1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Benji Richter and I’m an MS2 here at Jefferson. I was born and raised in Chicago and attended college in New York at Yeshiva University, where I majored in Music. I spent a year before college studying and touring in Israel and a year after college pursuing clinical research (snuck in a couple months of backpacking Asia and Europe as well ). When time permits, I like to keep up with my music, go hiking (if you need local recommendations, let me know!), read novels, and hang out with friends.
2. Last year, you completed the PEL Internship. Can you tell us more about the project you completed?
As the PEL intern, I designed, implemented, and now facilitate a 15-hour bioethics course for 2021 class, which encourages active medical ethics learning through debate-style exercises, improvisation of ethics vignettes, case and article based critical analysis, and guest lectures on topics ranging from assisted reproductive technology to end-of-life care. The bulk of the work conceptualizing and implementing the specifics of the course was completed over the summer, with targeted mentorship at each step of the way from the PEL leadership team and a network of physicians within the Jefferson community, many of whom PEL connected me with directly.
3. What is the application process like for this year's internship?
The application is fairly straightforward! The questions are first and foremost intended to get a sense of who each applicant is, what motivates them generally, and what kind of goals they are passionate about accomplishing within healthcare specifically. Our application is also designed to get a fairly thorough understanding of specific project end points, while leaving ample flexibility for those endpoints to be tinkered with as the project progresses.
4. Name something you've gained from being a member of PEL that you would not have gotten elsewhere during medical school?
PEL, more than any group or opportunity on campus, has encouraged my active participation in my medical school education. As a member of the PEL leadership team, I feel that I am being challenged to produce my best work and to engage passionately with the areas of medicine that I hope to remain intimately involved with for the remainder of my career. In a vast haze of endless memorization, my involvement with PEL has served as a constant reminder that I can and should be actively engaged in leadership and innovation opportunities as a medical student. I am confident that I will look back on my time with PEL as a springboard for any leadership role I will have the privilege of assuming as a practicing physician.
5. What is the number one piece of advice you can give to a first year medical student?
Take care of your person. The challenges of physician burn out don’t emerge out of thin air when we start practicing medicine, or even when we start rotating. The coping mechanisms and work-life balance we begin developing in our pre-clinical years function as a base for our perspective on how much we will allow ‘work’ to dominate our lives. In the medical school bubble, every opportunity seems impossible to reject and feels infinitely valuable and necessary. As a medical student, you can keep yourself occupied all day every day, and one has to decide for his or herself where to make sacrifices. Learning to prioritize our well being has to come from within, as it is certainly not encouraged by the learning environment or the medical system at large.
6. NASA is sending you to lead the colonization of a new planet, but you have to pack light. You can only bring 3 books with you. What would you bring and w
(1) The Stranger, by Albert Camus—as I constant and humbling reminder that no matter how isolated up there I feel, there was always someone feeling more existentially angsty and lonely than I
(2) East of Eden, by John Steinbeck—Just a wonderful book with very rich character development and endless wisdom.
(3) Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace—because no matter how long I am up there, I will never finish the damn thing.