Faculty, staff, and students from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine presented research posters, workshops, and took part in meetings held by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
“I am so proud of our students and leaders for their work and ability to promote incredible initiatives they have created and implemented to support their peers here at the Miller School,” said Hilit Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for student affairs and also chair-elect to the national AAMC Group on Student Affairs. “It was wonderful to have such a strong presence at this important meeting, and I know their efforts are promoting the well-being of our student body,”
One Meeting, Three Communities
The Group on Student Affairs, Careers in Medicine, and Organization of Student Representatives National Meeting, held in Denver, served multiple purposes in supporting students in academic medicine and health science.
Faculty and staff representing the Miller School included Dr. Mechaber; Carol Archaga, M.S.Ed., director of student affairs; and Christina Garcia, M.B.A., assistant director of career services and wellness. Students Natalie Hickerson, Samara Khalil and Christina Barkas represented the Wellness Advisory Council; Christine Nunez and Vincent Volante represented the Peer-Support Network; and Duyen Vo and Rachel Lin served as the Miller School’s Organization of Student Representatives. Brea Willey was a student presenter highlighting the Student National Medical Association’s mcarolentoring program.
“I was grateful to attend the meeting with my classmates and proudly support each other as we presented some of the initiatives we have worked hard to cultivate over the last couple of years,” Nunez said. “It was exciting to see how much Miller is already doing when compared to other medical schools, and energizing as we walked away with new ideas to implement next year.”
Miller School Student Affairs hosted three workshops: Social Media 101: Building and Sustaining a Social Media Account with and for Your Students, Resolving Career Related Distress: A Collaboration Between the Counseling Center and Student Affairs, and Increasing Trust between UME and GME. Throughout the meeting, central themes focused on wellness, with topics of note including well-being, mental health and supporting a diverse and inclusive environment — all initiatives the Miller School has been heavily involved with.
“I’m very grateful for Miller’s commitment to mental health,” Volante said. “Many people mentioned how they wished their med school prioritized student well-being as much as we did. They were very impressed with our campus culture, specifically because our med students were willing to be vulnerable and share their experiences and struggles for all the campus to see and benefit from.”
The Miller School’s Wellness Advisory Council has rolled out various campaigns throughout the year, collaborating with medical students on topics including physician burnout, nutrition and managing relationships, among others.
“As a spatial learner, I truly appreciate the opportunity to see the AAMC and GSA’s organizational structure and how they function and their contributions across the nation, both present and future,” Garcia said. “Attending workshops led by other institutions gave me ideas on formalizing our existing programs and gave me confidence in the work I am already doing.”
In addition to hosting workshops, the Miller School collaborated on four research presentations focusing on various areas of medical education.
Featured posters included “Expanding a Medical Wellness Program: Community Engagement to Combat Pandemic Digital Overload,” “Effects of Social Media Utilization on Medical Student Engagement with the Peer Support Network,” “The SOUL Program: A Student-Led Mentorship Program for Underrepresented Minorities in Medicine” and “The Virtual Interview Experience: The Applicant Perspective.”
“Miller is doing great work that can be turned into unique poster and oral presentations and manuscript publications,” Khalil said. “We have lots to learn from other schools around the nation and are blessed to have so many eager to teach. We are pioneering medical school’s frontier into social media and online pursuits, particularly in the aspect of prospective student recruitment and existing student advising/assistance.”
Southern Group on Educational Affairs
In addition to the Denver meeting, the Miller School took part in the AAMC Southern Group on Educational Affairs virtual meeting. This year’s theme, Finding Creativity for Complex Challenges, invited participants to think outside the norm as they encounter common issues faced in undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education.
The Miller School took part in four poster presentations under the leadership of Adrian Reynolds, Ph.D., assistant professor of Professional Practice and director of academic enrichment: “Near-Peer Academic Services: Creating Student-Led and Student-Directed Academic Support Programs in Pre-Clinical Undergraduate Medical Education,” “The Value of Group Coaching for Medical Board Exams,” “Spaced Repetition and Retrieval Practice Study Strategies: Practical Techniques for Student Implementation” and “Peer Teaching for Effective Case-Based Learning.” The oral presentation dealt with underrepresented minorities in education, titled “Introduction to the Science of Learning: Learning How to Learn in a Virtual Science of Learning Course for Underrepresented Minorities.”