OGDEN, Utah – “What I wished I’d known before I attended medical school?” That’s the tough question doctors in Northern Utah are volunteering to tackle with students in a new class at Weber State University this spring. The semester-long course includes a wide range of topics such as, “How to Avoid Suicide”; “Ethical Considerations”; “Managing Information and Avoiding Urban Legends.”
Associate zoology professor and pre-med advisor Barbara Trask has teamed with David Goff, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and Robert Moesinger, a general surgeon at McKay-Dee Hospital, to empower prospective medical students with valuable knowledge before they make critical education and career choices.
The one-credit course titled “Life in Medicine” is taught Thursdays from 7:30 - 8:20 a.m. The course has 74 students enrolled who range from freshmen to seniors. Some have just begun their educations; others have already been accepted to medical school, but they all want to interact with medical professionals.
"This class is going to close the loop,” Trask said. “We have students who want to go where the doctors are. We also have a lot of the doctors who want to be able to share their experiences to help students, so it is a circle where our students can make an educated choice about medical school and then return and do the same thing for future students.”
Dr. Goff is an alumnus returning to Weber State where he played defensive tackle on the football team while earning his undergraduate degree in zoology in 1982. Goff said teaching this course is a small way to repay his excellent training from Weber State all the way through medical school.
“I’ve had some great professors and surgeon mentors with whom I’ve worked, and I hold them in very high esteem. With that experience, I want to give something back to the profession by helping those who are coming up through the ranks,” Goff said. “Mentoring students is a pleasure. They are eager. They ask good questions. It’s invigorating.”
The two surgeons who have volunteered to teach this semester have also assembled a panel of local physicians who will attend class discussions. At any one time, students could have access to as many as six physicians to whom they could ask questions and seek advice.
“We’re trying to involve a number of different specialists in the course to try to give students an idea of what it will be like in the future,” Goff said. “We want them to be able to answer for themselves, ‘Is this something I want to do?’ or ‘Can I envision myself doing this in the future?’”
Students will discuss all the realities and difficulties associated with a profession that deals daily with life and death. Some medical students and doctors find the challenges rewarding; others find the challenges overwhelming. This class will help prospective doctors determine which group they fall in before they incur a great deal of time and expense.
“The physicians who are in this class are intrinsically geared to focusing on the positive aspects of their career, and I think that’s going to help our students develop that attitude to love your job,” Trask said.
The Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke Family Pre-Medical Program has earned a reputation for outstanding preparation of students at the undergraduate level. As a result, the program consistently achieves high placement rates for its graduates at prestigious medical schools across the nation. In 2009-2010, the program had an astonishing 78 percent placement rate, well above the 45 percent placement rate of pre-med programs nationwide. This year, the selection process is just beginning, but members of WSU’s pre-med class of 2011 already have been accepted to medical schools across the country, including Creighton University, University of Illinois, Rosalind Franklin, and University of Texas (Houston and El Paso).
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