A group of Northwestern medical students gathered recently to listen to a panel of residents and fellows discuss topics ranging from choosing residency specialties to preparing for interviews, as part of a new program called STRIVE.
“I think we, as rising fourth years, are at a critical point in our careers and, although there isn’t one right way to do it, it’s important to hear from people you trust who have also been through the process, as we plan our final year,” said Emmanuel Ogele, a third-year medical student. “I also think it’s important to foster community and relationships rather than going it alone and seeing what happens.”
Quentin Youmans, ’15 MD, a resident in internal medicine, started the STRIVE program to build relationships between medical students, residents and fellows from underrepresented backgrounds.
“In residency, there aren’t a lot of training opportunities for mentorship, and this program is an opportunity to mentor students,” Youmans said. “I think it’s important for any physician who’s an underrepresented minority to reach back and let the medical students know there are people in years ahead that look like them, and that there’s a group of people who has their backs.”
Throughout the evening, housestaff shared stories from their own experiences: how they decided which specialties to pursue and how best to prepare for rotations. They encouraged students to take time to meet medical professionals in different disciplines and gain as much exposure as possible in fields they might be interested in pursuing.
“Medicine is a vast diversity of specialties,” said Aaron Quarles, MD, a resident in emergency medicine. “Identify where you will find support. You can thrive when you find the people that will support you.”
Other topics that were discussed included the transition between being a medical student and intern, timing residency interviews and managing finances.
“I wanted an opportunity to explore my options by hearing from residents who made the same decisions not too long ago,” said Genevieve Umeh, a third-year medical student. “I was really glad I attended the event. I came away with a fresh perspective on how to approach career decisions, and I felt energized from the discussions. The event demystified the process of deciding on a medical specialty.”
Another panel is planned to take place in early February, and Youmans said the group is planning four sessions per year.
“It was intimate and informal and I felt as though I had a safe space to be able to get into the nitty-gritty of all that I have been thinking about these past few weeks,” said third-year medical student Beverly Aiyanyor. “It was also a great opportunity to be able to connect with residents that can serve as mentors for me. We had an array of residents from pediatrics to cardiothoracic surgery, and they each had such a unique path to Northwestern. Even with the diversity of fields, each one of them articulated wise and encouraging words of advice that I can apply to how I move forward for these next couple of months.”