The Power of Mentorship

One comes from rural Missouri, the other from a Cleveland suburb. One took the direct entry pathway, the other matriculated through NEOMED’s BS/MD program. Despite different backgrounds, the paths of Vinchelle Hardison (at right in photo), a second-year student in the College of Medicine, and Kaitlyn Patacca (at left in photo), a first-year student in the College of Medicine, crossed when the two were paired in the Professional Development Advising Team (PDAT) mentor-mentee program.

The program matches first-year medicine and pharmacy students with second-year students who can show them the ropes. The pairs meet at least three times a year to discuss upcoming classes, research and volunteer experiences, and anything else the mentees may have questions about.

“Navigating the waters of medical school can be very treacherous and difficult at times. I benefited a lot from my mentors last year. They helped me with resources, told me what to expect, and were just there as a listening ear. I wanted to give back and do that for someone else,” says Hardison.

The two students first met at a PDAT meeting and soon discovered a common interest in pediatrics.

“I really appreciate that NEOMED gives us the opportunity to be connected with two peer mentors. I really like how kind and compassionate Vinchelle is. She expressed her desire to go into pediatrics, and her nurturing nature really shows during our PDAT experiences,” says Patacca.

Learning the business side of health care

Patacca, who is also working towards earning an M.B.A., notes that support from mentors like Hardison has made her success toward earning a business degree while enrolled in the College of Medicine possible.

“Vinchelle has enlightened me that NEOMED heavily focuses on interprofessional learning. This is important because throughout the rest of my life, I’ll be working on interdisciplinary teams. I feel that earning my M.B.A. will give me the tools in order to work effectively as a team member and as a team leader to provide better health care,” says Patacca. 

Working towards her goal to better understand the business side of health care, how insurance and supplies work, and how all this factors into treating patients, Patacca plans to graduate from the University of Akron with an M.B.A. this May.

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