Communication Home

Summer programs offer undergraduates a look at
med school classes, research


July, 2011

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 Institute.

“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.”

  Office of Communication
Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
210 Irvine Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701
Tel: 740-593-2346 FAX: 740-593-0343
Copyright Ohio University (Home)
Last updated: 01/28/2016