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LSA junior Kathleen Young is applying to medical schools this summer and said advisers are important to help address a “secret checklist” of requirements to be accepted into medical school. This checklist includes volunteering, research and shadowing doctors.
Young sees a pre-health adviser once a month to answer her questions regarding the process. However, she said when she sees the adviser, it is rarely a one-on-one appointment. Young said for one-on-one appointments, she has had to call months ahead to schedule them.
“For a scheduled appointment, I need to schedule it often three months in advance,” Young said. “When I see the advisers, I usually go into office hours. I very rarely have an actual one-on-one appointment with them.”
The Newnan Academic Advising Center holds pre-health advising office hours three times a week that are run on a drop-in, group-based format, where students may ask a pre-health adviser their questions in front of the entire group. Young said she feels the office hours can be uncomfortable and stressful, especially when asking personal questions.
“Sometimes you don’t want to ask your personal questions in front of other people, especially when everyone else is trying to ask their questions in front of you, too,” Young said. “If I wanted to talk about my grades, I’d feel very self-conscious doing it in office hours rather than in one-on-one office hours.”
Young also said she worries about the number of questions the pre-health advisers need to answer in office hours while giving every student there an equal amount of their time.
“At the office hours, I can tell that they are trying to get to everyone, so when I have multiple questions, I feel bad asking them when other people also have so many questions,” Young said. “So I have to ask one question, wait for others to ask theirs, and then ask another question and so on. I will hesitate and not ask a few, too, due to uncomfortability.”
David Brawn, associate director of the Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center, said two advisers have been added recently to help combat the extended wait times. Brawn advised students to also take advantage of other University programs for pre-health assistance.
“(We are) aware of the wait times for a pre-health appointment,” Brawn said. “We’ve been active in creating different ways for students to receive the guidance that they need. Additionally, students can take advantage of the University Career Center and the LSA Opportunity Hub, which also run excellent programs for students with pre-health interests.”
LSA junior Hana Chung had a few quick questions and did not mind attending pre-health office hours last December. She said a more timid student may not feel as comfortable, however. Chung said she chose to go to office hours last November because she wasn’t able to find a one-on-one appointment until the next year.
“It might have taken me more time, but it wasn’t necessarily a waste of time at all,” Chung said. “I’m usually not shy about asking questions or talking about personal things. I do think that it’d be stressful for someone who really isn’t comfortable being around other people and asking deeper, specific questions.”
LSA sophomore Natalie White said long wait times for the office hours can impact pre-med students’ mental health. She waited a month and a half for her one-on-one pre-health advising appointment.
“It definitely impacts your mental health when you’re really stressed out about your pre-med track and you have a resource there to call but they say, ‘We can get you an appointment, just stay stressed out for another month and a half,’” White said. “If I was a freshman (at office hours) and I heard a junior say they were doing volunteering, research, had a great GPA and they were still stressed out, that would have made me really nervous for my future.”
White said she believes pre-health office hours would be less daunting to students if they were tailored to students who meet certain criteria.
“For freshmen, it might be beneficial to section off the office hours for those who are literally just getting started,” White said. “And different office hours for people who are applying this round… And I think that will be super helpful and will make the situation less intimidating to go into since you know where other people will be when you get there.”
LSA junior Ria Mahesh was able to get a pre-health appointment within a week of calling the advising office as a sophomore. However, she said she was disappointed with the advice she was given at her appointment once the adviser noticed a few B’s on her transcript.
“All she could tell me was I need to be better, otherwise I’m not going to get into med school,” Mahesh said. “She was just kind of like, this is the general path of what kids take and here’s what you’ve done so far. But her main point was you need to be better. I remember leaving not feeling very confident in my ability on being pre-med.”
Mahesh said she believes pre-health advisers should remember that though they see a large number of students every day, they should try their best to offer support and encouragement.
“I think when it comes to how they handle students that are struggling in a certain track or for guidance on how to exceed expectations in a certain track, they also need to understand there is someone there that needs support and not just needs to know what classes to take,” Mahesh said. “I feel if I had an adviser that had my back, I’d be much more confident in myself.”
Brawn also explained they have resources, such as general adviser meetings, readily available in the case of time-sensitive matters. The Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center also has online resources that may answer some students’ questions.
“Advisers in the Newnan Center are trained to respond quickly to emergencies of all types and we regularly make sure that we either help students directly or put them in contact with the appropriate resources when addressing this kind of situation,” Brawn said.
Daily Reporter Saini Kethireddy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.