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Leanne Niziol, a first-year medical student, took part in the Max Rady College of Medicine’s Orientation Week sessions.

Orientation sets students on path to success

September 16, 2019 — 

Before the lectures began and the studying started, first-year Rady Faculty of Health Sciences students were introduced to their programs and primed for academic success during orientation sessions.

For more than 100 medical students, the first step to becoming physicians was Orientation Week. It was a combination of informational sessions, activities and ceremonies designed to ease students into medical school and help them feel comfortable, said Dr. Ira Ripstein, associate dean, undergraduate medical education, Max Rady College of Medicine.

“When they enter medical school, it’s not just entering medical school, but entering the medical profession,” Ripstein said. “It’s a very big step from almost anywhere the students may have been before, both in the volume of work and also the amount of responsibility.”

Information sessions covered everything from professionalism to immunizations to the prevention and control of infectious disease. The available student resources were also explained.

First-year medical students recite the Physician’s Pledge at the Inaugural Exercises for the Max Rady College of Medicine.

Ripstein said a highlight of the week was the Inaugural Exercises. At the event, Dr. Gigi Osler, an otolaryngologist who just completed her term as the president of the Canadian Medical Association, gave the Alan Klass Memorial Address. Students also took part in the White Coat Ceremony, where they were cloaked in their first white coat and recited the Physician’s Pledge.

First-year medical student Kristen Piche said she learned a lot, including how to properly wash her hands, an important skill for a future physician.

“Orientation has been really informational,” Piche said. “It’s been a little overwhelming, but everyone’s been really supportive. I think my favourite part was just learning how many resources are available to me and how supportive all the faculty members and staff have been. The Med 2 students helped welcome us as well. It’s been really great.”

First-year medical student Joseph Pham said that it was an excellent experience meeting his new classmates.

“It’s kind of mind-blowing to think I’ll be working together with them for the next four years and maybe even further in the future,” he said.

‘Skills blitz’

First-year College of Nursing students had three days of orientation that concluded with a “skills blitz,” an opportunity for some hands-on experience in the simulation labs at the Helen Glass Centre for Nursing. The 120 new students were introduced to important skills like hand hygiene and taking vital signs. Student mentors were on hand to offer instruction and answer questions.

First-year nursing students gained some experience at the “skills blitz.”

“Everyone was really excited and nervous at the same time, but this threw us into the action right away and gave a snippet of what’s to come,” said Jacob Darling, who moved from British Columbia to attend the U of M. “I’m excited. It’s one of the top schools in Canada.”

Chao-Yu Hu, an international student originally from Taiwan, said the orientation period was a great way to get started before starting classes. 

“The skills blitz was a lot of fun,” she said. “You get to practice a lot hands-on, meet your peers and find out more from senior students.”

The college also welcomed 10 students into its doctoral program during orientation week. This is the highest intake the program has had since its inception in 2013.

Orientations across campus

Dr. Lalitha Raman-Wilms, dean of the College of Pharmacy, held a Coffee with the Dean event to welcome all pharmacy undergrads back to school. First-year doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students took part in a course that introduced students to various learning opportunities that will contribute to their learning and pharmacy practice. The course covered professional behaviour and social determinants of health, an introduction to the Medicine Wheel, and lectures on culture and diversity and the 2SLGBTQ+ community. The week was capped off with a discussion from a panel of pharmacists who spoke about different career opportunities.

The College of Rehabilitation Sciences hosted a Welcome Lunch. There was a formal program with an Elder blessing, remarks from dean of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences Dr. Reg Urbanowski and incoming student council presidents. Info sessions from various campus services also took place. The master of occupational therapy, master of physical therapy and the bachelor of respiratory therapy programs each hosted orientations as well.

As part of orientation, students in the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry and School of Dental Hygiene learned about their programs and what the expectations are. Students were fitted for loupes and scrubs, and attended orientation sessions on everything from the immunization program to infection control to the protocols of being in the clinic. They also learned about the services offered to students on the Bannatyne campus. The students were welcomed to the oral health profession at the Opening Assembly, where they took part in a White Coat Ceremony and were cloaked in their first white coats.

Orientation for new graduate students took place on the Bannatyne campus on September 6. The orientation included a welcome session, a campus tour, lunch and resource fair. Workshops that were offered covered everything from tips on completing a graduate scholarship application to library essentials to how to network.

Student Services at Bannatyne Campus provided talks at all college orientations. They handed out tote bags filled with information on various supports and services available to Rady Faculty students. On August 28, Student Services hosted a Student Resource Fair, which featured info booths, prizes and giveaways. 

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