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The University of South Alabama College of Medicine welcomed new faces last week during the Class of 2018’s freshman orientation.
During orientation, the students’ schedules were packed with information sessions, icebreakers, policy briefings and study strategies.
“Orientation was a wonderful way for us to get introduced to the faculty and medical students at USA,” said first-year medical student Francie O’Hea. “We were given a wonderful overview of the educational program, which allowed us to more fully understand what will be expected from us during our four years here.”
For O’Hea, becoming a physician has been a lifelong dream. “I have been waiting for the first day of medical school for several years,” she said. “My father is a general practitioner in a rural community and visiting nursing homes with him has made me more fully realize the need for medical assistance in underserved areas.”
O’Hea, who attended undergraduate school at Auburn University, said she is thrilled to be back in her hometown of Mobile – the community she knows and hopes to serve as a physician. “For the past two years I have been doing research at USA, interacting with both medical researchers and practicing physicians,” she said. “Working in this setting has given me an appreciation for the close-knit community that USA represents.”
First-year medical student Alan Akira said he is nervous, but excited, about starting medical school. “The diversity and positivity that embodies our class makes me look forward to overcoming the challenges of medical school together,” he said. “Our class is made up of great individuals.”
Akira, who received his undergraduate degree at UAB, chose to attend medical school at USA for several reasons. “USA’s interview process is one that can’t be compared,” he said. “I never felt rushed in my individual interviews, and I felt that my interviewers were truly listening to me as a person – not merely as a face to an application.”
Another first-year medical student, Jordan Nickols, agreed. “When I visited USA I felt like this was a place where everyone simply wanted you to succeed,” he said.
Akira was also impressed with USA’s commitment to working with communities outside of the typical clinical setting at the main hospital, such as with Trinity Gardens through the Center for Healthy Communities and with the student run clinic through 15 Place, a local homeless shelter. “USA supports both the social and clinical aspects of medicine, which I believe are essential in shaping us into compassionate, competent physicians,” he said.
All of the first-year students agree that they are ready to get started. “This is the next big step for all of us,” Nickols said, “and we are ready to move forward.”
© 2017 USA Health System