SOMA board members Shaun Antonio, Giselle Irio, Melissa Sayegh, Zachary Coffman, and Mario Soliman.

While getting into medical school is a huge accomplishment, many students soon recognize that it is only the first hoop to jump through. “Once you’re in, you start to realize all the new things you have to think about—clinical rotations, board exams, applying to residencies, choosing a specialty—there are all these different factors that play into what your career could potentially be,” said second-year medical student Zachary Coffman. “I realized that I, and my fellow students, were still eager to visit with practicing doctors and ask those questions that can help us figure out our pathway.”

Coffman is Vice President of BCOM’s chapter of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) and he proposed to his fellow SOMA members that they host an event similar to one he’d attended as an undergraduate student. “The pre-medicine club at my school would invite a bunch of physicians from the community and they’d have a catered dinner where students could sit down with these doctors and really pick their brains. It was always a super successful event and the students loved it,” he explained.

The SOMA students approached BCOM faculty member Scott Cyrus, DO, with their idea. As president of the New Mexico Osteopathic Medical Association (NMOMA), Dr. Cyrus reached out to Ralph McClish, NMOMA’s Executive Director, and he came to Las Cruces from Albuquerque for the event, bringing along several physicians from the Albuquerque area. The students also invited practicing physicians from Las Cruces. A total of 12 physicians attended BCOM’s first Dinner with Doctors event where they spoke with 70 medical students.

The catered event was held on the BCOM campus with doctors and students seated at ten round tables. Coffman said, “We tried to keep it to no more than seven students per physician so that the students would really have an opportunity to interact with the doctor and ask any questions they might have. We had a wide variety of specialists from general and orthopedic surgery to pediatrics, family medicine, and radiology. We randomly placed students at the tables, but there were also opportunities for mingling and for the students to move to different tables and to hear about different specialties.”

Mario Soliman, one of the medical students who attended the event, said he appreciated that all the physicians came from different backgrounds and he enjoyed talking with a family practice physician about the business aspect of running a practice. “He even invited a few of the students to shadow with him,” Soliman added.

Second-year student Melissa Sayegh said she was intrigued hearing firsthand all the different procedures a family medicine doctor does on a day-to-day basis and she is now seriously considering going into family practice, a specialty she wasn’t that interested in before the event.

SOMA President Giselle Irio said, “I know several people were offered the opportunity to rotate with some of these doctors. That type of experience can really open doors for residency in the future.”

With the first successful event under their belts, and positive feedback from both students and doctors, SOMA is hoping to make Dinner with Doctors a regular event in both the spring and fall semesters.