BYU Pre-Medical Club offers student support during medical school application season
The BYU Pre-Medical Club, a mentorship program formed by BYU students, provides support and guidance to pre-med students as medical school applications open next month.
The group consists of approximately 150 mentors, mentees and officers and was created by pre-med students seeking to create a community of students going through the application process.
Ryan Winborg, a pre-med student at BYU, said that while there are several resources for pre-med students at BYU, such as the pre-vocational counseling center, they felt BYU lacked a community. in which students could interact with each other on a more personal level.
“The founders were looking for resources at BYU to see how they could talk with other pre-med students about these experiences and get tips on becoming better,” Winborg said.
Winborg said the program began with a “trial period” of a small group of mentors last summer.
“It ended up being a huge success,” Winborg said. “They launched an even bigger program in the fall. Since then, it has just taken off.
The program assigns a mentor to each student who shares advice, provides guidance, and recounts experiences to their mentees as they navigate the medical school application process.
Medical schools require their applicants to write essays, pass entrance exams, provide community service, gain clinical exposure to patients, and more to be considered for acceptance.
Winborg said the many components of applying to medical school are both daunting and complicated for new pre-med students.
“We do all of these things while trying to be a student and enjoy the experience and all that comes with being a young adult,” Winborg said.
Winborg stressed that the group does not replace other on-campus resources for pre-med students.
“This program cannot and is not designed to replace the Counseling Center,” Winborg said. “This is the best place you can go for personalized help.”
Winborg said the program is meant to add to the experience and provide opportunities to connect with others.
“Where the mentoring program really shines is that you can take this personalized help from the pre-vocational counseling center and go to your peer mentor and say ‘okay, how do I do this? “Said Winborg.
Winborg said collaboration among students allows them to find resources and opportunities that are “sometimes below the surface.”
“It inspired me to want to give these opportunities to other people,” Winborg said. “When you see other people helping other people, you want to step in and do that too.”
BYU pre-med student Megan Hansen said her favorite part of the program was the support provided by the community.
“Sometimes it just lends itself to being a very competitive environment and track,” Hansen said. “We feel the pressure to be as good as possible. What I love the most about this program is how we can all participate in it together.
Hansen said the program is about collaboration, not competition.
“Let’s support each other, be friends and encourage each other,” Hansen said.
Hansen started out as a mentee in the program, but is now a mentor and a member of the program’s internal committee.
“I was very lucky to end up with a mentor who was pre-medical and female,” Hansen said. “She was able to help me with the experience of applying to medical school as a woman, so that was really helpful.”
BYU pre-med student David Kotter said the program comes at an opportune time for BYU students.
“It happened at a really good time because it was right in the middle of a pandemic,” Kotter said. “Most people had sort of drifted away from social circles and that gave me a community and a group of friends.”
Kotter said he liked the program’s feeling that anyone can get into medical school.
“Anyone at BYU could come in,” Kotter said. “We can work together to make sure everyone does it.”
Kotter said that with so many outstanding students applying to medical school, it can feel like a “rat race” at times.
“If you can learn to collaborate and not compete, then you’re going to get out of the race, you’re going to save your sanity, and you’re going to learn more,” Kotter said.
Winborg, Hansen and Kotter said God’s involvement in the program was fundamental.
“One thing we decided to do is pray right before we start our meetings,” Winborg said. “We are at BYU and we try to be faithful people. Why not let God take it to the next level?
Since BYU is founded and supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the university aims to provide an education that is both “intellectually broadening” and “spiritually strengthening.”
“As the program continues, that’s going to be our focus: ‘How can we make this a true BYU experience?'” Winborg said.
More information about the BYU Pre-Medical Club can be found on their instagram page.