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UMass Chan launches new academic year with first-ever joint orientation for all three schools

Life-saving skills, conversation and opportunities on tap for 350 new students

  • Christopher Woodilla, a PhD student in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, got a refresher on how to Stop the Bleed during UMass Chan’s first three-school orientation.
  • Nursing students Emma Thomas, Leah Kachadorian and Lindsey Ty were all smiles during lunch.
  • The design of the orientation made it easy for students such as nursing student Lorenzo Mendoza and MD/PhD student Tyler Long to meet.
  • GEP to DNP student Jacqueline Waweru listens to the DIO session.
  • Sara Buscher (left) puts a tourniquet on fellow first-year medical student Minhtam Tran during the Stop the Bleed exercise.
  • Medical students Faheem Nagpurwala and Avery Pullman enjoy lunch.

UMass Chan Medical School welcomed 350 new students on Wednesday, Aug. 17, with a slate of activities designed to orient and bring together T.H. Chan School of Medicine, Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing and Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences learners. The Office of Student Life led the event, which was the first time the three schools held a joint orientation for new students.

“My takeaway is that just because we’re all in different schools, we have a lot more in common than we think,” said Faheem Nagpurwala, a first-year medical student from San Jose, California, who chose to stay in New England after graduating from Northeastern University. “It’s been nice to explore our similarities and embrace that a little bit.”

After lunch, students moved through three sessions in groups named after local sports teams: the Worcester Red Sox, Worcester Railers and Massachusetts Pirates. Sessions were led by Cameron Both and other second-year medical students in UMass Chan’s Stop the Bleed chapter; Marlina Duncan, EdD, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion; and Alan Acosta, PhD, assistant vice provost for student life and director of positive learning environments. The afternoon wrapped up with a barbecue sponsored by Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine.

“Our goal was to allow students to meet, interact, collaborate and engage with students from across the schools, as greater student interaction is a need students have asked to have addressed. Additionally, we wanted to offer several different topics to help students get adjusted to life at UMass Chan,” Acosta said.

Maria Garcia, MD, MPH, the Marcellette G. Williams Scholar, professor of medicine and family medicine & community health, and assistant vice provost of diversity and student success, spoke about the academic coaching UMass Chan offers. Staff in the Diversity and Inclusion Office encouraged students to join the Committee on Equal Opportunity and Diversity and student interest groups.

“We are really here to support you as you’re on this journey here at UMass Chan,” Dr. Duncan said, inviting students to play a role in the implementation and evaluation of the diversity, equity and inclusion pillar of IMPACT 2025, the Medical School’s strategic plan.

Katie Stickney, MT-BC, program coordinator for student life, said organizers chose to include a session on the life-saving techniques that are part of the national Stop the Bleed program so students could have a hands-on skill that they could take with them. Students learned that a person who is bleeding can die from blood loss within five minutes and they practiced making tourniquets on pool noodles and one another.

“This was a great refresher to my EMT training and was a topic that everyone, regardless of their profession, should know,” said Christopher Woodilla, a PhD student in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

“What’s memorable about today for me is seeing how the school has worked to make sure that we are all together and letting us know about all the resources that we can get to make sure that we do well in the different programs,” said Jacqueline Waweru, a nursing student from Worcester in the Graduate Entry Pathway (GEP) to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. “And it’s good to see that we are in a school that’s really looking forward to make sure that we have good futures.”

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Diversity, equity and inclusion pillar added to UMass Chan strategic plan
Stop the Bleed initiative launched at UMMS, UMass Memorial campuses in Worcester