When 75 OsteoScholars picked up their program packets at the start of this school year, each received a timely cloth face mask printed with Future Doctor on it instead of the traditional T-shirt. That’s just one of the creative changes made by Charlene Dubois, who coordinates all aspects of OsteoScholars from reviewing student applications and recruiting volunteers to developing each monthly meeting.
Recognizing the significant role of OsteoScholars in fostering new doctors, and the risk of spreading the coronavirus if the students met in person this fall, Charlene took on the ambitious challenge of adapting the meetings to video conferences with online break-out rooms. As education coordinator for both the Foundation and the West Michigan Osteopathic Association, Charlene is a pro at developing programs that engage students.
“We began by having the students talk about what sparked their interest in a medical career and offered a roadmap for how they will get there,” says Charlene. “We were able to have one in-person session for students to work on essential documents such as their resume, letters of reference, and essays for their college applications. And they enjoyed the online visit from an OsteoCHAMPS alum now practicing in California.”
Attendance for the virtual sessions has been steady. Students report they especially like interacting with the resident volunteers and talking with others who share their career goals.
Hands-on sessions in a simulation lab and a field trip to Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, both popular with students in previous years, may still be offered. COVID-19 infection rates in Michigan will be assessed in spring to determine if the programs can be safely scheduled then.
Given estimates by the Association of American Medical Colleges that the US may face a shortage of more than 100,000 physicians by 2033, OsteoScholars is a priority for the Foundation and one way we are helping meet the growing need for health care providers.