Eva’s Excerpt August 2023

The Next Era of Student Affairs in the MD Program

I am thrilled to announce that Dr. Tammy Sonn has accepted the position of Associate Dean of Student Affairs (January 2024 start). She will be joined by Dr. Colleen Wallace (August 2023 start) in a new role as Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. Dr. Kathy Diemer will continue in her role as Assistant Dean of Career Counseling and Dr. Nichole Zehnder will continue in her role as Director of Student Success and Associate Dean for Educational Strategy. Together, they will develop and implement a holistic vision for Student Life that encompasses student wellbeing, professional identity formation, career development and personal and academic support.

Professional identity formation as a physician is a lifelong process – one that incorporates personal and professional experiences with the knowledge, skills and values that are essential to the profession. These processes are similar for all vocations with service to others at their core, although each with its own flavors making it unique to that profession. It is both explicitly taught as part of our Gateway Curriculum and socialized through the values we speak, the co-curricular activities we support, and the experiences we provide, formal and informal, along the way. Each of us plays a part in the development of the professional identity of the trainees we encounter, in positive and negative ways, through the role modeling, coaching, mentoring, and the explicit teaching we provide. It is a weighty thing when you think about it.

The Office of Student Life through these four exceptional physician leaders, and the excellent staff support provided by Dr. Kelly Mock, Brady Griffith, Angie MacBryde, Randi Paulos, Kayla Young and Jaye Maggiolo, will lead us into a new era. Over the coming years, we will enact a holistic plan for student wellbeing that encompasses academic, physical, mental, financial, spiritual, and social aspects – each contributing to the personal and professional identity of our learners. We will re-engage the medical societies – Lowry-Moore, Erlanger-Graham, and Cori – as a vehicle for cross-class and student-faculty engagement. We will ground student groups in the values of our institution and the Gateway Curriculum, and develop collaborations across schools, programs and with faculty and housestaff.  We will expand and enhance our already robust career development programming, building on our long tradition of faculty advising, mentoring and departmental engagement. Finally, we hope to launch a student-led honor council to support the development and discussion of professional values both inside and outside of the curriculum.

This Student Life Team embodies our WUSM values of caring, collaboration, and excellence in every way. I look forward to seeing all they will accomplish and all our students will be able to achieve as a result of their efforts!