Colquitt High Students Get Hands-on Experience at PCOM South Georgia
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Colquitt High Students Get Hands-on Experience at PCOM South Georgia

February 19, 2020

PCOM South Georgia's new SPARK program is designed to expose local youth to careers in healthcare and science as well as improve college readiness.

About 100 students from Colquitt County High School spent the morning at PCOM South Georgia on Thursday, February 6, as the first participants of the new SPARK program. SPARK (Students Progressing in Academics from Readiness and Knowledge) is a pipeline program created by the admissions team at PCOM South Georgia.

“We designed this program to teach high school students about osteopathic medicine and how they can get into the medical field,” Dana Brooks, assistant director of admissions, said. “We want to spark their interest and see them become students of PCOM South Georgia and eventually practice medicine locally.”

Jennifer Shaw, PhD, and Jason Walker, PhD, associate professors of physiology, guided the students in a session that focused on the electrical activity and mechanics of the heart. Students identified the four compartments of the heart and arranged the proper sequence of blood flow. Dr. Walker was happy to spend the morning with local students and get them interested in health care at a young age.

“Who better to practice here than the people who are raised here?” he said.

Students then toured the osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) lab on campus, learning how OMM treatments help patient structure and function by watching Kristie Petree, DO ’13, OMM Site Director, demonstrate different types of osteopathic manipulative treatment techniques. Dr. Petree fielded questions and explained to the students what it means to be an osteopathic physician and how to get from high school to medical school.

“Students were able to see that this is really a possibility for them,” Dr. Petree said. “Not only can they become a physician, but they can do it right here in their hometown.”

Faculty members then gave students an up-close view of the human heart, lungs and brain in the anatomy lab. Sebastian Egberts, instructor of anatomy; Leslie McIntosh, PhD, assistant professor of anatomy; Orhan Arslan, PhD, professor of anatomy and neuroscience and Shiv Dhiman, MD, associate professor of anatomy, discussed the functions of the heart, lungs and brain, focusing on the structure of the central nervous system. Dr. Arslan noticed the attentiveness and curiosity of the students during the lesson and believes it’s all because of the practical approach.

“Actually seeing the anatomy lab and getting familiar with the anatomical structure really makes a difference and stimulates their minds,” Dr. Arslan said. “When students are exposed to this type of learning at the high school level, we have found that they are more likely to pursue a career in health care.”

According to Brooks, the goal of SPARK is to expose students to osteopathic medicine, foster confidence in students of underserved communities to help them in choosing a career in healthcare, promote leadership in the surrounding communities, boost interest in the sciences and improve college and career readiness knowledge. By providing hands-on experience to students, PCOM South Georgia hopes to inspire change and action in the medically underserved communities, as well as the communities surrounding the campus.

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About PCOM South Georgia

In 2019, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied 125-year history, extended its commitment to the Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia. An additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia, PCOM South Georgia offers both a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit institution that trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields. Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state, PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the region. For more information, visit or call 229-668-3110.

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Cindy B. Montgomery
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Office: 229-668-3198 | Cell: 229-873-2003

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