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December 2003 Issue

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UC Med Students Mentor Public School Children

Published December 2003

Med Mentors spend free time with area students

UC Med Mentors is a group of over 85 UC College of Medicine students who have committed themselves to be mentors to Cincinnati Public School students (K - 12) on a one-to-one relationship for the 4 years that they are here at medical school. The medical students are asked to connect with the younger students they mentor at least once a week and share their lives with these students. They strive to enrich the lives of those they mentor by engaging the children in cultural, athletic, and academic activities. Med Mentors is the only medical student group that is totally community service oriented and that has such a large membership. UC Med Mentors recently received a $1,000 grant from the Charles H. Dater Foundation to fund some of the activities of the medical student mentors with their appointed children.

While the mentors are the heart of the program, many give credit to their faculty liaison Wan Lim, PhD, for the program's success.

"She rejuvenated and re-energized the program," said David May, mentor and third year medical student. "Her enthusiasm rallies students. Dr. Lim recruits funds, coupons, ideas, and even computers to be given to mentees. If a club will only be as successful as its leader, then this service club is going places."

Med Mentors is a flexible organization that allows for students to arrange tutoring or activities for any age at any school with any time commitment.

"Tutoring provides maximum rewards for a small time commitment," said May. "Four to six hours spread over a month is enough to develop connections and relationships with students and faculty. I chose to tutor in my neighborhood at Clifton Elementary School. I see my student in the community while they are buying groceries, having an ice cream, or just hanging out with friends. That sense of community outside medical school has been invaluable for me, as I am four hours from my family."

Although medical school is a busy time, May adds that the reward far outweighs the time commitment.

"Tutoring 7th and 8th graders is rewarding for me," said May. "They are dealing with proficiencies (as are just about all grade levels in Ohio, it seems). They are also considering which high school to attend, which is one of their first major decisions. Many tutoring sessions are spent with books closed. Listening to them talk through thought processes and decision-making rationale boosts their confidence. We all need someone to listen to us once in a while."

Fourth-year medical student James Paxton said becoming a mentor was one of the best decisions he has made.

"I have been involved in the UC Med Mentor Program for about a year now, and consider my decision to become a mentor one of the best decisions that I have made since entering medical school", said Paxton. "Third-year medical students don't have a lot of time to socialize, and it's easy to lose touch with humanity outside of the patients that we treat. Spending time with my mentee, whether playing arcade games or learning to roller-skate again, is a welcome break from focusing on charts, lectures and examinations. It's a chance to relax and 'be a kid again' for a few hours each week. More than that, it's a chance to interact with someone who I know appreciates the time that I am spending with him."

Many of the student volunteers have as much fun during their one-on-one time as their mentee.

"Yesterday I went to the Newport Aquarium with my mentee," said second-year medical student Laura Lehman. "I loved watching her face change as we went from tank to tank. This was her first time seeing large turtles and fish. When we got to the shark tank she could not take her eyes off the sharks as they swam around us. I believe this experience meant a lot to her. She was able to forget about her family and medical problems for an afternoon and just be a kid."

To donate funds, used computers, tickets to a game, movie, a museum, musical performance, or any other recreational event, or for more information about the UC Med Mentors, call Wan Lim, PhD, at 558-7659 or e-mail

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