Second Look Day Draws Large Crowd of Top Potential Medical Students

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This year’s Second Look Day — an event in which accepted applicants who have not yet made a commitment are invited to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to learn more about what its academic programs have to offer — attracted a record number of participants. So many, in fact, that for the first time the program had to be split in two, with the 150-plus candidates at one location and their families, friends and supporters in another.

From left, Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., Marie-Denise Gervais, M.D., Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., and Alex J. Mechaber, M.D.

Marie-Denise Gervais, M.D., assistant dean for admissions and diversity, welcomed the prospective students who filled the Lois Pope LIFE Center’s Apex Auditorium on April 12. She acted as moderator for the program, called “A Day in the Life of a UM Medical Student,” and began by introducing Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., the Miller School’s dean and chief academic officer.

“We are fully committed to your education, and we are committed to your success,” Dean Ford told the audience, “because your success is our success. Our purpose is to develop transformational leaders who are going to shape the future of medicine, and we want to inspire you to serve our global community.”

In the audience, Robert Nagele was listening. A Las Vegas native who will be graduating from the University of Nevada with a degree in biology, he is interested in a career in emergency medicine.

“There is excellent real-life training here in my field,” he said.

One of the Miller School’s long-time faculty members, Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., executive dean for education and policy, spoke of the change he has seen and what it means for the Miller School’s future.

“I have watched the Miller School’s relationship with its key clinical partners — Jackson, the VA and now UHealth — expand to become something approaching uniqueness in American medicine and American medical education,” Dr. Gardner said. “You will be part of a new effort by students and faculty to transform our curriculum, and we will ask students to play a critical role in moving toward more active learning, earlier clinical engagement, and greater understanding of the social determinants of health as they affect outcomes.”

More than 150 prospective students packed the Apex Auditorium.

Dr. Gardner’s remarks caught the attention of Shirley Li, a student at Johns Hopkins completing an undergraduate degree in public health.

“My goal is a career in primary care, but I also want to study the social determinants of health,” the Monterey Park, Calif., native said. “That’s why the Miller School’s M.D./M.P.H. program is of so much interest to me.”

Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education, said the record turnout said a lot about what the Miller School has become.

“You will have meaningful clinical experiences that begin on day one of medical school,” he said. “You will have opportunities to be part of groundbreaking research and opportunities to get engaged in the community. One of the hallmarks of what we do at the Miller School is taking care of the underserved in our community and globally. I truly believe our students make a difference.”

Jay Shroff, a UM student from Cupertino, Calif., who wants to be a surgeon, didn’t need to be sold on Miami.

“I am getting my undergraduate degree in biology and public health,” he said. “I would like to stay for my medical education, as well.”

The visiting students then listened to three mini-lectures representing classroom instruction at the Miller School: human anatomy by Thomas Champney, Ph.D., professor of professional practice, the renal system by Warren L. Kupin, M.D., professor of clinical medicine, and neuroscience and behavioral sciences by Stefanie Prendes-Alvarez, M.D., M.P.H.

Three more sessions filled the second half of the morning: medical simulation “heart sounds” by Hector Fabio Rivera, M.D., a cardiology fellow, curriculum and grading by Amar Deshpande, M.D., associate professor of medicine and assistant dean for medical education and competency assessment, and research opportunities by Rhea Choi, an M.D./Ph.D. student in the Miller School’s Medical Scientist Training Program.

Meanwhile, in the auditorium at the Michael S. Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education, more than 50 family members, friends and supporters were enjoying their own morning program: “Overview for Parents and Significant Others.”

Welcoming remarks and introductions were given by Richard Weisman, Pharm.D., associate dean for admissions and enrollment, and Dean Ford, who had made a quick and apologetic departure from the students so he could go talk to their parents.

The first half of the second morning program consisted of an overview of the Miller School by Dr. Weisman, a tour of the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center by Michael Bello, M.S., supervisor of wellness training, and an overview of student affairs and student services by Dr. Mechaber.

Participants from across the country enjoyed Miami’s early spring weather.

The remainder of the morning offered a presentation on Medical Students in Action by Steve E. Chavoustie, M.D., the volunteer group’s medical director and CEO, a session on academic enrichment by second-year medical students Carolyn Coughlin and Renuka Ramchandran, and a tour of the Gordon Simulation Center.

The two groups reunited for lunch, an optional campus tour, and a series of sessions in Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s Jose Berrocal Auditorium: “A Diverse and Inclusive Student Body,” led by Dr. Gervais and Stephen Symes, M.D., associate dean for diversity and inclusion, followed by overviews of the Department of Community Service (DOCS) program, academic societies, clinical skills training and living in Miami. The day ended with a reception on the Schoninger Quadrangle featuring refreshments, music and dancing.

Miami Beach native Marcus Castillo shared interests in emergency medicine and community service with many of the day’s participants. The big difference, however, is that his undergraduate degree, from New York University, is in film and television. Does he want to be the next Dr. Oz?

“Maybe,” he laughed, “but a doctor first.”

A gallery of photographs from Second Look Day is available here.

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