Category Archives: Uncategorized

Building through Networks

In the ARCHES program, I have been privileged with the opportunity to meet many members in the Georgetown Medical community. While we may only have an hour with a visitor at times, I know that through the ARCHES program and by being physically present, I have left an impression which will be remembered even years down the road when I may need to reach out to these people again. Aside from the world class physicians we are meeting, ARCHES has also provided a chance to meet seven other people with diverse backgrounds, but have similar qualities and core values. Cumulatively, all of the people we have met and continue to meet will be the reason we are successful in our pursuit of becoming Medical Doctors.  

Aside from building networks, the program also helps to build fellows as competent community members and professionals. Although the fellows are from underrepresented groups in medicine, we still need diversity training because often STEM and STEP curriculums do not overlap in our undergraduate disciplines. These trainings on cultural competence, hidden bias, and diversity dialogues in Medicine help to break down barriers and build community within and beyond the program.

Other ways in which ARCHES supports our professional development is through engaging lectures which help to train us about topics related to communication etiquette, research competence, knowledge acquisition, and mind body wellness. These trainings not only promote professionalism, they also empower students with tools that are versatile and applicable to any career path and all aspects of life. However, the most important value taught is to promote these skills and help others, to continue to build and inspire beyond the ARCHES program.

-Eli Hernandez

Building Professional Development with ARCHES

  • What professional development skills have been enhanced through your participation in ARCHES?

During the second round of ARCHES interviews, I recall being asked what I thought it meant to be a “Physician Leader.” My response was along the lines of “maximizing every chance to learn, teach, and advocate in the field of medicine.” However, through my time at ARCHES, I continue to learn that there are several professional skills that add substance to what it means to be able to learn, teach and advocate as a physician leader. This week, ARCHES Fellows ate lunch with Dr. Weiner, director of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. At one point he talked to us about the need for maintaining a strong team. This skill deepens learning opportunities because like he said, it teaches not to be “imprisoned by your own vision.” When working with passionate people you learn their successes are yours as well, and I see this in my ARCHES peers too. In regards to teaching, in this program we are challenged daily to use critical thinking skills, whether it be through learning how to ask the right questions in Dean Taylor’s MCAT Bootcamp, finding answers in our research, or seeking understanding in our diversity dialogues. To teach successfully in any profession, a person needs to be able to apply to critical thinking skills. I also mentioned advocacy, whether it for the self or the patient. Here, I am finding confidence is a skill that enhances such advocacy because that’s when people take you seriously. Likeability is one thing, but confidence shows you know what you are talking about and you trust yourself enough to share it with others, and again that is when people will listen. These are just a few professional development skills I get to strengthen and utilize in ARCHES.

  • What is the significance of the process of research inquiry to your future career choice in the medical profession?

My interpretation of research inquiry is considering a topic, developing an unanswered question about it, and deeply seeking answers and solutions. This research inquiry process is significant because it teaches me that structure and organization is imperative when determining different methods towards solving a problem. Disorganization would have me repeating the same steps. Additionally, I notice the importance of teamwork in research, whether it be seeking guidance from my research supervisor or listening to the advice of people whom I share my research with.  I know this will carry me a long way when I become a medical professional. In the future when a patient is having a problem or health concern, I will take a patient-centered approach because involving them in their care, will make finding what’s wrong and receiving the correct treatment easier. The same teamwork will be expressed with coworkers as well, different perspectives bring different ideas worth listening to.

  • What have you learned from you research supervisor?

Under the supervision of Dr. Judy Wang and Charlene Kuo, I am learning how to become a better researcher. A large part of our research is survey interviews by phone. Through these conversations, I must stay attentive, so mastering how to utilize active listening skills to understand participants and direct them through the survey has been helpful. Also, by them checking in often on my research content knowledge and hypothesis, they’ve taught me to keep myself accountable and effectively communicate my research and why it is needed. These are just a few skills I’ve learned from them. I am very thankful for their guidance.

-Yordanos Dessie

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


Throughout the ARCHES program thus far, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has presented us with plenty opportunities to network. These opportunities come from lunch & learns and different rotations within the hospital and out-patient clinics. ARCHES has not only offered me opportunities to build a network, but most importantly they teach us what a network is and why it is essential. The sessions about professional communication and networking were very helpful and discussed important things from eye contact and handshakes, to learning how write and send a professional email.

Within this journey, the skills that I have taken away from the sessions about professionalism have shown me how a lot of these life lessons can be applied almost anywhere, specifically in this case the research lab. My research supervisor has taught me how to communicate with other professionals in academia and how to utilize them as a resource. My research supervisor has also made it clear to me how important it is to ask questions. Most of the time, individuals can be afraid to approach someone at a different level in academia but if you come with respect and humility, the professional will usually be more than willing to help. I believe as we matriculate throughout our medical journey, this will assist us along the way.

From learning these essentials to professionalism, I have currently been able to start building sustainable relationships with faculty members and physician all throughout the Georgetown community. Everyone at Georgetown has not only been very responsive, but also very encouraging. I believe that the main reason is because when we approach these professionals and reach out, it is because they are amazed at where we are from and how much we are invested into our future. In addition to us being invested, they see how intelligent and professional we are, which gives them more of a reason to invest in us. I am wholeheartedly thankful for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Georgetown School of Medicine for creating a sustainable and beneficial program such as ARCHES for underserved individuals, and presenting us with the opportunities to build our network as aspiring physicians.

-Brandon Manor

A New Perspective

Since starting the Gateway Exploration Program, I have been shadowing an OB/GYN at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital for the past week and a half with Dr. Caseida. We have been seeing very interesting patients and cases during the time that I have been there, and I have learned a lot in just one week. In my opinion, the OB/GYN is very interesting because you can work with adults and babies too. For example, I learned about the baby’s heartbeat, what beat counts it should be in between, what they should be measuring, etc. I learned about the connection between the baby and the mother and how you can detect if something is wrong with the baby’s health just by drawing blood from the mother.

Also in the OB/GYN department, I learned about what happens to women’s bodies, and what you need to prepare to look for as you get older. For example, once you turn 40, you are going to need to do a mammogram. You get a mammogram to see if you have cancer in your breast tissue. As a woman, once you turn 40-45 your chances of getting breast cancer become much higher. Also, PAP smears and PET scans are necessary. PAP smears are needed to test if you have and precancerous cells in the cervix. I learned that one way you can tell if you have any precancerous cells is that it turns white when you put the vinegar on it.

Lastly, I learned what can happen to a mother after giving birth to their first child. You can get a lot of complications like hemorrhoids, excessive bleeding after delivery, breast problems, etc. Hemorrhoids are swollen or inflamed blood vessels in the anal area.


–Joselin Carcamo

New Confidence

My name is Samrawit Bulcha, and I am very happy to get the chance to tell you about my experience being a Gateway Exploration Program scholar. I was very scared when I started the program but now I have started learning a lot of new things, most importantly being how to be more open and communicative with other people. This was great for me because before I came to this program I was a very shy person and I didn’t have much confidence in myself. This program has really helped me learn how to have confidence and to just trust myself. Especially the elevator pitch workshop which helped me to speak with people more openly. Another activity I did was the scavenger hunt challenge which involved walking around campus to find hidden clues. This helped me to be more social with people and have a better understanding about a lot of things dealing with Georgetown. In this program, I learned many new things I had never heard before in my life like the term “radiology”. I did not know what it meant but after I started shadowing with Dr. Maurer and Dr. Levy all of that changed. They helped me to understand more about tools like the X-Ray, CT scan, and MRI. The office work part of the program has helped me to know more about what office work looks like and has also helped me to be on task and become familiar with computers and printers. My favorite thing about this program is that they prepare us for our future by teaching us a lot of important things like professionalism, respect, and time management. Because of this program, I know more about kidney disease, heart disease, and cancer. I have never had an opportunity to meet professional doctors before this program. For my research, I am working on kidney disease which is one of the causes of death in my home country of Ethiopia. I have never done research before but thanks to my coaches’ support, I am confident I can do a good job!

What have I learned from GEPs?

What have I learned from being in Georgetown’s Gateway Exploration Program?  What is there not to learn?! Just in the first week, I was able to network and become friends with a group of people that can help me strive to continue to achieve my aspirations of becoming a doctor. I have learned a lot around the topics of professionalism, time management, information about different departments in Georgetown’s hospital, what health disparities in the medical field, are and what we can do to raise awareness of these disparities. Along the way, we met our medical school mentors who have gone through what we will soon experience and are there to not only help with our own research on health disparities, but to also be a source of medical information and answer any questions along the way that I may have. In the second week, we have begun to shadow the physicians that have been assigned and dive more into the life of medicine. Being in the department of radiology and observing what doctors do I have discovered a new passion while viewing an X-ray of the human pelvis area. Seeing the human skeleton in person and the complications that can accompany it was amazing to view, making it even harder for me to select a field to be in. To see first person the bones underneath one’s skin, tissue, and muscles without having to create any incision is rather astounding. Coexisting in the field of radiology are many ways of viewing the body that include: MRIs, X-Rays, CT scans, and Ultrasounds. While watching the process for X-rays, I found it interesting that you can identify bones, fat, tissue, muscle, gas, and metal in X-rays based off the different densities in the imaging. However, in ultrasounds, you can only see the muscles, tissue, fat, and liquids in the body. Watching live procedures, I was able to learn first-hand the process of diagnosis; discovering what is wrong, and how to collect tissue samples from organs that they think may be infected. I love having speciality physicians like Dr. Maurer and Levy in Radiology motivating me and I love being in a program where everyone has the same drive and aspirations to become medical professionals that I do. It really empowers me to continue the path even if it gets hard because I know I will not be alone! I cannot wait to discover more!

— Davon Franks

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