Student Affairs offices at every medical school are built to provide the information and services students need to succeed.
At the Dell Medical School, we’re trying to do a little more. Of course we’ll make sure student can access the gym, financial aid, medical care, study skills, and counseling when needed. But we’re also launching three initiatives that we believe will help students in unique and important ways.
No. 1 - Crowd sourcing student affairs
We believe in the students we accept. We believe we can trust them to contribute to a community of shared resources and identify their own areas of greatest need.
Let’s say a first-year student decides she wants to hone her time management skills. Of course she can come to the student affairs office — we’ll have resources and suggestions. But we’ll also invite her to work with us and other students to help improve those resources. We’ll meet to share ideas, tips and insights, and then use that input to augment and improve, in this case, our time-management resources. In this way, our resources remain a continuously improving “wiki.”
No. 2 - Social context of learning
Student Affairs teaches. We don’t teach anatomy or biochemistry or auscultation techniques, but we believe it’s important to pass on skills that will help our students succeed in a professional environment — everything from specialty career selection to financial planning to cultural competency — even residency applications and identifying electives.
We strongly believe that these skills are best learned in a social context, which means working and learning in small groups — no lectures. Our students will take up big questions, such as the areas of medicine that most interest them, as part of a larger conversation in groups they know well and work with often. We’ll answer students’ questions with the specificity they require. And we’ll provide one-on-one counseling — both on a regularly scheduled basis and whenever students want or need it.
Remember, the vision of the Dell Medical School’s is “a vital, inclusive health ecosystem.” The Office of Student Affairs focuses on the health of our students, helping them successfully navigate all of the challenges and opportunities that medical education offers. Our student body will model a “vital, inclusive health ecosystem.”
No. 3 - Progressive coaching
Medical school is, first and foremost, an education. People make mistakes, and we’re here for our students whenever they do. We don’t allow lapses in judgment to define an individual, and we treat “unprofessional” as an adverb describing what someone did, never an adjective to describe who someone is. It could be that a student has a blind spot, or wasn’t managing stress well, or has an explanation that others don’t know or understand.
So, we coach. We don’t coerce students into becoming something they aren’t. Instead, we help them learn to be even better at what they want to do well. We help our students learn to coach and then encourage them to coach each other. We start with a chat over coffee or lunch — “How are things going? What’s going on?” — and move toward lessons and changes that will help students succeed in medical school and beyond.
Have you been the target of mistreatment in a learning environment? Use the Student Mistreatment Report to divulge it.