New Web site created by medical students, for medical students

A first year medical student nervously walks into an anatomy lab practicum to see a cadaver pierced with pins through every body part.

Groups of second years worry about an upcoming test and search the internet for hours to find useful websites.

Although this may sound like the typical life of an average medical student, Harry Ritter, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine second year and creator of a new website designed specifically for fellow medical students, hopes to changes this.

“Last year I noticed that students were sharing information through e-mails, which seemed like a quick and dirty method to communicate,” Ritter said. “I would get e-mails about a great website for a class like anatomy, but once it went to my old mail folder, I would lose it and it would disappear forever.”

The launched last week, with the goal of providing an online community for medical students to make friends, share ideas and communicate. Already there are 100 registered members, and more than 800 internet users have visited the website.

Ritter, former Harvard undergrad, gained experience creating websites after working on a college blogosphere, which was sold in 2006. On his new website, students can post old notes or website links, sell books and instruments or talk to other students about upcoming tests.

At a time when social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace have become pervasive among college students, Ritter noted that his website focuses specifically on the medical community and provides a venue for scholarly collaboration, along with a chance for social connections.

“This is more of a pre-professional way for students to communicate with other members who will be part of a specific community for the rest of their lives,” Ritter said.

Ritter believes the two most valuable tools on the website are the “forums,” which allow students to post information from classes, friends or websites, and the “medMarket,” which allows students to sell items that fellow medical students may find useful.

Ashleigh Levison, third year medical student, hopes to use the website to sell books, and to speak with students about study guides for exams and boards.

“The people who are able to offer the best advice to medical students are medical students themselves,” Levison said. “Instead of being limited to talking to students from your own school, with many more people will be available to give suggestions.”

Although 75 percent of the website users are from UM, the other 25 percent come from all over the country, including students from New York, Mississippi and Massachusetts.

David Jones, fourth year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine, said he liked the “Classifieds” and the “Shared Music” tools on the website.

“There aren’t many good forums out there for med students, and I hope this one can fill the void,” Jones said.

Although the website was recently launched, Ritter already plans to further develop certain aspects.

“I look forward to expanding the group stuff and developing some of the functions on the website such as the chat room tool,” Ritter said. “I want to have places where a group such as a pediatrics interest group can host a general chat, so that members don’t have to be in the same place at the same time.”

Quick Facts

-Forums for students to find answers to questions concerning academics, loans, residencies, board exams, etc.
-A medMarket where students can buy and sell used books, dissection kits, other equipment and housing
-Chat rooms for collaboration on projects, study groups, common interests
-Customizable profiles to allow students to express themselves as part of a medical community

Karyn Meshbane may be contacted at

August 30, 2007


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.