Welcome to Washington University School of Medicine and the Dis-Orientation Guide. Whether you are about to start at this amazing medical school or are considering the benefits of matriculating here, the Dis-O Guide can be very helpful. Every year since 1987, creative, witty and knowledgeable Washington University medical students (fondly known as WUMS) have carefully written this handbook to guide incoming students.

Your class, in the great tradition of Washington University School of Medicine’s mission, will be filled with diverse individuals from around the country and around the world with all types of unparalleled experiences, unique skills and tremendous attributes. Some will have published their research findings, others will have received accolades for their leadership, a few will have displayed near professional athletic or artistic talent, and a large number will have volunteered locally and/or globally. All of our WUMS are bright, accomplished and motivated individuals who desire to give back and help people. In the 2014-15 Dis-O Guide, the former Dean of Admissions, Dr. Ed Dodson said, “Have a conversation with every one of your classmates before the year is out. They are incredible people.” Utilize your classmates’ perspectives in your own educational growth and your learning curve will become that much steeper!

You will have many days (and some nights) where you are learning about the science of the human body. Don’t forget the amazement that you experience the first time you dissect the human body or have the privilege of talking to a patient. Understanding the role that a doctor plays — balancing the biological knowledge of the molecular and physiologic basis for health and disease with the ability to connect with a person and their family in a way that they understand, trust, accept and will follow ­— is a unique skill that physicians must master.

You are starting down a pathway that will require diligence, sacrifice and hard work but will also bring tremendous reward. Rely upon the skills and characteristics that have brought you to this point. You were selected because you have unique, elite characteristics that will allow you to contribute to meeting the challenges of health care and biomedical research in the future. There are many people here who want to see you succeed in every way.

Remember we are so very proud of you, and we are here to help you grow into an amazing physician. We hope the Dis-O Guide will be one other source of information to assist you in your journey. Welcome to Washington University School of Medicine.

Valerie S. Ratts, MD
Associate Dean for Admissions and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology