In a doctor's shadow

Pre-professional students are faced with many entrance requirements for medical school in addition to their normal course load. Finding time to finish all the volunteering, leadership projects and physician-shadowing can be daunting. However, a new program called the Preceptor Program has been created in which students can get a credit in their major just for fulfilling the physician-shadowing facet of their medical school application.

Ben Saxey, a Weber State University junior majoring in medical lab science, has been working on setting up this program all summer and is ready for launch this fall.

“There are major benefits to the Preceptor Program,” Saxey said. “The first thing is, to get into medical school, you need a letter of recommendation from a physician. So, what we are going to work into the program is that students who participate will be able to get a letter of recommendation directly from their physician.”

Most medical schools are looking for 40 hours of physician-shadowing before students can even apply. This new program is enabling students to fulfill their major requirements while simultaneously fulfilling medical school requirements.

“To get into medical school, you need somebody to organize your letters of recommendation and send them — at Weber, that person is Barb Trask,” Saxey said. “She’s our pre-med adviser, so without her and getting to know her, students are not going to be getting the level of recommendation they want.”

Saxey single-handedly recruited all of the practicing doctors out of McKay-Dee Hospital, Ogden Regional Hospital and the Ogden Clinic to participate in the program. After the students complete their 40 hours of physician-shadowing, they will get a grade which will show up on their transcript as an upper-division class within their major. According to Saxey, getting a grade for the class is the easy part.

“Students can either keep a journal of what they do every day, or they can just write a two-page paper on their experience. Pretty easy,” Saxey said.

The Preceptor Program is a branch of WSU’s pre-medical club, the American Medical Student Association, which is a great asset for students pursuing a degree in medicine.

“Pre-med club focuses mainly on helping students become knowledgeable about all the criteria for med school,” Saxey said.

AMSA also hosts many service opportunities which allow students to fulfill the service and volunteering aspect of their medical school application.

“We have doctors come in to AMSA meetings,” Saxey said. “I think one of my favorite ones last year was an ER doctor that came in and just shared his opinions on the medical field, all the medical changes that are happening with the government stuff, and how medicine was changing and how he liked it and didn’t like it. I’m very persuaded by people, so I wanted to be an ER doctor after that one.”

For students who want to get involved with AMSA, the first official meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 12 at 12:30 p.m. in the Lind Lecture Hall, Room 130. There will also be an opening social for AMSA on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 5:30 p.m. on the soccer field, where members will play Ultimate Frisbee.