Oregon medical students love the outdoors!

When you are surrounded with the green, scenic outdoors that Oregon has to offer it is hard to be stuck inside all day long. That is why Oregon students appreciate every opportunity to take advantage of nice weather and partake in outdoor activities.

Group bonding activity at medical student first year retreat.
Large circle group exercise.

This year started off with the perfect opportunity to exploit Oregon’s wilderness: an orientation camping retreat for the first-year medical students. Last year the second-year students hosted a camping trip for my class, and I think I speak for a majority of my classmates when I say it was unforgettable and influential event. This year, my second-year class tried to recreate that same bonding experience for the new students. The orientation camping retreat is an opportunity for new students to get to know each other and also solicit advice from recent survivors of the first year of medical school.  We chose Milo McIver park as the perfect location for the retreat, which took place on the weekend of Aug. 23.

Bringing it in for a group hug!

The retreat leaders arrived the night before the first-year students in order to get oriented to the camp location and set up tents. It ended up being a beautiful day of floating the river, barbecuing, and sharing stories around the campfire about our exciting summer experiences. When the buses of new students arrived, it was show time! Orientation leaders and committee members had spent many hours over the last month discussing and planning activities that would be both fun and worthwhile. We had a well-orchestrated plan which included small group round table discussions, large group team building exercises, and interactive games and sports to fill the day. What could be better than water balloon fights, pick-up soccer, s’mores, and capture the flag? The weather also cooperated beautifully!

Students enjoying lunch and mingling at the first year orientation retreat.

I had a wonderful 48 hours of fun and stress free enjoyment before… I ended up in urgent care! Apparently I couldn’t stand being away from medicine for that long and subconsciously sabotaged myself into seeking medical attention. Sad times. I am still thinking of a better story than: I got hit with a glass bottle in the face playing Polish horseshoes. But, in the end it was just one more thing that made the experience unforgettable. It was actually encouraging to see the response of my classmates when the blood started dripping down my face from my right eyebrow. Someone got ice, someone got the first aid kit, there was hand sanitizer, someone helped me to the nearest bench to lay me down, someone offered to give me stitches (which I graciously declined). All in all, I felt like the response to my laceration elicited the best possible spring-into action reaction from my 25%-of-an-MD classmates. It was almost like a bonding activity in itself! In the end I decided to go to urgent care and get some derma bond to keep the site clean and hold the edges together for better healing. Luckily my friends were looking for an excuse to get some Starbucks and drove me to the nearest urgent care 45 minutes away.

Unplanned visit to Urgent Care during the first year medical student camping retreat.

Earlier this month, my classmates and I took advantage of the outdoors again on a 75-degree day with a trip to Sand Shore Beach on the Oregon coast. The Emergency Medicine Interest Group hosted a fundraiser surf workshop where our aqua-adept classmate Brook Goddard helped get us standing on the waves. I was so excited about this surf lesson until the morning of, when I realized I had willingly signed myself up to freeze in 30-degree water.  I lived on Newport Beach in Southern California for 5 years and never got more than my toes wet, but now, in the freezing October water of the Oregon Coast I was choosing to learn how to surf. Ironic. If I didn’t have my friends holding me to my commitment I would have definitely bailed out of fear of frostbitten digits. But the day couldn’t have been more beautiful! And wetsuits are miracle workers, I wasn’t cold at all!

Emergency Medicine Interest Group Surf Day Fundraiser!

Brook coached 6 or so people at a time, first on the beach with techniques of how to stand and paddle, then in the water where he helped us find the right wave and instructed us on when to stand up. We all stood up on our first tries! It was such a great pay off, and so much fun. I am not fooling myself into thinking I would have been able to catch a wave without Brook’s huge push, but I still felt great about standing up at all. I am always impressed with my classmate’s amazing hobbies. Brook’s 10-year ocean lifeguard experience and devotion to spending as much time as possible in the water is no exception. He even spent this past summer in the Jungle of Garjagan, Java, stitching up fellow surfers who got injuries from the reef. Definitely a unique experience.

MS2 students learning how to surf.

These experiences with my classmates have helped start this year off with fun memories that will keep me going when we are stuck indoors studying. Oregon has so much to offer and I am glad we are taking advantage of our beautiful surroundings!

Photo credit: Christopher Rackoff, MS2

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