Finishing off the year, Johns Hopkins Medicine's premiere medical humanities blog CLOSLER featured a riveting book review titled "Lessons from Diary of a Med Student."
"Daniel Azzam and Ajay Nair Sharma, like most medical students, had experienced the emotional highs and lows of their preclinical and then clinical training, which was now being buffeted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These distinctive thoughts and feelings—the sorrow of losing a patient, the joy of performing a procedure for the first time, the humor of non-catastrophic clinical miscommunications—were known so well by those inhabiting the world of medicine and could inspire much-needed inner reflection in the safety of each other’s company." - Howard Chang, Editor at Diary of a Med Student and Writer at CLOSLER.
"For me, there is no greater honor than opportunities like this where I can give back to the community. The chance to speak to around 150 pre-medical students here at the Health Scholars Program was particularly special because a large part of my motivation in creating this book was to inspire future doctors to follow their dreams and give them an inside look of what it's like to be a medical student."- Ajay N. Sharma, Co-Founder of Diary of a Med Student.
"Speaking of stress, Ajay Nair Sharma and Daniel Azzam, students in the UCI School fo Medicine have written a book about their and others' experiences with the highs and lows, the good times and the tough times, of medical school. Diary of a Med Student is a collection of 100+ stories from students at more than 50 medical schools across the county. The two classmates wanted to address rising burnout and the importance of mental health in medicine by showing fellow medical students they are not alone in their feelings. The book has been selling well since its September release, and the authors are donating the proceeds to a scholarship fund for incoming and current medical students. Kudos to Drs. Sharma and Azzam." - Chancellor Howard Gillman
Alleviating Med School Angst: UCI duo publish 'diary' of peer experiences from across country to show students they're not alone.
Excerpt from story in the book:"Nancy"
"Where's Nancy?" I asked my mom, feeling guilty for not checking in. She had not come by in weeks. "She's at the community hospital." our town had been hit hard by COVID-19. "There's a letter in the mail for you, but no return address," my mom continued, handing over a wrinkly pink envelope doused in Lysol.
"This pandemic will pass, but you must go on. When the world is sick, we need hopeful healers." It was from Nancy. - "Nancy" in Diary of a Med Student
Two UCI medical students recently wrote a book: Diary of a Med Student, selling over 1,000 copies in the first month and hitting #1 in the New Release category on Amazon.
"The book brought back fond memories of my own medical school days. The unjaded views of some of life's most joyous, funny, and tragic moments are relatable to all who have walked before the authors. Health care is about our patients and their loved ones, and the degree of empathy apparent in many of the stories recognizes the relationships that our students have made with their patients. Congratulations to these talented students for brightening our days." - Michael J. Stamos, MD, FACS, FASCRS, Dean of the UCI School of Medicine (middle)
Going to back to his roots as a young volunteer at UCLA Health, Daniel Azzam is invited back to the Mattel Children's Hospital to speak to 50+ Mattel Youth Ambassadors, a dynamic group of high school students interested in medicine, about his journey through medical school and how this book came to be.
"Early on in my career, it was the volunteer work I did at UCLA Health leading initiatives to improve the patient experience that initially inspired me to pursue a career in medicine. I remember being in the shoes of these bright, young students as if it were yesterday. To be able to share with them everything I would have wanted to hear when I was at their stage is for me perhaps the greatest way to give back to our society's future physicians, and I hope that our book will inspire them to follow their dreams and one day give back to future generations in a cycle of positivity."- Daniel Azzam, Co-Founder of Diary of a Med Student.
"So, as you know, we're impressed with Diary of a Med Student. What's next? Any big plans?" - VoyageLA Magazine
"We’ve sold over 1000 copies in our first month, we’re the #1 New Release in our category on Amazon, and we’ve received testimonials and praise from famous names in medicine like Dr. Abraham Verghese, SketchyMedical, Online MedEd, and Boards and Beyond. Moving forward, in addition to our Scholarship fund, we are working to transition our company to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit." - Ajay N. Sharma
A talented medical artist and prominent student leader at UC Irvine, Sharma is finishing up his medical and business studies. He plans to become a dermatologist, focusing on the treatment of skin cancer.
Below is an excerpt from Online MedEd Interview with Ajay.
"To be a med student in 2020 is very different to being a med student in previous generations. What do those who may have attended med school in the past not understand about the experience, today?" - Ben Stanley, Writer at Online MedEd.
"The global pandemic has really turned medical education, and medicine in general, upside down. Being able to learn from this experience, both in the short term … and long term, will help us combat viruses and pandemics in the future.” - Ajay N. Sharma, Co-Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief at Diary of a Med Student.
"Diary of a Med Student is an encouraging reminder for med students and doctors that their experiences matter and that they are not alone!” - Dr. Dustyn Williams, Online MedEd’s Co-Founder and Lead Educator.
Minutiae - "It wasn’t that I was putting too little into med school. Rather, it was that I was putting too much into the little things."
The Little I Could Offer - "The little I could offer, was the little that she needed.”
Wake Up the Warriors! - "Though saying goodbye was hard, I knew Molly would be safe at home. She had an army of warriors behind her."
Shonit Nair Sharma (top) has always enjoyed sharing stories with his older brother (middle), a tradition that has been especially therapeutic for them while pursuing their dreams as doctors in training.
“The pandemic did not get in the way of storytelling,” Shonit said. “In fact, it has given med students a unique and important voice during this historic time in medicine, and I believe our book captures these current emotional challenges in a unifying and comforting space.”
Daniel B. Azzam et al. (September 2020). Diary of a Med Student: Creating Medical Student Wellness in a Pandemic. Oral Presentation presented at: 10th Annual Medical Humanities Conference; Kalamazoo, MI, USA.
Hosted by The Western Michigan University Medical Humanities & The Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine
"As a medical student, you find potential patients everywhere. Whether you’re on an airplane or on a romantic dinner date, we’ve all heard those famous words, 'Is there a doctor in the house?!' Here are some of my favorite 'patient' encounters."