XENIA — Taking part in a unique summer program offered by Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine has helped one young Xenia woman win exactly the prize she had her eyes on — acceptance as a medical student.
Nateka Faison, 21, a biology major at Xavier University in Cincinnati, recently wrapped up her month-long stint in the Summer Scholars program at the Heritage College’s Athens campus. The annual program, offered since 1982, gives 22 undergraduate students from around Ohio and the nation a taste of what it’s like to start medical school.
It also serves as an important recruiting tool for the Heritage College – and helped lead to the College’s accepting Faison’s enrollment application. She learned she had been accepted shortly after the program ended July 3. While she was ready to apply elsewhere if need be, Faison said the Heritage College had long been her first choice.
“Basically, it was up to them to choose me,” she said. When she learned by phone that she had made it, she recalled, “Oh gosh! I don’t even know how to describe it … It was fun. I cried.”
Participants in Summer Scholars go through the same kind of demanding schedule of lectures and clinical work that a first-year student would face at the Heritage College. They learn from medical school faculty and upper-level medical students, with plenty of focus on case-based problem solving and small-group/team work. Their regimen includes courses and workshops on basic science, study skills and time management, and research methods.
After about two weeks of this kind of work, Faison described her experience in the program, which started June 2, as “hectic but awesome so far.”
The program is open to students at the level of rising college seniors or beyond, who come from either an under-represented population, or from a background that is disadvantaged either educationally or economically. Officials at the Heritage College stress that Summer Scholars is one of the most important avenues the college has for bringing in the diverse mix of students that helps make it a dynamic learning environment.
“Embracing diversity in our student body is one of our most fundamental values as a college,” said Executive Dean Kenneth Johnson, D.O. “And the Summer Scholars program is one of the most reliable recruiting tools we have for attracting a remarkable, truly diverse group of students, year in and year out.”
Faison, a first-generation college student, said she was particularly impressed by how her classmates were pulling together to support each other in meeting the rigorous demands of the program.
“A lot of places you might get the sense that you’re doing it alone,” she said. “But in Summer Scholars, everyone’s putting up the good fight together, and helping each other through.”
Closer to the end of her time in Summer Scholars, Faison reported that her “absolute favorite part of the program” had been case-based learning, or CBL, which lets students hone their skills on patient case studies.
“By nature, the majority of the program was typically academic: you sit in a lecture classroom with your fellow scholars and learn about every ‘-ology’ imaginable,” she said. “After every course, you study the material, and get tested on it. CBL is the part of the entire experience that makes you feel like you’re actually going to become a doctor.”
She said the same was true for the course in gross anatomy.
“You could come into the program without ever having taken anatomy, but you have so much help to get through it,” Faison said. “As an undergrad, I always heard about how difficult first-year gross anatomy is, but I think Summer Scholars prepares you to succeed in the course.”
The Summer Scholars group this year also got to know the local community of Athens by volunteering at the annual Boogie on the Bricks event that took place June 21. Boogie on the Bricks is a non-profit annual festival featuring music, art, food, beverages and dancing in uptown Athens. Summer Scholar students helped to serve customers, assisted with merchandise sales, and pitched in to clean up the site afterwards.
“One of the great things is that we’re not only giving the students a great opportunity to get acclimated to the environment at the Heritage College, we’re also getting them out and engaged in the local community as well,” said John Schriner, Heritage College assistant dean of admissions.
“The perfect study break, which is absolutely necessary to get through Summer Scholars,” Faison said of the festival. “After studying for six hours straight, dancing in the middle of the road to local bands at Boogie on the Bricks was awesome. Being on Ohio University’s campus, you get a limited taste of Athens and the people who call this place home. Boogie on the Bricks was a really good way to get a better sense of the people here and the eclectic population of Athens.”
With a slot in the Heritage College’s Class of 2019 now assured, Faison said, she plans to become one of the majority of Heritage College graduates who go on to practice as much-needed primary care physicians, possibly in the specialty of obstetrics/gynecology.
“I’m definitely doing primary care,” she said.
— Story courtesy Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.