MD Program

Mentoring and Advising FAQ

IU School of Medicine demonstrates an ongoing commitment to developing positive mentor relationships for medical students to support their academic and career success.

The Mentoring and Advising Program (MAP) of Indiana University School of Medicine was designed by students and faculty to assist learners during their undergraduate medical education journey. Through holistic support, undergraduate medical students have access to academic advising, career planning, self-assessment, counseling, mentoring and insights into the many career options in health care. IU School of Medicine ensures that every medical student can obtain academic counseling from individuals who have no role in making assessment or promotion decisions about them.

Students with mentors perform better as students and in their careers. Studies show that those enrolled in mentor programs:

  • Are more satisfied with access to career mentoring, elective advice for scheduling and the residency application process
  • Value the ongoing contact with faculty members and experienced better research opportunities
  • Enjoy improved medical school performances, increased interest in research and aspirations for a better medical career
  • Feel more support at a personal level and rated their overall well-being as higher

IU School of Medicine developed and empowers a leadership cabinet designed to support advisors and mentors as part of the Mentorship and Advising Program for MD students. Further, streamlined roles for advisors and mentors emphasize learner time and minimize administrative matters. Tools and resources are also available to support mentors and advisors in their work to guide medical students.

The IU School of Medicine Mentoring and Advising Program is led by Antwione Haywood, PhD, Assistant Dean of Medical Student Education; Abigail Klemsz, MD, PhD, Assistant Dean of Academic Advising; and Michael McKenna, MD, Assistant Dean of Career Mentoring.

Faculty interested in participating as a mentor can submit the Volunteer Faculty Advisor Application Form.

About Lead Advisors

LA is the acronym for Lead Advisor. Each of the IU School of Medicine’s campuses have Lead Advisors who are assigned to MD students upon entry into the school.

Lead advisors assist students in navigating the medical school experience. They talk with students about academic progress and milestones for graduation, career exploration, personal health and wellness, and connection to the school. The LA is the student’s go-to resource, biggest fan, and support for all (s)he experiences in med school.

Most of the Lead Advisors at IU School of Medicine have a background in Student Affairs. They have worked in various positions within colleges and universities. Explore Lead Advisor bios to learn more about specific individuals.

Lead Advisors at IU School of Medicine are trained regularly on the medical school experience with an official training site, yearly advisor training sessions, and monthly statewide meetings and trainings, and through other professional development opportunities.

Each year, each student receives a syllabus from his/ her Lead Advisor, and this syllabus outlines advising system roles and responsibilities and provides milestones for the student to reach over the course of the year.

On the Mentoring and Advising Program Canvas course site, students can work on their personal RoadMAP, an e-portfolio to document individual experiences and successes on the road to residency. The site contains information about the four pillars of MAP: Academic Advising, Career Mentoring, Connection and Wellness.

About Learning Specialists

Students can meet with the Learning Specialist any time to receive help with study skills, time management, test preparation planning and other needs related to academic performance.

Some students who choose to meet with the Learning Specialist want to hone their time management or study strategies. Many second-year students meet with the Learning Specialist to create a study plan for Step 1.

About Career Mentors

Contacts in each IU School of Medicine academic department are available to help students better engage with the various medical specialties and explore career options with real-world insight. Access a list of career mentors by department and request a mentor for specialty areas that interest you.

Career mentors at IU School of Medicine help guide students to explore specialty and career options.

Students are encouraged to explore IU School of Medicine’s 26 academic departments and use AAMC resources to better understand the various medical specialty areas.

About Community Connections

The Office of Medical Service-Learning has two primary roles on the Indianapolis campus: To offer current and ongoing guidance to the Medical Student Service Group (MSSG) and student-led service-learning projects and to help facilitate student involvement in volunteer projects sponsored by other organizations. In addition, this office works collaboratively with IU School of Medicine statewide campuses to foster service-learning opportunities throughout Indiana. Lisa Christy serves as the Director for Medical Student Service-Learning. She be reached via email at christyl@iu.edu or by phone at 278-5213. Her office is located in and is located in the Medical Sciences building (119) in Indianapolis.

The Medical Student Service-Learning Group is the registered student organization affiliated with the Office of Medical Service-Learning on the IU School of Medicine—Indianapolis campus. This student-led group fosters student leadership through innovative service-learning experiences and various projects throughout the year. Each project co-chair is automatically a member of MSSG and is expected to meet each month. MSSG is responsible for shaping the future direction of Office of Medical Service-Learning service-learning programs by considering and approving new projects; providing an opportunity for current chairs to report on current programs; including opportunities for reflection on student community-based experiences; and offering a medium for peer mentoring by identifying the needs of an challenges to OMSL programs.

All medical service learning programs at IU School of Medicine begin as student ideas, which were nurtured through the Office of Medical Service-Learning. Students proposing new medical service-learning projects should submit a proposal presentation to Lisa Christy, which is reviewed by the Medical Student Service-Learning Group chairs and advisors. Service-Learning projects must be initiated by a medical student, fit well with the MD Curriculum educational objectives, be a community collaboration or organizational partnership that address a community-identified need, led by students as co-chairs with an identified faculty/staff advisor. Program leadership time requirements for planning and pre-event activities can be no greater than 40 hours per academic year, and participant time requirement (excluding spring break) can be no greater than 20 hours per academic year. The project/initiative cannot conflict with scheduled academic responsibilities. Acceptance of annual fiscal/budget training is required.

Find a list of active medical service learning projects on the Indianapolis campus and contact the service learning content on each campus or reaching out to current chairs learn more about the available opportunities to get involved. If you are unsure of which project best suits your interest, email Lisa Christy to set up a meeting to discuss opportunities.

No, community service can take shape in many forms, such as volunteerism or service-learning. Service-learning, however, requires specific criteria to be considered, as defined by the Office of Medical Service-Learning. Criteria includes an identified community partner and/or need, pre-experience orientation, service experience, and post-experience reflection.

College and House is an IU School of Medicine statewide program focused on building connections among medical students and between student and residents, faculty and alumni.

A student’s house is the campus at which (s)he studies and trains, and the student’s college is categorized according to the house’s cardinal direction: The North-North West college includes the South Bend and Indianapolis houses; the South college includes the Bloomington, Evansville and Indianapolis houses; the East college includes the Fort Wayne, Muncie and Indianapolis houses; and the West college includes the West Lafayette, Terre Haute and Indianapolis houses. Students is in the Indianapolis house are divided among the colleges and can find out to which college they’re assigned by asking their Lead Advisor.

VFA stands for Volunteer Faculty Advisor. The primary role of the VFA is to provide holistic mentorship to undergraduate medical students throughout their basic science and clinical years. The VFA offers perspective in navigating the field of medicine. All students are assigned a VFA in addition to a Lead Advisor (LA). Both the VFA and LA follow a cohort of students through their undergraduate medical career.

Volunteer faculty advisors at IU School of Medicine help students assimilate into the lifestyle of a physician-in-training and provide support throughout the educational experience. VFAs offer perspective on the field of medicine based on personal experience and give students a closer connection to IU School of Medicine through social interactions. Often, VFAs provide additional connections to faculty contacts and experiences to enrich student academic and career goals.