MIT is well-known for developing the talents of future engineers and scientists, but people often haven’t heard of its success developing our future physicians.
And in late August, MIT Prehealth Advising ran its 7th Discover Prehealth FPOP for 25 incoming first-year students interested in becoming physicians. This program is one of the unique opportunities Prehealth Advising offers first-year students with the goal of helping them explore their interests in medicine and exposing them to the many medically related opportunities on- and off-campus. By engaging these students early, we can ensure they receive timely advice, support, and mentorship through the often-rigorous journey of a premed student.
Throughout the weeklong Discover Prehealth FPOP, first-year students had the opportunity to meet with faculty and alumni physicians and current prehealth students, as well as visiting labs and other local medical sites. This included a panel discussion with physicians who hold dual degrees in medicine and other disciplines, including a MD-PhD, Omar Yilmaz, an Associate Professor of Biology at MIT; a MD-MBA, Lavi Erisson, an MIT alumni and current CEO/Co-Founder of Gensaic; and a MD-MPH, Michele David, the Chief of Clinical Quality & Patient Safety at MIT Medical. This panel was a great opportunity for the first-year students to hear the diverse career paths one can have as a physician.
Along with panel discussions, first-year students also toured local research centers including the Broad Institute, the Koehler Lab in the Koch Institute, and the MIT Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR). The students enjoyed learning about the medical research conducted on campus, and appreciated knowing they could get involved with these sites either through a UROP or shadowing opportunity.
In past years, we would also tour Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Beth Israel, but restrictions due to the pandemic prevented this. Despite this, we are lucky to be surrounded by the best hospitals and the biotech industry, allowing our office to still showcase a few of these amazing career opportunities. And through our efforts to engage first-year students early, Prehealth Advising can also assist each first-year student in determining when is the best time for them to get involved in these opportunities and begin preparing for the future application process.
Though our students enjoyed being exposed to the medical and biotech industry, we also wanted them to develop meaningful connections with one another and have fun! Whether it be competing in a campus-wide scavenger hunt (go Rudiba’s Team!!!), eating out in Chinatown and Harvard Square, or going to the Museum of Science, the students developed great connections and community that will benefit them through their experience as a MIT premed student. Ife Alao, a first-year from New Jersey, spoke to this mentioning “I appreciated the activities that we did that allowed us to explore Boston and campus. This helped me feel more comfortable going to different places once school started.” This was most apparent on our last day, when our students participated in a team building activity called Hopes & Fears, where each student wrote on poster board their hopes and fears for this first year. Next, the students put a post-it note on other student’s posters boards that included advice, encouragement, a resource to help out, or basic validation like ”me too :-).“ In these moments, it was great to see our first-year students develop such meaningful connections and support one-another.
With the fall semester upon us, it has been delightful to see these 25 first-year students throughout campus and recall the times we shared this summer. But it is also wonderful to know our FPOP’ers have begun to recognize Prehealth Advising as a great place for support and guidance throughout their premed journey. Ife also felt this way about the Prehealth Advising office – “I really value being able to have dedicated space, time, and staff to help me start thinking about whether or not I want to pursue a career in medicine.” We look forward to re-connecting with these students throughout the fall and spring semesters during our Discover Prehealth FPOP reunions.
I also valued being able to have dedicated space and time to really start thinking about whether or not I want to pursue a career in medicine, and being able to get a good overview of what that might entail.