George F. Blackall, Psy.D.
Director of Student Development
Penn State University College of Medicine has an academic advisor program that links incoming students with a faculty advisor who will serve in this role for the duration of the student's matriculation. The advisor will also be responsible to teach clinical skills to the student as part of a structured program. The primary purpose of the advising program is to create a supportive learning environment grounded in the principles of professionalism. While students are encouraged to develop multiple professional relationships with a variety of faculty, the academic advisor serves as the student's primary resource during medical school. During the first two years of medical school, the academic advisor will serve in three primary roles.
Student Advocacy: The advisor is expected to serve as a student advocate in any form the student may need. This includes, but is not limited to, academic issues, disability issues, harassment, conflicts with faculty, and physical or mental health needs. It is expected that all student concerns be addressed in a professional and confidential manner except when there is concern about the welfare of the student or others.
Academic Progress Monitoring: The academic advisor is responsible for monitoring each student's academic progress. The advisor is expected to meet at least every other month with students in years 1 and 2. The advisor will also meet with the student during years 3 and 4 but will do so less regularly (biannually) unless deemed necessary by the student or the advisor.
Clinical Skills Education: The advisor/clinical skills instructor will be responsible to work with you 4 times during your first year. During these clinical teaching sessions, the faculty will directly observe and provide teaching and feedback about your skills at performing a history and physical exam, presenting findings during an oral presentation, and in a written note documenting the interaction. These sessions can be held in the inpatient or outpatient-setting and can be scheduled individually or in small groups. These sessions will be held at a time agreed upon by the students and faculty member.
Student Mentorship Program
This program is designed to pair medical students entering their third year with faculty mentors in areas of interest to the student. Students will be able to have more than one mentor in their third year as they narrow their specialty interest. In year four, students will be assigned a mentor in their declared area of interest. This mentor will be available to guide the student through the residency application, interview, and ranking process.