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Medical student balances school and writing

Date: Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Claire CastanedaWhile medical school is already a mountain to climb for third-year medical student Claire Castaneda, she has an added challenge: she writes. But if you ask her, she’ll tell you that her writing isn’t work at all.

“Writing has always been the way that I process the things I think about a lot,” Castaneda says. “It’s a way for me to access and ponder things that aren’t necessarily related to medicine.”

Originally from Dubuque, Iowa, she attended the University of Iowa as an undergrad and received a degree in biomedical engineering in 2017 before starting medical school.

She says that, when it comes to balancing medical school and writing, the workload ebbs and flows.

“I learned that it has to be that way sometimes,” Castaneda says. “Sometimes I have to put myself fully into school and other times I need the outlet of writing.”

Beyond merely an outlet from the pressure of medical school, Castaneda views writing as a tool for personal growth, with the majority of her writing being filed away in a box just for her.

“If anything, my writing is a record of feelings, emotions, events, and how I responded to them,” she says. “It helps me keep track of and understand the things that I can do better because that’s always what I’m working toward.”

Blind Spot,” a short story written by Castaneda, won the Carol A. Bowman Creative Writing Contest and is published in the newest edition of The Examined Life Journal.