June 25, 2021

Bridger Rodoni: Affirming experience

Medical students follow their vision and find support for their path while they train with us.

As a first-generation, low-income medical student, M4 Bridger wanted to help ease the transition to med school for other FGLI students. In addition to his work with the First in Family student org, Bridger expanded his med school journey with a dual degree that aligns well with his goal of matching into orthopedic surgery.

Here, he explains how the University of Michigan Medical School helped him answer the call and train for what comes next.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before going through the medical school application process?

I wish I would have known how much resources and support mattered. The journey through medical school is very difficult, and without the right support, just makes it even more strenuous. Having the right resources readily available to you when you need them truly makes all the difference.

Why did you decide to attend Michigan?

Michigan is great at everything, and we benefit from this throughout our time as medical students here. It’s not uncommon for people to change specialties of interest or long-term plans for their career, and students should be able to freely pursue their passions. When UMMS students choose to do this, they do not have to worry about their home program’s reputation and how that will impact them as they work toward residency. No matter what you choose to do, there’s something for you at Michigan.

Why did you become involved in First in Family?

I became involved with First in Family at Michigan Medicine because it was an area that has historically been unaddressed within medicine. As I experienced what it was like to go through medical school, the divide between first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students and their peers became shockingly apparent. Yet, there was no additional supports in place for these students as they navigated this journey and the unique challenges they face. Fortunately, we were able to build off of a previous Capstone for Impact project and greatly expand the group and its reach.

What are the goals for this organization?

First in Family at Michigan has three primary objectives that each serve a need within the medical school and beyond. First, we work closely with Admissions to identify and support FGLI applicants throughout the admissions process and after matriculation.

Second, we utilize a unique mentorship model known as mentorship families, which vertically integrate the medical school and residents at Michigan Medicine. More specifically, we design these mentorship families to leverage the interests and collective social capital of their members to improve the experience of our FGLI students. This has helped us begin to close the gap between our FGLI students and their non-FGLI peers, especially as it relates to the hidden curriculum of medical school.

Finally, we conduct research in these areas and disseminate the findings to help other institutions improve support structures for their FGLI students.

What have been your favorite parts or features of the med school curriculum so far, and why?

The Branches and the flexibility afforded by them is absolutely incredible. Especially with Step 1 becoming Pass/Fail and an anticipated emphasis on Step 2, this puts Michigan med students at a major advantage when considering how different people learn and study for standardized exams. Further, it allows for more deliberate pursuit of interests and other non-medicine endeavors like dual degrees.

Why did you decide to earn a dual degree while in med school?

I chose to pursue an MBA because many of the issues we face in medicine are at the intersection of finance, management and systems operations, and policy. Getting an MBA has helped me see the delivery of health care through a very different lens that has (in my opinion) the greatest potential for immediate, impactful change.

What advice do you have for others who are considering a dual degree in medical school?

When considering a dual degree, always think about how that new skillset will change your perspective and day-to-day practice. If you go through a program and come out without a new perspective on the world and continue to practice medicine the same way you did as before, the dual degree is not worth your time. However, if that program provides you with an entirely new viewpoint that can be leveraged for the benefit of your future patients, doing it during medical school is a fantastic option.

For my Capstone for Impact project on resident debt management and financial wellness, I was able to apply the skills that I learned at Ross pursuing my MBA to directly improve the financial wellbeing of resident physicians and surgeons.

How have your experiences at Michigan led you to choose your specialty for residency, and do you have any advice around choosing a specialty?

My experiences at Michigan Medicine affirmed my decision to pursue an Orthopaedic Surgery residency. I enjoyed the operative rotations and the MSK-related clinical problems on my core clerkships. While in the Branches, I was also able to take a month-long elective in Bone Radiology, which was very helpful as well.

My advice for choosing a specialty is to consider three things: 1) What types of people do you fit best with, 2) What niche do you see yourself fulfilling 10-20 years after medical school, and 3) Can you deal with the most tedious and routine aspects of that specialty for the next 30-40 years of your life? If one single specialty aligns with all of these, then I think you’ve found yourself in the right place!