How the Pre-Health Journal Club sets students up for success

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Friday, April 14, 2017

“The Pre-Health Journal Club connects what I’m learning in class to contemporary research,” shares Camille Lin, a current Pre-Health Specialized Studies student, “It’s also a great opportunity to present and speak in front of other people.” Camille’s experience in the group is precisely why Pre-Health advisor and instructor John Zimmerman runs the meetings on a weekly basis. “I enjoy seeing the light bulbs come on,” he smiles.

Student participation is managed by pre-vet student Allison Pankowski and pre-med student Andrea Berrido. The Pre-Health Journal Club meets on alternate Wednesday and Friday afternoons where they discuss academic articles on topics ranging from cancer and genetics to sports medicine and ancient diseases. Each week, a different student selects a piece for discussion and then leads a presentation for the group. John notes, “It’s a great skill to be able to critically read something and present it so that you have a story. You learn something about yourself and appreciate the science a bit more in doing so.”

Fred Kim, a Pre-Health Core Studies student, points out, “It’s great to learn without grades. I am interested in genetics, and it’s a field where there are new findings every week. The Journal Club keeps us on top of what’s out there.”

The discussions also help the students create a stronger sense of community. John reflects, “I always try to push the cooperative aspect of learning. When they go on to their next health professional school, having that support system of your fellow students is so key. So why not start that now? In my experience, students who have the attitude that ‘I’m not in this alone’ are the students who come out of Pre-Health with the most success.”

Beyond the delicious (and free) snacks and coffee, the Pre-Health Journal Club is a space for students to explore what excites them. Whether they’re future veterinarians, doctors, medical researchers, nurses or dentists, they share a common desire to engage with each other and with their work. “It’s so much fun to learn with these students because they are driven,” John says, “They are taking classes, volunteering and working often all at once. The students that show up are committed to being here.”

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