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Students Ease Transition to Medical School in Pre-Matriculation Program

The Two-week Program Included Sessions on Study Techniques, Personal Wellness and Careers

August 07, 2023
Student participants in the Pre-Matriculation Program pose with faculty in front of Sunshine Cottage

“When I started medical school I had no real guidance or mentors and I found the first year of medical school to be extremely difficult. This program allows for a relaxed introduction to some of the material students will learn in medical school, but more than anything, it provides a safe space to learn different study strategies, about resources that can be effective for individual learning styles and how to foster a sense of community and belonging,” said Maziyah Ogarro, SOM Class of 2024, the student director of the program.

The Pre-Matriculation Program, which is managed by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in collaboration with academic support services, student affairs and undergraduate medical education, is open to all incoming medical students though non-traditional students and those from demographics underrepresented in medicine are especially encouraged to participate.  

“As one of the first in my family to pursue medicine, I didn’t exactly know what to expect before coming to NYMC. The mentorship I received during the Pre-Matriculation Program helped overcome a lot of the fear I had before entering medical school and shaped my entire experience as a first-year medical student, said Bhavika Darji, SOM Class of 2026, who served as a student mentor in the program this summer. “Through the program, I was able to establish friendships early on, connect with upperclassmen and become more comfortable with what medical school had in store.”

During the two-week program, students explored a range of academic topics, including microbiology and anatomy, cultivated early interest in the specialties of emergency medicine, surgery and radiology, and participated in sessions designed to promote good study habits and personal wellness. 

“As a non-traditional medical student myself, I understand the challenges of assimilating into medical school after a prolonged period away from academia and know firsthand how daunting this can be without proper mentorship,” said Nicholas Vecchio, SOM Class of 2024, who served as education director of the program. “As student leaders, our main goals in designing the program were to emphasize different learning styles early on and help students identify their preferred methods of absorbing information. We aimed to establish effective techniques for note-taking, memorization and group study. As the program progressed, lectures primed students for their first-year coursework and offered opportunities to practice these skills.”

The importance of mentorship was emphasized throughout the program. “As a mentor, we worked to share the numerous resources available, and at the same time, focused on recreating an environment similar to our curriculum to give students an opportunity to practice applying the skills we worked on throughout the two weeks,” said Shigeru Kaneki, SOM Class of 2026. “The program focuses on a holistic approach to help students begin developing the necessary skills to be successful academically and beyond the classroom.” 

"As an incoming student last year, I felt extremely supported and welcomed by the upperclassmen and wanted to participate as a mentor to pay that forward. Not only was I able to meet some incredible members of the Class of 2027, but it was also very rewarding to work alongside and learn from my fellow staff. I can't wait to continue these new connections through medical school and beyond," said Ipsha Banerjee, SOM Class of 2026. 

“I hope I was able to equip my mentees with not only the skills and resources but also the confidence to succeed in medical school,” said Darji. “Being a source of support for them in their first two weeks of this journey has been a very fulfilling experience and I can’t wait to see the wonderful things they’ll be doing as medical students.”

While wellness has been incorporated into the program since its inception, this year wellness was weaved in through daily practices and activities, including sessions on yoga, mindfulness and mindful coloring. Integrating any one of these activities in one's daily routine will return 10-fold in terms of clarity, peace, energy and focus and will allow one to be better equipped to take on the challenge of medicine,” said Bessie Roca Loor, SOM Class of 2024, who served as the wellness, resilience and together director of the program. 

For the first-year students who participated, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. “As I am a career-changing, non-traditional student as well as a first-generation student, I saw the program as an opportunity to make connections and bridge any gaps,” said Nadia Briones, SOM Class of 2027. “The upperclassmen that led the program provided us with a wealth of information to help launch us into our first year and the faculty lectures were absolutely amazing. If there’s one thing I took away from this program, it’s that there are just about infinite options for exactly how we can choose to shape our careers – be it public health, medical education, clinical research or some combination of everything. The enthusiasm of each professor was palpable and downright contagious.” 

“Having finished the program, I can say that I got everything I wanted out of it and more. I’ve formed very strong bonds with the other students, learned about what resources I should use throughout the year ahead of me, got in contact with many physicians already and familiarized myself with the campus. The lectures were also very well taught and really got me interested in so many aspects of medicine,” said Aryan Malhotra, SOM Class of 2027.

“Medical school doesn't seem any easier now than it was before the program, but I feel so much more equipped to handle the ups and downs due to the connections I made and the extensive list of resources NYMC offers,” said Oserekpamen Omobhude, SOM Class of 2027. “I personally valued the social aspect of the program the most. Lunch hour and the time we spent in our mods were usually the highlights of my day. Within the first couple of days, I had already found friends that I could go to the gym with and who were willing to drive me to the grocery store.”

“This program was extremely helpful for easing me back into an academic environment after spending many years away from the classroom. The lectures presented by clinicians, faculty and other NYMC staff were a great way to get acquainted with our fantastic instructors, and we were fortunate to receive regular mentorship from gracious upperclassmen, who were exceedingly generous with their advice and hosted honest discussions with us daily. I feel optimistic that my medical school journey will have a successful beginning,” said Edward Rajasingham, SOM Class of 2027.

“One of my favorite aspects of the program was connecting with upperclassmen who explained how we can and should strive for school-life balance. As a result of the Pre-Matriculation Program, I am walking into the first day less nervous and more excited for the next four years,” said Tasfia Bushra, SOM Class of 2027.