As the beginning of your medical school journey draws nearer, you’re probably feeling a mix of excitement and stress. You can’t wait to start working toward becoming a doctor, but you’re also nervous about the challenges that will arise during the rigorous program.
Adjusting to life as a medical student does not have to be daunting. A supportive learning environment will go a long way toward keeping you healthy, happy, and on track. St. George’s University (SGU) prides itself on providing top-notch support services that do just that.
“We immediately put mechanisms in place from the moment students arrive to help them be successful,” says Dr. Glen Jacobs, provost at St. George's University.
A closer look at how SGU supports students
Keep reading to find out about how SGU helps students succeed during their educational journey and beyond past graduation. Faculty advising is just the beginning.
1. Faculty sets aside time to meet with students and offer guidance
At SGU, the students come first. Each faculty member devotes 10 hours each week to office hours for supporting students, but many of them take it a step further by providing personal contact information should you need to reach them outside of office hours.
Students in the Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) are assigned an AEP faculty advisor who gets to know them personally. Additionally, all medical students have access to a team of academic advisors. These advisors are familiar with the content students are learning and are open to building a supportive relationship with them. They can help students resolve any academic or administrative issues they may have.
2. Reviewing exam performance is standard for medical students
Getting used to the pace of medical school can feel like a lot, and SGU understands you may have to make some adjustments at the beginning of your journey. Most pre-med students are accustomed to excelling in the classroom, so the rigorous nature of medical school may introduce unfamiliar challenges.
"We have a proactive approach to student support."
“We have a proactive approach to student support,” says Dr. Sara Rabie, director of academic support and development for SGU's Department of Educational Services (DES).
One way the DES helps you get into the swing of things is regular performance reflections. “We reach out to students in the School of Medicine after each of their exams in the first term,” Dr. Rabie explains. Going over results can also help the DES make suggestions for other resources you might want to take advantage of.
3. Students can schedule appointments to address learning strategies
Everyone has a few areas that need some improvement when it comes to learning new material. Whether you need some coaching on how to better prepare yourself for multiple choice exams or want to learn some time management tips, SGU’s Learning Strategies Program can help meet your needs.
This program tailors strategies to individual students by gathering input from the diverse faculty. “This allows us to achieve a lot of really important innovations, because we have different skillsets that we put toward solving the same problems,” Dr. Rabie explains.
4. Nontraditional students are offered an extra layer of support
Not every student goes straight from undergrad to medical school. Maybe you took a gap year to indulge in international travel. Or perhaps you decided to start a family first. No matter the case, you might need a little extra adjustment getting used to an education program.
In this case, you would be placed in the AEP. SGU helps students in the AEP stay on track through various programs, including individual and group review sessions.
"We provide them with all that extra help from the get-go so they don’t run into trouble."
Dr. Jacobs says the AEP services promote a positive learning environment for these students. “We provide them with all that extra help from the get-go so they don’t run into trouble,” he explains.
5. Group review sessions provide opportunities to learn from peers
Group reviews are part of the AEP, but they’re available to all SGU students – and they’re quite popular. These sessions occur weekly and facilitate learning through peer-to-peer interaction in small groups. “We have an upper-term student who’s done well in the course who meets with a group of students who have signed up for a session,” Dr. Rabie explains. “We actually have about 200 of these a week.”
There’s no need to worry about things going awry in student review groups, either, because faculty are involved. “It makes it unlikely that someone will slip through the cracks,” Dr. Rabie says.
6. Leadership development is built into programs
You stand to learn quite a bit from experienced students acting as facilitators in group reviews. There are benefits to fulfilling the role of a facilitator also, because you’ll get a chance to review material you’ve covered before. You’ll also build important leadership skills that can help you in their future careers.
“What do you do in a group when a student’s not participating? If a student is overpowering?” Jacobs questions. “They have to learn all those skillsets as they continue running these small groups.”
“They have to learn all those skill sets as they continue running these small groups.”
7. Language services are provided for international students
At SGU, we pride ourselves on creating a welcoming environment that attracts students from all around the globe. But there can be some challenges when emerging yourself into a program delivered in a different language. What if your English isn’t as strong as you would like it to be? SGU provides a variety of language programs designed to help you succeed in your education and your career.
The Medical English Bridge Program is one of the newest offerings for students on the path to becoming a doctor. “It’s primarily a task-based curriculum, which means everything the student is doing is preparing them for the study of medicine and having a career in medicine,” Dr. Rabie explains.
Language assistance is available for students who aren’t studying medicine as well. You can sign up for an individual appointment to get help with assignments. Rabie stresses they don’t do the work for students or act as an editing service. Rather, they coach you and help you figure out the best way to structure your assignment.
Believe it or not, these are just a few of the language service options.
8. Specialized coaching for medical students helps them on their path to residency
The Office of Career Guidance and Student Development (OCGSD) guides you along your path to residency by offering advice on United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) preparation, working to improve interview skills, and helping you understand the residency match process. You will begin working with the OCGSD near the end of your second year, before heading off for clinical rotations.
9. Health care services ensure students get the treatment they need
There’s no need to worry about access to health care at SGU. University Health Services (UHS) can take care of everything from routine bloodwork to urgent care late at night. Standard clinic hours are between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the week, which helps accommodate busy schedules.
Student walk-ins are offered, but you’ll need to schedule appointments for family members in advance.
10. Students’ mental health needs are addressed
The Psychological Services Center (PSC) promotes student health and well-being through a wide range of services. Whether you’re attending a counselling session, participating in a training session, or seeking other assistance, rest assured these services are confidential.
Set yourself up for success
Medical school can be a trying time for any student, so it’s important to choose a program that will guide you through the ups and downs. The SGU School of Medicine gives students the tools they need to navigate their way from the first day of class to residency and beyond.
If the nurturing environment at St. George’s University is resonating with you, take your research a step further. Learn more about the program by heading to our request information page.
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