Before coming to medical school, I shadowed many physicians in various fields to get a better sense of what it is like to be a doctor. However, as an undergraduate student at a technology school with no accompanying medical school, finding a mentor in the field of medicine was quite challenging. In my senior year I was paired with a pediatrician at MIT Medical healthcare system who I shadowed and met with frequently to help me with my medical school application process. With her guidance, help from teachers and career office staff, I successfully made it into medical school. But I always wondered if I had a medical student mentor would I have been more prepared for the first two years of medical school compared to clerkship portion, on which I am about to embark.
When the UF chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) executive board sat down to plan goals for this year, a mentorship program was a top priority. My classmate, George Ansoanuur, and I developed an application for the mentors (UF medical students) and mentees (current UF undergrads), and upon release, we received significant feedback. During this process we have worked closely with our undergrad sister organization Minority Association of Pre-health Students (MAPS). To-date we have over 35 mentor/mentee matches, and in the past year several mentees have been able to join their mentor in lecture, meet for lunch, attend health fairs, etc. In addition we had a few large mentor/mentee socials to allow everyone to get to know each other better.
The goal of the mentorship program is to aid undergraduates in their pursuit of a career in medicine or dentistry, and give them the confidence they need to see themselves as future professionals. I have truly enjoyed sharing my medical school experience with my mentee, Katherine Almengo, this year and I look forward to being an integral part of her life in the next few years on her journey to medical school. We have attended several lectures together, and she even cooked dinner for me where we discussed my path to medicine among many other things! She is truly an inspiration and someone I know will make an awesome doctor one day. We are similar in many ways — from our passion to helping others in the community, to traveling and volunteering abroad.
Also this year I was more active in UF’s community clinics around Gainesville, and I helped on several health fairs with local churches and other student organizations as the community service chair of UF-SNMA. This year turned out to be a great one for the UF-SNMA chapter as we won a national award for “Most successful at Community Health Fair Outreach.” Next year’s UF-SNMA executive board has been selected, and they plan to continue the mentor program in addition to adding other community-outreach initiatives, so that UF medical students have many avenues in which they can give back.
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