Look at Larner attendees observe as Abigail Hielscher, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences (front left), displays anatomical specimens in the anatomy lab in the Given Building at UVM. (Photo: David Seaver)
In 2021, the College of Medicine’s inaugural “Look at Larner” outreach program attracted aspiring medical students from across the country. The program, created by Class of 2024 medical students Mialovena Exume and Warrick Sahene, provides an opportunity for students from backgrounds typically underrepresented in medicine (URiM) and who have a strong interest in pursuing a medical degree, to gain first-hand experience about what it’s like to be a medical student at Larner. The Larner admissions and diversity, equity, and inclusion offices support the initiative.
For this year’s Look at Larner, Class of 2025 members Jasmine Bazinet-Phillips and Karena Nguyen served as co-leaders and welcomed 27 individuals to the second iteration of the program, with first- through third-year medical students opening their homes to host attendees.
During their Look at Larner visit, guests were invited to find their "mirror," an individual in the Larner community whose personal story resonated with their own path and journey as pre-medical students. Attendees also heard from 11 physicians who each shared a personal story about their journey to medicine.
Several new activities were added to this year's programming. Among the initiatives were trips to BIPOC eateries in the area, such as Tiny Thai, OffBeat Creemee, and Mulu's Kitchen, and an “Anatomy Upper Limb Lesson” led by Shawn Best, M.D., a UVM orthopedic surgery resident. In addition, attendees participated in an “Anatomy Lab Exploration” led by Abigail Hielscher, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences and anatomy lab faculty member – a hands-on experience that was particularly enjoyed by Look at Larner participants.
Larner medical students are now connected via the Group Me app with Look at Larner alumni to provide further networking and admissions support, like advising on the necessary steps to apply and gain acceptance into Larner. This important step is underscored by the fact that two of the 2021 Look at Larner program alumni, Shani Legore and Camila Salcedo, are now first-year medical students and part of the Larner Class of 2026.
Of her experience Legore said, “The Look at Larner program provided an avenue for me to explore various career paths in medicine, sample the integrated curriculum, and most significantly, to experience the compassion, respect, and kindness embedded in the community. As a result, I felt confident that I could thrive in this environment as I nurture the skills to become a well-rounded physician and lifelong learner.”
Additionally, students are now connected with the Med Mentors Student Interest Group to get matched with a medical student with whom they can ask questions about applying and interviewing. Med Mentors will also host monthly panels about different topics such as MCAT preparation, secondary applications, AMCAS, applying wisely, and more.
Bazinet-Phillips said, “Both Karena and I believe that with the support of Dr. Leila Amiri, the new associate dean of admissions, the Look at Larner program will continue to grow URiM representation in our community.”
In addition to Bazinet-Phillips, Nguyen, and Amiri, Larner faculty and students who assisted with the 2022 program include: Stephen Berns, M.D., associate professor of family medicine; Lee-Anna Burgess, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and course director, Nutrition, Metabolism, & Gastrointestinal System; Melanie Bui, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine; L.E. Faricy, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics; Prospero Gogo, M.D., professor of medicine; Karla Martinez-Dulmer, M.D., family medicine specialist, Community Health Centers of Burlington; Mariah McNamara, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of emergency medicine and interim assistant dean for students; Claude Nichols, M.D., professor and chair of orthopaedics and rehabilitation; Doris Strader, M.D., associate professor of medicine; Margaret Tandoh, M.D., associate professor of surgery and associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion; and Rebecca Wilcox, M.D., associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and associate dean for faculty.