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'Aspiring DOctors' gives students taste of medical school (slideshow)


A new program lays a foundation for CMSD high school students interested in medicine and sets them on the path to becoming physicians and healthcare workers who serve their communities.

The four-year Aspiring DOctors Precollege Program is a pipeline initiative offered by the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Cleveland campus. It’s designed for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to foster their interest in pursuing careers in science and health -- ideally in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.


“The main goal is to give minority students opportunities in science and medicine that they might not otherwise have,” said Terra Ndubuizu, one of the program’s directors.


Ndubuizu attended Whitney Young Leadership Academy, a CMSD school in southeast Cleveland, and later graduated from Warrensville Heights High School. Ndubuizu said she was motivated to create more pathways to success for students in the communities where she grew up.


The program has 100 spots for CMSD students from John F. Kennedy PACT and the High Tech Academy program, which allows District high school students to earn credit at Cuyahoga County Community College while also working toward their high school diploma. The Aspiring DOctors program is also offered to Warrensville Heights High School students.


The STEM-based program gives students interested in healthcare careers the opportunity to participate in hands-on clinical activities, lectures and case-based lessons taught by the same faculty who teach OUHCOM medical students. Students also participate in workshops to prepare for college and careers and build skills in resume writing, interviewing and leadership.


The year-round program offers an increasingly challenging curriculum from ninth to 12th grade:

  • 50 CMSD ninth-graders go to the OUHCOM Cleveland campus for a day to discover more about medical school and participate in activities such as learning how doctors sterilize themselves to prepare for surgery.
  • In 10th grade, 20 CMSD students attend a "ShaDOw Day" and learn alongside medical students, including attending an in-depth lecture, taking a clinical skills class and having lunch with faculty and staff
  • 15 CMSD 11th-graders visit the campus four times during the school year to attend lectures, participate in college readiness workshops and complete advanced workshops, including charting a patient's medical history. They are also paired with the same medical student each session as an opportunity for networking and mentoring.
  • During 12th grade, 15 CMSD students participate in a yearlong experience that allows them to take a close look at diagnostic, treatment and laboratory settings and participate in activities that support their transition to college. They also conduct research on a topic related to the health needs of their communities and present it to OUHCOM faculty, staff and students.

There is no application for ninth-grade students, but students in all other grades must complete an application and maintain a certain GPA (2.5 for 10th grade and 3.0 for 11th and 12th grades).


Eleventh-graders were on the campus last week for their second of four sessions. Students donned hospital scrubs embroidered with the hospital's and the program's logos as they explored human anatomy with cadavers, learned about the Zika virus and flu vaccines and participated in stretching and breathing exercises guided by doctors.


D’Mauree Wiley, an 11th-grader at JFK PACT (Problem-based Academy of Critical Thinking) said he was excited to learn more about how the heart and lungs function in the school’s state-of-the-art anatomy lab. Wiley said he thinks Aspiring DOctors will give him a leg up on his journey to becoming an emergency room doctor.


“Just in the few hours I’ve been here, I’ve learned a lot of things that I might not have learned until later on in my education,” Wiley said. “Learning it a little bit earlier will help give me a boost in the future.”


John Marshall School of Information Technology 11th-grader Priyanka Rizal said she is interested in medicine but isn’t sure what specialty to pursue. Aspiring DOctors gives her the chance to dabble in different areas, she says.


“We get to be exposed to different things, so I want to use this experience to see what I like the most, and then I can go into that field in the future,” Rizal said.

See the gallery below for photos from an Aspiring DOctors session.