Importance of OPM Participation

Okay, folks, now that I am back down from cloud nine, I want to share some important facts with you.
OPM is a group that requires your active participation. The great thing is that when you participate, you gain a lot more than you can possibly give. Let me explain.
When I joined OPM 3+ years ago, I was confident, scared, sure I was crazy, doubtful that I would ever be able to accomplish my dream, yet determined that I would give it my best shot. Sound familiar? I think those are all feelings we share as OPMs.
So what did OPM do for me? Well, it supplies a wealth of knowledge, experience, support, fun, and opportunities. I jumped in feet first, participating in both of the previous two annual conventions. Through the group itself, I have found many friends and have had the opportunity to grow in knowledge and experience. I have gained so much by listening to others as they process information, face challenges, and proceed through the med school maze.
Let me say this, too. ATTEND THE CONFERENCES!! You not only strengthen your friendship with the other members, but have the opportunity to network with a great number of people who may be able to help you as you traverse the murky waters of med school application. You will find networking among the other members and the contacts you can make through the group invaluable.
It is through my participation in OPM, my determination, and, according to one of the doctors I work with, continued hard work, that I am able to say that I am now a member of the class of 2007. Help yourself attain your goal by participating and sharing with others your experiences now, and as you proceed through all the stages of med school, residency, and practice.
Thank you to the many members who have made this organization proliferate. Let us all remember to work together to continue our growth and increase our strength and recognition by those in the medical community.

To this, I would add that you should consider OPM as an investment – the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. In this process, everyone gradually becomes a resource for everyone else. We all pick up tidbits of knowledge from choices we made, with positive & negative results, from enduring this capricious process. OPM seeks to accumulate and make available that aquired wisdom from the masses of our membership. What better resource than from those who have been there, done that & succeeded?
This first year of OPM’s existance, we had only a couple of members get in…more the second, and many many more in the last couple of admissions cycles. Many of the first few success stories have stuch around to continue advising those who have not yet gotten in. However, as is frequently & unfortunately the case, many of our more recent success stories have not been able to participate at previous levels. I sincerely hope that this is not because they feel that they do not have enough to offer, because that is far from the case.
It is my hope that every OPMers who participates now will continue to do so once they get into med school…your experiences are invaluable to those who are not yet there. Plus, as OPM matures as an organization, more senior med students become a resource for more junior ones. And, once OPM’s alumni base expands, those alumni not only become resources for the pre-med & med student members, but they also become massively valuable networking resources for those seeking to do electives in a specific field in a specific region of the country.
There is nothing that precludes the OPM style of community, support and voluntary distribution of knowledge & experience from succeeding at all career levels. To this end, I ask that everyone who has been a member of OPM to take an inventory of what OPM have provided you and take a few moments to pay this debt forward to future generations of physicians and OPM alumni. If we all take ownership in this organization, giving back to the membership equal to what you received, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.
Remember when you felt all alone? Like when you felt that you were the only non-traditional candidate out there…seeking someone, anyone who simply relate to your predicament, let alone offer insightful, pertinent advice. Now that you have found OPM and become part of our community, it is time that you provided that same feeling of comeraderie to others who are just like you were.
How to do this? Just like Linda wisely pointed out…simply participate. Not a hard task…make posts, respond to questions, give your 2 cents, ask questions that perplexed you - even if you never found the answer. That one question could provide the missing piece for someone else. Or, you gain gain one of the pieces you are missing. At the risk of sounding cliche, there are no dumb questions – maybe a few – but essentially zero. We were all clueless to one degree or another at several points in this game. We cannot help you if you do not tell us what you need to know.
Try to attend our conferences. Yes, I know we all exist on budgets of various sizes – believe, I have lived this reality for 7+ years now. However, the benefits of being there are innumerable. There are the directs positives from the presentations themselves. The less apparent positives are actually getting to meet the members of OPM. Believe it or not, these are going to be your professional colleagues & medicine is a profession in which networking and professional/collegial relationships are critical to achieving your goals. So, meeting and shooting the bull with a members of the OPM crowd is more than just fun, it is smart business.
In the last couple of years, we’ve had speakers on financial aid, admissions processes, writiing personal statements, sharpening your applications, personality typing as a component of the application/interview & workshops on personality typing as it plays into learning and one where the attendees played “Admissions Committee” – giving a rare opportunity to learn about admissions from the inside looking out.
With each year, we try to incorporate more for the med students and our spouses/SOs. From the beginning, both of these groups have been welcomed into the pre-med focused discussions. However, as we gain more & more med student, OPM wants to expand its conference offering to benefit you as well. The planners are considering skills labs and residency networking seminars in the future. For our precious spouses & SOs…we continue to strive to invigorate this section with less than glowing success. But, we refuse to give up! You guys are critical to the success of the med students and survival of the family. Med school is very much a joint venture, just as is marriage. So, we want you to get involved – my wife, who is a real trooper and survived 7 rough years, is always available to offer her own brand of wisdom. And, we plan to incorporate seminars for spouses & SOs into our annual conferences as soon as the interest level is sufficient.
We try to select venues and host cities based upon financial implications balanced with family/tourism attractiveness. We’d love for our conferences to be deemed mini-vacations for the members of OPM & their families.
If you would like to escalate your involvement in OPM, we’d certainly love to have you. And, there is a plethora of ways in which to accomplish this. Linda, as chief planner of the upcoming conference, will need manpower, esp as the dates draws nearer. Kathy Rahman, our President, heads an effort to establish local, regional and college based OPM chapters – could definitely use some manpower. I am in charge of publich relations & fundraising – not only could I use some manpower assistance; but also advice on soliciting donations, grants and encouraging folks to contribute time and money to OPM.
Just like our advice…all you have to do is ask!