Getting Started in Medical School with Help from a Big Sib

uvmmedicine blogger Eric Schmidt '18
uvmmedicine blogger Eric Schmidt ’18

The Big Sib / Little Sib Mentorship Program at the University of Vermont College of Medicine provides a great networking tool for first-year students to make them feel comfortable, situated, and well-supported by the second year medical students. Ensuring everyone has that special connection with someone was what drove me to head the Matching Committee this year, pairing our newest medical students in the Class of 2019 with their own Big Sibs from my class year.

Last year, as a brand new first-year student, I was greeted with open arms and a plethora of resources and support by my Big Sib. I honestly can say that this relationship I formed with my Big Sib was key to my success in medical school. He started me out on the right foot, giving me on advice on habits or study techniques I either needed to try, or ditch immediately before they would hinder my performance. I could definitely trust his tricks and tips – after all he had just gone through the curriculum that I was about to embark on.

But my Big Sib mentor was so much more than just an academic resource, he was a great friend to me. He took me out around Burlington, showing me all of his favorite places to go for walks, runs, or meet up for a drink. We became running partners, participating in a Half Marathon and the Color Run together. He introduced me to the close-knit now third-year class, which further expanded my resources. There was something special about knowing the names and faces of the upperclassmen so early on in the year, and more importantly, that they knew who I was and would say hi to me in the hallways at school and invite me to social gatherings. This opened me up to an entirely new social circle, and they have been vital players in my epic adventure through medical school in Vermont so far. My Big Sib continues to play a role in my life, informing me of his journeys through the clinical curriculum. I think I will be better prepared this March when I begin my rotations, thanks to his stories and advice.

As the head of the “Match Making” committee, I put together a powerful team of classmates to sift through questionnaire results and match every member of the Class of 2018 with a student in the Class of 2019. At first this seemed like a daunting task, as there is no way 100 percent of the matches will be perfect. However, I am quite surprised at how easy it was to match people based on similar backgrounds, hobbies, and personalities. So far, it seems like many of the matches really are perfect as the Big and Little Sibs are hanging out a lot and getting along well. On the day of their first exam, the Big Sibs left a nice gift on the top of their Little Sib’s lockers as a congratulations for an incredible accomplishment. This seemed to touch many of the Class of 2019 students, including my Little Sib. Seeing how such a simple gesture went a long way was extremely rewarding. All of the work that went into making good matches was totally worth it.

Now, as a Big Sib myself to one of the coolest Little Sibs ever, I have some tough shoes to fill, but I am looking forward to the challenge. I will be there for my Little Sib, helping pave the way to his successful and fun medical school experience. We’ve started to develop a great friendship and I cannot wait to see how much our mentoring relationship will develop over our time in medical school and beyond.

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