Hello from Jonathan (M2) and Kylie (M3)!
Over the summer, we had the chance to sit down and reflect on our time in medical school thus far. A major theme that kept popping up was peer mentorship, and the vital role it has played in positively shaping our experiences at UMMS. Over the last year or so (by complete chance quite frankly), we both befriended different upperclassmen who have offered invaluable guidance to us as we progress along our journeys towards becoming physicians. They have provided support across the board, from how to best study for anatomy, to introducing us to student groups or research opportunities that best fit our interests.
As we talked more and more about this, the two of us began to wonder… Wouldn’t it be great if we could create more opportunities for peer mentorship in medical school? Why doesn’t a space like this exist, where M1-M4s and MSTP students can come together to have discussions about the obstacles many of us face, as well as strategies to overcome them?
With the help of two other passionate M3s, Alia Ahmed and Christine Wu, the four of us decided to create that space. We polled students for their perspective, worked closely with UMMS faculty within the M-Home learning community, conglomerated our ideas and soon enough, UMMS’s newest peer mentorship program was born — and we named it eMpower.
In designing eMpower, instead of the traditional dyadic mentoring format, we decided to try something new: small group mentorship. We envisioned these groups, composed of students from all years, meeting periodically to discuss topics that medical students frequently seek guidance in. The topics we ultimately decided on were: succeeding academically, discovering one’s path through extracurriculars and research, finding wellness, and thriving in the clinical environment.
For the first year of the program we had nearly 300 students sign-up! This then led to the creation of 19 different small groups where students could ask questions freely, discover newfound interests, and reflect on the challenging, yet exciting road ahead.
We recently held an eMpower session that focused on providing mentorship for the clinical years. M3 and M4 students shared what being a clinical student is like with the M1 and M2 students in their small groups. Many students talked about some of their best experiences, some of their most difficult ones, and emphasized the importance of resiliency during these years.
Five sessions later, the inaugural year of eMpower is coming to a close (as is this lengthy blog post). Helping to develop this mentorship program has been an exciting process, and we feel fortunate to be at an institution like UMMS, which supports its students in transforming their ideas into reality. We look forward to seeing how this program will continue to grow and evolve next year! If you’re an incoming M1 reading this, we look forward to you joining us next year, where students are committed to building a strong medical school community that empowers one another to achieve both personal and professional success.
Jonathan and Kylie