A week in the life: Ben Schneider, M.D.

Meet the assistant dean for undergraduate medical education student affairs

April 26, 2018 | Compiled by Benjamin N. Schneider, M.D.

It was brought to my attention that students have no idea what I actually do, and that at least a handful would be interested in hearing what a week in the life of one of their student affairs deans looks like. Dr. Ben Schneider

Take-home message: I love getting to work with students throughout their time here at OHSU. I come to work each day excited and dedicated to fostering a culture prioritizing diversity, wellness and inclusion.

The three main areas of my student affairs role are:

  • Direct student support and advising in 1:1 and group settings.
  • Working to optimize and maximize student support services across campus to allow students to focus on the important learning and not sweat the details. Said another way, ensuring that university resources are meeting the needs of the M.D. program's learners.
  • Oversight of the M.D. program career advising and career development programs at OHSU, which start in the colleges your first year and continue as you progress across all four years until graduation. I spend a large chunk of my behind-the-scenes time compiling data, understanding trends in the match, and doing faculty development across all departments to improve the residency specialty advising.

This is a snapshot of Wednesday, April 11, to Wednesday, April 18. The only thing I may be underestimating is the amount of time I spend on email.

3 hours: Weekly Student Affairs meeting x 2 during which we debriefed around USMLE Step 1, planned April rural safety focus group and May open forum on the same topic, began dividing up the soon-to-be-fourth-year class for career advising, finalized and sent out a post-match survey to the current fourth-year students, and began to analyze the MS4 exit survey that provided an amazing 230+ pages of comments.

Dr. Schneider with Dr. Deiorio1.5 hours: Quarterly Undergraduate Medical Education Leadership Meeting where we discussed the preparation for our 2020 LCME Accreditation site visit.

4 hours: Led a small group for Interprofessional Practice and Education (IPE). +1 hour of last-minute IPE prep work – yes, faculty can procrastinate too.

3 hours: Quarterly PA Progress and Promotions Committee (School of Medicine Educational Committee work).

1 hour: Meeting with educational legal team discussing policy/process.

7 hours: Face-to-face individual meetings with medical students and group meetings with medical students. These sessions dealt with issues around career advising, crisis management, student-faculty relationship building, diversity issues, USMLE exams, global opportunities, leaves of absence, pregnancy/family planning, and student wellness.

Approx. 10 hours: Managing email related to student affairs / student advocacy / acute student questions, comments or concerns. Believe it or not, much of the student advocacy that we do is now done asynchronously through email.

I've had conversations regarding:

  • tutoring
  • scholarly projects
  • Joseph B. Trainer Health and Wellness Center (both physical and behavioral health)
  • student overall wellness
  • financial wellness
  • curriculum
  • the M.D./M.P.H. program
  • financial aid
  • many other issues important to the educational experience

18 hours: Clinical care. As a family physician, I provide inpatient and outpatient care for adults and children across their lifespan. This time includes seeing patients in clinic 3 half-day sessions and patient phone calls, notes and managing my paper and electronic inboxes. My clinic is at the Center for Health & Healing. Dr. Schneider with incoming students

1.5 hours: Reviewing the School of Medicine student wellness initiative priorities that I've been working on with Nicole Deiorio, M.D., assistant dean of undergraduate medical education student affairs, which we are now in the process of vetting with other SOM and university stakeholders.

2.5 hours: Reviewing and revising the student affairs dean job descriptions for myself and Dr. Deiorio, in preparation for filling Dr. Deiorio's position.

3 hours: Finalizing panelists and logistics for the next three Medical Specialty Experience Sessions. Upcoming sessions will be on careers in Internal Medicine, Surgery and Surgical Specialties, and Family Medicine.

1.5 hours: Department of Family Medicine Medical Student Section monthly meeting where we discussed issues including the clerkship curriculum, departmental teaching awards, faculty and preceptor recognition, the Oregon First Experience, elective opportunities and research updates.

1 hour: Working on my own CV and materials for promotion and tenure (if you don't document it didn't happen).

0.5 hours: Reviewing a student poster that I'm co-author on for the OHSU Excellence in Education Symposium.

2 hours: Travel up and down the hill (great way to stay active!).

1.5 hours: Biweekly meeting with Tracy Bumsted, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for undergraduate medical education, and Dr. Deiorio where we check in on student-affairs related issues. Dr. Scheider with Dr. Bumsted

2 hours: Additional analysis of MS4 exit interview survey comments. So much amazing information!

1 hour: Viewing the OHSU presidential finalist forum in the CLSB, +0.5 hours getting the popcorn machine ready and then cleaned. Thanks to the students who joined us!

That's roughly 66 hours over the course of 8 days. I typically work 50-60 hours a week, so this is typical. Before you start to feel bad, that's on par with the average physician in America, and far below the mean for some specialties

This exercise in time analysis came out of a recent student meeting focused on improving the student/administration relationship. I shared my feeling that if I do my job well, students won't notice that I did anything at all. Much of what I do is preventing issues and improving the student experience from one class to the next. Since each student only goes through the program once, they never know that it was ever any different. 

I hope anyone still reading this far down knows that every day we come to work with the students' best interests front and center in our minds.

Education leaders

Related feature: Dr. Schneider received the 2014 Careers in Medicine Excellence in Medical Student Career Advising Individual Award from AAMC

1. Dr. Schneider at the South Waterfront campus.
2. Drs. Schneider and Deiorio at Match Day 2017.
3. Dr. Schneider (left) shows students how to properly put their coats on before the start of the OHSU School of Medicine's Class of 2021 White Coat Ceremony held August 11, 2017, at the Oregon Convention Center. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)
4. Dr. Schneider with Dr. Bumsted at Honors and Awards 2017.
5. Dr. Schneider at Honors and Awards 2017 with (left to right): George Mejicano, M.D., M.S., senior associate dean for education, OHSU School of Medicine; Jackie Wirz, Ph.D., assistant dean for graduate studies, OHSU School of Medicine; Allison Fryer, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate studies, OHSU School of Medicine; Dr. Bumsted; John Hunter, M.D., F.A.C.S., CEO, OHSU Health System; Dr. Deiorio; Dr. Schneider.