In years past, third-year medical students entered the wards armed only with whatever clinical exposure they’d gleaned in their basic science years and at a daylong orientation consisting largely of lectures. The preparation sometimes left students ill equipped for their first days of clinical studies. “I remember someone saying ‘Go get the EKG machine,’ and not knowing what the EKG looked like, let alone how to attach it to a patient,” said Nancy R. Angoff, M.P.H.. ’81, M.D. ’90, HS ’93, associate dean for student affairs.

To help students through the transition from basic to clinical science, Angoff’s Office of Student Affairs expanded its clinical orientation program this year with a two-day Survival Fair held on June 22 and 23. In addition to lectures from chief residents, hospital staff and others, students received lessons in how to conduct a pediatric ear exam, draw blood and take blood pressure. A session called “Don’t Throw Me the Knife” offered tips on operating room do’s and don’ts.

The Survival Fair was the brainchild of Angoff, Cynthia Andrien, M.S., assistant dean for student affairs, and Gisella Weissbach-Licht, director of the Office of Education. “You’re going to feel unprepared no matter what,” said Angoff. “We came up with this idea to try to relieve the anxiety of starting on the wards by introducing students to some simple, hands-on skills they didn’t get in great detail before.”