Jacob Elsass of Wadsworth was pretty sure he wanted to pursue a career as either a doctor or a medical researcher.
But now the 18-year-old, who is attending Medcamp, a program at Rootstown medical school NEOMED, is leaning toward becoming a doctor.
Since Thursday, Elsass and 49 other students have been working closely with medical student, physician and professor mentors to work through a case study about a patient. Students have been studying clues to figure out the patient’s ailments, diagnosis and potential treatments — similar to an exercise for first-year medical students, said Patti Thornborough, Medcamp director.
Having the hands-on experience is so much more engaging than being in a classroom with a textbook, said Elsass, who will be attending Case Western Reserve University this fall to study physics.
“I have never been this close to any of the medical equipment or any of the facilities as I am now,” he said. “This has helped me realize I do like the more human interaction involved with being a doctor more than a researcher.”
That’s exactly the goal of the camp, said Thornborough.
There is a predicted shortage of 120,000 physicians in the United States by 2032, with a majority being primary care doctors.
“We’re trying to tap into them as they get closer to med school so if they didn’t think it was possible, we’re saying ‘Yes, they can,’ especially students in disadvantaged areas,” said Thornborough, who is also regional program director for the Area Health Education Center. The center, funded by a federal grant, recruits, trains and retains health professionals from and to medically underserved areas.
While the Medcamp program is in its 19th year, this year the program switched to students who had just graduated from high school or are in their first three years of college.
Medcamp used to be for student after freshman year of high school, but the program organizers decided to target older students who are closer to college and medical school as a recruiting tool, said Thornborough.
NEOMED has had at least 57 Medcamp alumni return to NEOMED for medical school and who are practicing in Northeast Ohio now, she said. It’s possible the number of Medcamp alumni who have attended other medical schools and are physicians is higher, because it’s been hard to stay in touch with students in the seven or so years between freshman year and graduating college, she said.
A few Medcamp students have also gone on to pharmacy school or other healthcare professions, too, she said.
Students who participate in Medcamp stay on Kent State University’s campus during the three-day program and are bused to the NEOMED campus in Rootstown Township. Tuition for the program is $150, though there are tuition waivers available.
“This has been a long established program. We’re taking a look at it with new eyes with this new group of individuals,” said Thornborough. “We’d like these students to take away the fact that either really ingrains their desire to go onto medicine or if not, it gives them an opportunity to learn about what activities are here at NEOMED for a health profession of their choice.”
Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 3
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