Medical school adds evening advising hours

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences has expanded its office hours to accommodate students during residency season.

Officials in SMHS lengthened advisory dean office hours to evening phone hours so that students who work during the day can get help with scheduling and career planning, Katherine Chretien, assistant dean for student affairs, said. The medical school saw the highest number of applications this year and is continuing to expand services to attract more students.

Each student is assigned a career advisory dean when he or she is admitted to SMHS. The dean helps guide and advise them in their academic and professional career choices. Chretien said deans are piloting evening phone hours because students in their clinical years, usually in their third and fourth years of medical school, are busy doing rotations and not free to come in or find breaks to call during the workday.

“We wanted to be more accessible for students and available for questions even after usual hours,” Chretien said. “Like many new endeavors, we wanted the chance to try out this format and be able to change it and improve it based on use and feedback.”

Students can make appointments to meet with one of the three career advisory deans in the Office of Student Affairs throughout the week during normal work hours, she said. Students can also send an email about when they would like to set up an evening call, and an advisory dean will call them within a particular time frame.

Chretien said fall is an important season for fourth-year medical students because they’re completing residency applications and interviews to determine where they will work for the next three to five years as residents.

The career advisory deans guide students through their professional development and specialty choice, culminating in residency applications and matching into a residency program, she said.

“We help them with their course schedules, elective, selection and career planning every step of the way,” Chretien said.

Staff in the school’s student affairs office are working on wellness programming as part of a larger wellness committee, Chretien added, but did not say what kinds of programs are in the works.

SMHS was named fourth in the list of top 10 most selective medical schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in March, a reputation the school has held since before 2011.

Jon Morris, associate dean for student affairs at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said he oversees the advisory deans and meets with the deans every two weeks to check on students’ progress.

“My office and my colleagues make a major commitment to getting our students in the position to maximize their ability to match well,” he said. “It is a major point of emphasis for the Office of Student Affairs to aide, assist and maximize the abilities of our students to get top flight residencies across the country.”

Morris said students need extra resources when applying for residencies because where they are placed has a major impact on students’ academic and medical careers. He added finding a residency can be stressful because many specialties are competitive, meaning students have to be at the top of their game to land a spot.

“The number of applicants greatly exceeds the number of available spots,” Morris said. “The competition is fierce.”

Erica Sutton, an advisory dean at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, said all of the students she advises have her cell phone number to reach her when necessary.

Late hours would be beneficial to students because it makes advising more accessible, but they could also cause issues for faculty that have families, Sutton said.

“It is a poor idea for faculty wellness,” Sutton said. “My job office starts at 7 a.m., and now you are saying that I have to keep evening office advisory hours for my students. That would be a turn off at our institution. We have got to keep our evening hours. We have to protect those for our families.”

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