Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
OSU-CHS News > 2013

May 30, 2013

Program teams OSU medical students with senior mentors

Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine will introduce a mentoring program to develop medical students' interpersonal skills as part of a new curriculum being implemented this fall.

"Through interaction with a senior mentor over the first two years of their medical school career, our students will develop skills to help them be better physicians," said Nancy Van Winkle, Ph.D., professor of behavioral sciences at OSU Center for Health Sciences. "This program cultivates interpersonal skills, which is a key trait for successful physicians and important for building relationships with patients."

As part of the program, healthy older adults are paired with medical students to build relationships during their first two years of medical school. During the fall semester, students will meet with their senior mentors twice to learn about their life histories and discuss perspectives on access to the health care system.

"More than half of our graduates specialize in primary care and the skills this program targets are essential for primary care physicians," said Dr. Kayse Shrum, provost of OSU-CHS and dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine. "The program provides an opportunity for students to learn how to build a relationship with patients that extends beyond the first appointment."

The program is part of the Introduction to the Patient course that students are required to take during the first two years of medical school. The course develops skills and motivation of medical students to become successful, compassionate and competent osteopathic physicians and life-long learners.

In addition to the senior mentor program, students will work directly with standardized patients during simulations, participate in service-learning activities and small group discussions, shadow healthcare professionals in a variety of clinical settings, interact with fellow students in the classroom and engage in self-directed learning.

The program is currently looking for healthy volunteers who are age 65 or older to be paired with medical students. To volunteer or to learn more, contact Lesley Vanvolkinburg at lesley.vanvolkinburg@okstate.edu or 918-582-1972.

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