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Twenty medical students attending the University of Washington School of Medicine at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA)/the Alaska WWAMI program, have successfully completed the Foundations of Clinical Medicine phase of their training, marking the first milestone on their path to becoming physicians. During a ceremony this week at UAA, the students were presented with personalized white coats that signal the end to their time studying basic science curriculum, and the beginning of their practical/clinical study in hospitals and clinics.
Among these students is WWAMI Alaska’s first-ever student from Barrow, Nicole Jeffery. Nicole is Yup’ik Eskimo, originally from Bristol Bay. She grew up in Barrow and graduated from Alyeska Central School. Nicole graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Human Biology. In addition to successfully completing the first phase of her medical education, at the ceremony Nicole received the 2017 Director’s Award for Academic Excellence, for her ability to share rich and diverse experiences and perspectives with her fellow students in the WWAMI program.
During the first 18-months of medical school – the Foundations Phase – students are learning about the molecular and cellular basis of disease, circulatory systems, anatomy, blood and cancer, and other basic science subjects. Additionally, through a new curriculum that launched in 2015, each student also spends time in a primary care clinic with a mentor from the very beginning of medical school. After completing Foundations they go on to the clinical phase of their education, completing required and elective clerkship rotations at clinics and hospitals throughout the WWAMI region.
“We are very fortunate to have such a high-quality medical school experience in Alaska,” said Jane Shelby, Ph.D., assistant dean for the Foundations Phase at UAA. “The transition ceremony represents the successful completion of a very rigorous curriculum, and these students and our state should be very proud of their accomplishment. Through this state-supported program, Alaska medical students are given the opportunity to realize their dreams of becoming physicians. This is especially important for rural communities such as Barrow, Chugiak, Kasilof, Kenai and Talkeetna, in dire need of physicians.”