Volunteers Needed for Mentoring in Medicine

How do current Georgetown students explore career options? Many use Hoya Gateway, an online platform established in 2013 to help students connect with alumni for conversations about different professions.

Kelly Loraine-Dauer Pham, MD (M’10), in Seattle signed on to Hoya Gateway as a way to give back to the Georgetown community through mentoring. “As a medical student, you are embarking on the most difficult journey that you will ever take,” Pham says. “A mentor can be a person who shares experience, normalizes what you are feeling, and be a smiling face in a city of strangers. I believe the same to be true at any level of medical education. The more support you have, the more successful you will be.”

The number of students using Hoya Gateway has more than doubled since its upgrade in January 2017. Key to its growing success is that alumni from a variety of fields sign on as mentors. Currently around 10 percent of the participants are in the health and medical profession. In response to student interest, program administrator Matt Kelly hopes to boost that number in the coming year.

This spring, the program received help from an unexpected source: a group of Georgetown undergraduates working on a class project. During an interdisciplinary course on shaping national science policy, teams of students identified and designed solutions for challenges facing policymakers today. One research group studied the importance of mentorship for new medical students. In the complex field of health and medicine, physician mentors offer helpful perspectives on specialty choice, job shadowing, family and work balance, medical research, academia, and more. To their surprise, the students discovered a significant lack of female surgical mentors, as well as female role models in academic medicine.

“My student group consisted of only women and we were understandably upset by our findings,” says Sylvie Hullinger (C’19).

The professor asked all the students to draw up two solutions: a legislative one and a non-legislative one. On the legislative end, the group recommended a national survey to address gender disparities in the medical field. Their nonlegislative approach involved helping support Hoya Gateway and encouraging alumnae to join and expand the network of Georgetown women mentors in health and medicine. Their efforts are currently underway.

Learn more at hoyagateway.georgetown.edu.