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Updated 10/23/14

When I first started writing this Hogwarts blog, I was new to the Hershey area. Late at night in my apartment, I felt restless in a “foreign” bed that was unnervingly soft, and much taller and deeper than the one I had slept on for the past fourteen years. In that altered state of consciousness between sleep and wakefulness, I imagined that I was Harry Potter, boarding the Hogwarts Express train for the new school year. However, instead of shipping me off to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in rural Scotland, the train morphed into a submarine, traveled underneath the Atlantic Ocean, and dropped me off in rural Pennsylvania. Once I arrived, I traded in my black Hogwarts Pre-Medicine robes for a long, flowing set of snow-white doctor’s robes, with hems that fluttered gracefully around my ankles.

There was just one caveat. Harry’s six years at the original Hogwarts were primarily devoted to a class called “Defense Against the Dark Arts” – magical self-defense! Why would Hogwarts College of Medicine be any different?

Watching through Harry’s eyes, I stepped onto the campus lawns and immediately saw what I needed to achieve before entering the school – the last, previously undisclosed challenge of the admissions process, so to speak.

dragon had been stationed as a guard at the front entrance. A five-hundred-foot-tall, scaly, spike-ridden, fire-breathing dragon.

The Hungarian Horntail from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Rite of Passage

The Rite of Passage

To claim my spot as a student of Penn State Hogwarts, I would need to skirt around the dragon’s massive legs, somehow, with only my nerves and my purple stethoscope for self-defense… and without scorching the seat of my brand-new white robes in the process.

At that point, I could not have thought of a more exhilarating scenario to contemplate before drifting off to a deep slumber.

Alas, there was no dragon waiting for me at the College of Medicine’s main entrance the following morning. A couple of months later, however, I have finally met the very first “dragon” of my medical school career: the final exam for our 12-week Scientific Principles of Medicine Sorcerers’ Perspectives on Medicine class.