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First-year medical students introduced to value of teamwork

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First-year medical student Perice Manns takes part in a team-building exercise during orientation week at the Brody School of Medicine.


ECU News Services

Sunday, August 18, 2019

During their first week at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine, first-year medical students are inundated with typical orientation-related activities, such as learning about the school’s policies, classes, exams and technology.

They go through various trainings, meet with faculty and current students, take part in planned social gatherings, attend the annual Jose G. Albernaz Golden Apple Distinguished Lecture and take a historical tour of Greenville led by Dr. Tom Irons, professor of pediatrics and Brody’s associate vice chair for health services.

But before they are presented with their professional attire during the annual white coat ceremony that culminates orientation week, the students don sneakers and athletic clothing to have some fun during team-building exercises that will likely reap benefits long after their medical education is complete.

They are directed to work together to complete a variety of tasks, such as conquering physical challenges while blindfolded or navigating their entire group across a room by stepping on a limited number of pads.

“Medicine is now a team sport. You not only need to work with your physician colleagues … but also with all kinds of staff members who are involved with all aspects of patient care,” said Dr. Kori Brewer, a professor in Brody’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “It is not a singular position anymore. And the earlier they learn that – and learn teamwork, shared governance and shared decision making – it’ll serve them well down the line.”

Brewer added that the students had to “work very hard as individuals” to get into medical school.

“What we need to instill in them early is the fact that they’re going to have to trust their colleagues, work with their colleagues and have a shared vision in order for everyone to be successful as a physician,” Brewer said.

The team-building activities were the first time the Class of 2023 was divided into the small groups that they will work with during their first two years of medical school. They were also paired with faculty members who will lead their groups during this important phase of their medical education.

Lauren Robertson, a first-year medical student from Roanoke Rapids, said she chose to attend the Brody School of Medicine because she is very interested in patient education — not just healing patients, but also educating them — and that she saw many of those traits in Brody’s curriculum.

Robertson, who received her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, said the team-building exercises will help the students be able to communicate better as a class — both in medical school and as physicians in the future.

“There have been a lot of laughs today. The communication exercises have been really great and really eye-opening,” Robertson said. “We are all from North Carolina, but we have really different perspectives and backgrounds. I think this will help us communicate better together and have a greater respect for everyone.”

First-year medical student Olajide Olatidoye said he grew up knowing that he wanted to be a doctor because both of his parents are physicians.

The Wilmington resident and North Carolina A&T State University graduate said he is aware that he can be a competitive person at times, but that the family atmosphere at Brody and the opportunities to work together with his peers will help him to be a better physician.

“Working with a group of people on complex ideas is what medicine is all about, so being able to know that you can work with them and communicate to figure things out is really important,” Olatidoye said. “That’s the way it’s going to be in residency with high-level problems and with an attending physician looking at how you solve cases. It’s more of a team effort, not an individual thing, and we’re getting introduced to that now.”

Killian named UNC Staff Assembly chair

Garrett Killian, an ECU staff member, has been elected as the chair for the University of North Carolina Staff Assembly for the 2019-2020 academic year. Going into its 13th year as an organization, the UNC Staff Assembly serves as an advisory group to the UNC President, discusses issues affecting staff and represents the staff of the 17 schools that make up the University of North Carolina System.

Killian, a Lumberton native, was previously the parliamentarian for ECU and led an Xtender team in Enterprise Information Systems (EIS). Xtender is an electronic repository for documents such as student applications, transcripts and financial documents that Killian and his team manage. Before being elected parliamentarian in 2015, Killian was a representative for ECU and served as an at-large delegate on the UNC Staff Assembly.

Killian succeeds Dawn Brown, who has served on UNC Wilmington’s Staff Senate the past four years and was elected as chair in October 2016.

As assembly chair, Killian will be responsible for organizing and leading assembly meetings, leading communication with the UNC System president, and working toward presenting solutions for current issues.

Killian also wants to continue to work toward increasing the endowment for the Janet B. Royster Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is designed to offer money to all UNC staff for professional development.

SECU Public Fellows interns leave mark

ECU students made their impact felt across eastern North Carolina this summer as part of the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union Public Fellows Internship program.

The program places undergraduate students throughout the region as part of internship projects that address community-identified priorities. The program provides opportunities for students to develop leadership, analytical, problem solving, communication and project management skills, as well as allowing them to network in professional settings.

During its tenure at ECU, the program has provided more than 80 internships to 53 eastern North Carolina organizations. This year, 21 ECU undergraduates were selected to the program for 20 sites across 10 counties. Students completed 330 internship hours as part of the program and received a $4,500 stipend.

Internship locations included positions at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, the Tyrell County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Uptown Greenville.

Read more about the experiences of the program’s interns and how they supported eastern North Carolina organizations at https://news.ecu.edu/2019/08/07/exceptional-interns/.