The Western University of Health Sciences Alumni Mentor Program (AMP) recently launched with a virtual mix and mingle event hosted by WesternU Alumni & Friends.
More than 70 alumni and nearly 110 students are participating in the program. All students have been matched and 73 out of 87 alumni who applied have been matched.
AMP provides an opportunity for current students and alumni to network in a mutually rewarding relationship that is based on student academic and professional goals. Through this program, alumni will be able to guide current students by sharing their career and WesternU experiences, according to the WesternU AMP website.
AMP Chair and College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) alumnus Eric A. Quimbo, DO ’04, said he got this far through being mentored, and volunteered to join AMP to give back to the school he appreciates.
“Mentoring is how I got this far in life, whether it was my parents, a coach, a teacher, or an attending physician, they were all important parts of my development,” Quimbo said. “I do it now because I believe in paying it forward, I find it quite rewarding when I see mentees achieve their goals. I think if you can be a great mentor, it makes you a better leader since you’re helping others become successful.”
Dr. Quimbo has been an emergency physician for the past 13 years, currently working at Placentia-Linda Hospital in Placentia, California. He also serves as director for a local ambulance company, Emergency Ambulance in Brea.
When Quimbo was in school, Tom Minahan, DO ’95, was his mentor. Dr. Minahan was an attending physician at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center when Quimbo was a student rotating in the ER department.
“He really cared for students and was so down to earth,” Quimbo said. “Tom was never that pretentious doctor that was too good for a lowly med student. I try to be that way with anyone I come across. I always attempt to help students I work with. I believe in paying it forward.”
Other committee members include Co-Chair Kathryn M Slaughter-Mehfoud, DVM ’17, and Sunny Lo, DO ’12; Shahdad K. Saeedi, DPM ’16, Bethany A. Thrasher, DNP ’20 and Andrew Le, DO ’17.
First-year Physician Assistant (PA) Studies student Gary Rivas and second-year PA student Grace Knerr from the College of Health Sciences are being mentored by CHS alumnus Zachary Symmes, PA ’15.
Rivas said he signed up for the mentor program to gain more insight into different specialties within the physician assistant field, as well as get advice on how to excel during the didactic year and clinical rotations from someone who has been through the process themselves.
“It’s important to be mentored by an alumnus because they have the unique vantage point of having been a WesternU student themselves, and therefore may have some ‘insider’ knowledge and advice regarding clinical rotation sites, passing boards, and handling the challenges of the didactic year,” he said.
He’s enjoyed his one session so far and is excited to learn more specifics about his day-to-day activities working in orthopedic surgery, he said.
Knerr signed up for WesternU AMP after having a good experience with a PA peer mentorship program through the program and she believes having an alumni mentor will be helpful as she transitions to her PA career.
“I think my mentor, who has recently been through graduation, boards, and getting his first job, will have a lot of knowledge and insight from his experience to share with me,” she said after meeting him once. “He has been able to share the methods that helped him and tips for getting the most out of PA school. I am excited to build this relationship and start my PA career with the guidance of my mentor.”
The goals of the program are to increase engagement between WesternU alumni and current students, provide a valuable experience for alumni and students, and engage colleges and campus partners to support students and alumni.
The End of Mentorship Program Celebration is being held in May 2021. Mentor and mentee applications will open for a new year in August 2021.
For more information about AMP, please visit https://alumnifriends.westernu.edu/get-involved/AMP.