News Release: Student Life

Oct. 1,  2009

Mentoring for Careers in Health

Emory Launches Mentoring Office for Prehealth, Premed Students

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From Emory Report

By Carol Clark

Emory has launched a PreHealth Mentoring Office this fall, designed to provide support and guidance to undergraduates planning to go on to medical school or other advanced studies in the field of health.

“This office will play a strategic advisory role — helping students identify their strengths and interests and to develop their passions,” says Preetha Ram, assistant dean of science in the Office of Undergraduate Education. “By providing mentorship as early as possible in their college careers, we can help students achieve better than expected results.”

For 2009-10, the primary focus will be on second-year students. In addition to advising students, the goals include creating community among prehealth students and expanding their opportunities to do internships, research and study abroad programs, and to shadow physicians and other health professionals.

A new Web site, www.emory.edu/ prehealth, provides links to events and other information.

Ram is serving as director of the PreHealth Mentoring Office, with the support of Paul Fowler, executive director of the Career Center, and Peter Sederberg, special assistant to the Office of the Provost.

“This is a pure partnership between the College, the Career Center and the Provost’s office,” says Fowler. “There has been growing interest in how to serve the prehealth population of students, because there are so many students interested, and it’s getting increasingly competitive.”

More than 500 students in the class of 2013 have declared themselves as prehealth majors, including a range of medical fields. About 200 students within every Emory class plan to apply to medical school. In November of 2008, Emory College Dean Bobby Paul assigned a task force to find ways to help support the efforts of these students to get accepted into top-tier medical schools.

The first goal of the task force was to launch a composite letter of recommendation process. The composite letter provides a cover letter for multiple letters of recommendation, summing up the accomplishments of a student in a format geared specifically for medical school applications.

After the composite letter process got up and rolling last spring, the task force began focusing on development of a PreHealth Mentoring Office. A series of undergraduate dialogues organized by Senior Vice Provost Santa Ono “were instrumental in raising awareness of the need for advising for pre-med students,” Ram says, adding that the dialogues “convinced those present, including Provost Earl Lewis, Dean Paul and Vice President for Campus Life John Ford of the need for immediate action.”

President Jim Wagner also supported the drive to create the office, and plans moved forward, guided by the input of students, faculty and administrators, from the college and the medical school.

“I think the PreHealth Mentoring Office is a fantastic idea that will help a lot of students,” says Lauren Spiegel, a senior pre-med major in the Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology program. As a freshman, Spiegel became involved in a mentoring program known as INSPIRE (Interdisciplinary Science Program for Integrating Research into Education), and she was among the students who helped make the composite letter program and the PreHealth Mentoring Office a reality.

“I’m really pleased that our research and efforts are paying off and it’s getting under way,” Spiegel says. “I think it’s really important for students to vouch for what we want, and to get involved in making positive changes happen. It’s exciting to have these opportunities to make an impact at Emory.”

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