Students Healthcare

Local High School Students Get a Taste of Healthcare Careers

A total of 107 high school students from Monmouth and Ocean counties graduated from Mini-Medical School on Monday, Oct. 28 in Pollak Theatre.

A collaboration between Monmouth University, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, and Hackensack Meridian Health, the six-week Mini-Medical School program exposes local high school students to careers in medicine by providing them with opportunities to hear from various health care professionals, in fields ranging from pediatric endocrinology to neurosurgery.

Bernadette Dunphy, PT, DPT, Co-Director of the program and a Specialist Professor of Biology at Monmouth, said “Mini Medical School offers the opportunity to share our knowledge about what it is like to be a health care professional with these high school students. Every presenter in the program gave the students insight into what it is like to in their field of medicine or specialty.” 

Dunphy continued that “Seven students attended Monmouth as their choice of undergraduate studies because of this program. One of our recent students, Gabriella Gmeiner, attended Mini Medical as a high school student, and was one of our student Pre-Health Ambassadors for the 2019 program.”

Gabriella Gmeiner, now a freshman biology student at Monmouth, attended the Mini-Medical School at Central Regional High School in Bayville. She said, “The stories that the guest doctors told about what they do on a daily basis to help their patients stuck with me the most because I want to be able to make a difference in someone’s life just like them.”

Participating students were also introduced to Monmouth’s graduate programs in a hands-on lab experience, which focused on programs such as physician assistant, nursing, social work, speech-language pathology and athletic training.

Jeffrey Mass, Assistant Director of Career Services, said, “I see [this program] as a benefit because it’s great that Hackensack has that partnership with Monmouth students, and it’s a chance for high school students to come to Monmouth and see what we offer. So, it’s not just about passing exams, it’s about exploring meaningful topics.”

University faculty contributed by teaching, and students learned how to do a variety of tasks: a pulse oximetry (a noninvasive test to measure oxygen levels of the blood), test shoulder instability, and conduct a postural assessment.

Gmeiner added that attending the mini-medical school helped persuade her to attend Monmouth because she was able to experience the resources the school offers.

Mass said, “Given the fact that we’re always competing with neighboring schools, and considering the fact that we are centered by Center State, Hackensack, and Monmouth Medical, I think this program should be a top priority.”

The faculty from the Graduate School at Monmouth donated their time by teaching a clinical skill and, the Jersey Shore University Medical Center doctors came after their shift to give detailed talks about their specialty. 

This is information that these students wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to without a program like this, Dunphy explained.

“The benefit of this program lies in the many diverse specialties that were shown to them throughout the six-week series,” Dunphy concluded.

Monmouth University has hosted the Mini-Medical School for the past three years, when  David Kountz, M.D., M.B.A., the Associate Dean of the School of Medicine at Seton Hall University asked Dunphy to co-direct the program at Monmouth in 2017.

This year’s sessions took place on Monday’s from Sept. 16 to Oct. 28 and covered different topics at each lecture: How to get into medical school; What the heck is pediatric endocrinology?; Hands-on lab experience: How we teach future healthcare professionals in 2019; A day in the life of a neurosurgeon; and, A day in the life of a member of the trauma team.

The program began in 2013 with more than 500 students attending and more than 300 graduating.

High school students that are accepted must commit to all six sessions to obtain a graduation certificate. Often friends and family attend the ceremony which helps publicize the University.

The program admits 150 students to the program yearly, and this year they were chosen from a pool of 200 applicants from high schools in the surrounding area.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University