July 18, 2018

Aspiring docs visit the School of Medicine as part of six-week mentoring program for high school, undergrad students

School of Medicine Dean Jack D. Sobel, M.D., center, meets July 17 with participants of the Medical Mentors Summer Program.

Ashley Jones is merely 17, but she is quite confident she wants to be a doctor, whittling her college choices by researching the percentage of students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences.

Jones will begin her senior year of high school this fall, but not before she completes her second consecutive stint in the Medical Mentors Summer Program, a collaboration of the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Detroit Medical Center. The program, now in its sixth year, provides a meaningful shadowing and mentoring experience for junior and senior high school students, and freshman and sophomore college students with a more than passing interest in becoming doctors.

Jones is one of 24 students who spent July 17 at the School of Medicine, talking with medical students and learning how to position themselves for a competitive medical school application. School of Medicine Dean Jack D. Sobel, M.D., first shared his experiences growing up and then practicing medicine in Apartheid-era South Africa, then discussed why students choose Wayne State University. More than 9,000 people applied for the Class of 2022's 290 spots.

"It is extremely competitive, but by no means impossible," he said. "What is unique about Wayne State? We believe that health care is a right, and we educate our students with that value system. We attract students who appreciate what we stand for."

While the medical school visit is limited to one day, the experiences entrenched in medicine last the full six weeks in Detroit. The participants select three two-week clinical rotations in which they shadow doctors at Harper-Hutzel hospitals.

Since 2017, the program has been supported by $100,000 grant from the DMC Foundation to Wayne State University. The program founder and Chief Medical Officer of Detroit Receiving and Harper-Hutzel Hospital Patricia Wilkerson-Uddyback, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., '91, and the School of Medicine's Office of Diversity and Inclusion Director De'Andrea Matthews, Ph.D., are co-principal investigators on the grant. The program has grown considerably since its first year.

"My hope is these students become future medical students here at Wayne State University," Dr. Uddyback said.

Jones, in particular, has known since she was a little girl that she wanted to be a physician, even before her father, Abraham Arhin, M.D., started medical school at the School Medicine. He graduated in 2016 and is in his second year of residency in the combined Med/Peds program at the Detroit Medical Center. She said she was often called out by her mother and grandmother for being compassionate as a child. "I always liked helping people," she said.