Pre-health professions tracks are known for their rigorous requirements and demanding workloads that often result in perpetually sleep-deprived students. And although these associations may, to varying degrees, be accurate, the challenges undergraduates face while pursuing a pre-health track are certainly better faced together.
This is exactly what Hamilton’s Pre-Health Careers Club had in mind with its new peer mentoring program. According to the club’s advisor, Leslie Bell, the idea goes back to 2016 and the club’s successful “How to Pick Your Pre-Health Courses” program, which offered first- and second-year pre-health students the opportunity to map out their academic plans with the help of older students in the club.
“The idea of creating an ongoing mentoring relationship between upperclass students and underclass students was a natural extension of the peer-to-peer mentoring that, until now, has happened only at specific meeting times,” Bell said.
Below, officers of Hamilton’s Pre-Health Careers Club share their thoughts on the program.
What is the peer mentoring program?
The new mentoring system is a way of connecting students from various class years to foster a collaborative and supportive pre-health community at Hamilton. Though it is only in the early stages and we are still sending out matching information, we have high hopes that the people we connect will be a critical point of contact for helping younger pre-health students choose their classes, professors, study abroad plans, schools to apply to, and more.
— Michaela Murdock ’22, co-vice president, pre-dental
How did this come about? How will it shape the club going forward?
The one-on-one mentoring initiative is inspired by our own experiences as pre-health students. I joined the Pre-Health Club as a first-year. The first Pre-Health Club meeting in 2018 had about 50 students, but the second meeting had three: me and two friends … I became friends with the then-president of the club, Tessa Lavan ’20, who is still one of my closest friends to this day. We hope that providing a platform where students can freely ask each other questions will provide a safe and collaborative environment within the Pre-Health Club but also for the pre-health community on campus.
— SJ Bennett ’22, president, pre-med
How is the Pre-Health Club involved on campus?
Last year, we held weekly meetings that connected upperclassmen and underclassmen for advising. We hosted events such as how to organize your four-year plan, advice on volunteering, and how to get research on campus. This year, since we can meet in person, we’ve included advising events as well as organizing a one-on-one mentoring program, fun events like Jeopardy, and planning a blood drive for volunteering hours.
— Ellie Arnold ’22, co-vice president, pre-nursing
What drew you to the club?
Ultimately, the club’s mission is what persuaded me to join. I think we’re fostering a really strong pre-health community on campus, and it’s been exciting to help to shape it. All of our E-board members are upperclassmen, and we’re all on a variety of pre-health tracks, so I think we’re uniquely positioned to guide and support students with all kinds of interests throughout their years here at Hamilton.
— Kendall Boxe ’22, treasurer, pre-optometry
The pre-health pathway (has a reputation for being) tough, so the availability of a club of other pre-health students who I have shared experiences and struggles with was a very attractive opportunity. The Pre-Health Club has a close sense of community because of shared struggles and the ability of every member to gain and give.
— Noelle Yoo ’23, executive board member, pre-med
What is your favorite part of the club?
Helping out enthusiastic underclassmen choose courses that fit their track and learning more about them. As a pre-vet student, it is incredibly exciting to meet other pre-vet students and help them design their schedule, give advice on how to get animal experience hours, and discuss why they want to be a vet.
— Heather Roeder ’22, secretary, pre-vet
There is always a lot of stress that comes with being a pre-health student that other students who are not in pre-health don’t understand. Being in a community filled with people who understand the struggles makes it easier. It also provides the necessary student support to help each other out.
— Emily Wong ’23, executive board member, pre-PA