MCH Peer Program

Overview

The MCH Peer Program is designed to match incoming and second+ year MCH students together in effort to create a welcoming and inclusive environment through social connections. Through these connections, we hope to promote student engagement and feelings of social belonging in the MCH Program. These connections will help to provide a welcoming environment for incoming students and an opportunity for incoming and current students to share experiences and interests.

A big thank you to our planning committee, who met multiple times throughout 2020.

FAQ

I’m a 2nd+ year student. Why should I participate? 

Be a leader in your school community and:

  • Make your 1st year partner feel welcome by reaching out and initiating contact with your 1st year 
  • Add one year of leadership or mentorship experience on your resume/CV
  • Build your social network
  • Share and celebrate accomplishments together 

Participating as a 2nd+ year peer is easy! You must:

  • Attend a virtual orientation/Q&A session
  • Be an enrolled MCH student
  • Have completed one year of MCH Program coursework (must be 2nd+ year)
  • Connect with your 1st year peer around once a month during the academic year (more if you both want to!)
  • Want to share your experiences with a fellow student

I’m an incoming 1st year student. Why should I participate? 

Utilize your 2nd+ year MCH Peer as one of many resources to help you navigate your first year and:

  • More easily transition into the MCH Program and acclimate to the School of Public Health
  • Learn about 2nd+ year students’ APEX experiences, work or volunteer opportunities
  • Share your questions 
  • Make new friends and future colleagues

It’s easy for 1st year peers to participate! You must:

  • Be a new (1st year) enrolled MCH student at the UMN 
  • Attend a virtual welcome session
  • Connect with your 2nd year peer once a month during the academic year (more if you want to!)
  • Want to share your experiences with a fellow student

I take most of my classes online. Can I still participate?

Absolutely! A survey helps match students based on academic interests, student status, etc.

What is the process for peer matching and meetings?

  • All students in the MCH Program, including long-distance learners, are eligible to participate in this peer support system
  • Students are invited to fill out a survey before the school year, listing their interest in participating in MCH Peers
  • 1st year students are matched with 2nd+ year students based on their interests, availability and specific needs 
  • 2nd+ year students receive a brief orientation
  • All students attend a virtual gathering to kick off the year, ask questions and meet their peer
  • Students connect several times/year (average of once a month; determined by pairs)

How often am I supposed to connect with my MCH Peer?

This will vary depending on your availability, whether you’re a distance learner and many other things. Second year MCH Peers should plan to touch base with their first year peer approximately 3x a semester (or once a month). Of course students are more than welcome to meet more than once if you would like or feel that it is necessary. 

How much time should I devote to my MCH Peer?

MCH Peers can expect to commit several hours per semester. Of course students are more than welcome to meet for longer or more frequently! 

What’s the best way to connect with my peer? What do we discuss?

After you have been matched, you will need to have a discussion with your partner to decide what works best for you. This initial contact should also include a conversation about preferred communication means and timing. 

Your time together is meant to be a time to have open conversations about whatever you feel comfortable talking about.

  • Discuss your preferred communication together. Do you prefer phone calls, texts, emails, Facetime, Zoom, etc.? When is the best time to connect-mornings? Weekends? Over the lunch hour?
  • Take advantage of virtual events and webinars. Consider “attending” together and discussing afterwards. 
    • SPH events
    • UMN events and exhibits
    • MPHA events (policy forums, committee membership, MPHey)
    • Content-specific webinars
  • Share and celebrate accomplishments:
    • End of the semester
    • Coursework, personal and professional milestones 
    • Awards
    • Graduation 

What if my peer needs something that I can’t help with or am uncomfortable providing? 

  • Peers are not an alternative to academic advising or mental health support. 
  • If you (or someone you know) is having a mental health crisis and/or is in immediate danger, please call 911. Dangerous crisis situations include suicidal behaviors or threats, homicidal behavior or threats, irrational dangerous behavior, or excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs. If you are not sure whether the situation represents immediate danger, err on the side of caution and place the call.
  • Refer to this short list of UMN resources. Feel free to utilize and share.

Still not sure? Please contact Marlin Farley, EpiCH Academic Adviser and Mental Health Advocate at 612-626-4541 or epichstu @ umn.edu.

What’s the difference between MCH Peers and the SPH Mentor Program?

The MCH Peer Program is different than the SPH’s Mentor System, which matches students with alumni and other professionals in the field. Our program has been tailored specifically for MCH students by other MCH students, the MCH Program Chair, Epidemiology and Community Health Student Support Office staff and Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health staff.

It is also important to note that peer mentors are not an alternative to academic advising or mental health support.

Who should I contact for any questions or concerns?

Please reach out to Marlin at epichstu @ umn.edu if you have any questions.