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June 2009

Volume 29 | Number 2

Special Theme: Beyond the Classroom — the Education of the Whole Pre-Health Student

The Center for Experiential Learning: An Integrated Model of Collaboration
Kirsten A. Peterson, M.A.
Michaeline M. Shuman, M.S.Ed.

The Allegheny College Center for Experiential Learning (ACCEL) brought several offices and programs together in a shared space: Career Services; International Programs and Services; Community Services and Service Learning; and, Pre-Professional Studies. The authors describe how the integration is more than proximity in a physical location. It is a model of shared leadership, offering an integrated approach to advising that encourages student learning and acquisition of a broad spectrum of competencies. “In truly collaborative fashion, the Center for Experiential Learning assists students in making critical connections between their parallel academic and experiential learning, and effectively guides them in their professional development.”

Participation in Undergraduate Research Benefits Pre-Medical Students by Developing Critical Skills
Barbara Crippes Trask, Ph.D
Christian R. Francom

The authors summarize results of “several studies, some anecdotal and others controlled&hellip” The benefits undergraduate students, in particular pre-medical students, can derive from participating in research activities are enumerated. The authors develop a verbal image of a structured research experience in which students gain, for example, “opportunities for self-evaluation and regular evaluation by a mentor” and “an arena for the development of problem-solving abilities…” They also point out that the allopathic medical school in their state (Utah) “requires that matriculants have participated in at least one hypothesis-driven research experience (a minimum of 4 hours/week for approximately two months) within their four years of undergraduate education.”

Service-Learning Embedded in a First Year Undergraduate Seminar Course
Jan Reichard-Brown, Ph.D.

Dr. Brown describes the challenges — transportation, funding, scheduling and student commitment to a project — faced when designing a service-learning component in a required undergraduate course “focusing on an interdisciplinary topic.” The project that evolved was the Perspectives Oral History Project, which paired students with seniors at a local assisted living facility. Dr. Brown provides an inspirational outline of the project goals, and a realistic assessment of outcomes. It is a model that can be applied elsewhere and with other populations. When juniors and seniors, students often commented favorably on their experience even though at the time it made many feel “uncomfortable.”

Changing the Healthcare Workforce One Summer at a Time: A Preliminary Report of the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP)
W. David Brunson, D.D.S.
Norma Poll-Hunter, Ph.D.

The authors provide a very readable synopsis of SMDEP and include a section on “Program Impact.” The article is an excellent introduction to the Program for new advisors and a good refresher for seasoned advisors who have recommended students for SMDEP. The authors conclude that by “Working together, pipeline initiatives and prehealth advisors provide exposure to career opportunities and reliable information to support students in their career development.”

Outcomes of an Introduction to Dentistry Course on Undergraduate Pre-Dental Students' Attitudes and Knowledge
Nathan J. Hawley, B.A.
Kristopher R. Smith
Aaron M. Bjarnason, B.A.
Victor A. Sandoval, D.S.S., M.P.H.
Christine C. Ancajas, D.D.S.

Students Going Abroad for Service-Learning Experiences: Questions Considered
Evaleen Jones, M.D.

Dr. Jones is Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University and Founder and Medical Director of Child Family Health International. Her article is an excellent resource for those who want to learn more about what questions to ask and seek help evaluating the answers received. Dr. Jones addresses frequently asked questions such as the following.

  • What is Global Health?
  • What are some of the common mistakes that we should be aware of as we prepare our students to go abroad?
  • What is the value of an international experience when there is significant need in the student’s own backyard?
  • What should be the underlying objective for students who participate in a service-learning program abroad?

In offering answers to these questions, Dr. Jones includes a consideration of ethical issues and the “potential power differential between academic centers and the communities where the service-learning experiences take place.” She concludes, “A meaningful service-learning experience abroad can help foster [students] understanding of [the connection with others and passion for their work] and give them the support to maintain their idealism and humanity.”

Competency-Based Holistic Evaluation of Prehealth Applicants
Emil T. Chuck, Ph.D.

Dr. Chuck shares the rubric he developed to evaluate prehealth students. Specifically, the rubric was intended for use in letters addressed to health professions schools. He invites comment and discussion of ten areas of competency “that characterize the holistic qualities desired in incoming students and future professionals,” and seven levels of competencies — Naïve, Novice, Advanced Novice, Proficient, Competent, Expert, Master. Drawing upon “fictionalized examples, Dr. Chuck details the type of comments generated at each level for each area of competency. He also states that he presents the rubric to students at the beginning of their undergraduate education. “By having this clear set of standards and goals, self-analysis becomes possible for an individual seeking to pursue a successful career in health care service and establish appropriate goals to address any areas of deficiency.”

Applicants to US Allopathic Medical Schools Who Take Courses at Community Colleges: How Do They Fare?
David Thurlow, Ph.D.

This article is the companion to “Pilot study to begin to identify how to keep community college students in the pipeline to medicine: a detailed description,” which appeared in the March 2009 edition of The Advisor. In the current article, Dr. Thurlow presents “baseline data on how such applicants fare in the admissions process.” Tables and graphs are included. The findings are intended to be useful in discussions about “how best to utilize community colleges as a potential source of applicants to medical schools” and help students for whom community college coursework constitutes an economically sound choice.

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