May 19, 2011
By Eric Lu
As the year winds down, I’ve been reflecting on my time here, beginning with my favorite class.
Started this year by the Harvard Primary Care Center and Primary Care Progress, the Primary Care Innovation Collaborative (PCIC) is a nonconventional class that’s technically not part of the first-year curriculum. But it probably should be because I’ve gotten more out of it than all my other classes combined.
How does PCIC work? The class pairs you up with a primary care mentor and allows you to devise and work on a project together. Once a month, all the PCIC students and mentors get together for a workshop that focuses on topics ranging from process mapping to leadership in clinical innovation. More importantly, the workshops divide students and mentors into small groups and give them time to share and get feedback from each other about their projects. Even more importantly, we get free pizza from Bertuccis. None of that Il Mundo stuff. This is high quality pizza.
Aside from pizza, I want to share 3 main things that I value and appreciate about PCIC.
Space to think outside the box – most of first year medical school can honestly be done by an automaton. There’s zero creativity involved in memorizing biochemistry, bones and bacteria. Most of us sought our creative outlet through FABRIC, our cultural talent show for Revisit students. Even then, it’s left me wondering if there’s a place for creativity in medicine. Enter PCIC.
Opportunity to pursue a passion – my project is about making a video for diabetes. Similar to the “A World Without Moms” video, this video will string together responses from a diverse array of diabetics sharing their stories. Other projects include integrating and improving Electronic Medical Records in a community hospital, conducting an ethnography to find and document the costliest patients in a clinic, and organizing a food festival for diabetics.
Great community – the students, physicians and staff of PCIC couldn’t have been any nicer. They’re such a supportive bunch of people who genuinely love primary care and care about helping those in need. I believe that the most precious use of my time here in medical school is developing great friendships and relationships with mentors.
Although the course just ended last week, I’m continuing my project through the summer, as will many of my other classmates in PCIC. If you want something like PCIC at your school and could also use some free pizza, let’s talk.
Eric Lu is a first year student at Harvard Medical School who has an interest in global health and social entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on East Asia. In his free time, he enjoys writing regularly in his blog, Elusions, and working on The Jubilee Project, a production group that makes videos for a good cause. He has written previously for Progress Notes.
A version of this piece recently appeared on Elusions.