David Kountz, M.D., co-director of the Mini-Medical School and associate dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, speaks to high schools students at the Mini-Medical School graduation on April 1.
More than 60 area high school students who recently completed the Mini-Medical School at Georgian Court University received a head start on their goal of becoming health professionals. Their April 1 “graduation” at GCU marked the end of a special program that introduced them to opportunities in medicine.
“The path to becoming a physician, nurse practitioner, or any other health care professional demands persistence and a commitment to caring,” said Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D., president of Georgian Court University. “We certainly saw those characteristics in this group of motivated and highly engaged high school students. We are proud to see them graduate from the program and believe this program puts them on a path to contribute to the profession—and to society—in the future.”
The free, six-week program drew sophomores, juniors, and seniors from 26 high schools—from Union County High School in North Jersey to MATES in Stafford Township—as they traveled to GCU’s Lakewood campus for Monday night classes. They learned about the preparation that goes into becoming a medical professional and the demands of different jobs in health care. Lecturers included Georgian Court faculty as well as family medicine and specialty doctors, a brain surgeon, nurses and nurse practitioners, and trauma team members.
Getting into Medical School Is Just the Beginning
No matter the medical career path they choose, it begins with doing well in high school and college, and getting into medical school—which is really just the beginning, explained David Kountz, M.D., co-director of the Mini-Medical School and associate dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. He kicked off the lecture series on February 25 with a peek into what it takes to get into medical school and why the profession needs more doctors.
“About 33 percent of active physicians in New Jersey are over age 60—the third-highest rate in the nation,” he told the teenagers as he shared the educational timeline to become a doctor and explained the state’s need for more physicians. In addition, he said, only about 6 out of 10 local medical students stick around to practice medicine in New Jersey. Dr. Kountz encouraged them to continue pursuing medicine and health care because of the projected shortage in the next 10 years.
“We need to reach out and encourage more New Jersey students to consider medicine as a career,” he said. “We also need to diversify our pool of potential physicians, attracting students—from New Jersey and outside the state—from underrepresented groups in medicine.”
The need is pressing in nearby communities, he said.
“Ocean County—particularly Southern Ocean County—is vulnerable to a growing physician shortage,” Dr. Kountz added. “Outreach with programs like the Mini-Medical School at GCU is important to the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University to help us meet these goals.”
Increasingly, more students are pursuing undergraduate degrees that will prepare them for health-related careers. At Georgian Court University, for example, the B.S.N. in Nursing program is growing fast, and so are areas like exercise science, social work, health sciences, health profession studies, and biology, which some students choose in preparation for medical school.
“The health care industry is rapidly changing,” said GCU Interim Provost Janice Warner, Ph.D. “Besides the traditional professions of doctor and nurse, opportunities abound from patient advocacy to quality control and management. The Mini-Medical School enlightened students about the many career paths they can consider in this important field of work.”
See more photos from the Mini-Medical School Graduation here.