By Brittany Shatteen
This summer 16 underrepresented minority students from Warrensville Heights High School and John F. Kennedy High School embarked on the Cleveland Campus of the Heritage College for a four-day immersive STEM program called the Aspiring D.O.ctors Precollege Program. The program began in 2016 and usually kicks off each year in October. This was the first year it included a summer session.
Many of the students selected for the program had a strong desire to work in the medical field. Our medical students, faculty and staff planned and executed activities that would allow them to explore health care in a manner they would not get in a traditional classroom.
Each day involved a central theme with activities such as anatomy labs, clinical skills, and OMM labs. Students were presented with a “case of the day” where they had to identify what was wrong with the patient and discuss possible treatments for their ailments.
We also spent time learning about the injustice of illness. Students learned that where you live, economic stability, access to education and social and community factors can be strong determinates of your health.
Many of the students said that their favorite part of each day was engaging with current medical students. They learned that many of the medical students had taken a variety of paths before enrolling at HCOM. Knowing that the medical students may have come from a similar background as the participants was refreshing to hear. The participants also observed the medical student leaders acting as physicians in a patient exam room on campus. Afterwards, participants had the opportunity to perform their own medical history exams on simulated patients – our volunteer medical students. The students said this was one of their favorite activities.
Our community has been very supportive of the Aspiring D.O.ctors program. We would like to thank HCOM, the City of Warrensville Heights, the Cyrus Eaton Foundation, the Mt. Sinai Foundation and the Char and Chuck Fowler Foundation for their generous grant donations.