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State of the SAC

Posted by on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 in MSTP Workshop News .

Our fellow MSTP students,

Kelsey and I were asked to write a brief State of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) for the January newsletter reflecting on what has been accomplished over the past year and plans moving forward. As a composition of individual students, the MSTP has thrived over the past year due to the successes of each student at each level of training. The MSTP continues to be a pleasure in which to share in the big and small victories of this enjoyable but long training period. As the Chair and Chair-Elect of the SAC, we hope that we have played a small role in your year by facilitating student-led discussions at our monthly meetings and communicated your concerns to the leadership team directly.

The SAC was reformatted as a student-led entity two and a half years ago under the leadership of Ben Fensterheim, Ph.D., and Alex Sundermann. Ben and Alex created a system in which students submitted items that informed the agendas of the Chair-led SAC meetings. In AY 2017-2018, Alex and I addressed almost 60 items submitted through the “Vanderbilt MSTP Student Advisory Committee (SAC) Ideas” survey. So far in AY 2018-2019, Kelsey and I are on track to address a total of 25-30 items through this survey mechanism. I can see at least two potential reasons for this decline. Idea #1) Fewer issues have arisen that necessitate feedback and change. Idea #2) A hesitancy to submit feedback via this survey mechanism has formed. If idea #1 is true, terrific! This is completely possible. Last year, a few big changes happened. The medical school was transitioning out of light hall and the composition of the MSTP leadership team completed a series of changes. Many submissions last year were in regard to these concerns, which have now been largely resolved. As idea #2 (hesitancy to give feedback) is potentially addressable, I would like to take this moment to encourage your feedback when appropriate.

It is impossible for Kelsey and me, or the members of the leadership team, to see all the perspectives and thoughts of the MSTP’s members. We would love to hear what you like about the MSTP, what you don’t, and how you think our program could be improved. The “Vanderbilt MSTP Student Advisory Committee (SAC) Ideas” survey allows you to submit ideas anonymously, or not, to Kelsey and me. Only we see the submitted items. We will respond to every item submitted following individual research, discussions with Director Dr. Chris Williams, or discussions in the monthly SAC meetings, as applicable. Possible topics to consider addressing in feedback include:
1. ways that you envision fostering positive change in the MSTP by limiting the bad and expanding the good
2. individual issues that you would prefer to have addressed anonymously or otherwise on your behalf
3. BIG or small things that make you think, “Maybe the MSTP/leadership team/etc. should…”

Examples of topics:
· Issues being excused from clinic for seminar
· Interest in wellness/harassment training/alternative programming at MSTP seminar
· How to get reimbursed with F30 funds
· Feedback for members of leadership team or SAC leadership (chair, chair-elect)
· Clarification on how SAC positions and other MSTP leadership positions are determined
· MSTP apparel/swag requests
· Concerns about the SAC’s survey method, structure, or functions
· Committee overreach or underactivity
· Issues with concerning the leadership team that you would like addressed on behalf your behalf
· Improving food choices at seminar

I hope you will consider lending us your ideas. Kelsey and I are honored to be able to advocate for our classmates and are thrilled to serve as your SAC Chair and Chair-Elect. Happy 2019!

Caleb and Kelsey
MSTP SAC Chair and Chair-elect