Russell (Russ) Tracy ’71, Ph.D., has long believed that “timing is everything.” However, it wasn’t until he returned to campus for a visit last year that the adage truly came to life for him.
A professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Vermont (UVM), Tracy had come home to the Heights to share his professional experiences as a scientist, researcher and teacher with current Le Moyne students. He also learned about the number of Le Moyne graduates who have chosen to pursue careers as physicians over the past decade, having been admitted to Doctor of Medicine programs at institutions such as Creighton University, Case Western University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, as well as to Upstate Medical University through a well-established early admission program. A discussion with Le Moyne President Linda LeMura stimulated thinking about how to help out with Le Moyne students’ interest in health care.
Tracy’s mind immediately turned to an innovative summer program that his wife and colleague, Paula Tracy, Ph.D., had recently launched at UVM for college students interested in attending medical school. The program is designed to provide students with an “actual” mini-medical school experience. Opportunities include working with standardized patients to learn various doctoring skills and the importance of effective, empathic communication; participating in several medical simulation center activities with UVM’s surgery, OB/GYN and family medicine faculty; and engaging in formal shadowing with outstanding clinical faculty. One evening each week, the students engage in group activities designed to help them develop their capacity for continuous reflection and improvement. Through team-based learning activities, participants also prepare for various aspects of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and conduct practice interviews. Current UVM medical students serve as their mentors throughout the program. As a result, these aspiring physicians gain a deeper understanding of what medical school entails before they apply. Russ Tracy soon seized upon an idea: Why not provide a Le Moyne student considering a career in medicine with the opportunity participate in the program?
With the generous support of both Russ and Paula Tracy, that idea is now a reality. This summer Mark Martin ’17 became the first recipient of the Tracy Fellowship. Martin, who majored in biology and played baseball at Le Moyne, hopes to enroll in medical school in the fall of 2018. Professor of Biological Sciences Beth Mitchell, Ph.D., who served as Martin’s advisor, said that she is thrilled he will have the opportunity to take part in this kind of high-impact, experiential learning opportunity and that she hopes it will make him feel more comfortable and self-assured as he navigates the medical school application process. Likewise, Paula Tracy stressed that her immediate aim in designing the program was to instill confidence in students as they prepare to apply to medical school, help them better understand what that entails, and teach them to convey that readiness in the interview process.
“I think that confidence is huge, and (helping to instill that confidence) is my favorite part of mentoring and interacting with students,” she said.
The demand for programs like the one Paula Tracy established is enormous. Enrollment from the first to second year of UVM’s pre-med summer program increased greatly, from 15 to 26 (the maximum), as academic preparation and exposure to the medical profession grow more important for medical school applicants. Through both research and education Russ and Paula Tracy, who have dedicated their professional lives to helping students unravel the mysteries of the human body and its more than 30 trillion cells, said they are thrilled to play a role in helping students to make good, well-informed decisions about their futures.
“Le Moyne played an important role in my development,” Russ Tracy said. “Through this fellowship, I hope that my family and I can aid current students in carving out their own futures.”
Scholarships & Fellowships