Summer School Week: Case program paves future for students

6:08 PM, May 10, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Joseph Williams has picture directories from the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program that he helps run each summer at Case Western Reserve University.

Though they are from several years back he can still point to the pictures of individual students and tell you what they are doing and where they are studying medicine to this day.

The six-week summer program, which is largely funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is 100 percent free to students who come from backgrounds under represented in the medical and dental field. Participants also get a stipend.

Case is just one of a dozen schools to play host to the program that boasts classroom and hospital experience. Others include Yale, the University of Virginia, Duke and Columbia.

Williams said, "We tell them we know you've just finished a long academic year but we are going to push you for six more weeks because you've said that you want to be a dentist, you want to be a doctor and we are going to see, do you have the right stuff?"

Williams visits about 30 college campuses a year recruiting for the program that gives students experience in the classroom, the operating and just about every situation a doctor or dentist might find themselves in.

"It's like a whole new world opening up to these students and I give the first lecture,"said Robert Haynie, MD, PhD., Associate Dean for Student Affairs at CWRU School of Medicine.

Dr. Haynie stresses the importance of compassion in medicine. "None of these patients talk about where they went to med school or the grades they got.

They talk about that their doctor had communication skills their doctors were empathetic their doctors cared about them their doctors were good listeners."

The story of two women from Texas in attendance shows that same care and attention is given to the students who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

"These students don't have the resources some students have," Haynie said.

Each student gets to meet with top admission officials from Case, an opportunity many medical school hopefuls would love to have. The two women from Houston didn't want to go. When Dr. Haynie asked why they told him they tearfully told him they didn't have suits to wear for the meeting. 

"So, I sent them out shopping! We bought them their suit, it came from our money here at the medical school. I said get them a couple of suits so when they interview they have a couple."

One of those students sent him a letter at the end of the program. "It was one of the most unbelievable letters I've ever received about the impact of this program that it had on her, and that she would go back to Houston and tell everybody about this program."

"This private University (Case), this Medical School has wrapped it's arms around some very disadvantaged students to try to help them become successful," Dr. Haynie said.

Of the 80 students selected for the program 60 have an interest in the medical field, 20 have an interest in the dental field.

65 percent of the students that take part in SMDEP get accepted into medical school.

Making connections prior to the interview process is key.

"So when we receive your application and we see SMDEP those deans and directors of admissions will remember you, or they will call me and send me an email, " Williams said, "'Do you remember this person?' So, its certainly a plus. Very much a plus."

Admissions for the program open November 1st. You can read more here.

Stay tuned to Channel 3 News Today all week long as we take a look at all kinds of ways to further your education this summer.

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