UVM Undergrad Alums Launch VT REACH for Pre-Health Career Students

September 21, 2021 by Jennifer Nachbur

VT REACH, which stands for Virtual Teleconference: Reach Explore Aspire to Careers in Healthcare, is an outreach program designed for high school, college, technical school, undecided students who are interested in potentially pursuing careers in healthcare and provides an opportunity to learn from and interact with professionals and students from the Larner College of Medicine and UVM Medical Center.

While the pandemic has been full of limitations over the past 18 months – particularly in the school setting -- several unexpected benefits have emerged. At the University of Vermont, one of those silver linings is the VT REACH program, a program that links “eager students excited about healthcare” with “incredible healthcare professionals that love sharing what they do and the different paths into their helping professions,” says co-developer Gillian Bremer, UVM Class of  ’21 alum.

VT REACH, which stands for Virtual Teleconference: Reach Explore Aspire to Careers in Healthcare, is an outreach program designed for high school, college, technical school, undecided students who are interested in potentially pursuing careers in healthcare and provides an opportunity to learn from and interact with professionals and students from the Larner College of Medicine and UVM Medical Center.

“It has developed into something that is so meaningful to us,” says Bremer.

Since she and UVM Class of ’21 classmate Lillian Bennett launched the monthly series in March 2021, the program has hosted six virtual sessions, with 250+ views on the VT REACH YouTube page, says faculty advisor, Bridget Marroquin, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology. Marroquin adds that the program encourages “inclusivity, gender equity, and supporting the voices of students underrepresented in medicine (URiM).”

The program’s success is not a surprise to Cara Calvelli, M.D., pre-health advisor in UVM’s Career Center and a co-leader of the undergraduate Health Professions Interest Group.

“One of the things that is different about VT REACH compared to other panels is how the participants’ personality and variations come through,” and how it “showcases the interprofessional nature of patient care,” says Calvelli.

She adds that the important role Marroquin plays as advisor, role model for teaching and caring for others, and “recruiter of panelists” is invaluable.

“Our sessions aim to show the whole person of each mentor that donates their time to us,” explains Bremer, who recently took the MCAT for medical school application and will be working as a medical assistant at a primary care practice in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Bennett, who also recently took the MCAT, is starting a position as a mental health specialist at McLean Hospital in Boston, Mass.

“We are so excited to be able to continue VT REACH with the program being completely virtual,” Bremer says.

VT REACH session topics and presenters to date have included:

  • March: “The Journey to & Through Medical School,” featuring a panel of six medical students, Nathalie Feldman, M.D., interim associate dean for admissions, and Elizabeth McElhinney, M.Ed., director of pre-matriculation programs in the Larner admissions office;
  • April: “Anesthesiology,” presented by Marroquin and Karen Clark, C.A.A.;
  • May: “Integrating Medicine & Research,” a presentation by Professor of Medicine and Vermont Lung Center Director Anne Dixon, M.A., B.M., B.Ch., and W. Gabriel Tharp, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of anesthesiology;
  • June: “Psychiatry & Speech Language Pathology,” presented by Jeremiah Dickerson, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, and Molly Bumpas, M.Ed., CCC-SLP,BCBA, clinical associate professor of communication sciences and disorders;
  • July: “Pathology & Medical Lab Sciences,” with Pamela Gibson, M.D., and Christina Wojewoda, M.D., associate professors of pathology and laboratory medicine, and Katrina Moreau, MAT, MLS, clinical assistant professor of biomedical and health sciences;
  • August: “Different Avenues of Nursing,” a presentation by Ingrid Henninge, MSH, RN, UVM Medical Center interim OR nurse manager, Melissa Steward, MSN-Ed, RN, CNOR, UVM Medical Center nurse educator in perioperative services, and Allison Morrow, BSN, RNFA, CNOR, a registered nurse first assistant in orthopedics and rehabilitation.

The next session, titled “Interventional Cardiology,” will be presented by Cecile King, M.D., cardiology fellow and clinical instructor in medicine, on Thursday, September 23.

Link to the VT REACH Zoom teleconference.

Watch past sessions on the VT Reach YouTube channel.


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