Opportunities Academy Educates Gwinnett Students about Health CareJuly 1, 2022
As if in unison, “Ahhh!” could be heard emanating from a worktable in the PCOM Georgia Anatomy Lab as four Gwinnett high school students dissected sheep brains under the
guidance of a PCOM Georgia faculty member. They had just learned that the “pons,”
shaped like a peanut, is part of the brain stem. Other terms like lateral ventricle,
choroid plexus and cerebrospinal fluid were being discussed and identified as Adwoa Aduonum, PhD, associate professor of physiology and neuroscience, advised them to act like surgeons
and “cut with precision” as they examined the organ.
The Gwinnett students from high schools including Shiloh, North Gwinnett, Collins
Hill and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology were ensconced in
an anatomy lesson during the Opportunities Academy, a weeklong experience on the campus of the Suwanee medical school. Eight PCOM Georgia
students, in the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and the Masters of Biomedical Sciences programs, served as mentors, while faculty members and invited guests shared their
knowledge and experience.
Asked if she had ever participated in a similar academy, the Shiloh High School student,
who is interested in a healthcare career, called the experience fun and new for her.
Valerie E. Cadet, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, is the faculty advisor for the
summer camp attended by 30 students. She also enjoyed teaching the students about
Microbiology: What’s Living on my Things?
She said, “What better way to learn the importance of germs and the importance of
proper hand washing and cleaning your items than by exploring the laboratory of life?
We were able to simulate collecting a sample from a ‘sick patient’ and process it
to see if the disease was caused by bacteria or not; all the while gaining an understanding
of clinical and biomedical laboratory sciences.“
Other activities the students participated in included painting the heart, modeling
the kidney, checking vital signs, life as a veterinarian, pathology as a career, becoming
a pharmacist, an introduction to osteopathic medicine and medical simulation.
The high schoolers also learned about applying to college, participated in a resume
workshop and heard from a nurse practitioner about the secrets of a fulfilled life.
A health professions student panel featuring professional students in the osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies and biomedical sciences program rounded out the activities. A graduation, where students
received certificates and superlatives, followed the showcase of the week’s activities.
The high school students included a prospective reconstructive plastic surgeon who
is part of the HOSA program at McClure Health Sciences High School. HOSA is a student-led
organization with chapters across the globe, which promotes careers in the health
A potential biomedical engineer who was one of PCOM Georgia’s first Future Healthcare
Scholars attended the academy from Grayson High School, while a future nurse who said
her eyes have been opened to a multitude of healthcare careers attended from Peachtree
Ridge High School.
The camp is sponsored by Jackson Electric Membership Corporation and Hologic and is
hosted by the PCOM Georgia Office of Diversity and Community Partnerships.
Darnae Parks, who directs the campus’ diversity office said, “The program allows high
school students from underrepresented communities the opportunity to take a sneak
peek at careers in the healthcare field. Some of the workshops allow them to take
transferable skills like resume building with them throughout their life journey.”
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About PCOM Georgia
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, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied
history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and
physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science,
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/georgia or call 678-225-7500.
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