University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Medical Student Education

UVM Medical Class of 2016 Completes Orientation

Medical students doing wilderness training.
New medical students experience wilderness aid training at Rock Point in Burlington. (Photo by Raj Chawla, UVM Medical Photography)

The phrase “The doctor will see you now” has become a lot more real to 114 new students in the University of Vermont College of Medicine’s Class of 2016 who completed their orientation week on August 10, 2012. Not surprising, they are a smart group, with an average undergraduate GPA of 3.7. The class is about half female and half male, with roughly one-third hailing from Vermont and the other two-thirds from 18 states across the U.S. and three international countries. More than 5,400 applications for the Class of 2016’s 114 slots came through the UVM College of Medicine's Admissions Office over the past year. Their ages may span nearly thirty years, from 20 (not the youngest UVM medical student ever, however) to 49, but each member of the class is ready to follow his/her dream of becoming a doctor.

The Class of 2016’s Orientation Week marked the first for newly-appointed Associate Dean for Student Affairs Christa Zehle, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics and pediatrician at Vermont Children’s Hospital. Following her opening remarks, students heard from UVM College of Medicine Dean Frederick C. Morin III, M.D., and Fletcher Allen CEO John Brumsted, M.D. In addition, Janice Gallant, M.D., associate dean for admissions, and William Jeffries, Ph.D., senior associate dean for medical education, provided welcomes and overviews the first day of the week-long series of presentations and activities.

The students dove right into their medical education during Orientation, learning about the College’s learning communities, “Introduction to Professionalism,” and “Your First Patient” on their first day, then tours of the medical library and hospital, getting UVM and Fletcher Allen IDs, learning about teamwork in medicine and managing the financial aspect of attending medical school on day two. During the evening on their second day, the students toured the “OUR BODY: The Universe Within” exhibit, which the College of Medicine is sponsoring, at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. On day three, the group tackled the College of Medicine’s information system with their new tablets in hand in the morning, and heard from a medical student panel in the afternoon. On their fourth day, they spent the day at Rock Point School engaging in outdoor team-building activities. On the final day of orientation – Friday, August 10 – they learned about travel and community service opportunities and enjoyed a barbeque on the Green Roof at UVM’s Davis Center.

Among the members of the UVM College of Medicine’s Class of 2016 are the following students:

  • Mutlay Sayan was born to parents who could neither read nor write in a remote Turkish village located on the border of Iran. He had to walk far to attend elementary school, but quit at age 11 when his father’s cancer diagnosis prompted a move to Istanbul for treatment. Despite working long days alongside his mother at a textile factory for two years, he sought and secured a scholarship, returned to school, graduated as valedictorian and attended Istanbul University as a business major. Yearning to pursue medicine and specialize in oncology, he found a work and travel program in the U.S. that supported his efforts to come to the U.S., learn English, and attend college at Community College of Vermont and UVM. A combined economics/pre-med major and Lohman Award recipient, the Hancock, Vt., resident graduated in 2011 and has been conducting cancer research in the department of pathology at UVM for the past three years.
  • Born in Santa Cruz, Calif., and home-schooled until age 14 when her family moved to Buffalo, N.Y., Cornelia Willis majored in biological sciences and Asian studies at the University of Buffalo. A varsity rower who represented the U.S. at the Under-23 World Rowing Championships in Lithuania this past July, she developed and organized a mentorship program between 100 varsity athletes and 700 underserved middle school students. Willis, whose dream to be a physician was affirmed during a stint as an emergency room scribe during college, aims to use the mentoring program’s positive support network model as a basis for her approach to relating to patients.
  • Former Chittenden, Vermont, resident Shane Greene’s early childhood was spent in the urban environs of Houston, Texas, and New York City before his family moved to rural Vermont when he was five years old. He returned to city life as a philosophy major at the University of Chicago, after which he lived and worked in a coffee shop in an impoverished section of Cincinnati, Ohio. His exposure to substance abuse problems and the other illnesses of poverty he saw there prompted a desire to learn the skills needed to understand and provide medical treatment for these conditions. For the past three years, he has been preparing for his new career as a medical assistant working with the unique population served at the Community Health Center of Burlington.
  • When he was two years old, Mohammad Mertaban’s family fled to the U.S. as refugees from Lebanon’s Civil War. After attending elementary and secondary school, as well as college, in southern California, he pursued a career in health care project management. Married with two daughters, he spent the past three years carrying a heavy class load to meet his pre-medical course requirements, working full-time as a photographer, part-time for Islamic Relief USA, a non-profit relief organization, and participating in scientific research. Intent on specializing in primary care and working with underserved populations, Mertaban hopes to become a physician who possesses compassion, integrity, knowledge, and an ability to navigate a complex healthcare delivery system in order to contribute to the wellbeing of others.

The Class of 2016 will soon experience some of the hallmarks of the UVM College of Medicine’s Vermont Integrated Curriculum (VIC), including early patient interaction – they saw their first patient the first day of orientation – and continuous clinical experiences throughout the four years of medical school. The VIC has three levels: Level 1 features basic science information in a clinically relevant context, beginning with medical science fundamentals, followed by a series of organ system-based courses; Level Two features clinical clerkships that emphasize basic principles of clinical medicine, including primary and preventive care; and Level Three provides students with additional responsibilities for patient care including acting internships, emergency medicine, and elective opportunities. In addition, students are required to perform scholarly work through a teaching or research project.