Advice for New Grads from Downing Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to Anna Cherian (M4), this year’s recipient of the Downing Urban Health Scholarship! Cherian, a member of Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), will be moving to Chicago in June to begin a four-year residency program in medical education and pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center.  

From left are Anna McLaughlin, M.D., Deni Drenic, M.D., Bill Downing, M.D., Anna Cherian, M.D., and Sara Brown, M.D.

Cherian recently attended a gathering hosted by the scholarship’s founder and this year’s College of Medicine Gonfalonian, William Downing, who – like Cherian – is a member of the Virtuous Healer Honor Society in addition to AOA. Over dinner, previous Downing Scholarship recipients Deni Drenic, M.D. (’21), Anna McLaughlin, M.D. (’18) and Sara Brown, M.D. (’18) passed along experience and wisdom that could be reassuring to other new graduates, too.   

Observations and advice for new graduates:

  • Enjoy your free time before you start your residency!
  • Keep your cohort close; they’re going through the same thing you are, and you can rely on them. If a few of you are from another city, you can figure out together where to go to eat.
  • Know your resources, including the people you can ask for advice.
  • If you don’t know something, admit it and ask a question. Everyone on the team knows you’re new. They don’t expect you to know everything, and you’re not annoying them. (By your third year, though, you’re expected to know more!)
  • Expect a steep learning curve. Just when you’re starting to feel settled, it’ll be time for the next rotation. You’ll be learning hands-on now, from interacting with patients instead of from books.
  • Remember the motivational interviewing skills you learned at NEOMED. Even if there isn’t always time to apply them fully, they’re beneficial.
  • You’ll be called on to provide backup. Be ready to cover for the other people on your team.
  • It can be overwhelming to be swamped with demands. Know that it’s not surprising that you would feel that way.
  • Take one rotation at a time and you’ll get through them all.

To learn more about the Downing Urban Health Scholarship for medicine students pursuing careers in urban primary health care, contact the Office of Financial Aid at


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