Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia, was the site of a three month long Health Career Academy which brought medical school mentors into the classroom of 30 tenth grade students this year. The high school students were part of Central Gwinnett’s Medical and Healthcare Sciences Academy and had shown an interest in the healthcare field. The program will continue during the students’ junior and senior years as well.
Osteopathic medicine, pharmacy and biomedical sciences students from Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) served as mentors in the program designed by Main Line Health, a network of hospitals and clinics in Philadelphia, and supported by Aetna. The well-validated and engaging curriculum was delivered to the high school students who elected to stay after school on Friday afternoons to participate in the program.
According to Hannah Shin, a first year GA-PCOM osteopathic medical student who led the program along with her classmate Yasmeen Shariff, the first few weeks focused on emergency medicine cases which were designed to build the high school students’ critical thinking skills. “We wanted them to not only be able to shift through the noise and determine which parts of the case contributed to the overall diagnosis, but to also learn how to find and utilize reliable sources,” Shin said.
Guest lecturers were also part of the Health Career Academy. One of the lecturers was Dr. Carmen Eilertson, a senior lecturer at Georgia State University (GSU) who received GSU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Outstanding Teaching Award this year. She, along with her Teaching Assistant Matthew Rose, guided the students through a cardiac dissection activity involving human hearts which displayed various degrees of pathology and anomalies. The students also learned basic anatomy, physiology and clinical applications of the heart.
The experience culminated in a symposium at Emory University School of Medicine where the Central Gwinnett students showcased their final presentation, “The Total Package: Holistic Health from a Kid’s View.” Other high schools participating in the program this year were Carver High School, Maynard Jackson High School and North Clayton High School, all sponsored by Emory.
The high school students even tried on their mentors’ white coats. Shin said, “I hope (by wearing the coats) they were inspired to one day be physicians, to feel the weight of the coat with all its responsibility, privilege, and discovery and want to bear all of this in the service of patients.”
According to Shin, the GA-PCOM students who acted as mentors “not only showed immense dedication to our mission of giving back to the community and continuing the cycle of education, but also surprised us with their individual strengths and amazing ability to connect with the students and share what we’ve learned thus far in med school.”
“At the end of the day,” she said, “we just really want to show the Central Gwinnett students that they can dream and want more, because they are fully capable and able to get where they want to be.”
The GA-PCOM mentors included:
Osteopathic Medicine – Hannah Shin, Yasmeen Shariff, Jeremiah Arnold, Francesca DiSantis, Sunita Jena, Anthony Kamson, Sara Khalid, Kita Mack, Morgan Myers, Anna Nay, Valencia Ogelsby, Ra’Shead Pompey, Allen Quetant, Lakshmi Rao, Catlyn Thigpen, Morgan Zegers
Pharmacy – Bernadette Boronea, Nick Hernandez
Biomedical Sciences – Katherine Keck, Dominique Lewis, Daryllynn Patterson
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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