Connecting first-year med students to peer mentors offers wisdom and encouragement


By: Brianna Robinson

Throughout the nation, medical schools are embracing new methods to engage students and encourage their academic success. MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine is helping to lead the way by supporting incoming medical students through a new peer mentor program.

Connecting first-year students with a second-year peer mentor, the Peer Mentors program provides much needed mental health and academic support.

With the help of a mental health subcommittee, mentors help in a variety of ways by providing post-exam support, study guides, semester tip sheets, one-on-one mentoring and updates on social media including Facebook and Instagram.

Rather than being paired with one mentor though, first-year students have the option to attend open hours with various mentors and/ or one-on-one mentoring.

“Peer mentor hours are one-hour Zoom sessions hosted by 2-3 members and are site specific,” said Danielle Sherman, president of the program and a second-year student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. “One-on-one mentoring provides the same support but in a more confidential setting. A first-year can sign up for a mentoring session by using a Google form and will be paired up with the most suitable peer mentor to assist with his or her situation.”

During Zoom sessions, incoming students can drop in and chat about anything from campus information and resources, advice related to general medical school transitioning, personal encouragement and medical student life.

“I have found it to be beneficial as a first year and hope to become a peer mentor myself,” said Katarzyna Purzycka, mentee and first-year student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Detroit Medical Center site. “It's a great way to connect with the class above you and I have gotten a lot of helpful advice and encouragement. They are so willing to help and support their fellow students in any way they can.”

Peer mentors know from personal experience what it’s like being a new medical student. They are enthusiastic to contribute advice and instruction to guide incoming students in their transition and help them feel confident in their academic and personal success.

“I really like the program because it gives me an opportunity to engage with and help the first-year class,” said Lauren Cole, peer mentor and second-year student. “As a mentor, I am here for students to help them navigate through the stressors of medical school and let them know it is okay to take a day off and focus on themselves.”

Mentors are meant to assist students but aren’t intended to replace the college’s professional academic support and personal counseling services.

“I think the organization is evolving every year,” said Alissa Berry, student services assistant in the department of student life and personal counseling. “Our current e-board is reconfiguring members and responsibilities since merging with the Medical Student Mental Health committee this year. They hope to increase the mental health component of peer mentors, and every member has just been trained in QPR Suicide Prevention Training.”

All incoming students are encouraged to participate in the program for support. To sign up for a mentoring session, click here.

Questions? Email a peer mentor at