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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Pre-Health advising staff turnover frustrates students

Published: February 14, 2014
Section: News

Monday, Feb. 10 welcomed the arrival of Brandeis’ new, full-time Assistant Director of Pre-Health Advising Abby Voss, a new addition made soon after Surella Seelig left her position as a pre-health advisor. Pre-health students were made aware of the changes via a Feb. 6 email from Pre-Health Advising Director Misty Huacuja-LaPointe.

Voss, a native of Michigan, has worked in the health departments of Grand Valley State’s College of Health Professions and most recently at Florida’s Palmer College of Chiropractic. According to Huajuca-LaPointe, Voss will “work with both pre-health undergraduates at Brandeis and will manage the Brandeis Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program.”

Voss’ addition to the advisory staff is designed to provide more support for pre-health students. “Academic Services now has two full-time staff members who help students clarify their goals and pursue diverse opportunities in the health professions,” said Dean of Academic Services Lisa Boes in an email to The Hoot.

The announcement is not the first of its kind. In mid-June 2013, the department lost long-time and well-liked Pre-Health Advising Director Judith Hudson, a decision students criticized as cause for a disruption in efficiency within the department.

The recent staff turnover has resulted in the loss of significant pre-health employees and have disrupted some students’ plans for applying to medical programs. “I appreciate the freshness of the new and different perspectives they hold on medical school admissions,” wrote Christina Marcelus ’14 in an email to The Hoot. “However, the shift in staff was very sudden and did not allow for the smoothest transition.” Marcelus continued, “Because of the high volume of requests, it may take up to a month to see anyone simply to check in or ask questions.”

Not all students experienced the same frustrations, though. “Any deviation from [department] fluidity is without question going to cause some hiccups along the way,” Ariana Boltax ’14 wrote in an email. “But it’s necessary to understand that transitions take time,” she wrote.

Until Voss is fully oriented at Brandeis, she will not be available for appointments, said Huajuca-LaPointe’s email, though Voss is expected to be available in the final days of February and then for the rest of the semester. “We are now also offering drop-in appointments daily from 1:30-2:30 p.m. to allow us to meet with more students,” Boes continued in her email.

Before Voss is available and drop-ins are officially available, students will have to change their schedules to meet the sudden staff turnover and other changes to the program. At the moment, it is impossible to know how the newly shrunken department will handle the large number of pre-health students, but students have some ideas.

“I think Brandeis should make an effort to hire more pre-health staff due to the high volume of students that must be accommodated,” wrote Marcelus. “I believe this will alleviate the burden on pre-health staff and reduce the frustration of students who are already stressed out.”