Kent Lewis, MDiv, plays a vital role at the UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus as the student affairs officer, helping ensure holistic student success from matriculation to graduation. As a staff member who has been with the Bowling Green Campus since its beginning, he shares how the campus and its students have made an impact.

Q: How has the Bowling Green Campus changed since it started four years ago?

A: Even though the COVID-19 pandemic had us intentionally keeping our distance and encouraged us to stay at home when possible, the atmosphere and energy on campus has only grown in our first four years. As we have added a new class each year, the “hustle and bustle” has become more palpable. While the M1s and M2s are on campus for lecture and daily study and are seen more regularly, the M3s and M4s are busy at the hospital and clinics, putting into practice what they learned during their first two years. When we see them, they are usually in small group meetings, practicing skills in our simulation center or taking exams. Their excitement stems from their experiential learning and the opportunities they have to mentor the students behind them.

When the inaugural class began, our campus followed their curricular rhythm. When they were “on break,” the campus was quiet. Now four years later, there is always something going on. Other than the winter holiday break, we have students learning 50 weeks of the year.

Q: How has the campus impacted the community?

A: The students have immersed themselves into the Bowling Green community. They have held workshops in local schools that cover hygiene and basic science. They have connected to the community by playing wheelchair basketball with the Warren County Special Populations organization along with writing Valentine’s Day cards to local nursing home residents. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they collected items for at-risk populations so that they would not have to leave the house. They volunteered with the COVID-19 vaccination clinic. In December 2021, tornados hit Bowling Green, along with communities all across western Kentucky. The Bowling Green students, along with students at all four UK College of Medicine campuses, raised over $150,000 and collected supplies that would aid in helping those displaced.

In the clinical phase of their education (third and fourth years), our students have rotated at the Medical Center and at clinics across the Bowling Green and western Kentucky area. They have worked with physicians and other health care professionals in taking care of patients. Our students have observed and participated in procedures under the direct supervision of physicians. Our students have celebrated with new parents in the birth of children and they have been at the bedside of those who are at the end of life.

There is no doubt that in the last four years, the Bowling Green Campus has had an impact on the community, and the community can’t help but take notice.

Q: How do you make students feel welcome when they join the college?

A: We stand ready to greet these new students at “the front door.” By the time our students arrive in Bowling Green, I know their names and faces. We give them UK College of Medicine T-shirts so that they can identify as a new member of our community of learners. On the first day of M1 Orientation, new students are placed in learning communities, or “houses.” There are two houses on the Bowling Green Campus. These houses help promote the formation of new friendships with classmates and mentorships with upperclassman and house advisors. During M1 orientation, our upperclassmen plan evening social activities for the new students that promote the formation of community. We host a student organization fair so that our new students can learn about all of the student organizations that exist with the Bowling Green Regional Campus and the broader UK College of Medicine at large. The White Coat Ceremony formally welcomes these new students into the profession while giving the opportunity for the student’s family and friends to meet their “new family,” the current students, faculty, and staff of the Bowling Green regional campus.  

Q: What is your favorite part about working at the Bowling Green Campus?

A: My interaction with students. They are the lifeblood of our campus, and without them, we would not have a campus. When students arrive as M1s, they are excited, nervous, but driven. As they progress through the curriculum, they experience highs and lows, but for the most part they become more confident. At some point in the clinical phase of their training, they begin to find their footing, and their passion for specific areas really begin to shine. The best part of my job is to watch the maturation take place. There is nothing better than to see a student find their passion and live it out.