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Empowering and educating: CMSRU Summer school ignites passion for science and medicine among motivated teens

While many teenagers embraced the leisurely days of summer, a dedicated and diverse group of high school students from across the region embarked on an intensive, four-week journey into the realms of science and medicine. This transformative experience, known as MEDacademy, not only provided hands-on learning but also solid academic enrichment, in the form of earned college credits. Hosted at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) in Camden, NJ, but offered through the College of Science and Mathematics at Rowan University, MEDacademy stands as a unique and unparalleled program in South Jersey, nurturing the next generation of aspiring medical professionals.

A curriculum modeled for excellence

This year's MEDacademy cohort consisted of 43 accomplished rising 11th and 12th graders, representing 37 distinct high schools throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Over four weeks, these motivated individuals delved into a structured curriculum mirroring that of a bona fide medical school. The program's syllabus encompassed an array of essential medical disciplines, including pathology, neurology, cardio-pulmonary, and gastroenterology. Participants engaged in immersive lectures,

 fostering a profound understanding of each topic. Furthermore, students were entrusted with the task of conducting health research, with access to all of Rowan University’s resources, culminating in the creation of a poster presentation.

This year's MEDacademy experience was accentuated by a rich array of immersive highlights that truly set the program apart. Students embarked on a journey through the Cooper University Health Care Trauma Intervention and Prevention Program (TIPPS), gaining firsthand insights into the urgency of trauma care. The University of Delaware Healthcare Theater facilitated a patient simulation experience, while Active Learning Groups encouraged collaborative exploration of medical concepts. MEDacademy participants gained proficiency in Basic Life Support, engaged in a thought-provoking social justice workshop, and even embarked on simulated autopsy discussions. A dynamic health professional panel, suturing workshop, and Stop the Bleed certification further fortified their skill set.

Beyond the foundational experience, CMSRU proudly welcomed back 13 accomplished students for the MEDacademy Masters program. Tailored for those who had previously completed MEDacademy, this two-week intensive delved into the intricate realm of human anatomy. Participants gained exclusive access to CMSRU's gross anatomy lab, fostering a deepened appreciation for the intricacies of the human body.

A transformative pathway to medical excellence

MEDacademy has been a pivotal force for nearly a decade, nurturing South Jersey's finest young minds and propelling them toward excellence. The program's influence extends beyond high school, often serving as a pathway for these budding talents to Rowan University for their undergraduate studies, and in many instances, even to medical school. More than 10 MEDacademy alums have enrolled at CMSRU itself, with even more in the pipeline as students in Rowan’s accelerated 7-year medical programs. In fact, half of MEDacademy’s teaching assistants this year participated in MEDacademy as high school students.

According to Kristyn Kent, the program's director, "MEDacademy provides high school students with the opportunity to explore an actual medical school and learn about other health professional careers, all while earning undergraduate credit through Rowan University. The sky is the limit with this program; our students can build foundational relationships with physicians, researchers and medical students, as they prepare for the next step on their academic journeys."

Over the years, MEDacademy alumni have consistently found their way into various institutions across the nation, contributing to the medical field's advancement on a broader scale.

Nurturing bonds, forging futures

Late July marked a significant milestone as MEDacademy students celebrated their accomplishments, showcasing research projects that delved into the medical science landscape and the broader social context of healthcare delivery. Many of the projects emphasized the importance of understanding challenges faced by healthcare professionals, instilling a profound sense of empathy and perspective within the students.

Through the four-week journey, enduring bonds were forged between the teaching assistants and the MEDacademy students.

Teaching Assistant Christopher Snyder, a first-year student at CMSRU, reflected on his experience working with the MEDacademy this summer. “This has been an immensely rewarding and enlightening experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity to witness the students’ passion for medical knowledge flourish and I look forward to them becoming caring and compassionate physicians in the future.”

Adanna Ibeku, a second-year medical student/teaching assistant, concurred. “Getting to witness the motivation and curiosity for medicine that these students displayed at such an early stage made me really excited to picture them as physicians in the future.”

Click here to learn more about MEDacademy.