Becoming a physician was no easy feat, and neither were all those years of school and standardized tests along the way! But I didn't do it alone. I had tutors help me every step of the way. Not only did they help me to boost my grades, but they provided me with academic confidence and mentoring, all of which made me realize that my greatest goals could be a tangible reality. Now I couldn't be happier in my career as a surgeon in training.
I have ever since been "paying it forward," educating high school and college level students, and now medical students. The greatest satisfaction is seeing my students get that "ah ha!" moment when everything comes together, and then seeing them go on to accomplish what they always thought was impossible.
Now that I have some free time while doing research, I'm excited to give students that same confidence and mentorship that my tutors gave me.
Undergraduate Degree: Brandeis University - Bachelors, Neuroscience; Biology
Graduate Degree: Nova Southeastern University - PHD, Medicine - Doctor of Medicine
Mixed media art, tennis, fencing, cooking, exploring Boston!
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Biology
MCAT Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
I let my students guide me on what style of teaching works best. Relating difficult subjects to topics that students understand, like a hobby or interest, puts things into perspective. I also find that, once students understand a general concept, they can rationalize and figure out all the details on their own just by thinking about it. This helps knowledge to "stick" much longer than with rote memorization, and also helps a lot with test-taking.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I'd like to get to know the student, not only in regards to their academic challenges, but subjects in which they excel, as well as their hobbies, interests, and future dreams and goals.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Once students understand a broad, general concept, the details come much more easily. I like to teach students to reason through details they don't understand by building on the aspects of the subject that they already do know. The constant re-visiting of topics they are comfortable with maintains confidence while working through new, difficult subject matter. It also helps students to realize that they can figure out anything, and motivates them to keep learning rather than becoming frustrated and giving up.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
In surgery, when we get stuck in a difficult part of the procedure, it's easy to get stuck in a hole. But if you move on to tackle something that you can handle, by the time you come back to the difficult area, everything is much easier. I like to apply that same concept to learning. Students need reminders that they do know more than they think, and that there are different ways to approach new, confusing topics. Once they realize that they can eventually get through any difficult problem, each new one becomes an exciting challenge rather than a roadblock.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student cannot understand a concept, the teacher is explaining it wrong. The key is to relate the concept to something the student can relate to, and then let them communicate with you about the concept in those terms that are familiar. If you can discuss the issue in a common language, your student will be able to show you the one piece of the puzzle they are missing to completely understand the concept. It's all about patience, listening, and seeing eye-to-eye. Anyone can learn to do anything (that's what we say in surgery).
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Relating topics to "real life" situations and explaining how knowledge of a concept could actually be applicable in the future makes the subject matter become more contextual and interesting. I have also found that guiding students to figure out the answer to questions on their own creates a train of thought that is unique to their own brain's style of learning, and makes the concept make more sense.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
It's funny how teaching students is so similar to talking to and educating my patients in the hospital. Often concepts that you think you're explaining so clearly become translated into something completely different in the mind of your student (or patient). It's easy to pat yourself on the back when you think you've mastered the art of explaining the concept. But it turns out that if you have a student explain it back to you, often they haven't quite grasped it 100% and are misinterpreting part of it. This is why it is always important to have a student explain a new concept back to you, so that you can clarify what was lost in translation. This is also why I like to encourage students to figure out the answer on their own, rather than listening to me lecture about it.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Students often understand more than they think, and moving on to more difficult concepts can seem daunting until they realize this. When my students seem apprehensive to move forward through a topic, I like to spend some time focusing on what they do know. It's not time to move on to more difficult concepts until the student is begging for the challenge because they feel that they have mastered all the "easy" stuff. Without that confidence and motivation, when students feel pushed into something they're not ready for, it's easy to become frustrated and give up.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Some students are great at identifying their weaknesses, but others can't quite put their finger on it. While working your way through a series of problems with a student, it's important to remain vigilant for patterns that can tip you off to the pieces that are missing and need more work.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Truthfully, I always find it easier to work with a student who is more creative, conceptual, and visual because that is how I learn. However, being in medicine has taught me to think in concrete terms as well. A mathematical brain wants straight answers and explanations are algorithmic, whereas a creative brain understands broad concepts and arrives at an answer through reason vs logic. Once you understand the type of learner you're working with, you can learn to explain concepts in their own language.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It totally depends on the topic at hand! Because I'm more visual, I like a lot of pictures - either I'll draw out a concept or pull up an image on the computer to illustrate my point. Other times, like in writing or even basic sciences, I use tons of post-its to organize and compartmentalize concepts. Some students just like multiple colors of highlighters. Anything that helps students' brains to organize the information overload they are receiving.