FORT WORTH – A new group of 60 medical students were welcomed into the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine on July 12.
“I’m feeling excited I’m feeling inspired by all of the people that are around me and just really powerful,” said Alejandra Gutierrez, a first-year medical student at TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine.
The group began their day with a one-on-one session with Stuart D. Flynn, M.D., the founding dean of the medical school. Then, they were ushered into the TCU Brown-Lupton University Union where they had the chance to mingle and have their TCU Identification photos taken.
“I told them that they are going to work. That we are in this together and to take care of themselves and find time for themselves,” Flynn said. “That message of taking care of yourself was never spoken back in the day and by back in the day I mean even 20 years ago. I had a mentor who actually helped me in that regard. I think we need to pass that on through the generations and we need to prevent things that happen to people when they get exhausted and they are struggling to function.”
That message of being mindful of taking care of their own mental health as they make their journey through medical school resonated with first-year student Christopher Corona.
“Because that’s just as important as learning medicine,” Corona said. “I thought it was really awesome of him to stress that as far as our medical education is concerned.”
The smiles and energy from the medical students were shared by the Office of Admissions & Enrollment Services. This was also the first time the team was able to meet the cohort of students in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After having our entire virtual application season and also Second Look Weekend and on-boarding pre-matriculation it was really exciting to have them here in person,” said Erin Nelson, Psy.D., Assistant Dean of Admissions & Enrollment Services.
As the temperatures in North Texas hovered around the mid-90s throughout the day, the students were able to cool off in the shade with some free Kona Ice treats before taking a self-guided tour of TCU’s campus.
Kevin Chao, a first-year medical student and one of 13 TCU graduates in the Class of 2025, led a few groups on tours of the campus he’s called home for the past four years.
“Everybody was standing around wondering how are going to do a self-guided tour and I was like well I did four years here,” Chao said. “We toured the (TCU) Rec Center, we toured the (Mary Couts Burnett) Library, we went to the science buildings and I was giving them all the little tidbits about the school, which is kind of fun.”
They also had a jam-packed day of orientation at the UNT Health Science Center campus where they went through Med SafeZones training. This training is designed to introduce faculty, staff and medical students to the identities and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people and to increase awareness and knowledge of health disparities experienced in the LGBTQ+ community.
Following that session, the students were able to have their headshots taken and pick up some gifts along with more frozen treats, this time from Steel City Pops, to beat the North Texas heat.
The new medical students also got the chance to meet the two other classes at Pinstripes in the Clearfork neighborhood in Southwest Fort Worth.
“This will be the first time ever that all of the students in all of the classes get to meet one another all in the same place live and in person,” said Dr. Nelson.
This was an opportunity to meet in-person and begin to build camaraderie between the classes of medical students and also hand down some wisdom, according to Dilan Shah, a third-year medical student.
“So far what I’ve talked to the new MS-1s about is our LIC curriculum and I’ve also been asking them what specialty they are interested in,” Shah said. “I think it’s really cool to contrast what you come into medical school thinking you know what you want to do and then you get halfway through and see what you end up doing.”
Chao heeded Shah’s advice as they mingled between the bowling lanes at Pinstripes.
“They said take this month in as much as you can,” Chao said. “Take all the initiation and introductory things and relax because it’s going to ramping up pretty soon.”
The Class of 2025 also had the opportunity to mingle with faculty and staff, Class of 2024 and Class of 2023 during an Ice Cream Social.
That set the stage for the Learning Communities reveal during a Facebook Live event.
The event introduces the incoming medical students to their Learning Communities and their Physician Development Coaches. It’s all a part of the THRIVE wellness curriculum that is a longitudinal, integrated and collaborative system of instruction, learning and support for the medical students to focus on their well-being.
“Looking at how we can support medical students and specifically their mental health and well-being across is front and center is certainly a core pillar for us here at the school of medicine,” said Danika Franks, M.D., Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.
The students closed Welcome Week with Frog Camp at TCU and a picnic where each class of medical students could eat, socialize and play games with each other to build camaraderie.
“Just reflecting on the last class. The second-year medical students who didn’t get the opportunity to do this Welcome Week last year helps me appreciate it that much more,” said James Okpamen, a first-year medical student. “Being able to meet the second- and third-year students and meet the faculty at all the Welcome Week events it just helps us feel more normal.”