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Students in the Heritage College’s Early Assurance Program in Central Ohio chat with their medical school mentors at an orientation session. John Sattler photo/Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.


Heritage College admissions program recruits aspiring medical students in high school

(ATHENS, Ohio – June 9, 2015) When the shortage of primary care physicians in your state becomes dire, solving the problem requires an all-out effort.

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine has responded with the Early Assurance Program (EAP), a recruiting effort that reaches into Ohio high schools to identify high-achieving seniors and clear a path for them into medical school.

Eighteen college freshmen joined the EAP when it launched last fall, and that number has grown to 27 enrollees for the upcoming academic year.

“We are excited to see an upswing in applications and acceptances for the program,” said John Schriner, Ph.D., the Heritage College’s assistant dean for admissions. “With the first year of the EAP behind us, we see that more folks are becoming aware of the tremendous opportunity that the Heritage College is providing to outstanding students aspiring to make a difference through patient care.”

The EAP targets academically talented high school seniors interested in attending the Heritage College after completing their undergraduate degree at Ohio University or one of the other four Ohio universities that have partnered with the Heritage College. These include Ohio Dominican and Otterbein universities in Central Ohio, and Baldwin-Wallace and John Carroll universities in northeast Ohio. With the opening of the Heritage College’s Dublin campus in 2014 and its Cleveland campus later this summer, the number of EAP enrollees in those regions is poised to grow.

EAP candidates must be Ohio residents; have an ACT composite score of at least 28 or an SAT combined math and critical reading score of 1250 or above; carry a cumulative high school GPA of 3.5 or above; and have completed four years of math, science (including chemistry, biology and physics), and English by the time of high school graduation.

Students admitted to the Heritage College through the EAP have the requirement waived for taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and they have access to additional resources throughout their undergraduate years. They are paired with a mentor who is a current Heritage College student, and they engage in clinical observations with physicians. They also take part in Heritage College programming and activities that immerse them in the medical school experience early in their college careers. The program also offers an accelerated option enabling students on all campuses except Baldwin-Wallace to complete their undergraduate study in three years.

“The EAP is a tremendous opportunity for all parties,” Schriner said. “The student gets a head start toward medical school; we at the Heritage College engage top-performing students early and position them for the pipeline of delivering primary care that much earlier to a state that really needs these caregivers.”

The college held three welcome/orientation sessions for EAP students during the 2014-15 academic year, one on OHIO’s Athens campus for the 12 students there, one at the Heritage College’s Dublin campus for the five EAP freshmen attending Otterbein and Ohio Dominican, and the third on the John Carroll University campus for the enrollee there. These events gave the students a chance to meet their Heritage College mentors, gain an overview of program activities and tour the Heritage College facilities.

Students in the first EAP cohort have been pleased with the program.

“I was attracted to the Early Assurance Program because I knew I wanted to be a D.O.,” said Sydney Pence, who is seeking an undergraduate degree in biology on OHIO’s Athens campus. “Getting the opportunity to make connections before I begin my med school journey and not having to take the MCAT was something I knew I couldn’t pass up.”

For students who intend to major in biology, chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology, the EAP offers the option of graduating with an undergraduate degree in three years, after the competition of the first year of medical school at the Heritage College. The student is awarded the undergraduate degree once they complete the first year at the Heritage College, with some Heritage College credits transferring back to the undergraduate institution to round out the undergraduate degree requirements. All campuses except for Baldwin Wallace offer this 3+4 option.

“The chance to shorten my total years in college certainly motivated me to join this program,” said Vincent Relli-Dempsey, who is pursuing an accelerated degree in biology on OHIO’s Athens campus. “Squeezing four years of undergraduate education into three provides what I consider to be an interesting challenge because the workload is a little more intense.”

There’s a strong need for primary care physicians in Ohio. Healthcare experts predict a national shortage of more than 45,000 primary care physicians within the next decade, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified more than two-thirds of Ohio’s 88 counties – including many underserved rural and inner-city communities – as Health Professional Shortage Areas.

“The Heritage College is uniquely positioned to help address the projected shortage in primary care physicians,” said Kenneth Johnson, D.O., executive dean. “With the introduction of the Early Assurance Program, combined with our campuses in Dublin and Cleveland, we are broadening our reach throughout Ohio and, in particular, into the state’s underserved rural and urban communities.”

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a leader in training dedicated primary care physicians who are prepared to address the most pervasive medical needs in the state and the nation. Approximately 50 percent of Heritage College alumni practice in primary care and nearly 60 percent practice in Ohio. CARE LEADS HERE.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016