Two years ago, Karlin Byrd was a Kansas City high school student exploring her options in the health care professions through the UMKC School of Medicine’s Summer Scholars program. Now, getting ready for her second year of college, Byrd is back for more as part of the inaugural class of the school’s new Summer Scholars program for college students.
“My first time in the program, I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician,” said Byrd, who attended Lincoln Prep High School. “I did the clinical rotations in Summer Scholars and realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
After spending her freshman year at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, where she is now studying to become a pharmacist, Byrd has recently joined other college students from Kansas City in the new STAHR Summer Scholars program.
Much like the high school version of Summer Scholars, it provides experiences in clinical settings, supplemental instruction in the sciences, research opportunities, and reinforced skill development to support student academic progression and retention. This six-week program goes even further. It provides college students insights into the professions of pharmacy and dentistry as well as medicine and more.
“Our objective is to increase the diversity of applicants to each of the schools and of those who are going into each of the health care professions,” said Allan Davis, program coordinator. “We want to open up the options to undergrads so they can explore the programs, find what fits for them and what they’re interested in. We’re providing an experience to prepare students to come into these professional programs.”
Last October, the School of Medicine, in collaboration with the UMKC schools of Pharmacy and Dentistry, received a $3.2-million STAHR Partnership grant to help students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds enter and succeed in health profession degree programs. Part of that grant is supporting the new college Summer Scholars program.
Ten Kansas City residents attending college at UMKC, Johnson County Community College, Kansas State, Rockhurst, Metropolitan Community College, Haskell Indian Nations University, Donnelly College and Hampton University are participating in the STAHR Summer Scholars. Another group of 12 college students from across the country who are nearing completion of their undergraduate degree with plans to enter dental school are participating in a School of Dentistry program that includes a one-and-a-half-week component of Summer Scholars and its own eight-week online program.
Students spent the first week in a series of personal development workshops focused on things from how to write a resume and prepare for professional program entry exams to learning basic research skills.
As the program continues, the students will get an overview of the medicine and pharmacy professions through shadowing experiences at Truman Medical Center and the medical, pharmacy and dental schools, and hands-on experiences and spend time learning medical terminology.
They are also exposed to the School of Medicine’s graduate programs for physician assistants and anesthesiologist assistants.
“These students get an intense look at a day in the life of a health care provider as well as some clinical experiences,” Davis said.
For Byrd, it’s been an eye-opening experience.
“Hampton has a six-year pharmacy program and I discovered I could still see patients but it would be a different experience than being a physician,” she said. “I came back to ask more questions about the health care professions. Now, I’m learning about all the opportunities. I still want to continue in pharmacy, but going through this program is really opening my eyes to all the other professions like physician assistant and the anesthesiologist assistants.”