UI summer program helps incoming medical students adjust

IMEI students at White Coat Ceremony

The summer before students start medical school typically gives them one final time to relax prior to beginning their intense workload. However, students who might feel intimidated about starting their journey can apply for the Introduction to Medical Education at Iowa (IMEI), which prepares medical students for the rigorous courses they should expect at the University of Iowa College Carver of Medicine.

IMEI courses mimic a standard week of classes throughout the school year and provide a refresher on important information, particularly focused on anatomy.

About the program

Carrie Bernat“IMEI covers 30% of the fall curriculum in the summer, so it allows students to get a handle on their study skills as well as some of the content they will see this fall,” says Carrie Bernat, IMEI program director. “Students have a built-in group of friends already as they begin medical school, and they also have time to get settled into their apartments and homes so that they are in good shape as they jump into their schoolwork. Additionally, they have gotten to know many of the faculty who will be teaching them this fall.”

Only a select number of students are accepted into the program, because IMEI strives to serve nontraditional students, non-science majors, or those new to the UI.

Plus, the courses are inactive, so the final grades don’t affect student transcripts.

“Not only has the program prepared me for medical school, but it has also given me the opportunity to learn valuable teaching skills, such as creating exam questions, helping students create practical study methods, and tutoring students.” Jacob Christensen, current medical student.

A student’s perspective

“It’s comforting to know this program exists because it’s geared toward students who are more removed from school due to marriage, taking a few years off, or other experiences,” says Jacob Christensen, a current medical student, teaching assistant (TA) for IMEI, and previous IMEI participant.

Christensen explains that the program helped him get back into the rhythm of school after taking a year off.

“I was nervous about coming to medical school, so it was perfect when I heard about the program,” says Christensen. “It’s nice to have that identical semester experience to learn how to manage my time and study before the grades are assigned to your transcript. I needed the refresher.”

Learning new study methods helped Christensen in his first year at the UI Carver College of Medicine, he says. Even students who typically received good grades as undergrads said they were grateful for the time management skills they gained, says Christensen.

Program’s benefits

Christensen is also interested in teaching, which inspired him to be a TA for this summer’s program.

“Not only has the program prepared me for medical school, but it has also given me the opportunity to learn valuable teaching skills, such as creating exam questions, helping students create practical study methods, and tutoring students,” he says.

Bernat explained that the TAs also teach a bulk of the anatomy coursework, facilitate small groups, and provide general support to the students.

“The TAs are the backbone of the program and it wouldn’t be nearly as rich or dynamic without their efforts,” she says.

What Christensen didn’t expect were the benefits of being able to explore campus and Iowa City before classes began. He appreciated learning how to navigate the Cambus, pinpoint the closest restaurants, and memorize where his classes were held.

“Medical students have a different type of beast to tackle compared to undergrads, so I’m glad I had this experience instead of being thrown into the unknown,” Christensen says. “This summer, I hope I’ve helped to guide students just as I was guided.”

Date: 
Monday, August 12, 2019