Course Reps

It was wonderful meeting so many of you at Preview last week! We hope you all had a great time. We’ll be sharing a couple more posts this week. Whether you are already committed or still on the fence, we hope you find them helpful and interesting to read! 

From the very start of my medical school application cycle, I already had many compelling reasons to consider Penn as my top choice school. However, one of the features that really stood out to me from the interview day and Penn Preview was the degree of interaction I observed between students and the faculty and staff. Think back to your stops along the interview trail: at how many schools did you see students just freely pop in and out of the main administrative center, chat up the directors of academic programs and admissions and financial aid, and even pick up personal packages and a few Tootsie pops on the way out? (On that note, the new Suite 100 looks positively fabulous—as does just about everything else in our shiny new building.) These sorts of interactions capture the active dialogue between us students and the professors who teach us. It may sound cliché by now to hear students at different schools hyping up student evaluations, but that input really does matter and make a difference here at Penn Med as the faculty work to refine the curriculum from year to year.

This point is especially easy for me to appreciate as an MS1 Course Representative. Every week five of my classmates and I sit down for lunch with Dr. Goldfarb, the Associate Dean for Curriculum, the directors of the courses for the current block, and curriculum development staff, to relay feedback we have received from our classmates about the lectures and small groups for that week. We discuss during the meeting what could be done to resolve any significant issues and to improve the course for next year’s class. Just as medicine is an ever dynamically changing field, medical education remains a progressive effort. In this effort, Penn Med administrators clearly value our role in relaying feedback from students.

I have definitely appreciated the respect and attention that our professors have shown us during our meetings and their receptiveness to our feedback. The smaller improvements we suggest often are implemented immediately, while more expansive suggestions get incorporated into planning for the coming year (that means your class stands to benefit hopefully!) One director even took the time to meet with me for two hours one-on-one so that we could discuss suggestions I had developed and collected from classmates on how to improve his course for next year. This level of commitment isn’t just unique to him though; many course directors regularly organize focus groups to examine our feedback and online student evaluations and incorporate suggestions into the planning for the following year. It has truly been a gratifying experience, not only to work closely with our professors who are such interesting individuals, but also to serve as a liaison for our class to make sure our voices get heard and make an impact in our year and beyond.

All this said, with our accelerated preclinical curriculum having been implemented for well over a decade now, there really isn’t all that much left we can complain about as Course Reps. But which medical student would say no to a free lunch every week?

Lawrence is an MS1 at Penn who hails from Irvine, California, and graduated from Princeton University in 2014 with a degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering. He has keen interests in health policy, particularly with respect to healthcare access and disparities, and the psychology of giving and burnout with the medical field, as well as a current inclination toward pediatric oncology. In his free time, he enjoys going to the gym, watching movies, reading, and playing way too much table tennis in the student lounge.


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