AUA’s Graduate Teaching Fellowship Is a Win-Win for Alumni, Students, and Faculty.

You finally have the medical degree you’ve worked so hard for these past four years. You’re beyond ready to start your residency but have some downtime. The months following graduation provide a unique window of time in which to enhance your skills and interact with people who can further your medical career.

The AUA College of Medicine faculty created The Graduate Teaching Fellowship in Medical Education as a way for AUA alumni to take full advantage of this period. The first class of teaching fellows arrived on AUA’s Antigua campus in Spring 2017 and the two-semester program is already proving its worth.

Fellows teach AUA students and take workshops and classes to learn the latest techniques in medical pedagogy. They receive housing, transportation, and a $35 per diem, as well as a $500 monthly stipend. At the end of the first semester, they receive a certificate of completion. At the end of two semesters, they receive an advanced fellowship certificate. All fellows gain the valuable experience of teaching aspiring physicians and have access to networking opportunities. Those still applying for residencies enhance themselves as candidates with these credentials.

Dr. Tareq Halasa (Class of 2015) completed the fellowship and will be starting an internal medicine residency at St. Barnabas Hospital in Bronx, NY in June 2018. He believes participating in the teaching fellowship was instrumental in helping him to obtain the position.

The trajectory of Dr. Halasa’s career before and after he completed the teaching fellowship is illustrative of why AUA alumni may want to participate. After he graduated from AUA, Dr. Halasa did not match but was fortunate enough to land a research internship in neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. It was a smart move that resulted in seven publications. Although he was ready to reapply for the MATCH, he was off-cycle when his internship ended.

The Graduate Teaching Fellowship was an opportunity to assist and mentor current AUA students and enhance his applications. By teaching Anatomy and Physiology labs for Med I and II students, Dr. Halasa was able to work alongside one of his own mentors from his days as an AUA student, Anatomy department chair Dr. Hassan Amiralli. Dr. Halasa led Radiology lectures as well.

Dr. Halasa also met with students in small groups and helped develop effective study strategies for the Shelf and USMLE Step I and II exams. Seeing that an AUA alumnus was able to conduct research at an institution as prestigious as Mayo Clinic and achieve multiple publications was encouraging in and of itself. “When you’re in Basic Sciences, it’s incredibly intense and can even seem like it’s never going to end. Meeting graduates who have been in the same, exact position and have done well for themselves can be motivating,” Dr. Halasa said.

Some teaching fellows who completed the program enjoyed the experience so much they decided to join the AUA faculty. Among them are Dr. Yulia Volkova (Class of 2014), who teaches Clinical Medicine and Dr. Sherese Joseph (Class of 2014), who teaches Anatomy. Dr. Joseph, who is originally from Antigua and is completing an online master’s program in medical education, strongly believes that fellows and students both get a lot out of the fellowship. “The students loved that I shared their experiences. They liked getting my feedback and a real-life perspective of what happens when you leave the island. And now that I am on the faculty, the dynamic is the same and I can continue to mentor incoming classes. I like being a role model and a resource for them.” Once she finishes her master’s, Dr. Joseph is considering a PhD in medical education or anatomy.

If you’re an AUA graduate and are interested in becoming a fellow, please contact Dr. Mallin at [email protected].