The University of Wyoming’s WWAMI Medical Education Program welcomed its 23rd class of new medical students Aug. 17. The medical students were among one of the first cohorts of students coming …
The University of Wyoming’s WWAMI Medical Education Program welcomed its 23rd class of new medical students Aug. 17. The medical students were among one of the first cohorts of students coming to the Laramie campus as part of UW’s phased reopening during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
During the group’s first week in the Wyoming WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) program, the entering class of 2020 students participated in the medical school’s orientation/immersion schedule of events. The medical students are all from Wyoming and include Blake Hopkin of Powell, Grace Nicholas and Taylor Thompson of Cody and Austin Ellis of Byron.
Students received a welcome from faculty and staff, followed by an overview of the foundations phase of their education, presented by WWAMI Director Tim Robinson.
“We are excited to welcome our 2020 medical students to campus during this unprecedented time in WWAMI’s history,” Robinson says. “Our faculty and staff have worked incredibly hard over the summer to prepare two curricula — one involving primarily face-to-face learning and a backup plan involving 100% online learning that will only be needed if there is a spike in COVID cases.”
He added that “we feel awfully blessed in Wyoming to be in a position to start the school year with face-to-face learning.”
The orientation/immersion program included an introduction to the foundations of clinical medicine, plus a tour of Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie.
“I have really enjoyed that we jumped right into the curriculum with foundations of clinical medicine, gross anatomy lab and research methods,” said WWAMI student Grace Nicholas from Cody. “We also were introduced to our college mentors who will follow us throughout medical school. After meeting my mentor, Dr. Carlson, I felt reassured that she will help me through whatever pitfalls I may experience and celebrate my accomplishments throughout, even after graduating medical school.”
Students were presented with their white coats and stethoscopes by their respective college mentors at the medical school’s stethoscope ceremony during the orientation/immersion week. They were then able to meet with their mentors in their respective mentor groups. Receiving their first stethoscopes, along with white coats, signifies the beginning of their journey toward becoming physicians.
Dr. Yvette Haeberle says that she looks forward every year to welcoming a new class of first-year students and getting to know them on an individual basis.
“Having the small cohort of only 20 students here in Wyoming allows for faculty, staff and students to really get to know one another and form long-standing relationships,” she said.
Dr. Alison Doherty, clinical assistant professor and anatomy lab director, along with Dr. Mike Meyer, lecturer, and Lydia Jorden, lab manager, talked with students during their first visit about back and spinal cord dissection.
“The anatomy experience has been completely reorganized to reduce the amount of students in the lab at one time. The cohort has been thoughtfully divided into smaller subgroups for group activities to reduce the possibility of COVID transmission,” said WWAMI student Maison Furley from Sheridan. “Students and staff are pleased to comply, so we can experience our education in the most normal fashion while also staying healthy and protecting our community.”
“As a cohort, we are all very cognizant of how privileged we are to be able to meet in person,” Luiza Bosch of Laramie said. “We are all taking the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of not only our faculty and students, but the community as a whole.”
The WWAMI students began the wilderness medicine portion of their immersion curriculum Thursday, Aug. 27, where they will obtain their Wilderness First Responder certificates. The students will resume classroom instruction Monday, Sept. 7.