Students who were making the transition from the basic science years to their clinical years in the year 2000 had, for the first time, an introduction to what to expect on the wards. The two-day Survival Fair, as the introduction was called, included lessons on conducting a pediatric ear exam, drawing blood, and OR do’s and don’ts. The idea was to prepare students by introducing them to what Nancy R. Angoff, M.P.H. ’81, M.D. ’90, HS ’93, associate dean for student affairs, called “simple, hands-on skills they didn’t get in great detail before.” Until then, they’d entered the wards armed only with whatever they’d gleaned from a day of orientation lectures.

Now called Transition, preparation for the wards is spread over 10 days and includes more than a dozen lectures and workshops in topics ranging from blood drawing and knot tying to infection control, how to handle a needle stick or exposure to body fluids, what to expect in the OR, personal safety in the hospital, professionalism, and palliative care skills. “We felt that there were things that the students needed in order to feel more comfortable,” Angoff said.

The program has grown in part because of changes in the practice of medicine: Students must now be knowledgeable about HIPAA requirements, how to use an electronic medical record, and how to discuss end-of-life care. In addition, the program has added new elements, including presentations by upper class medical students who explain the ropes to the incoming students. In June editor John Curtis visited some of the workshops to produce this photo gallery.