Medicine in Motion (HMS News: May 13, 2020)

Medicine in Motion (HMS News: May 13, 2020)

Group brings health care students, workers together through fitness, philanthropy: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/medicine-motion

By MIKE CAMPBELL May 13, 2020 Education HMS Community

Medicine in Motion founders Derek Soled, Logan Briggs, Chase Marso and Mike Seward

Medicine in Motion’s Derek Soled, Logan Briggs, Chase Marso and Mike Seward

Chase Marso remembers the moment he realized Medicine in Motion, the fitness group he and three friends started during their first year at Harvard Medical School, had truly taken on a life of its own.

It was August 2019, and Marso and 18 other members of the group had just finished Bike to the Beach from Boston to Newport, R.I., an annual ride benefiting autism awareness and research. Their team raised more than $15,000.

“We had so many people that had very little biking experience on our team, and they committed to this 100-mile bike ride,” Marso said. “To see so many different people with varying levels of fitness going into the summer, commit to training together and to fundraising, that was a moment where I thought, ‘What we’ve been doing is worthwhile and worth continuing to grow to have more moments like this.’”

It had been a long journey to that Newport beach from the gym at Vanderbilt Hall.

That’s where the  students—Marso, Logan Briggs, Mike Seward and Derek Soled—met in the fall of 2017. What started with informal group workouts grew into a student group called Docs Who Lift, and the four recruited other HMS students to register for endurance events, like Spartan Races and triathlons.

Medicine in Motion at the Buzzard's Bay Triathlon in Sept. 2019
Medicine in Motion at the Buzzard’s Bay Triathlon in Sept. 2019

They had all been athletes before coming to HMS and had personally experienced the benefit of regular, intense physical activity.

“For me, working out is the only thing that offers a mental respite from my other responsibilities,” said co-founder Briggs. “Activities like watching a movie or playing video games just leave this nagging thought in the back of my head that I should be doing something more productive. So, working out is really the only time where I feel liberated from all the other tasks on my plate and comfortable that I’m doing something productive for my body and my mind.”

Co-founder Soled also sees regular physical activity as central to a balanced life for busy medical students and health care professionals.

“A lot of people wrongly look at physical activity and they say, ‘How do you have time to work out? You have these long days being a student or being a doctor,’” Soled said. “But it’s not like you’re adding this time; it’s that this time for physical activity is so integral to my day, and it’s what I need to flourish in all my other activities.”

In the summer of 2018, they, along with Katie Lantz, Seward’s girlfriend and fellow Harvard College alum, signed up for the Pan-Mass Challenge. Together, they biked 200 miles over the course of two days, despite Briggs being the only member with any previous long-distance cycling experience.

They also gained fundraising experience as each collected donations towards the $5,500 registration fee to benefit Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Together, racing as Docs Who Lift, they raised more than $30,000.

“When that was over, we said, ‘OK, now what?’” said Marso.  “How do we go about doing this in year two? How do we include others?”

That fall, the founders hosted a meeting with other interested students from HMS, HSDM and other Boston-area medical schools to brainstorm ways to combine their interests in physical fitness, health care and philanthropy. Medicine in Motion was born.

Soled says Medicine in Motion has three goals.

“First, we want to promote well-being in health care professionals through physical activity. Secondly, we want to foster a sense of community among health care professionals, at all stages of training and all types of health care. Finally, we want to use this time together to fundraise and give back.”

To that end, Medicine in Motion registered as an official 501(c)(3) non-profit. The group grew to include chapters at HSDM, Boston University Medical School, Tufts University Medical School, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and most recently, the University of Queensland in Australia.  

In addition to organizing regular workouts and runs at their individual chapters, members also have also participated as teams in triathlons, long-distance bike rides and other endurance events. Within its first two years, Medicine in Motion recruited 684 medical professionals to take part in events, raising $50,000 for medical research initiatives.

Second-year HMS student Henry Ashworth, who has taken on a leadership role with the group, thinks the group’s focus on community building has been key to its growth.

“It’s fun to do these things, but it’s so much more fun when you’re with someone else,” he said. “It’s a much more meaningful experience if you feel connected to the people you’re around.”

Dylan Cahill, a first-year HMS medical student who has organized weekly group runs for Medicine in Motion, explained how the focus on physical activity provides an opportunity for medical students and health care workers of all levels to form connections.

“Maybe while jogging next to someone, you learn a little bit about what they do for a living, what they’re passionate about,” Cahill said. “And you say, ‘Hey, that’s something I’m interested in,’ or, ‘My buddy was looking to get into that sort of thing. Do you mind if I send you an email?’”

Soled also sees the opportunity to network with medical professionals at different points of their career as a benefit to the group.

“It brings people together who otherwise may have never interacted but are following the same trajectory,” he said. “You get a first-year medical student sitting next to an attending who is 30 years older than them who is interested in the same field.”

Medicine in Motion had been planning to cap off their third year with their first fully self-organized event: a 5k run along Boston’s Esplanade that would be open to the public. Planning was underway when the Longwood campuses, Boston and much of the rest of the country shut down to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

With members now separated by quarantine and finishing the semester online, planning for the 5k has been put on hold, and it seems unlikely the event will be held at the end of the summer as previously hoped.

But the group is finding ways to stay connected.

Cahill says many members use the mobile app Strava to share their runs, post selfies and leave encouraging comments for each other.

Ashworth with fellow second-year HMS student Niyi Odewade have started a workout of the day (WOD) program, devising fitness circuits people can easily do within their homes without gym equipment, encouraging people to use objects at hand—like milk jugs or a backpack full of books—to take the place of weight equipment.

“It provides a way for us to remain socially connected while physically distancing, which can take a toll on people’s mental and physical well-being,” said Odewade.

The two are creating a library of WODs on the Medicine in Motion website. Recently, the Dartmouth and Queensland chapters began leading weekly workouts on Zoom available to the public worldwide.

While the focus is on resistance and high-intensity interval training, Ashworth stresses that people should be sure to take the time for whatever self-care they find most necessary or useful.

“Maybe doing an intense exercise at home is not what you need today,” Odewade said. “Maybe you need that extra time to yourself to relax, to just sit and read a book, to call a friend, to go for a walk. To just absolutely do nothing and eat food on the couch, because that’s what you feel like you really want right then and there.”

Looking ahead, group leadership would like to see chapters in every state and in more countries, with a central organization financially stable enough to provide funding to individual chapters to organize their own events.

Logan Briggs, Mike Seward, Derek Soled with HMS Dean George Q. Daley at the 2019 Dean’s Community Service Awards
Logan Briggs, Mike Seward, Derek Soled and Chase Marso with HMS Dean George Q. Daley at the 2019 Dean’s Community Service Awards 

Seward said it’s been most satisfying to see new members take on leadership roles, ensuring the group has a future beyond the co-founders’ graduation.

“That was a goal for us this year: to get other people leading events, coming up with their own ideas,” he said. “Because we think if they can come up with their own ideas, they’ll take responsibility and really run with it.”

Soled sees the November 2019 Spartan race as a moment when Medicine in Motion’s new leadership took charge. More than 130 members participated in an endurance challenge at Fenway Park.

“The four of us [third-year co-founders] had virtually nothing to do with it in terms of preparation,” Soled said of the event, which was spearheaded by Medicine in Motion’s Tufts University School of Medicine chapter, captained by Jacob Klickstein. “We like to think we’re creating a model for years to come, and it was just very inspiring for us to see that.”

Looking at how far Medicine in Motion has come, Soled is optimistic about where the group will go.

“It’s been a challenge, but an extremely rewarding experience to see people setting benchmarks and goals for themselves,” he said. “That’s all we’re about.”

Related coverage in HM News: The Best of Who We Are

Images courtesy of Medicine in Motion.

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Chris Lites
Chris is a second year medical student at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. After graduating from Columbia University in 2016 with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavior he worked in consulting and then managed a private practice for a cardiologist. Currently obsessed with boxing, calisthenics and functional strength training, Chris has always been a fitness fanatic. Since becoming a NASM certified personal trainer in 2018 he has been committed to promoting exercise and general wellness within each of his communities.
Jacob Klickstein
Jacob is a 4th year MD/PhD student at Tufts University School of Medicine working on his PhD in neuroscience. He currently works to create motor neurons from human stem cells, but when he isn’t in the lab, he can be found running down the esplanade, practicing handstands or tending to his indoor forest. Before joining Tufts, he worked as a clinical research assistant creating and maintaining a patient tissue bank for Alzheimer’s disease research. While at MGH, he helped establish the MGH running club and ran the 2017 Boston marathon. He continues his obsession with running as the leader of the TUSM running club and now as the COO at Medicine in Motion.
Amanda Cao
Amanda is a 2nd year student at Harvard Medical School. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri before attending college at MIT, where she graduated in 2019 with a degree in Biology. Amanda has always enjoyed playing sports and keeping active, and her favorite forms of exercise include swimming and boxing. Amanda is excited to work with Medicine in Motion to combine her interest in physical activity with her passion for building community within her profession.
Michael Duggan
Mike is a second year medical student at the University of Queensland-Ochsner Clinical School in Brisbane, Australia. After graduating from the University of Maryland in 2016 with a BS in Biology, he worked as a clinical research coordinator on childhood obesity focused research projects at Massachusetts General Hospital. His biggest fitness accomplishments to date are running the Boston Marathon and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. He is looking forward towards utilizing fitness to create and develop a sense of community among medical students.
Shani Aharon
Shani Aharon is a 4th year medical student at University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. She considers herself adventurous, and would try any sport once: she grew up figure skating, rowed crew in college, played ultimate frisbee while working, and now runs in her free time in medical school. Having a few years of work-life balance as a healthcare consultant prior to medical school, Shani is passionate about maintaining mind-body wellness and helping do the same. She’s excited to put her past experience to good use as the CFO of Medicine in Motion.
Logan Briggs
Logan Briggs is a 4th year Harvard Medical Student. He swam for, and captained, the Dartmouth swim team and graduated in 2016. During a gap year before medical school, he worked as a wilderness guide in Tanzania and biked across the US to raise money for medical service work that he later performed in Nepal. Having been a lifelong swimmer, transitioned to triathlete, Logan strongly believes that regular exercise and social connection is the key to balance and happiness. He helped found Medicine in Motion to extend those benefits to others.
Chase Marso
Chase is a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical school and co-founder of Medicine in Motion. A former Augustana University quarterback and basketball coach in his hometown of Brandon, SD, he has always had a passion for physical fitness and a desire to encourage others in athletic achievement. Chase sees Medicine in Motion’s mission of inspiring others towards their physical fitness goals while promoting philanthropy as Medicine in Motion’s most unique and worthwhile endeavor.
Cray Noah
Cray is an engineer and doctor-in-training dedicated to innovating ways to increase access to preventative medicine and health technology. As a fourth-year student in Harvard’s MD/MBA program, he brings experience working at the nexus of biomedicine and business in the medical device startup space during his time at Georgia Tech and now in Boston. While passionate about innovative biotechnology, Cray believes creating community through exercise and fitness is the best form of preventative medicine to date and is dedicated to furthering that mission through Medicine in Motion. A native Texan, Cray has transitioned from football to triathlons, tennis and sailing since moving northeast.
Michael Seward
Mike is a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School (HMS) where he co-founded Medicine in Motion in 2017 with Chase, Logan, and Derek. As a varsity ice hockey player at Harvard College, he became interested in nutrition and for his senior thesis implemented a traffic-light food labeling study in the college dining halls to encourage healthy eating choices. After graduating, he worked for two years in clinical research at an Obesity Prevention Program at HMS and worked at the Hospital for Special Surgery where he saw the alarming rise in knee replacements mirror national trends in obesity. This sparked his interest in the intersection of orthopaedic surgery, nutrition, and fitness, and his medical school thesis investigates a pre-operative remote weight loss intervention and mobile app for patients anticipating total joint replacement surgery.
Derek Soled
Derek is a fourth-year MD/MBA candidate at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School. He serves as the student council co-president at the medical school. Derek graduated from Yale University in 2016 as a double major in biology and sociology and was the captain of the Yale fencing team. He then pursued a MSc in medical anthropology from the University of Oxford where he set an all-time record in the pole vault. A recipient of the Walter Byers Scholarship, an honor bestowed by the NCAA to the country's best overall male and female student-athlete each year, and a current member of Team USA for fencing, Derek is passionate about sport and continues to compete at a professional level as well as coach low-income children in Boston. As a first-year medical student, Derek co-founded Medicine in Motion.
Avik Chatterjee, MD, MPH
Cross-Fit Extraordinaire
Frank McGovern, MD
Collegiate Swimmer, Triathlete
Noelle Saillant, MD
Runner, Cyclist
Dana Stearns, MD
Professional Cyclist
Jennifer Tan, MD
Bootcamp, Cyclist
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