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“How Are You (Honestly)?”: Pre-Medical Student Edition

Guest editor Sarah Berry, PhD worked with nineteen pre-medical students at Centre College, Rhodes College, and Sewanee: The University of the South, who composed a pre-med edition of the “How Are You (Honestly)?” pandemic questionnaire. Curation of responses, images, and layout were all overseen by the students. The post begins with a short reflection by one of the students, Laura Fryar. Enjoy.


Hope for the Future?

By Laura Fryar

While working as a curator for the collaboration with triage to produce the “How Are You (Honestly)?: Pre-Medical Student Edition,” one question really stood out to me. It asked, “Has this pandemic made you reevaluate your choice to pursue a career in healthcare?” Every person that responded stated that the pandemic has not turned them away from a medical profession. Several even went as far to say it has further fueled their desire to pursue medicine. In times that have felt devastating and hopeless, it is inspiring to read that many other college-age students like me are still planning to pursue a career in medicine. This pandemic has exposed us to the reality of existing inequalities in medicine, as evidenced by the disproportionate number of deaths of people of color in the United States. Personally, this time has ignited a passion in me to further learn more about health disparities and eventually serve communities that are affected by these inequalities.

The final question included in the triage project asked about hope. A majority of the people who responded stated that they do feel hopeful and that we will eventually get through this pandemic together. However, it still remains uncertain about what the world will continue to look like in the coming months and in many years. Learning about health humanities has taught me the importance of tolerating and embracing uncertainty as it will lead us to be more reflective about the current situation. While there is much uncertainty about the future, the responses from this triage project have given me hope that we will continue to move forward and navigate this together.


photo credit: Sebastian Dumitru, Unsplash

#1 When someone asks how you’re doing during the pandemic, do you tell them how you actually feel?

No because everyone pretends to be fine

No because I feel like I have it better than a lot of people who are on the front lines or suffering from the virus

Depends. If it’s someone I’m close to, yes. If it’s someone I don’t know as well, probably not

Yes, I do. I always try to be honest, and I have had a great support system around me

I do because i want to be honest to anyone who asks me and it helps relieve any stress I had on myself

photo credit: United Nations COVID-19 Response, Unsplash

#3 What scares you about the pandemic?

Job security for my friends and family

The unknown. I have no way of knowing if my parents will be fine or become really sick if they get the virus

How the general public seems to forget the still-present danger of it

When people say this will change the world forever. What are those changes going to look like?

photo credit: Tom Barrett, Unsplash

#7 How do you feel about you or your family members/friends being labeled essential or nonessential to society?

It’s hard to watch them risk their lives for others but at the same time they have a chance of bringing it home to us

It has been hard because my mom was furloughed from her job because her work shut down

It's a sad fact that complex people can be labeled and grouped as simple categories when it's convenient

I think that is a terrible label. Who gets to decide what is "essential" or "nonessential?"

Everyone's job is essential to them

photo credit: Logan Weaver, Unsplash

#8 Do you feel more or less unified with the people around you?

Less, I don't get along with my family. Being home is tough

More, both with my family and everyone in my neighborhood. We're all in this together

I feel more unified with people because everyone is going through the same things right

now but I still feel isolated sometimes

Less because of the physical distance between us

photo credit: Logan Weaver, Unsplash

#10 How does it make you feel when you see people acting like nothing is happening – not wearing masks and attending large gatherings?

It is confusing- do they not have a loved one who is older or immunocompromised? I wish I

knew how they were rationalizing their own behavior

It is infuriating because people aren't listening to the scientists and medical professionals about how to stay safe

I think wearing a mask is such an easy thing to do that I can't understand why someone would not

It is disappointing to see. I wish people would learn to step into other’s shoes…

…This question is a double edged sword currently because of all the injustice going on in the country currently. Because there is going to be no change unless large groups of people leave their houses and speak up and protest in a large gathering

photo credit: Zach Vessels, Unsplash

#12 What is something that you took for granted before the pandemic?

Going to restaurants and being able to spend time with my friends.

Visiting my friends' houses

hugging/ shaking hands with someone you haven’t seen in a long time

Human contact. Spending time with people. Goodbye hugs

being on campus/ going to the library

My life at school.

photo credit: Ben Garratt, Unsplash

#13 If the pandemic was a movie, what genre would your experience be?



family-friendly comedy

dark comedy


whatever the most boring genre is

A bad indie film that doesn't really have a plot line and you can't understand what the actors are saying half the time. Basically a movie that leaves you entirely confused.

photo credit: United Nations COVID-19 Respons, Unsplash

#15 How do you think that it feels to be a doctor right now?

Terrifying, frustrating, sad

I think it would be extremely stressful putting yourself and those you love in danger everyday.

I think it's very stressful and it's probably frustrating for doctors to be risking their lives everyday and then see other people going out like nothing has happened.

Stressful, overwhelming, scary, rushed, defeating

Scary, exhausting

Talking to my father, who is a surgeon, he seems a little concerned but almost takes it with a "Business as usual" type of attitude.

photo credit: Alin Luna, Unsplash

#17 Has this pandemic made you reevaluate your choice to pursue a career in healthcare?



It has inspired me to keep pursuing this profession

If anything it’s reaffirmed my interest for the field and is motivating me to pursue a career in public/global health policy.

I absolutely still want to be a doctor, but I'm starting to understand what it may mean


Nope, not for a second.

photo credit: Kyle Ryan, Unsplash

#19 Do you feel hopeful? Why or why not?

Yes because as things start to open I feel a sense of normal returning but I know it is probably temporary

Kind of, I worry about hoping too much though because as we now know, our way of life can change so quickly.

I do, but cautiously hopeful

I am. I know that we've gotten through worse before and we will get through this

I feel hopeful because the world has gone through similar disasters and we are resilient people. I just hope we come out as better people than before.


From the editors at triage, Thank You for reading and Thank You for sharing. Stay Safe.

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