|Support director relishes helping others
by Cindy Abole
She could be called the second Mom of medical students on campus. Myra
Haney Singleton certainly is performing that role during Match Week at
With anxieties and expectations running high, it’s not unusual for the
College of Medicine’s Singleton to spot several familiar faces among
the fourth-year medical students stopping by her modest, sixth-floor
office. For many soon-to-be graduating students, the anticipation of
waiting for the March 18 Match Day results from the National Resident
Matching Program can be either a jubilant moment or disappointing time.
Myra Haney Singleton
Either way, Singleton patiently listens, whether she’s rejoicing with a
student after hearing the news that he or she has matched to a
long-desired residency program or privately consoling another who is
struggling with a parent’s illness. In the 10 years that she has worked
with students in the dean’s office, Singleton’s calm voice, welcoming
presence and unwavering positiveness has made a difference in the lives
of MUSC’s medical students.
“It’s my pleasure to serve our students,” said Singleton, with a
confident smile. “Our medical students are remarkable and talented
individuals. I consider myself fortunate to be able to build a
relationship with each of these students and watch them emerge as
dynamic doctors after completing this phase of their medical
Singleton is among eight women at MUSC honored in March as part of
National Women’s History Project. The institution solicits nominations
for women to be featured during the month of March who exemplify
leadership qualities and who make significant contributions in their
It’s Singleton’s job as director of academics and student support
within the College of Medicine’s Dean’s Office to counsel and respond
to the needs of about 540 medical students by lending a sympathetic ear
and nurturing hand. She, along with Chris Pelic, M.D., associate dean
for students and Jeff Wong, M.D., senior associate dean for medical
education, are part of a team that handles the academic monitoring and
overall well-being of their students.
The trio supports a mandate set out in 2001 by College of Medicine Dean
Jerry Reves, M.D., to focus on the retention of students by providing
both personal and campus support throughout the medical school
experience. The college’s retention rate is at its highest —97 percent.
The hope is that students achieve and develop to become the best
physicians they can despite whatever happens in life, according to
“We teach students how to manage life in the midst of medical school,”
said Singleton, who got her start working as the assistant to Victor
Del Bene, M.D., former associate dean for students in 2000. “We remind
them that life comes at them even in medical school and they need to
make adjustments. I think the dialogue that our team has had with these
students is helping to shape each of them in a way that our formal
medical school curriculum doesn’t teach. It lets them develop to become
more caring, empathetic medical professionals.”
Singleton’s excellent listening skills and comfortable, non-judgmental
interaction with students helped her land her job providing student
support. Upon earning her master’s in counselor education from The
Citadel in 2004, she was offered a position with the Dean’s Office
Support staff to assist students and work with the college’s new
diversity plan. She served on the College of Medicine’s Diversity
Committee and helped lead and manage a variety of programs to recruit
and retain minority students in medicine.
She and Pelic work in tandem to counsel and talk to students about
dealing with the pressures of medical school, the rigorous curriculum
and personal issues. She’s resourceful in recommending campuswide
services she knows will help students and skillful in asking them
questions that get to the heart of the matter so that together they can
find solutions and resolve situations.
“Myra provides the practical academic guidance and support to help
students resolve issues while meeting the school’s requirements and
academic standards,” said Pelic.
“She’s dedicated to making sure that our students’ medical school
experience is not only successful but also a happy and healthy one.
We’re lucky to have her at MUSC.”
As students complete Match Day and log another milestone in their
medical school journey, Singleton will be as emotional as an excited
mother regarding her students.
“Once you connect with these students, you share and understand so much
about them and their journey in this experience. It’s more than our
students confirming their residency match or receiving a degree. It’s
about how they demonstrated themselves through certain challenges and
met their goals. It’s one of the most emotional times for myself and my
colleagues,” Singleton said.
Friday, March 19, 2010