July at the UMKC School of Medicine is a time for high school students to immerse themselves in the school’s annual Summer Scholars Program. The activity has been providing opportunities for minority and disadvantaged students in the Kansas City metropolitan area to get a head start on a potential career in health care for 37 years.
This summer’s class is the largest ever with 78 students signed up to take part, nearly 30 more students than a year ago.
Darius Jackson serves as coordinator of the School of Medicine’s diversity programs, including Summer Scholars. He said the growth is partly by design and partly out of necessity to meet a growing need.
“I was a little ambitious,” Jackson said. “We had around 300 applications for Summer Scholars this year. We kept seeing the number of applications increase and decided, let’s find a way to increase our numbers instead of turning away more students.”
The solution was to expand the program by adding a third two-week session and allowing in more first-time participants.
Previously, all students in the program for the first time were in the Summer Scholars group, and those returning for a second year were in the Advanced Summer Scholars program. This year, one class of first-year scholars was made up of high school juniors and the other consisted of high school seniors. Students returning for a second year of the program still participate in the Advanced Summer Scholars program.
Prior to starting the program, students and parents from all three groups participated in an orientation session. The full two-week session for juniors begans Monday, July 10, with seniors starting a week later and the Advanced Summer Scholars beginning the week after that.
Each year, Summer Scholars receive daily instruction in academic areas such as chemistry and language arts, and study anatomy and physiology in the school’s cadaver lab. Classroom experiences range from medical terminology and understanding health disparities to ACT and standardized test taking. Summer Scholars also experience different medical services such as emergency and outpatient medicine, rehabilitation, and nursing, as well as surgery.
The advanced program includes a research component and additional experiences in various clinical rotations.
Summer Scholars prepares students for a career in health care by helping them build a foundation for success in multiple areas including interview skills, study and test-taking strategies, and interpersonal and communication skills.