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The Daily Wildcat


UA alumnus attends school in Caribbean, shares premed journey and current medical school experience

Caleb Villegas

University of Arizona College of Medicine front entrance.

A University of Arizona graduate is now attending medical school at Western Atlantic University School of Medicine (nicknamed WAUSM by students and faculty) in the Bahamas.

Michael Weinstein shared his story on his undergraduate experience and his current medical journey at WAUSM.

Weinstein graduated from the University of Arizona in May of 2020 and went through the pre-medical track. He advises current UA students to utilize their pre-health advisors to make a clear track of when to take medical school prerequisite courses and how to approach the application cycle. 

According to Weinstein, meeting consistently with his pre-health advisor opened gateways to his undergraduate success and experience as he was able to get involved in student clubs, research and social organizations early into his college career. 

While he did attribute his positive experience to his former advisors/mentors, he also understands that much of the work must fall on the student when molding themselves into being a competitive applicant for medical school. 

“I would not only encourage students to look for research opportunities but also internships, mentorship programs, tutoring programs and leadership opportunities to better understand what sort of strengths and interests can be applied to certain specialties within medicine,” Weinstein said.

After graduation, Weinstein took two gap years before applying to WAUSM. In those two years, he worked as an orthopedic scribe, x-ray technician and got his casting registration and license. 

He advised other prospective students to do something similar in order to ease their transition into the medical school curriculum and clinical education. 

After these two years, he then applied to various medical programs and ultimately decided to enroll in the first charter class of WAUSM. 

He then started his path to obtaining his medical degree from WAUSM and attributed his past undergraduate and gap year opportunities to his current experiences in medical school.

“Your undergrad versus medical school academic journey are very different […] at the University of Arizona I was given information before class, took notes and then the professor taught us for 50 minutes on the given topic; however, in medical school, there is so much information given at once. It makes us almost teach ourselves before we hear what the professor is lecturing on,” Weinstein said.

While this teaching method seems counterintuitive, it’s actually a widely used method of teaching known as a “flipped classroom” and is used at WAUSM and even some classes at the UA. According to Weinstein, this allows for a productive usage of classroom time and models a clinical discussion with his professors and classmates. 

“I think I got the best medical school experience that I could have asked for, especially being an international medical graduate, the university did a great job establishing their academic support, professors teaching the courses and expectations for their students,” Weinstein said.

WAUSM teaches its curriculum based on a trimester academic year, in which the first four semesters are spent learning various medical courses and the final semester is a “boot camp” that prepares the students for the United States Medical School Licensing Examination Step 1 exam.

After five semesters, the students are sent to Saint Anthony Hospital (other partner hospitals with WAUSM will be established in the future) in Chicago, for their clinical rotations where they will get a sense of what specialty they would want to pursue. Weinstein hoped to travel a stone skip away to Miami for his clinical rotations. 

WAUSM provides additional academic resources and support to all of its medical students, allowing them to thrive despite the rigorous curriculum they must complete within their 20 months of academic classroom instruction. 

Weinstein supported the idea of creating study groups early in the semester and staying on top of the work and information that is taught because falling behind in medical school is a much more dangerous experience than falling behind in undergraduate courses. 

“The university actively listens to the feedback of their students; if we have a collective issue that we think needs to be addressed, we can speak up and WAUSM always seems to take that feedback into consideration,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein is trekking his medical path through Western Atlantic University School of Medicine and will be going back to the United States for his clinical rotations soon. He continued his journey in order to inspire and motivate other prospective pre-medical students as they also start their path to becoming doctors and helping the community.

WAUSM is fully on track to achieve full accreditation status with the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP), according to the accreditation process. 

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