What better way to interact live with a diverse group of college students interested in medical school than online? In February, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA was one of 25 schools selected to participate in the inaugural AAMC Medical Student Virtual Fair, hosted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Interest in the thousands
The AAMC hosts a medical school fair each year at its annual meeting. The recent Baltimore meeting, for example, drew 2,000 participants from high schools and colleges around the East Coast, according to Theodore R. Hall, MD, professor of clinical radiology and associate dean for admissions of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. And although this event reached a substantial number of prospective medical school students, it's limited to those who are in easy traveling distance to the meeting or whose budget allows them to do so.
This year the AAMC teamed up with CollegeWeekLive, which organizes virtual college fairs for high school students looking to pursue a medical degree. This new AAMC medical student virtual fair gave prospective students around the country a chance to ask questions and learn about 25 medical schools via public and private chat rooms.
More than 1,800 college students logged in during the eight-hour event, many asking questions about the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, including application and financial aid information.
Important information at a crucial time
"It provided us a platform to reach students in places where we might not be able to send someone to recruit individuals," says Dr. Hall, noting that students participating in the virtual fair can receive accurate information about the attributes schools are looking for in an applicant, as well as financial aid advice from actual school representatives. "We could reach applicants who might not have an opportunity to visit our school, [while getting] direct information from us and an opportunity to talk to the dean for admissions."
One question that came up frequently, Dr. Hall recalls, was whether the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA accepted only California students to its program. "No preference is given to an applicant's state of residence," he clarified. "It's just that California has a lot of applicants due to the state's large population." The school itself has a diverse applicant pool and class. It's diverse not only in race, but also in socioeconomic status, place of origin and parent educational background.
Six staff members from the medical school were online at various times, including Dr. Hall, the Interim Director of Admissions, Director and Assistant Director for Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach, admissions office staff members and Director and program coordinator for the PRIME Program. The latter caters to medical students who want to be leaders in underserved areas of medicine.
Dr. Hall saw the AAMC medical student virtual fair to be a true success, and looks forward to participating next year.
Image source: Morguefile
by Deborah Abrams Kaplan