Pre-Med Students Practice Ethical Health Care
In the first year of the Haverford-Jefferson Medical School Early Admission Program, students are taking on specialized internships in preparation for their planned enrollment at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College.
In lieu of running the standard senior-year gauntlet of strenuous MCAT preparation and medical school applications, five pre-med Haverford students have already received an early admission to the Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC) at Thomas Jefferson University. This small group of rising seniors was selected to take part in the inaugural year of the Haverford-Jefferson Medical School Early Admission Program.
The students’ early med school acceptance is supplemented by participation in a new program which offers the Fords a feel for Jefferson’s campus in Center City Philadelphia as they engage in an enlivening mix of research, curriculum, and volunteer work.
“This very selective early assurance program is geared toward Haverford students interested in studying public health, community and social engagement, and health equity alongside SKMC’s core medical school curriculum,” said Jodi Domsky, the College’s pre-med advisor and one of the architects behind the program.
Born out of Jefferson and Haverford’s shared interest in promoting social justice in health studies, the project promises to offer its students a clean transition from Haverford to SKMC. This is partly accomplished by the summer program, which introduces them to the medical school while concurrently encouraging them to maintain the interests that they’ve developed in their undergraduate years.
“The program strives to foster a passion for population health, health equity, and social justice advocacy while students seek a medical education,” said Rory Seymour ’20 (they/them), a biology major and one of this year’s participants.
By placing the students into internships that are designed specifically for their interests, the summer program enables its participants’ passions to grow naturally into their post-graduate plans. Seymour, for example, begins their day by performing advocacy work with ties to the health sector for the non-profit Galaei.
“[Galaei] provides a variety of services including educational outreach, HIV testing, and youth support programs to the surrounding LGBTQ+ community in northern Philadelphia, with aparticular focus on supporting LGBTQ+ people of color,” said Seymour. “This summer, I’ll be working with Galaei to evaluate the effectiveness of their resources and ultimately help them expand their outreach.”
This work is proving to be an excellent manifestation of the dedication to both social justice and health care that they’ve developed in their classwork as a health and disability studies minor.
“I’m particularly interested in learning how to strengthen efforts to address health inequities while also connecting this work to my passion for pursuing a career in medicine,” they said.
Elsewhere in the city, chemistry major Sheraz Qamar ’20 spends the morning engaging in his own community outreach with the Nationalities Service Center (NSC), an organization dedicated to providing services, including health care, to immigrant communities. Like Seymour, Qamar has been able to contextualize his academics, in particular his health studies minor, by witnessing how health services play out under real-world constraints.
“My experience at the NSC and other organizations has really taught me about the daily struggles that can lead to health issues,” said Qamar. “I had learned about the social determinants of health through classes at Haverford, but through this program, I have experienced real-life cases where these determinants play a major role in the health outcomes of a specific population or region in Philadelphia.”
Following their respective projects in the morning, the five members of the program convene in the afternoon to participate in courses that further educate them in the fusion of ethics with medical practice.
“As part of the curriculum, we are presented with a medical case and are guided to ask questions and solve the case,” said chemistry major Clara Farrehi ’20, who spends her mornings conducting biological research on spinal cord injury with Carley Pazzi ’20, who majors in biology. “The hope is that all aspects of this program will help us to become better equipped and more caring physicians.”
The students’ curriculum maintains a wide focus of study, emulating the liberal arts environment at Haverford. Though it ultimately educates the summer scholars on themes of ethical health care, this has been accomplished through studying literature and their attendance at several performances in addition to standard health studies education.
“Other workshops have included work in narrative medicine, art and medicine, lessons on how to attentively observe, wellness, both involving ourselves and those we care for, and book discussions,” said Charlie Siegel ‘20, a psychology major who spends his mornings at the Norris Square Community Alliance, an organization dedicated to empowering disadvantaged families to become self-reliant.
From the classroom to the community centers, each aspect of the emergent program promises to put its participants on a well-supported track to become effective and ethical figures in the field of health care.
“[This] experience has provided me with a larger perspective in how to navigate the healthcare system as a future physician,” said Siegel. “Though this program is in its infancy, I am very excited for future Haverford students to take advantage of the SKMC Scholars Program.”