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Potential doctors sample med school

Jun. 03, 2013 @ 11:35 PM

HUNTINGTON -- "It's harder than it looks."

That was Bethany College student Kyle Lehosit's reaction to the challenge of suturing, which he and 14 other students tried Monday on pig's feet at the Marshall University Medical Center.

For this crowd, it was an exciting hands-on experience for their first day in Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine's first summer residential academy for aspiring physicians.

To her knowledge, it's the first time that Marshall has hosted such a program targeting college students, said Jennifer Plymale, director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health and the associate dean of admissions for the medical school. The university has done several programs reaching out to younger students, but this was an effort to help students nearing that time when they apply for medical school and are serious about it.

"They are really bright students, and we wanted to eliminate any perceived barriers to medical school," said Plymale, adding that participants come from colleges throughout the state and had to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and ACT of 22 to attend.

"Their average ACT score is 27 and average GPA was 3.8," she said. "We want to keep them in West Virginia."

That wouldn't just be good for the state -- it could be better for them too, she pointed out.

"If they go out of state, they go into a lot of debt, and they might choose a specialty to make more money, even though it might not be what they really want to do," Plymale said.

So Marshall is giving them a weeklong immersion experience, with plenty of opportunities to speak with physicians about their jobs and get tips on preparation. The camp is free to West Virginia students who qualified and is underwritten by a grant from the Higher Education Policy Commission specifically for rural health initiatives.

Suturing was one of several hands-on activities the students will try during the week. Coming up are wilderness medicine training with Dr. Chuck Clements, patient simulators and preparatory work for medical school entrance exams and interviews.

Plymale said the camp also includes dinner with potential mentors, teamwork approaches to diagnosing a condition, a chance to hear from health policy fellow Kim Becher and more.

Maggie Blackwood, a Marshall senior from South Charleston, is attending the camp.

"I just really want to go to medical school, and I thought this was a good opportunity to learn techniques I'll learn in medical school," said Blackwood, who is studying exercise physiology for her undergraduate degree. "I want to do surgery, so suturing is something I was excited about."

She's thinking about going into orthopedics, as is Lehosit, who is from Bridgeport.

"I'm really excited," he said about the camp. "I can't wait to get into stuff that will help me in applying to medical school. I'm taking the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) next summer."



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