Annual program planned for Saturday, Feb. 28
Growing up the son of a critical care nurse, first-year Medical College of Georgia student Matt Rivera said he always knew he wanted a career in health care. Spending his childhood in rural Statenville, Georgia, population 4,057, where the nearest hospital is nearly 30 miles away in Valdosta, only solidified his goal of a career “helping others.”
Rivera, whose father is third- generation Mexican-American and serves as transportation director for the Echols County school system, got experience doing just that by volunteering at health clinics for migrant farm workers in his hometown. He also gained valuable experiences on medical mission trips and by shadowing physicians.
By the time he enrolled at Valdosta State University, there was no doubt what his major would be – pre-med. “For me there was never a Plan B. It was always going to be medical school.”
But even with all of his experience and, after four years of good grades, he was still nervous about actually applying to medical school, he said, until he experienced the annual MCG Igniting the Dream of Medicine Conference, where he was subjected to real- world advice from medical students, given the opportunity to interact with MCG faculty, and even put through a mock interview.
This year’s conference, which will give that experience to over 200 high school and college students from across Georgia, is planned for Saturday, Feb. 28.
The day-long conference will focus on what it takes to become a physician. The opening session starts at 8:45 a.m. in the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons and the conference continues until 3:45 p.m. at various locations across the Georgia Regents University Health Sciences Campus.
Sponsored by the MCG chapter of the Student National Medical Association and the Office of Student and Multicultural Affairs, the conference gives students an overview of the medical school admissions process, opportunities to network, and the opportunity for “hands-on” experience in the state-of-the-art, high tech simulation center, physical exam instruction, and even a suture clinic. Representatives of the Association of American Medical Colleges will also be on hand to talk with students about changes to the Medical College Admission Test and the American Medical College Application Service. Mock interviews for those applying to MCG will also be held.
While at the conference in 2013, Rivera “interviewed” with Dr. Walter Moore, MCG Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and Veterans Affairs, which helped ease his anxiety about the process. “He was extremely affirming and kept telling me ‘You’re the real deal,’” he says. “I’ve always kept his narrative with those comments.”
Rivera was accepted to MCG and began medical school in 2014 as a United States Health Resources and Services Administration National Health Service Corps Scholar, which pays for medical school and commits him to returning to a rural area to practice primary care. “When I got into medical school and got my white coat, which was just a surreal moment, Dr. Moore actually put my white coat on me,” Rivera said. “That was an awesome experience.”