Are there any student adjustment support services on campus?
As med school and living abroad in a new country is a drastic change for most of us, the school offers support to help us in our adjustment. We have a dedicated wellness counselor on campus, Dr. Adams, who helps us in our stress management, as med students often need. We also have a study-skills counselor, Dr. Hodge, for those of us who want tips on handling the new-found workload of med school. Every incoming student in the school is assigned a faculty advisor, a professor who we can each keep in contact with and go to for advise. I highly recommend Dr. Yoshida for guidance and advice, and Dr. DeMesquita, Dr. Behrisch, and Dr. Braciale as well. From my experience, the faculty here want to see students succeed and will give you good advice and support to help you out no matter what situation you’re in. New students are also assigned an orientation advisor (who are student volunteers) in helping them settle into life in medical school and on the island. The AUC Spouses Organization also has a Spouses Sponsor program for students who are bringing families in which they pair up an incoming student family with a student family already on the island to help them prepare and ease the transition into island life.
What are some of the career guidance services at AUC during Basic Sciences?
Every semester, the school flies people down from the office in Miami to hold workshops and seminars addressing topics like clinicals and the steps and they are all worth going to. Last semester, the school even brought in people from CaRMS, the Canadian Resident Matching Service to answer any students’ questions. Four times a semester, the Alumni Relations Office of AUC also brings in alumni who have gone through the whole process to talk to us about their experiences in med school, matching, residency, and practice. Even though I am still only in the Basic Sciences part of my med school career on the island, I’ve already met with the advisors who will be scheduling and guiding me during the Clinical years in person because of the Clinicals Workshop the school holds. I’ve also met with many of the program directors and representatives from clinical sites I’m interested in during the annual Clinical Symposium, which I highly recommend every student to go to.
What are the support services for preparing for residency?
When it comes time to apply for residency, the school provides a service where they help students proofread and edit your CVs and personal statements. Another great resource at AUC is the Physician Match Advisor, who gives you advice on improving your residency applications and maximizing your chances of matching at the hospitals you want. And of course, if there is a certain area or specialty that a student wants to pursue, the Alumni Relations department can also arrange contacts with an AUC graduate in that field. They also do the same for Canadian students who want advise or networking with graduates practicing in Canada.
Because Clinical Science students are scattered all over the US and the UK, the AUC Office of Clinical Student Affairs regularly hold webinars online every semester where they address topics such as the residency application process or the MSPE letter, which is your med school “report card” sent to residency directors that shows your class rank, academic history, clinical rotation evaluations, and more.
How about academic support services on campus?
The best academic support is, of course, the professors, who are dedicated to teaching (vs. other universities where they may be hired to do research or practice, and just teach on the side as an obligation). The professors are more than happy to help during their office hours. One of my friends went to office hours almost every day to sit down with the professor to review over the days material one-on-one to see if he’s on the right page. He ended up becoming one of the top students in my class. I’ve also gone into office hours with 1 or 2 of my friends, so that we can get our questions answered as well as get answers that my friends ask that I didn’t think about before. From my experience, the professors have been very happy to help and like students who visit.
Besides professors, each class also has tutors who hold group tutoring sessions once or twice per week. These tutors are students who were chosen because they excelled in their class and they can point out what the important take-home messages are from lecture, what the most commonly tested concepts are, and make sure you are on track with your studies.
During first semester, there are numerous Anatomy TAs who can also help students during anatomy lab. Like the tutors, these students were also chosen because of their academic performance in anatomy, and have dedicated their time to helping others in the lab. Unlike the tutors, the TAs are volunteers (they are not paid), and dedicate their time because they want to help students. I’d highly recommend going to the anatomy lab after hours at night on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays when the night TA’s are in the lab. It’s usually not crowded at all in the lab after hours, and so often time it feels like you get one-on-one tutoring with these night TAs in lab.
As I had mentioned before, we have a dedicated Study Skills Counselor on campus, Dr. Hodge, who can coach students on study habits, as well as pair up a student with a personal one-on-one tutor if needed (and given availability).
Do students help each other out?
So far I’ve mainly described student support and career guidance by the faculty and administrators, but the greatest support is the peer support we students share with one another. Students help each other academically not only as tutors and TAs, but simply as fellow students. The study atmosphere is definitely supportive and not cut-throat. There is also competition, of course, like in all med schools, but it is healthy competition. Upperclassmen have always been amazingly helpful. I found that they are more than willing to give tips and advice to students in earlier semesters. There is just something about everyone going through the same rigorous experiences that give med students all a sense of comradeship and bonding, even between two people who may not know each other well. Or maybe its just the inherent nature of a community of aspiring doctors who want to go out into the world and help save the lives of complete strangers. We really are a family here.
So far after two semesters, I definitely feel there is strong student support here, both between students and among students, faculty, and administrators. And like academics and life in general, help is always there when you actively look for it.