Branford College students interested in a career in medicine can now explore their options without making the hike to Undergraduate Career Services on Whitney Avenue.

Tuesday evening the college’s fellows began the first-ever Yale residential college-based pre-medical mentoring program. Thirty-seven Branford students and about 20 fellows met at the Branford Common Room from 7 to 8 p.m. to discuss their future mentoring relationship. While students were excited about the program, some of the student perceptions about its offerings did not match the program’s intents.

“The program is intended to supplement and enhance UCS offerings, not replace them,” Branford fellow and School of Nursing assistant professor David Walker ’96 said.

Branford students in the program will have a unique experience of being paired with someone who can give them a daily taste of what being a doctor is like, McJunkins said, adding that this is an experience that Undergraduate Career Services cannot offer.

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Aiyana Bobrownicki ’13, who attended the talk, said she is excited to shadow and participate in research with mentors, as well as take advantage of the networking and resources that the program offers.

The program’s main objective, Branford College Dean Hilary Fink said, is to match Branford sophomores with the Branford fellows who are members of the medical school faculty in order to enhance pre-med advising at the college. Freshmen, juniors and seniors are also eligible, Fink added, but sophomores are targeted because they have shown a greater dedication than freshmen to pursuing medicine, while still needing more guidance than upperclassmen, Walker said. Any sophomore who wants to take part in the program will be assigned a qualified fellow, Walker said.

The Branford mentoring program is not designed to cover practical issues such as class selection and the application process for medical schools, Kristen McJunkins, director of the Health Professions Advisory Program, said. The mentors are also not trained to help students fit pre-med requirements into their schedules, McJunkins added.

The role of the mentors is to help students enhance their understanding both of a possible career in medicine and of the responsibilities and rewards that come with being a full-time physician, Kink said.

Walker, who founded the mentoring program, said the idea originated from his own frustration as a pre-med undergraduate student in Trumbull College.

“It’s hard to understand what the real-world [experience] of being in the medical field is when you get caught up in unfulfilling pre-med requirements,” Walker said.

The program allows students to experience the process of mentorship, which Walter said is central to a career in medicine since it is an apprentice-based model.

“Getting an exposure into the undergraduate life, which we rarely get to do, it the exciting part for us,” said fellow and mentor Beth Rackow ’96, who is also an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science and pediatrics.

UCS currently offers personal counselling and practice interviews for pre-med students.