The 120 premedical students from colleges across Arkansas who came to UAMS for tours and information sessions on March 8 were asked a vital question by Richard P. Wheeler, M.D., executive vice chancellor for academic affairs in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine.
“Why do you want to become a physician?”
Wheeler’s aim during the opening session in the I. Dodd Wilson Education Building was for the students to dig deeper than the often-heard declaration of “wanting to help people.” Being a doctor, he explained, is about more than diagnosing diseases and conducting procedures to treat conditions.
“The answer should be that you want to take away their fear,” Wheeler said. “I’m talking about the deep, visceral fear that comes when there is something wrong with you that you don’t understand.”
Doctors, he explained, alleviate fear by providing answers when possible – and by being unfailingly compassionate.
Wheeler discussed benefits of attending medical school at UAMS, where the College of Medicine has been educating the vast majority of the state’s physicians since 1879. He noted the campus’ topnotch clinical, research and education facilities, robust research enterprise and dedicated educators. He also discussed opportunities for medical students to participate in research and even pursue dual medical and doctorate degrees.
The day-long annual event is organized by the College of Medicine Admissions Office. The team includes Tom South, assistant dean for medical student admissions, Jeanne McLachlin, Ph.D., director of admissions and recruitment, and Tammy Henson, admissions specialist/Rural Practice Program administrator.
“Our goal is to recruit the very best students to UAMS and the College of Medicine,” said McLachlin. “We want the best doctors for our state, and great doctors start out as great students. The annual premed tour gives many of Arkansas’ most promising college students their first on-the-ground look at UAMS and some of the many educational, research and clinical opportunities we offer.”
It was also an opportunity for the visiting students to ask questions – and nearly 30 faculty and staff members and 40-plus medical students were on hand to supply answers. College of Medicine students met with visiting students in small groups during lunch, which concluded with a panel discussion. Students met faculty physicians and researchers on 14 small-group tours:
Biomedical Research Buildings
Main Operating Room and Outpatient Surgery
Pat Tank Anatomy Teaching Complex
On the Center for Addiction Research tour, three University of Arkansas Fayetteville students and two from Central Baptist College in Conway visited with Department of Psychiatry faculty physicians John Spollen, M.D., and Michael Mancino, M.D. Third-year medical student Morgan Tripod was their tour guide. Conversation ranged from addiction treatment and the opioid crisis to what to expect during the medical student interview process.
The visiting students also gained assurance from their hosts that medical school at UAMS is much more collegial than cutthroat. Spollen and Mancino emphasized that the faculty and staff are dedicated to making sure students succeed.
The visitors also heard that medical students also look out for one another. “We’re all in this together,” said Tripod.
Visiting students said they appreciated the tours and information sessions. “The conversations with medical students were open and engaging,” a Williams Baptist University (Walnut Ridge) student commented on a post-event survey.
“I loved hearing about research opportunities at UAMS,” wrote a University of Arkansas Fayetteville student.
“I enjoyed learning so much about UAMS and the different departments,” said another visiting student.