Summer at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Despite many students departing campus following commencement, the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) is hardly quiet thanks to a multitude of programs for high school and undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers in medicine, the health professions, or research.
Students from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, made a visit to campus as part of their two-week Academy Summer Bridge program, preparing them for the Governor’s Health Sciences Academy during the academic school year. The academy is a partnership between GW and Alexandria City Public Schools and allows students to start a career pathway in health care and earn college credits while in high school.
In addition to the teens from T.C. Williams, GW welcomed students from D.C. Public Schools as they participated in programs such as the D.C. Health and Academic Prep Program (DC HAPP) and Upward Bound.
Early in July, the newest cohort of DC HAPP scholars arrived on the Foggy Bottom Campus. The program is designed to educate high school students on health care careers and foster diversity in the medical field. Fifteen rising high school seniors and one rising junior from schools in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, gained exposure to health care professions, learned medical skills with hands-on training, developed public health experience through group projects, and prepared for college applications with the help of medical and public health students who serve as mentors.
“I was really interested in making new friends who want to do the same thing that I want,” said Bailey Moore, who received her white coat as a new DC HAPP scholar and has interests in dermatology, OBGYN, and pediatrics. “I’m excited for the opportunities, the new knowledge I’m going to gain, and the curiosity that I am going to have with every single thing I am learning.”
Upward Bound enrolls students in D.C. Public and Public Charter Schools in Wards 6, 7, and 8, and serves as an academic resource for participants outside of their regular high school setting. While operating year-round, the program also hosts a voluntary six-week summer session for its 60 enrolled students.
The core mission of Upward Bound’s summer program is to prepare the students for the next academic school year, explained Janeale Gottlieb-George, MSEd, director of Upward Bound. Students in the program rotate through academic courses in math, science, and English during the first part of the day and enjoy life skills workshops, trips to local museums, and other experiential learning activities in the afternoon. During the final week of the summer program, Upward Bound students have the opportunity to participate in a biannual college tour trip. This year’s summer tour will go to New York City and parts of upstate New York.
The GW Summer Program Advancing Research on Cancer (GW-SPARC) welcomed its second cohort of undergraduates from universities across the United States. This year, the program expanded to include any undergraduate students in GW Cancer Center laboratories and opened up its end of summer poster session to undergraduates in labs across GW, including chemistry and engineering.
“The process of discovery, innovation, and the intellectual freedom that you get in [research] when you are passionate about science excites me,” said Adriana Hernandez, a student at the University of Puerto Rico at Ponce, who is spending her summer working in the lab of Alberto Bosque-Pardos, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine at SMHS. “Having this experience has made me more interested in continuing in cancer research.”
Through GW-SPARC, students have the opportunity to work in GW Cancer Center labs alongside mentors and gain experience conducting research. Hernandez is working on an immunotherapy project targeting STAT SUMOylation, a post-translational modification process involving small ubiquitin-like modifiers, to improve natural killer cell activity for cancer and other diseases.
The GW International Medicine Programs (IMP) also is getting in on exciting summer academics, hosting its annual Summer Research and Medical Enrichment Program (SRMP). This five-week program welcomes undergraduate medical students from universities abroad who seek acquisition of medical research skills and early exposure to clinical medicine — and this year boasts their most diverse cohort yet. An important goal of SRMP, in addition to teaching research and clinical skills, is providing an introduction the American medical education and health care delivery systems, which are often very different from those in the students’ home countries. Additionally, the cooperative participation as a close knit team for five weeks serves to further enrich their experience in what IMP calls “medical diplomacy.”
The program also provides participation in community service, showing students firsthand how they can contribute to the welfare of the community; and professional development opportunities, as in CV workshops and mock interviews, in preparation for applying to residency programs either in their home country, abroad or here in the U.S.
“We have a wonderful multidisciplinary program providing international medical students with exposure to the U.S. health care system and providing a unique stepping stone as many of them pursue residencies in the U.S.,” said Huda Ayas, EdD ’06, MBA ’98, MHSA ’93, associate dean for international medicine and executive director of IMP.
These summer enrichments programs are just a few of many offered at SMHS, providing students a jump start on their education and career goals and offering mentorship from GW physicians and researchers.