Building with ARCHES

The three main goals of the ARCHES program is to Build, Bridge, and Be Bold. The Build portion of the program focuses on building a support network within the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the DC community that will remain past the duration of the program. This network is multifaceted including the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Deans and Professors within the School of Medicine, Medstar Physicians, Medical Students, Research Mentors, and even ARCHES fellows. In addition to presenting us with people to build our network with, ARCHES gives us skills to develop professionally.

Some of the ways we as fellows are allowed to build our network is with various faculty lunches. For example, we were privileged enough to have a lunch with the Dean of the Medical School, Dr. Mitchell, and with the Dean of Admissions, Dr. Dugan. In these sessions we get an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about Georgetown. Other ways we are allowed to connect is through our shadowing sessions. Each week we spend Thursday and Friday mornings shadowing physicians in different departments. These shadowing days are usually one-on-one. This allows for a lot of attention to each of the fellows to learn more about the specific field. Another example is through mentorship. Each fellow is given a medical school mentor and a research mentor. These mentors are an integral part of the network because they can share a lot from their own experiences.

The ARCHES internship has been my first research immersion experience. It can be overwhelming at times, however, with the guidance of my research mentor, Dr. Kristi Graves, I’ve been able to talk it through with her and be a little more at ease. From Dr. Graves, I’ve learned to embrace the “messy” part of building the research question and to keep an open mind as I work through the information. Dr. Graves and her team have also helped me learn a lot of new research skills like interviewing, transcribing, and qualitative coding. In addition to these practical skills, I’ve learned a lot from my mentor about being a woman in the workplace. For example, I remember being at a team meeting with a group of women and as we introduced ourselves we used the word “just” repeatedly to describe what we were doing. Dr. Graves, pointed it out to show how, as women, sometimes we tend to use “just” to minimize what we do and in a way try to stay out of people’s way. This was important to me because it made me more conscious of these habits I have and challenges me to more bold (more to come in my next blog!!) in whatever scenario I’m in.

ARCHES also embeds professionalism in every part of the program. Professionalism is present with the business casual requirement for all events, multiple sessions that talk about professionalism in the hospital, reminders to be punctual to events and working on communication skills.

The research inquiry skills and also the professionalism skills are key components of my future in medicine. The things I learn in the research portion of the ARCHES program will help me think critically, work with timelines, and present my information well. In addition the professionalism skills will help me be presentable and respectable with my superiors and coworkers in the future.

“Build” is the foundational component of the ARCHES goals. I think one of the most important things in this level is that everyone who we interact with has some investment in our success and will be there to help past the ARCHES program. With this network, we are really making a home here at Georgetown that will shape us to be better medical professionals.

-Ana Torres

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