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  • Writer's pictureLeena Kasa

Talks with Tutors: Caitlyn and Smeet share their experiences working with RISE Philadelphia

This past month I had the pleasure of learning more about RISE Philadelphia from two tutors, Caitlyn, a third year medical student at Lewis Katz School of Medicine, and Smeet, a third year medical student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. They provide some wonderful insight on their experiences with tutoring with RISE Philadelphia and what they appreciate about the opportunity.  

Can you give a brief intro about yourself and why you became a tutor with RISE Philadelphia?

Caitlyn:  I’m a third year medical student at Temple University. I became a RISE tutor my second year of medical school. After medical school, I plan to do a residency in internal medicine. In college, I worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters and worked as a peer science tutor. I have loved my mentoring experiences and RISE tutoring seemed like a great fit.

Smeet: I’m a third year medical student at PCOM. I joined RISE because I have a passion for both teaching and volunteering in my local community. RISE provides a platform for me to make a meaningful difference by offering my time and skills to support those students who may be facing educational challenges or barriers. Through tutoring with RISE, I have the opportunity to directly impact the lives of students, helping them build confidence, acquire new skills, and achieve their academic goals.

What was the process of becoming a tutor like for you?

Caitlyn: Getting started was super easy. All of the training modules are asynchronous and could be done on my own time. I was working with my first student within 2 weeks of getting started.

Smeet: The process of becoming a tutor was very straightforward and simple, with my local chapter helping guide me through it if I had any questions. After submitting my clearances, I was given the contact info of the student and could immediately begin setting up our first meeting. Getting the FBI fingerprinting done does take some planning, but I made an appointment ahead of time with a local office and was in and out very quickly. So if you plan ahead it is quick. Also, I later discovered that PCOM's HR office performs fingerprinting for the FBI background check, so reach out to your school's HR to see if that is the same case. The other clearances are very easy to complete and are fully online and involve just entering some information into the websites.

How often do you tutor and what does an average tutoring session look like for you?

Caitlyn: I meet with my student once a week. We usually meet on a weekend via zoom to best accommodate our schedules. Our sessions usually last an hour and we work through her school lessons together. During the school year, I don’t need to spend any additional time prepping for our sessions’ since we just go through her assigned school work. During the summer, I have to come up with my own lesson plans. I let her decide what she is most interested in learning about, and then I utilize resources such as Khan Academy to tailor lessons to her age and interest level. I spend about an hour on this per week in preparation for our sessions. However, this is what we have worked out between me, the student, and her parents. Everyone’s plans and goals are different.

Smeet: I tutor once a week for about 45 minutes. Since the tutoring is virtual, I can easily do it from anywhere, planning ahead so that it does not interfere with school/studying. I tutor my current student the same day each week, but have adjusted the time based on both my and the student's weekly schedule. However, my previous student and I would text every week to find which day/time worked best for us both. Now that I have a mostly regular schedule with rotations, the pre-scheduled tutoring day/time works well. However, previously during M1/M2 didactic years, my schedule would be different each week and scheduling one week at a time worked better. 

What do you like most about being a RISE tutor? 

Caitlyn: I love being able to answer my student’s questions and feed her curiosity. I have been able to watch her grow, not just as a student, but as a learner. 

Smeet: What I enjoy most about being a RISE tutor is the chance to build lasting connections with my students. Getting to know them and watching their progress throughout the year is incredibly fulfilling.

What is your most impactful/favorite moment as a RISE tutor?

Caitlyn: Over the summer, we did a lesson on famous scientists. I had her pick her favorite scientist and do a brief presentation on them the next week. She was so excited to share her presentation with me, she was able to have full creative liberty, and I could see how much she had learned just by following her own curiosity.

Smeet: My favorite moment as a RISE tutor is when I see how excited my student is to share with me what they've been learning at school the past week and how they've been able to apply what we work on during our tutoring sessions. Witnessing the student's confidence grow with each session reminds me of the impact I'm having as a tutor.

Would you recommend becoming a RISE tutor to other medical students? 

Caitlyn: ABSOLUTELY! I think this is a great opportunity to give back to the north philly community in a way that is sustainable. I think that any form of volunteer work is wonderful, but this is an opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with a student and provide them with confidence and skills that they can take into their lives long after your time with RISE is done. I think this is a great opportunity for any student who enjoys teaching and is looking to give back to the community. I am not planning to go into pediatrics or academic medicine specifically, but I still find this program extremely rewarding.

Smeet: Yes, I would definitely recommend becoming a RISE tutor! It's a great, low time commitment way to give back to younger students. 

Is there anything else you want potential new RISE tutors to know about becoming a volunteer? 

Caitlyn: I would want people to know how supportive the people are who run RISE. If you are ever having a problem, feel like your partnership isn’t quite the right match, or feel the need to take a step back and prioritize your own schooling, the RISE board will be super helpful, responsive, and supportive.

Smeet: RISE has plenty of tutoring resources to provide you with, so don't worry about having to create any type of curriculum or not having anything to teach if the student does not have any of their own homework/questions.

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