University of South Alabama

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October 14, 2011 - Internal Medicine Interest Group Provides Mentoring Opportunities
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The Internal Medicine Interest Group (IMIG) at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently started a mentoring program that pairs first and second-year medical students with junior and senior undergraduate pre-medical students who are in the USA Early Acceptance Program (EAP).

Dr. T.J. Hundley, assistant professor of internal medicine and faculty advisor of the IMIG at the USA College of Medicine, said the intention of the mentoring program is to foster a relationship. “My hope is for the program to establish relationships that will last through the years, wherever your career paths may take you.”

The group recently met for the first time, and each EAP student was paired with a medical student who is two classes ahead of them. That way, when the EAP student enters medical school, they will still have a mentor that can give them in-depth advice and perspective.

According to Caitlin Wainscott, a fourth-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine and president of the IMIG, 18 first and second-year medical students volunteered to be mentors for the 27 junior and senior EAP students.

“The first meeting turned out better than we could have imagined,” she said. “It provided a laid back atmosphere where the students could mingle and get to know each other in a group setting.”

Wainscott, who will be the first in her family to become a physician, said she had no idea what to expect upon entering medical school. “I think that a mentoring program between medical students and undergraduate pre-medical students will be very beneficial to help these students put their best foot forward as they study for the MCAT and prepare to apply and interview for medical school,” said Wainscott, who has been involved with IMIG since her first year at the USA College of Medicine. “It will hopefully alleviate much of the anxiety and uncertainty in the process.”

According to Dr. Hundley, the medical school mentors will provide advice in regards to professional development such as how to apply to medical school, as well as answer questions about the interview process. “The EAP students can even attend lectures with their mentor and see what medical school is really like,” Dr. Hundley said.

“The mentoring program also provides leadership development for the mentors who supply their free time to spend with the pre-medical students,” Dr. Hundley added. “It gives the medical students the skill set they need to become a great mentor. Mentoring, through teaching and giving advice, is the cornerstone of the medical profession.”

Wainscott hopes that through this program, EAP students at USA will gain the confidence to become successful medical school candidates. “Perhaps just as important, it is our hope that these students will realize the benefit of the unique medical education at the USA College of Medicine and make the decision to stay here for medical school.”

In addition to the meetings, the mentors will contact their students at least monthly to check in with them, and the EAP students are encouraged to contact their mentors at any time with questions they may have.

The EAP Program at USA is for qualified high school graduates interested in a career in medicine. Participants must maintain a specific grade-point average during college and meet all other requirements for entering medical school at USA. Fewer than 20 pre-medical students are accepted into the EAP program each year.

The IMIG is open to any medical student interested in internal medicine as a career choice. For more information on the IMIG, contact Caitlin Wainscott at ceg802@jaguar1.usouthal.edu.
 

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