Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. – Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM) has welcomed three Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eligible students into its Summer Enrichment Program. The program is a five-week course for college juniors and seniors or recent graduates looking to enter medical school and geared toward those who have a desire to care for the underserved.
“Our goal for this program is to encourage students from a variety of backgrounds who share our passions as a Jesuit institution. We want to cultivate future physicians who have a passion for service, excellence and patient-centered care,” said Adrian Jones, JD, assistant dean for admissions at Loyola Stritch.
With the addition of DACA-eligible students, the Summer Enrichment Program continues to grow. This year, a total of 16 participants came from all across the country.
“DACA students – bright, young people who are authorized to stay and work in the United States – have much to offer us,” said Linda Brubaker, MS, MD, dean and chief diversity officer at Loyola Stritch. “They are bicultural, bilingual and possess insights that are critical to the delivery of health care. And they are hungry to learn.”
“We have a great mix of students from various backgrounds and cultures,” said Kyra Calhoun, M.Ed., coordinator for the summer enrichment program. “It’s wonderful to watch them interact with each other and the faculty and see what we can all learn from each other.”
The program gives a taste of what it’s like to be a first-year medical student. The experience includes clinical and academic encounters such as anatomy, small-group patient-centered care and hands-on experience in Loyola clinics.
“One of our main goals is to help students understand health disparities and the importance of promoting equality in health care,” Calhoun said.
To accomplish this goal participants network with SSOM faculty who are involved in public health efforts and interact with patients while shadowing Loyola physicians who serve in low-income clinics.
They also hear lectures from physicians about treating and helping to eliminate many diseases that are prevalent in underserved communities, such as diabetes, obesity, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
“It’s amazing to watch how participants really start to connect the dots. They see what is happening in the clinics and how what they are learning can directly, positively impact a whole community,” Calhoun said. “They walk away from this program so grateful for what they have seen and experienced,” she added.
Johana Mejias, a participant this year with DACA status, expressed enthusiasm for the program. “What a wonderful opportunity to experience the melting pot we live in,” she said. “Being in the hospital, the clinics, interacting with the medical students and faculty has really confirmed being in medicine, being a physician, is where I am supposed to be.”
The program began in 2002 and nearly all participants have gone on to be accepted at medical schools across the country. Several have been accepted at SSOM and two participants from the 2006 program graduated from SSOM in 2011 and are about to complete their medical residency at Loyola University Medical Center in family medicine.
“They really do get it. We are seeing how this program is making an impact,” Calhoun said. “It’s exciting to see how they take what they learn here and use it to make a difference.”
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The Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division (HSD) advances interprofessional, multidisciplinary, and transformative education and research while promoting service to others through stewardship of scientific knowledge and preparation of tomorrow's leaders. The HSD is located on the Health Sciences Campus in Maywood, Illinois. It includes the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, the Stritch School of Medicine, the biomedical research programs of the Graduate School, and several other institutes and centers encouraging new research and interprofessional education opportunities across all of Loyola University Chicago. The faculty and staff of the HSD bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and a strong commitment to seeing that Loyola's health sciences continue to excel and exceed the standard for academic and research excellence. For more on the HSD, visit LUC.edu/hsd. -LOYOLA-