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Academic Advising

Two medical students in a discussion with an advisor.

Medical education is a fascinating and rewarding path, yet the path is long and can test the endurance and strength of even the most talented and committed students.

The Mentorship and Advising Program of Indiana University School of Medicine was designed by students and faculty to smooth that path for learners. Through holistic support, undergraduate medical students have access to career planning, self-assessment, advising, mentoring and insights into the many career options in health care. While IUSM has long offered mentoring and advising support for MS 4 students, the program is newly expanded with additional resources and a robust plan throughout the academic career under the leadership of Abigail Klemsz, M.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics, and Michael McKenna, M.D., assistant professor, department of pediatrics, as part of their roles in Medical Student Education.

"Thanks to student and faculty input, we have refined our program to meet learner needs in a substantive and measurable way," Dr. Klemsz said. "Ultimately, we want to demonstrate that these relationships, and the time invested in them, are benefiting our students and, ultimately, patient care."

As a complement to MAP, student-designed houses and colleges – which provide a community-based approach to medical education -- will be designated with the goal of developing vertical mentorship, wellness, humanism, friendly competition, and a statewide sense of belonging. The houses and colleges will utilize the structure and advising assignments associated with MAP.

Enhanced resources

IUSM has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to developing positive mentor relationships for students to support their academic and career success by providing MAP with:

  • A leadership cabinet designed to support advisors and mentors
  • Streamlined roles for advisors and mentors that emphasize learner time and minimize administrative matters
  • Tools and resources to support mentors and advisors

Why mentoring and advising?

Students with mentors perform better as students and in their careers. Studies show that those enrolled in mentor programs:

  • Were more satisfied with access to career mentoring, elective advice for scheduling and the residency application process
  • Valued the ongoing contact with faculty members and experienced better research opportunities
  • Enjoyed improved medical school performances, increased interest in research and aspired to a better medical career
  • Felt more support at a personal level and rated their overall well-being as higher

How can faculty get involved?

Share your interest with your vice chair of education, center director, or complete the short form.

About the Roles

Lead Academic Advisors will provide support for 24 to 36 students per class year through all four years of the student’s medical school career. This will be a full-time position for an M.D., Ph.D. or M.S. faculty with experience in student advising.

Volunteer Faculty Advisors will shepherd four students through their medical school career providing one-one mentoring and a social connection to IUSM. These volunteer faculty advisors will work in partnership with professional lead academic advisors to oversee a cohort of medical learners. Advisors serve as positive medical role models, exploring challenges and seeking solutions with (not for) the learners, and encouraging medical students to strive for excellence.

What Are They Saying

 
 

Faculty

For Chemen Tate, M.D., assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology, interest in serving as a mentor stemmed from her own experience as a learner. "I was the first person in my family to attend college and what I’ve learned is this: everyone needs to be shepherded. There are simply so many little things that we don’t understand unless someone comes along and offers a hand." Tate began her mentoring career by supporting high school students while she was in medical school and continues her work with learners in a variety of capacities, including as chair of the mentorship committee of the American Medical Women’s Association.

Mark Braun, M.D., professor of pathology, says that while his main motivation for mentoring is to support learners, he has derived benefits as well. "You quickly realize that your role as an instructor is much more than just showing up and giving lectures. Through mentoring, you become part of people’s individual lives -- supporting them in ways that have a lasting impact." Braun encourages his colleagues to consider formal roles in MAP. "Think about who was instrumental in your life and if you would be where you are if not for someone’s help," he said. "Then ask yourself, ‘don’t you want to do that same thing for students?’"

"Being an advisor or a mentor is a labor of love. It does require a commitment yet is not as labor intensive as one might imagine, although it has its peaks and valleys," says Mark J. Di Corcia, Ph.D., assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology. "Getting to know learners on a deeper level other than the brief moment they pass through our clerkship has actually increased my level of job satisfaction. After a mentoring session, I often feel a renewed philosophical sense of commitment as to why I chose an academic career as my life's vocation."

Learners

"Medical school is a time of both dynamic intellectual growth and vital career preparation. From thriving in the challenging academic environment to successfully navigating the complexities of clinical rotations and finally to making the pivotal decisions about specialty selection, we as current students and future physicians will benefit greatly from committed individuals dedicated to guiding us through this chapter of our lives."
-- Lindsey Junk-MS3- Terre Haute

"The journey through medical school can often be analogous to traveling down a narrow, dark road with a dimly lit flashlight. We don't know what the next step fully entails; we just know we have to keep moving forward to reach the final destination. For IUSM to afford students with a four-year advisor that will guide, advise, and assist students through the journey and expand our 'visual field' is something greatly welcomed and appreciated."
-- Frank Duerson, MS3-Indianapolis

"Being the first person in my family to graduate college I've always found myself a step behind my peers when it comes to knowing who to talk to and what new thing to sign up for. Having experienced the benefit of having one upper class student that knew me, and knew my goals did wonders to keep me from falling to far behind."
-- Marcus Alvarez, MS4, Indianapolis

"Having one less thing to worry about because I know I have someone I can go to with any questions who would know me and my situation personally is a big relief and I think a four-year advisor is a wonderful idea."
-- Kristen Marley, MS-2, Evansville

"It is important to have guidance as we navigate the various unknowns involved in the different years of medical school. There is a lot to get used to very fast and it would help to have a personal relationship with an M.D. who has been there before to guide, advice and connect."
-- Savannah Enders, MS2, Indianapolis

"Entering into medical school is a journey than no student should do alone. Having an academic advisor from day one is an invaluable asset for students. These advisors can make the entire process from matriculation to Match Day less illusive and intimidating, with students having a familiar face to turn to for advice and support. I believe this program will not only strengthen the students of IUSM but also the IUSM community as a whole."
-- Lindsay Leech, MS-3, Indianapolis

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