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Summer Scholars still attracting top students after more than 30 years

(ATHENS, Ohio—Oct. 31, 2014) ¬Taking part in a unique summer program offered by Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine helped one young Xenia woman win exactly the prize she had her eyes on — acceptance as a medical student.

Nateka Faison, 21, a senior majoring in biology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, received her medical school acceptance in July, soon after she completed a month-long stint in the Summer Scholars program at the Heritage College’s Athens campus. While she was ready to apply elsewhere if need be, Faison said the Heritage College had long been her first choice.

“Basically, it was up to them to choose me,” she said. When she learned by phone that she had made it, she recalled, “Oh gosh! I don’t even know how to describe it … It was fun. I cried.”

The annual Heritage College Summer Scholars program, offered since 1982, gives 22 undergraduate students from around Ohio and the nation a taste of what it’s like to start medical school. In addition to its educational value, the program also serves as an important recruiting tool for the college.

This month, the Heritage College Office of Admissions began accepting applications for next year’s Summer Scholar’s program. Deadline for application is March 1, 2015; more information is available on the Admissions website.

Summer Scholar participants go through the same kind of demanding schedule of lectures and clinical work that a first-year student would face at the Heritage College. They learn from medical school faculty and upper-level medical students, with plenty of focus on case-based problem solving and small-group/teamwork. Their regimen includes courses and workshops on basic science, study skills and time management, and research methods.

The program is open to rising college seniors or beyond who come from either an under-represented population or from an educationally or economically disadvantaged background.

The Summer Scholars program serves as one of the college’s most important avenues for bringing in the diverse mix of students that helps make it a dynamic learning environment.

“Embracing diversity in our student body is one of our most fundamental values as a college,” said Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth Johnson, D.O. “And the Summer Scholars program is one of the most reliable recruiting tools we have for attracting a remarkable, truly diverse group of students, year in and year out.”

Faison, a first-generation college student, said she was particularly impressed by how her classmates were pulling together to support each other in meeting the rigorous demands of the program. “A lot of places you might get the sense that you’re doing it alone,” she said. “But in Summer Scholars, everyone’s putting up the good fight together, and helping each other through.”

Faison reported that her “absolute favorite part of the program” was case-based learning, or CBL, which lets students hone their skills on patient case studies. “By nature, the majority of the program was typically academic: You sit in a lecture classroom with your fellow scholars and learn about every ‘-ology’ imaginable,” she said. “After every course, you study the material, and get tested on it. CBL is the part of the entire experience that makes you feel like you’re actually going to become a doctor.”

She said the same was true for the course in gross anatomy. “You could come into the program without ever having taken anatomy, but you have so much help to get through it,” Faison said. “As an undergrad, I always heard about how difficult first-year gross anatomy is, but I think Summer Scholars prepares you to succeed in the course.”

The 2014 Summer Scholars group cohort also got to know the local community by volunteering at the annual Boogie on the Bricks festival in June, helping to serve customers, assisting with merchandise sales and pitching in to clean up the site afterwards.

“One of the great things is that we not only give the students a great opportunity to get acclimated to the environment at the Heritage College, w also get them out and engaged in the local community as well,” said John Schriner, Ph.D., Heritage College assistant dean of admissions.

With a slot in the Heritage College’s Class of 2019 now assured, Faison plans to become one of the majority of Heritage College graduates who go on to practice as much-needed primary care physicians, possibly in the specialty of obstetrics/gynecology. “I’m definitely doing primary care,” she said.

Note: A version of this story was published July 31 in the Xenia Gazette.

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Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Last updated: 01/28/2016