Students Making Change at the Larner College of Medicine

uvmmedicine blogger Desiree DiBella '19
uvmmedicine blogger Desiree DiBella ’19

According to Oxford Living Dictionaries one definition of “change” is a new or refreshingly different experience. This is definitely the definition I find most applicable when reflecting on my past three years at the Larner College of Medicine.

Since August 2015 when I began my coursework, the school has undergone a name change, a complete library renovation, the addition of multiple new student study spaces, and renovation of the Mimi Reardon Classroom. Apart from institutional modifications, I have also witnessed my classmates contribute to the path the college takes. As this year’s recipient of the Robert Larner, M.D. ’42 Student Award, I am proud to have been chosen as a student who embodies Dr. Larner’s dedication to his medical alma mater and for inspiring others to make the same commitment. However, I am simply one of many individuals in the college working hard to become excellent physicians and also working to improve the communities around them.

Jasmine Robinson ‘20, in conjunction with The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, developed the “Here to Help” clinic in 2016 designed to serve Vermont area homeless and underserved populations. Since then, classmates have continued the project, which is scheduled to become a permanent Student Interest Group beginning in the fall of 2018. Through these events, I have personally witnessed the Burlington and college community embrace and build lasting relationships with unsheltered and needy individuals through the provision of basic human services.

Students serving on the Wellness Committee organize numerous events throughout the year focused on improving the overall medical school experience. In particular, they host a biannual student mental health panel comprised of students who volunteer to speak about their personal battles with mental health conditions and avenues through which they have sought help. The Wellness Committee also hosts a monthly lunchtime student support group. Through both of these endeavors, along with many others supported by the Wellness Committee, students are provided spaces to step outside the traditional student role, express their humanity, and receive support from peers.

Holly Bachilas, Khaled al Tawil, Sunit Misra, Margaret Klepack, and Laura Director recently became the first Larner College of Medicine students to complete the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) program. They dedicated their entire third year to meeting the objectives of each clerkship as members of interdisciplinary teams providing comprehensive care to patients. In addition to completing the LIC clerkship academic requirements, many of these students also took an active role in teaching upcoming students about the LIC as well as collaborating with faculty to improve the student experience. The LIC will continue at Hudson Headwaters Health Network this year with students from the Class of 2020.

I believe these examples of service, advocacy, and leadership are representations of Dr. Larner’s legacy of philanthropy. They embody his vision for the college bearing his name, which is to provide a medical education “second to none.” Students here are receiving medical training in state-of-the-art spaces with innovative techniques, and also are constantly working outside the classroom to pursue our unique interests and transform the spaces in which we work.

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