Contributed by Mary Kocharyan, second-year medical student.
For some medical students at California Health Sciences University (CHSU) College of Osteopathic Medicine, they faced the unknown when they applied to medical schools without the guidance of a mentor. Knowing that many high school students in the Central Valley come from similar backgrounds without family or friends who are physicians, CHSU medical students in a student club called Valley Mentors have dedicated their spare time during the fall semester of 2023 to teach the next generation of doctors through outreach to over 900 high school students.
Valley Mentors allows medical students, like Mary Kocharyan, President of Valley Mentors, to coordinate educational and health-based outreach to students in kindergarten to twelfth grade (K-12) who have a general passion for healthcare through targeted mentorship and events.
“We’re teaching the next generation what we wish we had known when we were their age,” said Kocharyan. “By revealing the knowledge we wished we possessed at their stage, our aim is to guide them toward a more effective and streamlined path.”
This semester, the medical students have accomplished various types of outreach events throughout the Central Valley from Madera to Caruthers attending school fairs and leading hands-on educational workshops. Some of the lab skills they have demonstrated include abnormal breath sound, neurological exam, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), vitals, EpiPen, electrocardiogram (EKG) reading, and ultrasound.
Types of Outreach Events
- Career Fair at The Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART)
- Intro to Med School and Q&A at Buchanan High School
- Pulmonology Skills Lab at Caruthers High School
- Skills Labs & Workshops at Buchanan High School
- Skills Labs & Workshops at Madera High School
- UCSF Fresno Doctor’s Academy HEaL Conference 2023 at Caruthers High School
- Virtual Intro to Med School and Q&A
To expand their reach this semester, the medical students have also started monthly virtual zoom sessions to share about their personal journeys towards medical school followed by a Q&A general mentoring session. This session allows students who sign up to directly ask about various topics, such as applying to colleges, setting individual goals, and writing college essays.
“As a program that has been around for four years now, we’ve maintained our professional relationship with all the local high schools that we have had the pleasure of meeting and mentoring,” said Kocharyan. “This year, we are particularly working towards extending our relations to more rural and under-resourced schools.”
Valley Mentors has four high school coordinators who are responsible for organizing events with local high schools. At least two board members attend each Valley Mentors event.