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Student Life From Current Med4 Student Ivy Zhang

Get insights into the MUA med student life with TAs, mentor programs, and the Pre-Med pathway.

1) How valuable is the Pre-Med program in preparing you for the MD 1 program at MUA? 

The Pre-med program was a valuable experience for me as it really prepared me for what’s to come in the medical program.  I initially had applied for the medical program at first, but with my undergraduate degree, I was missing several core credits that would’ve required me a min. of a year to complete. The pre-med program is an intensive 8 month (or 2 semesters) program that allows you to complete all required courses within that time frame and successfully apply for the medical program. The faculty in the pre-med program analyzes the lectures they provide in the MD1 class and teaches you exactly what you need to know in order to prepare you for the future semester. The materials taught in premed have helped me in classes for the first two semesters of the basic science program. 

It was also a great way to familiarize yourself with the island life as well as forming new study habits and getting used to going back to school (for those who have been out of school for a while).

2) Please tell us a bit about how the MUA Mentors program at MUA works? Did you have a mentor when you came to MUA and were they helpful?

The MUA mentors program is a way for new students to get in contact with an upper med student who has already spent a semester on the island. The program is run by students and they normally try to assign you to a mentor who comes from a similar background (in terms of undergrad, city, etc) All incoming students are assigned a mentor and their contact information so by the time you start your new journey at MUA, you’ve already made a friend/advisor/mentor who can provide you with information and advice as someone who has gone through the same experience.  The program 

I had a mentor assigned to me a week before arriving on the island; the mentor had the same educational background (BScN) as me and we came from the same country (Canada) so it was extremely helpful when I asked her about course materials in comparison to what we’ve been taught before (in undergrad), and asking about processes in financial aid, banking, etc. 

3) How did you get chosen to be a TA, and what is that like?

The TAs are available to students for the Med program; The TAs are comprised of students from MED2-MED5. Students are chosen to be a TA by the course director at the end of the semester; the requirements are generally students who have received an A in the course, or have done extremely well throughout the semester and excelled in the course shelf exam. Normally a max. of 4 students are chosen per course. TA sessions occur once a week and it allows the students to come for an hour or two to review the past week’s material with the TA. For students who are either afraid to speak to their professor or haven’t had the chance to speak to them during office hours, or who just needed clarification in class materials will come to these sessions and I provide them with either material to help them understand better or hold review sessions to cover high-yield materials before exams. The students are also encouraged to e-mail us TAs if they require more help than what was provided in the session. 

Being a TA has allowed me to feel more comfortable with public speaking as well as a review of previous class materials so it has helped me maintain my knowledge more than what I would’ve retained without becoming a TA. Since not everybody gets chosen to become a TA it’s meaningful when your professors trust that you can teach the course material to the new students and validates the hard work you’ve put in during the semester. Time management skills are needed because you are taking several hours out of your week to prepare for your TA sessions as well as teaching it; for some students, they decline to be TAs due to the time constraints. 

For pre-med students there are no TAs; the school has a student-run tutoring program where students from both premed and the med program can request for a private tutor in their respective courses. 

*(Private tutors are based on a min. GPA for that course. I’m not a tutor so I can’t speak on the requirements to be a tutor; however I’ve been told tutors must need a 3.0grade in that course to tutor other students)

4) What is your “typical day” like at MUA?

My typical weekday involves waking up at 7 and get ready to head over to school where the days start at 8 and normally ends around 3 or 4 pm. From 8-12 we cover materials from physiology/ pharmacology/ pathology, have lunch for an hour and then have a 2 hour class on Clinical skills. Once I get home, I try to take an hour off to myself and then review the day’s material. There are no visits to the beach (despite the stereotype of a Caribbean life) but I do try and go out for a run or walk around my neighborhood to clear my head. 

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