The Summer Enrichment Experience (SEE) at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM)-Virginia had a record number of applicants for its tenth summer, and participation continues to grow at the VCOM-Carolinas campus, which just hosted its fourth summer program.
The SEE Program was developed to provide a week-long, immersive medical school experience for rising high school sophomores through seniors, hosting boys the week of July 10-14, and girls the week of July 17-21. Schedules varied day-to-day on both the Virginia and Carolinas campuses, and included activities like anatomy labs and lectures, dissections, games and demonstrations from local law enforcement. Nearby campers attended during the day, and those from further away stayed in a hotel and participated in fun activities during the evening. This year, the program was highly sought after, with more than 125 high school girls applying for 70 available spots at the Virginia campus.
SEE participants this year came from counties throughout Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. This year’s group had a few campers with ties to VCOM, including the daughter of a Class of 2008 graduate, children of VCOM and Virginia Tech faculty and staff, and the children of local physicians.
Participation in the SEE Program is free of charge for high school students, thanks to a generous and unnamed donor. The lack of financial barriers allows the program to recruit from underprivileged areas in the region during activities like VCOM’s high school outreach programs. With the popularity of the program, word-of-mouth also helps to bring in campers.
VCOM’s mission includes meeting the needs of rural and medically unserved populations, and SEE is helping to do just that. “We are reaching out to the Appalachian region... it’s helping our communities in general to increase awareness of medical professions,” said Kim Garnett, Education Technician for the Graduate Certificate Premedical Program at VCOM. “We are trying to create more doctors for underserved regions. Kids realize that they can go to medical school and then go back to where they lived their entire lives to be doctors and serve their communities.”
Many of the participants have never been on a college campus before, so during the week have an opportunity to explore the VCOM campuses and, for Virginia participants, the nearby Virginia Tech campus. VCOM students and faculty lead the program, offering campers a holistic approach to learning about medicine, catering to the current trends for high school students and adapting plans to fit the needs of the group. “We want them to know they can do this – this is an option for them, no matter where they come from,” said Garnett. “The kids get so inspired every year. They leave thinking they can actually be doctors. They develop lasting friendships and positive associations.”
With a growing number of applicants and willing VCOM students and faculty to coordinate the program every year, the SEE program continues to grow and further carry out VCOM’s mission to prepare globally-minded, community-focused physicians to meet the needs of rural and medically underserved populations.