Medical Student Affairs

At the Office of Medical Student Affairs, we strive to create a culture that supports the well-being and development of our students. We are an effective and responsive group of professionals that work collaboratively to ensure students' academic and career success.

Through a range of programs and services, we aim to educate and empower our students to achieve their personal, educational, and career goals. Our services are designed to enhance the intellectual experience, foster career planning, promote well-being, stimulate professional growth, offer leadership opportunities, and encourage a commitment to diversity. Our goal is to create a supportive environment that helps our students thrive. 

Meet the Team

Tess Johnson, Ed.D., Director of Medical Student Affairs | 936.202.5255 | Schedule an appointment

Amber Sechelski, Ed.D., Associate Director of Medical Student Affairs | 936.202.5258 | Schedule an appointment 

Brent Mowdy, M.A., Learning Specialist | 936.202.5285 | Schedule an appointment 

Nikea D. Vernardo, M.Ed., MSPE Career Specialist | 936.202.5284 Schedule an appointment

Physical and Mental Health Counseling

Personal Support

Physical and Mental Health Services

Illness Exposure Notification Form

Academic Counseling

Educational Affairs focuses on providing academic support and learning resources to enhance medical students’ educational experience and help each student achieve his/her personal and academic goals. SHSU-COM offers a variety of services to our students throughout their four years, which include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Academic consultation and counseling.
  • Workshops on time management, study strategies, and test-taking.
  • Learning and study strategy assessment.
  • Seminars, resources, and individual preparation sessions for licensing exams (COMLEX Levels 1 & 2).
  • Referral to Disability Services at SHSU for additional testing and evaluation when appropriate.
  • Learning resources and materials.

Peer Tutoring 

The peer tutoring program is designed to assist currently enrolled medical students who are experiencing academic difficulties in their courses in medical school. Students may refer themselves or be referred by others (e.g., course director, faculty advisor). Peer tutors are vetted by course directors and trained by Medical Student Affairs. Students may access tutoring services via Campus Connect. 

Early Alert

Early Alert is a referral system that enables SHSU faculty or staff to refer students whose academic performance or other indicators demonstrate their need for additional support. Once notified via Campus Connect, the appropriate SHSU-COM personnel actively reach out to students to offer appropriate services and referrals in order to assist them. Students are encouraged to be proactive in discussing their needs.

Career Counseling and Advising 

Educational Affairs offers medical students a multi-layered system of support to provide academic, career, and personal guidance, including the professional development of each individual.

Career Counseling 

Career counseling is an important part of the medical education process. Career counseling focuses on giving students the opportunity to explore areas of interest, determine their options, identify potential residency programs, and prepare themselves to apply for residency and enter the NRMP. The goal of SHSU-COM is to provide students with experiences and knowledge of medical practices such that they can choose the specialty and practice that best suits their interests, talents, and abilities. This is accomplished by recruiting students from communities in need of physicians, maintaining mentorship with faculty and physicians from the community , and providing clinical training in communities similar to those from which students came.  For research, students may have a faculty mentor in their area of interest.   

In order to ensure GME readiness, career counseling is provided by medical school faculty. Faculty review the resources provided by AACOM for medical student career advising ( Students also have access to the AAMC Careers in Medicine (CiM) program. The SHSU-COM MSPE Career Specialist is available to assist medical school faculty and enhance the career counseling process for SHSU-COM students through the provision of CV critiques, mock interviews, and other career development resources as needed. 

Faculty Advising

Upon matriculation, each student is assigned a faculty advisor who is available to provide general assistance throughout their undergraduate medical education. In year 3, the faculty become more involved as students consider their residency choices and fourth-year schedules. Students are required to have at least one advising session with their assigned advisor during the months of February-March.   

Many of our faculty have experience in advising students. However, all faculty participate in annual mandatory faculty development sessions led by the Curriculum Administrative Team. In these sessions, faculty learn how to gauge students’ competitiveness for various residency specialties and programs, become familiar with our degree plan and schedule requirements for years 3 and 4 (including using VSLO to apply for Away Rotations), and accumulate additional resources needed to guide students through residency advising sessions.

Learning Communities

All entering first-year students are assigned to one of four Learning Communities. These flexible, student-centered social and academic homes are overseen by faculty and staff sponsors. Faculty may act as advisors, teachers, and career development coaches. The learning communities foster relationships between students and faculty and provide community service and team-building opportunities. Programming is student driven and might focus on such topics as social networking, lifelong learning, peer mentoring, medical professionalism, ethics, and work-life balance.