UOG bio major connects aspiring medical students with local physicians
(From left) Victoria Flisco, a fourth-year biomedical track biology major at University of Guam, co-founder of UOG’s Premedical Chapter of the American Medical Student Association, and program coordinator for the Health Opportunities and Medical Exposure (HOME) Program; biology majors Gabriel Borg, Ella Macatugal, and Vincent Borja; Dr. Amanda del Rosario, a pediatrician at American Medical Center and executive director of HOME; biology major Terance Camacho; and chemistry and biology major Amanda Cruz.
Senior biomedical track major Victoria Flisco is helping to connect her fellow University of Guam students to first-hand experience in the medical field.
Flisco co-founded UOG’s Premedical Chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) a few years ago, and it became a connection point to college students for the Health Opportunities and Medical Exposure (HOME) Program — a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the number of local physicians through shadowing and mentoring opportunities. Flisco later volunteered to become the program coordinator for HOME, building a conduit for UOG’s premedical students to the program.
“Throughout my years as an undergraduate, I noticed that there was a dearth in medical-related opportunities here in Guam to help premedical students advance in their career paths,” Flisco said. “I tried to do what I could to ensure that there are continuing opportunities for those who aspire to become a medical doctor as I do.”
Five UOG students from UOG’s Premedical Chapter of AMSA and one student from Guam attending UC Davis were selected from a pool of more than 80 high school and college applicants to be part of the HOME Program, which pairs students with a doctor to shadow for the summer.
“I wanted to join the HOME Program to gain an understanding of how a career in the medical field would be,” said Vincent Borja, a third-year biology major at UOG with an interest in dermatology.
Borja shadowed Dr. Erika M. Alford, an endocrinologist at the American Medical Center, and several of the center’s nurses for eight hours per week for two months.
“One thing that I took away from the program is a priceless connection with the physician I shadowed,” he said. “I do my best to remain in contact with her, and I know I can always go to her for any advice I may need in my journey in the medical field.”
Other student scholars in the program were biology major Gabriel Borg, chemistry and biology major Amanda Cruz, and biomedical track biology majors Ella Macatugal and Terance Camacho.
As program coordinator, Flisco handles communications with the mentors and reviews the students’ progress throughout the summer.
“I have experienced shadowing before and have had amazing medical doctors as mentors,” Flisco said. “I am happy to assist a program that paves a way so that other students who have no shadowing experiences can have the opportunity to learn from doctors and experience persevering through the challenges of practicing medicine to help the people of Guam.”
Although UOG does not offer a pre-medical major, as of the Fanuchånan 2018 semester, it offers a biomedical track under the Biology Program for students wanting to enter medical, optometry, veterinary, dental, and pharmacy programs. Through the biomedical track, a student can receive academic credit for biomedically focused courses — including microbiology, molecular biology, anatomy, and physiology — that can serve as prerequisites for medical schools that students are aiming to attend.
“The HOME Program has been highly effective in placing students with medical professionals and serves as an excellent liaison between the medical professionals and our division,” said Laura A.F. Biggs, an assistant professor of physiology and STEM education and the pre-pharmacy adviser at UOG.
Other participating clinics for the high school and UOG students were Guam Radiology Consultants, FHP Health Center, One Love Pediatrics, IHP Medical Group, Pacific Hand Surgery Center, Dr. Shieh’s Clinic, and The Neurology Clinic.
Flisco is continuing to work with the program in preparation for next summer’s shadowing opportunities. For the 2019 cohort, she said she hopes to have even more volunteer mentors and host clinics to be able to expand the program’s curriculum.
Become a Biomedical Major
Apply for the HOME Program
For more information about the UOG Chapter of the American Medical:
Student Life Office
Tel: (671) 735-2271
Student Government Association
Tel: (671) 735-2222