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by Jaclyn Podd, MBS '19, member of the MD Class of 2024 and Abigail Geisinger Scholar

I’ve learned to value mentorship. Prior to medical school, I had several mentors who were willing to share their career and personal experiences. In hindsight, I realize the extent of the support and knowledge I gained from them. My mentors gave me the confidence to navigate medical school and life with drive and purpose. My experiences encouraged me to give back my time as an ambassador and mentor through the REACH-HEI. I believe this is the best way to show gratitude to all the great mentors I have had. In my first year of medical school I was also supported through the school’s MD Peer Mentor Program, and I will be continuing next year as an M2 Peer Mentor Leader.

In the beginning of the year, the MD Peer Mentor Program pairs first-year students with second-year students who have volunteered to be mentors. The program allowed us to have immediate access to support, friendship and guidance. I think this instant connection to a mentor with insight and advice was even more special due to COVID and our predominantly virtual curriculum this year. My mentor, Malie Collins, has been a precious resource of advice and laughs, and I go to her for guidance on so many different aspects of first year: what she thought were the best places to find study resources, what is the best way to navigate different styles of teaching, etc. And it’s through my mentor that I became involved in and will be continuing with leadership in the MD Peer Mentor program.

Emily Grimes is a first-year classmate of mine, and she is also an Abigail Geisinger Scholar. Emily noted that the relationship with her current peer mentor has been one based in strong camaraderie. She also learned of several different ways to get involved in the community and in leadership in the school through her mentor. Emily noted, “I am originally from Tennessee, and my mentor is from Washington. It was really nice to bond with someone who could give me tips on adjusting to the Scranton area from an out-of-state perspective. She also sparked my interest in the American Medical Student Association at school. I have been pretty involved with AMSA throughout my first year of medical school, and recently I was elected to leadership as the president of the organization at school. I think having a peer mentor overall eased the adjustment to my first year of medical school.” She plans to participate as an M2 peer mentor next year for the incoming class.

Peer mentorship has been an essential tool for learning how to navigate my medical career with a balanced personal life. While there is an abundance of information available online, it is through speaking with mentors that I’ve learned to decipher for myself what is personally meaningful and make informed decisions on my future. As an Abigail Geisinger Scholar and a future Geisinger physician, I believe mentorship can pass on important perspectives on practicing medicine in the NEPA area and how best to serve the local patient population as a doctor.

New Peer Mentor Leaders for the 2021 – 2022 academic year (* denotes Abigail Geisinger Scholar):

  • Alison Barrett*
  • Irene Ganahl*
  • Thomas Gonzales*
  • Donovan Harris
  • Alysse Machalek*
  • Jacob McKenzie
  • John Murray
  • Jaclyn Podd*
  • Gabriela Rodriguez
  • Hamzah Shariff*
Jaclyn Podd, MBS '19, MD Class of 2024 and Abigail Geisinger Scholar