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GA-PCOM Launches Opportunities Academy

This summer, Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) in Suwanee kicked off a new program for local high school students interested in healthcare careers. In partnership with Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Berkmar and Meadowcreek high schools, the Opportunities Academy was held from June 19-30. The two-week program was designed to serve as a pipeline to guide motivated students toward training and careers in the fields of science and medicine.

Second-year DO student Claire Dorcent, who led the program as Student Coordinator, explained, “Our main goal was to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the healthcare fields.”

With a busy schedule of activities directed by volunteer GA-PCOM students, faculty and staff, the Opportunities Academy students enjoyed interactive labs and dissections in the College’s Anatomy Lab, diagnosed robot-patients in the new Simulation Center, took field trips to the Shepherd Center and Bodies: The Exhibition in Atlanta, attended discussions with guest lecturers, practiced Tai Chi, learned about applying to college and health professional programs, and explored various subjects from cardiology to infectious diseases to neuroscience.

“We want to engage and get the kids excited about the endless possibilities that are out there for them, through exposure to ourselves and other healthcare professionals,” Dorcent added.

On the last day of the Opportunities Academy, the high school students received certificates of completion from the College and white coats from their GA-PCOM mentors at a graduation ceremony attended by family and friends. Capt. Kenneth L. Dominguez, MD, MPH (USPHS), Medical Epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control, was featured as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. The inaugural class of Opportunities Academy graduates also presented clinical cases in front of those in attendance, and all enjoyed refreshments at the ceremony’s conclusion.

Other partners included CSL Behring, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the 3M Foundation, and the VWR Foundation.