This summer, I participated in a program in Newark, NJ called the Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program. It lasted for about 6 weeks although only 5 of the 6 weeks was geared towards academics (The last week was saved for exams and a recruitment fair at Columbia University). SMDEP is offered at several locations, but the New Jersey site is one of the only sites that give students the opportunity to use cadavers in labs whiles having multiple shadowing experiences both in the dental and medical clinics. There were about 80 students in the program, and each student was put into a track. I was placed in a track which focused more on Anatomy and Physiology. The Physiology class was the most interesting class for me, as I could actually reason alongside Dr. Luckacs as he combined physics and biology into something quite phenomenal. The greatest challenge for me was Anatomy, as I had to be able to identify the muscles of the human body using a fresh, new cadaver. In the end, however, I was more familiar with all the different muscles in the body and how they work. There was another class called Communications which educated us on how to present to fellow students and talk about issues involving culture and health disparities comfortably.
Another beneficial part of this program was the caliber of the TAs who were assigned to each Track. They were second year med-students who could relate to us in terms of overcoming the MCAT and how to make it into medical school. There were also speakers (all of whom were doctors) who came to speak with us on how they were able to get it to Medical School, what to do to get into Medical School, and how to survive Medical School. During the 5th week, we had mock med school interviews and an informational session from the Dean of Admissions. This helped us get a general understanding of what we need to do to prepare for medical school interviews.
We were also paired with a doctor or two, to help us get a better understanding of how each field of medicine felt like. I was paired with a Transplant Surgeon, and although I didn’t get a chance to see any type of surgery at all, the Post-Ops were more than enough. I read some CT-SCANS of the lungs and saw some patients. Dr. Wilson, the transplant surgeon I was assigned to, had been in medicine for about 25 years and he was still able to pull off 32 hour shifts and not “lose his mind.”
The last but not the least of the things I was exposed to was the clinical portion of the Dental and Medical Student Final Examinations. The students had actual patients they had to deal with, and at the end of the exam, the patients would rate and give comments about the “doctor,” and that, as well as an actual assessment from the instructor organizing the test, would be part of the deciding factor if a students graduates from medical school or not.
The most amazing part of this program, however, was the friends that I made. As simple and plain as it may seem, the people who made this experience a remarkable one were the people in it. I met people with Indian, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian, Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Italian ancestries, who were willing to share their life experiences and even teach me a few studying tips which I plan on implementing. There were students from William and Mary, Cornell, UPenn, Yale, and of course Hampden-Sydney (there was no student from Randolph-Macon College).