able to advise the students as others had previously done for me. At the end of the conference, one of the student ambassadors from my alma mater said, “I didn’t know how important mentorship was and I didn’t believe I had one. This conference has shown me that you’ve been a mentor to me this whole time. You’re my first mentor.”
Of all the meaningful interactions I have had at FIX, this one sentiment affected me the most. Coming from a family of accountants, realtors, and chefs, entering the medical field was a difficult and frightening journey that I navigated on my own in the beginning. Thankfully, I was fortunate to come into contact with wonderful people who became mentors along the way. Thus, being called a mentor myself felt like everything had now come full circle.
FemInEM changed my life in more ways than I could have possibly imagined when I applied to be a student ambassador a year ago. As a student at FIX18, I met my now PD and APD, which led me to join the Maimonides EM family for residency. With each conference, I have further developed previous relationships and have made new connections with friends, mentors, and even mentees. The opportunity to work with the students at FIX19 has given me the platform to encourage and support the women just starting their career in EM. But most importantly, I have watched myself grow with confidence and poise as a leader, innovator, and lastly, as a person. FIX continues to surprise me every single year and I, the captain of the student ambassadors, am ecstatic for what lies ahead in Chicago at FIX20!