August 24, 2011

Peoria UHP’s Lorene King a Key APAC Member

APAC’s Lorene King
APAC’s Lorene King.

By Ivone De Jesus

FOR NEARLY five years, Lorene King has been the Academic Skills Specialist for the Urban Health Program (UHP) in Peoria. She provides academic support services to all the students and not only those from the UHP, and she also administers a comprehensive program that provides resources and facilitates services that are important to medical students’ academic, leadership, and professional development.

ALTHOUGH SHE specializes in providing support to UHP medical students (Black, Hispanic, and Native-American) in Peoria, King also cultivates relationships with community physicians who serve as mentors to strengthen the social and academic advisory support systems already in place for students. Her job also includes budgeting, interacting with, and providing input to the Curriculum and Promotions Site Committees; coordinating the monthly meetings of the Progress Committee, which monitors student performance;, and supervising the M3/M4 students who provide tutorial assistance to the M2 students. In addition, her role allows her to help educate the College of Medicine community on topics of diversity and inclusion.

THE MOST rewarding aspect of her responsibilities is “providing a safe environment for students to discuss academic and personal challenges that impact their success and well-being, which assists in guiding them towards appropriate resolutions,” King said. She performs a similar service for residents in Graduate Medical Education.

KING WANTED to be involved with APAC because it enhanced her “sense of connection” to the Chicago campus that employs her (Peoria is a medical school, not a University campus). She stated, “APAC gives me more insight into the broad issues that generate much debate, evaluation, and action such as AP Conversions, staff retention, benefits and strategic planning for the future, as well as providing a voice, all of which hopefully will help nurture and sustain our viability as a University and major State employer.” As a member for only a few months, she has felt “enlightened and delighted” by the depth and candor of responses on these issues.

IN THE future, King hopes to contribute to APAC’s long-standing commitment to be an effective conduit for APs, the Illinois State Legislature, and UIC Administration. She said, “APAC provides a needed forum for consistent and timely communication of the different and similar perspectives on the topics that highlight APs’ dedication to administering and implementing the tasks assigned to us as individuals and as team members.” King added that it also adds to our satisfaction of the processes and resources in place to help us fulfill those assignments as effectively and efficiently as possible.

AS WITH many APs, King’s work extends beyond the required 40 hours per week. She conducts monthly student meetings in the evenings, (which some local mentor physicians attend and help support); serves as advisor for several student interest groups, such as the Manual High School Enrichment Program; and writes many letters of support and recommendation for students (one of which resulted in a student receiving the highest service award in the nation--The Jefferson Award--a first for anyone at UIC).

“SERVICE IS an integral part of my life, on and off the job,” King said. She has several leadership roles in her local church, teaches a college success class for the local community college on Saturday mornings in the fall, and regularly volunteers at an art center to help host its Friday night gatherings of musical events. Despite her busy volunteer schedule, King manages to squeeze in some Broadway theater shows each year, as well as read a few notable books. This month, she will be leading the Singles Ministry at her church, in a discussion of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

ABOUT UHP:The mission of the Urban Health Program (UHP) is to recruit, retain, and graduate underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students, specifically African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, into the health professions. The UHP seeks to expand educational and research opportunities for these populations, at all academic levels (including pre-college students), in order to develop underrepresented racial/ethnic minority health care professionals, faculty, and researchers with the goals of eliminating health disparities and advancing health equity.”

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