Newswise — “Signing Day” brought new meaning for four of the nation’s brightest teens as they were officially accepted into an innovative medical school pipeline program today through Florida Atlantic University’s “FAU High School M.D. Direct” program. The first-of-its-kind pipeline program to be launched in the United States, M.D. Direct places high school students from FAU High School directly in-line for medical school at FAU, jumpstarting their careers as young, aspiring physicians-to-be.

The inaugural group of students were celebrated during a special ceremony at FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine on Friday.

The M.D. Direct “Signing Day,” complete with FAU mascot “Owlsley” who wore scrubs and a physician’s white coat, mimicked one of the most exciting times in collegiate athletics and provided a platform for parents, as well as University and community leaders to cheer on these stellar students who were garbed in FAU medical school T-shirts and baseball caps.

Among the distinguished guests in attendance were FAU President John Kelly, FAU First Lady Carolyn Kelly, Phillip Boiselle, M.D., dean of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, and Stuart L. Markowitz, M.D., senior associate dean of student affairs and admissions in FAU’s College of Medicine, who emceed the special ceremony.

To be accepted into the medical school pipeline program was no easy feat for these four national merit scholars who were identified in their junior year at FAU High School. The program requires them to complete their B.S. degree within one year and complete a graduate program at FAU or approved research program prior to entering medical school. To qualify for this program they have to participate in pre-medical course advising, mentoring, clinical experiences, medical-related service learning, and research. They also must successfully meet certain requirements for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a grueling endeavor for most college students who are typically in their early 20s when they complete this test, and participate in MCAT test preparation.

Among the four students is aspiring neurosurgeon Maximilian Rabil, 18, who recently received his college degree six days prior to receiving his high school diploma, and will conduct neuroscience research before he is eligible to start medical school in fall 2018. Sarah Palumbo, 18, Nadia Sial, 17, and Cara Busheme, 18, will join Rabil to be among the nation’s youngest medical students.

“We have an incredible group of gifted and talented students at FAU High School with an interest in medicine. Impressively, these students have achieved stellar accomplishments during their high school years, including a research publication in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ and earning a college degree during high school, among others,” said Boiselle. “We are delighted for these exceptional students to continue their educational journeys at FAU. On behalf of the entire community of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, I am delighted to welcome Max, Sarah, Nadia and Cara as our inaugural pipeline students from the FAU High School.”  

Boiselle together with Markowitz, Gary J. Rose, M.D., associate professor of surgery in FAU’s College of Medicine, and Joel D. Herbst, Ed.D., assistant dean for PK-12 schools and educational programs in FAU’s College of Education, see this pipeline program as an opportunity to work with middle and high school students while they are still forming impressions of what they hope to accomplish after they graduate and to help them understand what a career as a physician entails.

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About the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine:

FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is one of 147 accredited medical schools in the U.S. The college was launched in 2010, when the Florida Board of Governors made a landmark decision authorizing FAU to award the M.D. degree. After receiving approval from the Florida legislature and the governor, it became the 134th allopathic medical school in North America. With more than 70 full and part-time faculty and more than 1,300 affiliate faculty, the college matriculates 64 medical students each year and has been nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum. To further FAU’s commitment to increase much needed medical residency positions in Palm Beach County and to ensure that the region will continue to have an adequate and well-trained physician workforce, the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine Consortium for Graduate Medical Education (GME) was formed in fall 2011 with five leading hospitals in Palm Beach County. In June 2014, FAU’s College of Medicine welcomed its inaugural class of 36 residents in its first University-sponsored residency in internal medicine.

Florida Atlantic University

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit