On a small screen, a 30-second capsule flies by like a whirlwind. First-year medical student Irielle Duncan makes coffee, drives to campus, eats breakfast before class, shows a brief tour of a learning commons, walks campus, volunteers as a gamer with a child patient, studies in a group for a lab test and then signs off.
“I had a super busy day, so I hope you had fun following along and seeing what we do every day as medical students,” Duncan says in her Instagram Reel video.
At the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year, the Medical College of Georgia launched a social media experiment: follow four students for four years through videos encapsulating their experience becoming physicians.
Branded as the Med Squad, the students are Duncan, 24, from Lawrenceville, Georgia; Alvaro Cortez, 24, from Chatsworth, Georgia; Cameron Liss, 25, from Atlanta; and Charlie Weeks, 25, from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Although it is common for medical schools to produce student videos portraying a day in the life of a medical student, it is unique for a school to plan four years of that journey through the eyes of a cohort.
The Med Squad’s videos are self-produced and appear on Augusta University’s Instagram feed (@aug_university). Instagram is a smartphone-based photo and video sharing app, although it can be accessed through a web browser too.
The students are becoming ambassadors to prospective students through social media.
“I was really excited to be able to represent first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented-in-medicine medical students through this project,” Cortez says explaining his rationale for participating. “My hope is that other students who identify in those categories can see someone through these videos that not only persevered throughout these four years, but also someone they can relate to.”
Duncan says the first few months have already been a valuable experience in lessons of marketing and social media. Those lessons will be applied later as a practicing physician.
“I have enjoyed building lifelong relationships with the rest of the Med Squad, and I am looking forward to seeing how our diverse experiences and involvements at MCG complement each other over the years,” she adds.
Weeks says, at the end of the project, he will look back and see how his life changed over the four years.
As they and their classmates in the Class of 2026 wrap up their first year, the members of the Med Squad say they are looking forward to more preclinical classes in their second year and clinical rotations in their third…and documenting it for the world to see.
High school: Murray County High School in Chatsworth
Undergraduate degree: Dalton State College, Bachelor of Science in biology
Why I chose medicine: I was initially inspired in pursuing a career in medicine when my sister was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards’ Syndrome. Watching my Mexican immigrant parents navigate my sister’s health needs, especially in a language that is not their native tongue, showed me that the Hispanic/Latino population faces many barriers in health care. I realized that there is a great need of Hispanic/Latino physicians and I want to be a part of that mission to serve this patient population.
High school: Archer High School in Lawrenceville
Undergraduate degree: University of Georgia, Bachelor of Science in biology and psychology, and Mercer University School of Medicine, Master of Science in Preclinical Sciences
Why I chose medicine: I like to say that medicine and I chose each other. Medicine chose me from my innate desire to understand, heal and uplift those around me. Likewise, I chose medicine because it fulfills my passion for community health and satisfies my drive to be a servant leader, leaving an impact bigger than myself.
High school: St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta
Undergraduate degree: University of Georgia, Bachelor of Science in biology and psychology
Why I chose medicine: Obviously, I think it’s the coolest job in the world! I have always wanted to become a physician and devote my career to improving the quality of people’s lives. With extensive knowledge and training, I’ll have the ability to gain patients’ trust and spend my workdays using my passions and skills to serve others.
High school: Baylor School in Chattanooga
Undergraduate degree: Washington and Lee University, Bachelor of Science in biochemistry
Why I chose medicine: I was a high school teacher before coming to medical school. I ultimately decided to go into medicine because I grew up with type 1 diabetes and knew that I wanted to work in a field where I could truly impact people every day. The management of my chronic condition affects me in so many ways. Therefore, having an endocrinologist that guided me to the quality of life that I have today was a gift that I want to impart on others as I become a physician. Also, I have a love for teaching, so medicine will allow me to combine my desire to treat patients and teaching as I hope to work in an academic setting, doing research and teaching medical students.