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Always think bigger: Life after Union

AJAY MAJOR
Hometown: Valparaiso, Ind.
Majors: Chemistry, Spanish & Hispanic Studies; Leadership in Medicine program

ALEENA PAUL
Hometown: New York, N.Y.
Majors: Biology, Sociology; Leadership in Medicine program

Here’s the scoop: Medical students Ajay Major and Aleena Paul, former student newspaper editors, have found time between their studies and clinical work to create in-Training, the world’s first online magazine written for and by medical students.

While addressing critical healthcare and social advocacy issues, in-Training also has become a popular forum for sharing the intense experience of med school.

“We believe that when medical students have an outlet to reflect on their experiences, and their voices can be heard, they will become better physicians and stronger patient advocates,” says Aleena.

The magazine has taken its founders to cities such as Toronto and Milan, Italy, to present at conferences, and it was recognized in the respected Scientific American Incubator blog.

Ajay and Aleena are part of Union’s Leadership in Medicine program, an eight-year combined degree program. Students double major at Union, choosing one field in the sciences and the other in the humanities or social sciences, then earn their M.D.s at Albany Medical College. In between, they also earn a master of science or an MBA from Clarkson University (Capital Region Campus).

Aleena:

We met our first year at Union in the Introduction to the U.S. Healthcare System class.

Ajay:

Yes, but we really got to know each other through Concordiensis. I was the editor-in-chief, and Aleena was managing editor. We had some long, crazy nights in the newspaper office.

Aleena:

We were on track for medicine, but we caught the journalism bug. After Union, we thought about establishing a student newspaper at Albany Medical College, but a physician journalist encouraged us to think bigger.

Ajay:

That’s when we decided to build an online village where medical students from around the world could discuss issues that were important to them. We wanted an intellectual gathering place.

Aleena:

Prior to in-Training, there was a lack of publications that really captured the medical student experience. We knew that students who pursue medicine are extremely diverse. Beyond their common goal of going into healthcare, they are interested in art, literature, politics, social action and more.

Ajay:

We now have 26 contributing editors from medical schools all over the world, so our management skills have definitely come in handy.

Aleena:

As have our marketing skills. We maintain an active social media presence.

Ajay:

Social media has brought in-Training to the attention of the general public, too. A student from Wayne State University wrote an article about his work with a completely free, student-run health clinic in Detroit. A few days later we got an email from someone who didn’t have healthcare, asking if we could connect her to the clinic. Another student wrote about her battle with depression and how she found strength through medical school. It went viral on Facebook with others saying they were going through the same thing. That’s our whole point: to raise important issues and build community.

Aleena:

We’ve published an enormous breadth of content, including essays by students for and against abortion, the role of research in medical education, op-eds about the need for more LBGT education in medical school, and the use of social media by hospitals in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Ajay:

Medical schools often exist as disparate islands. That isolation, both geographic and ideological, has historically made communication among medical students difficult and unproductive. We’re hoping to transcend that and provide a connective platform.


JOANNE STERN '06, Technology columnist:

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