Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. – What’s it like to be a first-year medical school student?
Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine gave a taste of the experience this summer to college juniors and seniors or recent graduates looking to enter medical school.
The school’s ASPIRE program – “Academic Summer Program Integrating Resources for Excellence” – is geared toward those who have a desire to care for the underserved.
“Our goal is to encourage students from a variety of backgrounds who share our passions as a Catholic, Jesuit institution. We want to cultivate future physicians who have a passion for service, excellence and patient-centered care,” said Linda Brubaker, MD, dean and chief diversity officer at Loyola Stritch.
ASPIRE this summer brought together 16 participants from across the country.
“We had a great mix of students from various backgrounds and cultures,” said Kyra Calhoun, M.Ed., coordinator for the program. “It was wonderful to watch them interact with each other and the faculty and see what we can all learn from each other.”
The experience includes clinical and academic encounters such as anatomy, small-group patient-centered care and hands-on experience in Loyola clinics.
“In addition to a fantastic introduction to the academic and clinical components of medical school, ASPIRE gave me tremendous insight into the integration of medicine and community service. Providing me with opportunities such as shadowing physicians in an Englewood clinic and working with children in a summer camp in Maywood has been incredibly valuable. ASPIRE has solidified my decision to pursue a career in medicine by showing me how I can make a positive change before, during and after medical school,” said Peter Lyson, from Brookfield, Ill.
“This helped all of us to become better physicians, but also better people. We learned so much by just interacting with one another and learning from the unique experiences we all bring,” said Lindsay Haacker, ASPIRE participant from Los Angeles.
The program helps students understand health disparities and the importance of promoting equality in health care. They network with Loyola Stritch faculty who are involved in public health efforts. They also hear lectures from physicians about treating and helping to eliminate diseases that are prevalent in underserved communities, such as diabetes, obesity, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
“We learned about why health disparities are happening and how different viewpoints coming together can help us to better understand and address the problems,” said Silvia Plascencia, ASPIRE participant from Oregon.
ASPIRE leadership also was impressed.
“It’s amazing to watch how participants 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.
The program began in 2002 and nearly all participants have gone on to be accepted at medical schools across the country.
“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-