Summer programs offer undergraduates a look at
med school classes, research
Undergraduates aspiring to be medical
students are taking the opportunity this summer to get a taste of
the medical school experience through two programs offered by the
Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM).
The Summer Scholars program and the
Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) both provide
students interested in pursuing medical careers with insight into
what it’s like to be a medical student and what it’s like to be a
part of the OU-HCOM family.
Students in the Summer Scholars
program are experiencing an actual medical school curriculum as they
take classes led by OU-HCOM faculty, graduate students, and
upper-class medical students. They are given training in case-based
problem solving and small-group teamwork. Students also participate
in clinical experiences and attend workshops on time management and
study skills, cultural competency, and research methods.
John Schriner, OU-HCOM director
of admissions, explained that the Summer Scholars program is
directed to students from underrepresented or educationally or
economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This year 22 students were
accepted into the program, each provided with room and board, a
modest living expense, program materials, and a guaranteed
admissions interview with OU-HCOM, said.
“The big draw for this program is that
it’s an outstanding experience at an outstanding medical school to
get the opportunity to see what it will really be like,” Schriner
said. “It has a great track record and we often hear tremendous
stories of our students doing work during this program that turns
into a life-long passion for medicine.”
Michael Springs, from Prairie View A&M
University in Texas, one of this year’s Summer Scholars students,
was inspired to pursue a medical career after hearing his father
talk about saving lives as a medic in the army. After working
previously in electrical engineering, he is now completing the
prerequisites he needs to go to medical school. “This program has
been a mind-blowing experience for me,” Springs said. “We’re getting
the whole simulation of the first year of medical school completely
on point. The exposure and the rigor of the program are excellent.”
“One of the excellent things about
the Summer Scholars program is its teaching assistants,” explained
Schriner. “They are OU-COM students who want to give back to the
university and who often participated in the program themselves.
And, by teaching the Summer Scholars students, these current
students also reinforce the knowledge they’ve gained.”
SURF, offered to all undergraduate
students, provides students interested in medicine or biomedical
research with a wide variety of summer research opportunities.
Participating fellows work in active research laboratories under the
guidance of medical faculty members. Program hours are designed to
be flexible so that students have the option to supplement their
work with other educational or work experiences.
This summer’s four SURF fellows are
working with faculty to conduct research in fields such as renal
psychology, molecular endocrinology and physiology, with one student
conducting research in Ecuador with OU-HCOM’s Tropical Disease
“I’ve really learned a lot in just
three weeks,” said SURF fellow Kay Rainey, a senior at the
University of Alabama who is working with Felicia Nowak. M.D.,
Ph.D, associate professor of endocrinology, on diabetes and
kidney research. “I’ve been involved in research at my home college,
but here I’ve been able to learn more molecular techniques,” Rainey
said, adding that she also plans to apply for admission to OU-HCOM
for medical school.
The SURF draws students who have a
strong interest in biomedical research and then allows them to see
this type of research on a medical school campus, Schriner said.
Many of these students then go on to pursue medical degrees in the
future. Participants in the SURF are selected based on academic
records and the appropriateness of each applicant’s scientific
research. Students about to begin their senior year of college are
preferred, but promising juniors and recent graduates are also
considered for acceptance.
The SURF program provides fellows with
room and board, a $600 living expense, and eight tuition-free
undergraduate biology credit hours. Like the Summer Scholars
program, participants who meet minimum requirements are also
guaranteed the opportunity to interview for admission to OU-HCOM.
“These programs give students a
tremendous opportunity to grow personally and develop
professionally,” Schriner said. “They push themselves to new limits
and it reinforces their belief that this is what they want to do
with their lives.”