A day of information, banana suturing, medical simulation robots

The 13th Annual Alaska PreMed Summit was held on April 7 at Rasmuson Hall at UAA. The summit was designed to help students who are interested in the field to get a chance to really delve into the field of medicine and science.

“[There will be] lots of good information regarding preparation to apply to medical school, and a keynote address by Dr. Jay Butler, who is the Medical Officer for the state of Alaska,” Nancy Shelby, Director of the UAA Alaska WWAMI School of Medical Education, said.

The WWAMI program is offered through five states: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. Only 20 students get accepted into the Alaska WWAMI program every year, making it a rather competitive program.

“We give Alaskan students are a realistic chance of getting into a good MT program because we have 20 spots,” Ian Van Tets, chair advising committee and block leader for energetics and homeostasis for WWAMI, said. “If you try to apply to any from outside the five WWAMI states, well, your chances are really close to nil. [We] get about six or seven thousand external applicants a year and we could maybe take five or six of them.”

The first two years of the program are full of academic and clinical training, with the last two years being dedicated to different paths the students can take. Students can go to any of the WWAMI universities during their final two years.

“It is an apprenticeship model. Students go to a clinic, they get briefed in the morning, and then they are supervised by the physician and go on with their day,” Van Tets said.

One of the greatest benefits of the summit, according to Shelby, is “the information regarding applying to medical school.” The summit covers all aspects of what is expected and required from applicants to the WWAMI program.

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The summit began with an introduction given by Van Tets, followed by an overview of the Alaska WWAMI School of Medical Education given by Jane Shelby. Three different group presentations followed, providing students with a wide variety of sessions to attend.

“We will have mock interviews for the undergrad students. These sessions are to help them practice for med school interviews and to get an idea of what’s involved in the interview process,” Van Tets said.

The rest of the day was spent on how to prepare for applying to WWAMI and undergraduate research. After a door prize drawing, the more hands-on section of the day split into two groups: One group toured the simulation center at UAA to see a virtual anatomy demo, while the other group practiced their suturing with bananas.

“The simulation center is basically a controlled robot. We have three of them, we have both a man and a woman. You go in there to practice on a diagnosis. You can plug in different things and change different parameters, it’s a lot of fun,” Van Tets said.

To find out more about the WWAMI program, visit their website at uaa.alaska.edu/wwami/.