By Wendy Sarubbi | April 28, 2015 4:24 pm

Choosing which medical school to attend is a key decision for future physicians. And on April 13, UCF hosted about 80 accepted M.D. students for the class of 2019 during “Second Look,” an opportunity for the applicants to experience the medical school one last time before making their final decision about enrollment.

Applicants participated in the medical school’s high-tech curriculum, met faculty, and visited two of the medical school’s partner hospitals in an effort “to showcase what we have here at the College of Medicine as well as our great Orlando community,” explained Wandy Velazquez, the admissions coordinator who plans “Second Look.”

Anatomy Professor Dr. Andrew Payer opened the event with a classroom experience, where the applicants learned about the “detective story” in which they will participate during their first year. Unlike other medical schools, UCF doesn’t tell students the cause of death of their first patient – their cadaver in the high-tech Anatomy Lab. Instead, students spend 17 weeks detecting the cause by studying and researching the clinical manifestations of disease. “We want to make sure they know about the incredible opportunities we have here with the new technologies that we’re demonstrating today.” said Dr. Payer. He showed prospective students the lab’s newest technology – an Anatomage table that displays a high-definition virtual cadaver that can show every anatomical system from a full body to individual nerves and allows students to make virtual “cuts” to dissect anatomy from every angle.  “These are very unique things that our school has,” he said, “and are very important experiences for our students to take part in.”

To see where they will do their clerkship training, students visited Florida Hospital in downtown Orlando and Nemours Children’s hospital, located less than a mile from the med school campus in Medical City. Students saw areas such as the Nemours Institute for Clinical Excellence, a hospital setting built completely for simulating pediatric emergencies. Students heard the sounds of  crying baby mannequins as they toured the area. “Imagine there is a parent here saying, ‘Please help my baby!’” said Dr. Kalidindi Shiva, a pediatric emergency medicine doctor at Nemours. “We practice and use simulation so we can relate to that incident and work together as a team.” UCF medical students participate in such simulations.

At Florida Hospital, students toured the massive facility’s Emergency Room, Labor & Delivery Department and a whimsically-decorated Pediatrics wing sponsored by Walt Disney World. “The attending physicians were so open and so helpful, even the residents were taking time out of their day to show us around the hospital,” said prospective medical student and UCF alum Lindsey Warner. “I really appreciated the feel of supportive, community-based learning here.”

Students ended the day with a reception at The Citrus Club in the heart of downtown Orlando, where they were joined by faculty members and current students who shared their perspectives on the UCF experience. “I hope they walk away with the knowledge that the students they’re going to be spending the next four years with are their kind of people,” said Admissions Director Rel Larkin. “Also, that Orlando is a wonderful city that is filled with people who support this program so readily.”

Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and the College of Medicine dean, also spoke to applicants, saying 2015 is one of the most exciting times to be at UCF. “As a new medical school, we’ve been a bit under the radar screen,” she said. “I think this class comes at a time where the school’s reputation is really emerging and bursting forth.” Dr. German also answered questions from applicants, including one about whether she would choose her alma mater, Harvard Medical School, or UCF if she were a medical student today. She answered that she has recently been contacted by a Harvard faculty member and friend who is overseeing a major curriculum change at the prestigious medical school. The faculty member was asking Dr. German how UCF had created such an innovative curriculum. “They would like to achieve some of what we’ve achieved, so I would likely come here at this stage,” she said.

Many of the students in attendance are facing a similar decision between UCF and other medical schools. Some said they are sold on Central Florida after seeing everything it offers. “I’m feeling much more confident in UCF as a choice,” Wagner said. “I couldn’t help but see how happy the students are, they seem to really love the hands-on learning here.”

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