New career program aims to inspire a future in medicine

Published: June 5, 2014

A select group of outstanding Lansing high school students have been selected for a new program that gives them insight into a career as a physician, thanks to a partnership between the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Sparrow Health System.

Future DOcs, kicks off June 5 with an opening ceremony at MSU. The program is open to ninth through 11th graders, and will continue on Saturday mornings for seven weeks through July, alternating locations between Sparrow and the East Lansing campus.

Sixteen students who are interested in health-related careers have been selected for the Sparrow/MSU pilot program where they will learn what it takes to get to medical school, what the life of a medical school student is like, and what kinds of careers are open to doctors of osteopathic medicine. They were nominated for participation in the program by their respective high school guidance counselors and selected by a review committee based on academic performance, a letter of recommendation and a written essay.

"Each of the Future DOcs programs is unique to meet participants' individual needs-just like the osteopathic philosophy," says Katherine Ruger, admissions director for the MSUCOM.

Participants are mentored by MSUCOM students and will meet and work with MSU faculty members and Sparrow physicians. Students take part in classroom activities, build study skills and exam strategies, learn basic CPR, and take part in an osteopathic manipulative medicine demonstration.

"MSU is best suited to prepare them for an advanced learning environment and test-taking, and through Sparrow, we can deliver an integrated, hands-on experience. Even when they come to the emergency department, I don't want to expose them to just emergency medicine--I want to give them an experience where they can interact with pathologists and other health care professionals," says Timothy Hodge, D.O., Sparrow executive medical director of emergency services and a member of the Sparrow Health System Board of Directors.

"I've also asked my radiology and cardiology colleagues to spend time with the students so they can learn things like what a stress test is and what happens during a cardiac catheterization."

After this summer's experience the Lansing Future DOcs program will be expanded to include 15 students from each of the three high schools. Ruger and her team are incorporating Future DOcs into a broader plan to develop a graduated set of activities to introduce high schoolers to the osteopathic profession.

Hodge sees the importance of Future DOcs beyond the classroom and even beyond the medical profession.

"We're going to see 16 great students this summer and I look forward to them being at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine someday, but this program isn't just about helping kids learn about what it takes to be a physician," Hodge, an MSUCOM alumnus, notes. "It's about inspiring minds and growing leaders. Our schools need help and by partnering with leading organizations like Sparrow and MSU, I expect to see these students become leaders in their respective high schools and leaders for this community."