Future doctors name educational inspiration

Posted on: July 10, 2013

Matthew Igbinigie, right, a student in the Medical Careers Diversity Program at the University of Texas Medical Branch, presents the “Most Outstanding and Inspirational Professor” award to COM professor Dr. Chris Allen.

Shaping the next generation of medical professionals, College of the Mainland professor Dr. Chris Allen is as at home with students in coffee-shop review sessions as he is in the classroom. Students in the Medical Careers Diversity Program at the University of Texas Medical Branch voted him, almost unanimously and for the second year in a row, the “Most Outstanding and Inspirational Professor.”

In his interactive class, Allen taught biological sciences to about 40 undergraduate students. Accepted into the five-week program from universities across the state, the students are preparing to take the Medical College Admission Test and apply to medical school.
Allen’s students say his specialty is helping them remember what they already know and apply their knowledge to new situations.
“He teaches you to logically answer,” said Matthew Igbinigie, a student who is going into his senior year at Texas A&M University. “He doesn’t give you everything. He takes time to squeeze it out of you, so on the test you can squeeze it out of yourself.”
Allen also shared time-saving strategies for the four-and-a-half-hour exam, such as quickly eliminating wrong answers, to help them maximize their success as they compete with students taking the entrance exam across the nation.
“He breaks choices down and (shows) how to rule out dumb answers that sound smart,” said Igbinigie.
A UTMB grad himself, Allen was recruited to teach biological sciences three years ago.
“It’s been a lot of fun ever since,” Allen said. “It’s kind of like a reunion each summer.”
Igbinigie is one of the students with whom Allen reunited. Returning for his second year in the program, Igbinigie wants to become an orthopedic surgeon, a decision influenced by visiting doctors with his father, who had surgery for his osteoarthritis.

Igbinigie also appreciates Allen’s unhurried approach when he helps students ponder if-then medical scenarios that, like the real situations doctors face, are seldom cut and dry. After class, Igbinigie often continued to ask Allen questions about medical anomalies. Allen also designated a local coffee shop headquarters for extra sessions open to all students.
“It was a very comfortable setting to talk about questions about medical school and life,” Igbinigie said.
After attending the program last year, Igbinigie performed well enough on the MCAT to apply to medical school. As he begins the process of sending applications and writing essays, Igbinigie says that his dream school is the one where he has spent the last two summers.
“Hopefully I’ll attend UTMB, where I met Dr. Allen,” he said.

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