Pre-Med Mentoring Program Established

By Stephen Gawlik
Staff Writer

A new mentoring program aims to give Boston College undergraduates planning medical careers an inside look at their chosen field by pairing them with alumni doctors, dentists, veterinarians and other health care professionals.

Known as "EagleDocs," the program will allow BC students, as well as alumni, to gain valuable clinical exposure, receive career-related advice and forge ties with fellow graduates.

Last January, the Career Center began inviting BC alumni across the country to join EagleDocs and by July had recruited some 200 volunteers. The program was formally announced in November at the Career Center's annual "Science Night."

EagleDocs came about through the efforts of Christopher "Kip" Doran, '68, who contacted the Pre-Medical Advisory Office and the Career Center in the spring of 1999, seeking assistance in establishing an alumni mentoring program for undergraduate students in the pre-medical and pre-dental programs.

"I saw that there might be an opportunity out there to bring students and alumni together in a way that would be fun for both," said Doran, a psychiatrist now living in Colorado. "The health care industry is facing a lot of hurdles right now and it can be intimidating to students who are just starting out."

In decades past, Doran said, becoming a doctor meant simply earning a medical degree and beginning practice. But now, he said, "there are so many paths to take - there's research or specialization or working for a pharmaceutical company. It can be difficult for students to decide where to go."

EagleDocs is part of the Career Center's Career Advisory Network program, through which 6,000 alumni nationwide share their career insights with students and fellow alumni. During last summer, the Career Center collaborated with the Pre-Med Office staff to develop a database containing the contact information for each interested alumnus. The database, available through the World Wide Web at /Eagledocs, enables students to search for mentors based on such categories as specialty, location, undergraduate major and health school alma mater.

"It's very important for students to be able to see and be in touch with those who work in the profession they are interested in," said Alumni Career Services Director Domenic A. DeLeo. "This way they can make an informed and empowered choice."

DeLeo said that another benefit of EagleDocs is that BC students will be able to communicate with others who experienced many of the same challenges and obstacles when they were undergraduates.

"They sat in the same classrooms, sat through the same courses and will have similar perspectives," said DeLeo of the EagleDocs volunteers. "Hopefully, it will help students persevere through a very competitive academic track."

Junior Robert Fogerty said, "This is going to be extremely helpful for a lot of pre-med students like me. I know that one of the keys to getting into medical school is having some experience in the health field. It's not all about grade point averages and test scores."

Fogerty, an economics major from Riverside, Conn., has worked as an emergency medical technician and says there is a lot more to health science than what is learned from books.

"Being blood shy is not something that's going to go away by reading about it," he said.

"Sometimes, students lose sight of the big picture," said junior Priya S. Shastri, a psychology major and pre-med student. She explained that pre-med students often become disheartened when their chemistry and biology courses become difficult. "They forget that this is about helping sick people. Hopefully through a program like this it will remind them why they're doing all that studying."

 

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