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Medical students Alyssa Archibald (left) and Jaymie Walker oversaw the Independent Student Analysis (ISA) survey.

Med students log long hours for classmates’ feedback

March 4, 2019 — 

A pair of medical students spent countless hours overseeing a survey that is part of the accreditation process because they want to help contribute to the success of their fellow students and the Max Rady College of Medicine.

Alyssa Archibald, a fourth-year student, and Jaymie Walker, a third-year student, oversaw the Independent Student Analysis (ISA) survey from the creation of its questions to encouraging classmates to submit their responses to writing the 106-page report.

The ISA identifies the areas of the Max Rady College of Medicine that are performing well and the areas that need work to meet accreditation standards, said Archibald, who was in charge of the overall survey and report. The ISA is managed by members of the Manitoba Medical Students’ Association (MMSA) and is one of the documents submitted by the Max Rady College of Medicine as part of the accreditation process.

The survey, which is mandatory, asks students a range of questions about everything from specific courses to mistreatment to access to student lounge space. The ISA is typically conducted during an accreditation year, but the MMSA conducts the survey every April as a method of quality assurance, said Walker, who assisted with writing the report and creating the appendices. The 2018 survey is being used for the Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) accreditation April 28-May 1, 2019.

“The ISA is important to do because it gives the university solid feedback on how they’re doing in terms of preparing us as future physicians,” Walker said. “It’s important to check in with those things just to make sure we’re getting the education we want, to make sure our learning environment is good and to make sure we’re set up for success in the future.”

Walker said the university listens to the students’ concerns. A lot of changes took place this year based on students’ responses, she said, such as the creation of new food options, extra elective time for the class of 2021 and a new lounge.

“We are grateful to the MMSA for the hard work the students put in to their survey and laud them for their professionalism and dedication to advocating on behalf of their fellow students,” said Dr. Brian Postl, Dean, Max Rady College of Medicine and Dean, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. “We appreciate the open dialogue we have with our students and the opportunity to address any concerns and enhance their learning environment.”

On top of Archibald’s studies, she spent many late nights, early mornings and weekends working on the ISA.

“I won’t lie, it was a ton of work and much more than I had anticipated,” Archibald said. “While I didn’t keep track, I would estimate that we – myself, along with Jaymie and other members of the MMSA – contributed hundreds of hours to the ISA.”

Archibald said she learned a lot from the process. She acquired new skills, such as how to write objectively about data, and the project taught her the importance of relying on the expertise of her team members.

“Overall, it gave me a better understanding of accreditation, the significance of it and the enormous amount of work that our university puts into the entire accreditation process,” Archibald said. “I entered medicine because I wanted to help others, and took on roles in student leadership for the same reason. My goal and motivation was, and is, to improve the experiences of other students and faculty at our medical school for years to come. It was an honour and privilege to represent them in this document and through the accreditation process.”

Despite the long hours and extra work, Walker said the experience was worth it.

 “I think it’s a privilege to be in medicine,” Walker said. “It’s an absolute honour, to be honest. I really want to give back to my community. I was motivated to make sure we were accredited this year, that we were successful as a student body and I feel personally responsible for my fellow students in making sure they have a good time here.”  

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