With the help of some pool noodles and plenty of open outdoor space, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine’s newest class got to know faculty members and classmates a little better Monday.

Pool noodles, open outdoor space help OUWB’s newest class bond
An image of two students from OUWB's Class of 2024 wearing noodle hats
Pool noodle hats helped OUWB's newest class socially distance while bonding with faculty and their classmates on Monday, Aug. 3.

With the help of some pool noodles and plenty of open outdoor space, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine’s newest class got to know faculty members and classmates a little better Monday.

The faculty engagement event was part of OUWB’s Class of 2024 orientation, a busy week for the new medical students that began Sunday and ends Friday.

Traditionally, members of OUWB’s incoming class have dinner with a member of faculty during the week, either at a faculty members house or a restaurant. That couldn’t happen this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, it’s such an important part of orientation that school officials sought a safe alternative that would still allow for the engagement, said Toni LeGrande, coordinator, Student Affairs, OUWB.

“Fortunately, we were still able to hold the event with some adjustments,” she said. “This year is was hosted on campus with 18 faculty members participating… and because of the adjustments we were able to give students time with two faculty members instead of one.”

An image of a group of students from OUWB's Class of 224

One of the 18 groups that met with faculty members on Monday.

Students received pool noodles when they picked up their respective orientation packages on Sunday. They also received instructions on how to attach the noodles to a baseball cap — a creative, fun way to keep them mindful of social distancing.

On Monday, the faculty members set up at outdoor stations across Oakland University’s main campus. The new medical students spent about 45 minutes at two stations to which they were assigned. In addition to social distancing, masks were required.

Ice breaking questions largely centered on food and culture, opening the door for discussion on other topics, including OUWB’s curriculum, what students felt they lost and/or gained as a result of being quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic — even great places to get breakfast in metro Detroit.

Among the participating faculty members was Laura Ortiz, M.D., Beaumont physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine, instructor at OUWB, and a member of OUWB’s charter class.

Ortiz advised students to “not to get too stressed because the first year can be overwhelming. Rely on each other. Your classmates should become your family.”

After the event, Ortiz said she still remembers taking part in OUWB’s first faculty engagement event and the feeling of community she almost immediately felt.

“When I was asked to do this last year and again this year I definitely wanted to instill the same feeling of community (in the new students),” she said.

“Hopefully, the students have felt a lot of warmth and welcoming from OUWB because that’s what we're about.”

Abram Brummett, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies, said in addition to meeting faculty members, the new students also benefit from getting to know each other.

“The students have come a really long way to get to be where they are now, and they’re about to set off on this journey that’s really going to change them,” he said. “Being able to meet other first year medical students who are in the same shoes as them…is a really valuable initiation.”

Students said they felt happy after the event.

Related: 

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“It was a really awesome experience to interact with faculty and interact with other classmates,” said Megan Clontz, M1. “It definitely helped me with transitioning to my first year of medical school.”

Clontz said she was particularly impressed by how open OUWB faculty members are to students and “how important community is to OUWB.”

M1 Davit Meliksetyan said the event “was really well organized considering the circumstances and that we’re in the middle of a pandemic.”

“I was able to meet some faculty that I really wanted to meet in person as well as some of my classmates and have some human interaction,” he said. “That was definitely the highlight for me.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

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