Wednesday, June 3, 2009

MSU medical students serve as high school mentors

EAST LANSING, Mich. — About 40 students from Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine are helping Lansing high school freshmen learn academic and life skills as part of the college’s START program, which soon will expand both in Lansing and to Southeast Michigan.

The Lansing Eastern High School program, which stands for Striving Toward a Reachable Target, culminates May 29 with a barbecue and year-end ceremony at the high school starting at 2:30 p.m.

“The START program is a perfect example of the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s commitment to voluntarism and the community,” Dean William D. Strampel said. “Despite the time constraints and rigors of medical school, our students are actively making a difference in many venues, and they’re learning skills, such as cultural competency, that will make them better physicians.”

As part of the program, the more than 40 freshmen from Lansing Eastern took part in twice-a-month study tables that promote productive and lasting study habits for use in high school and college. At separate monthly meetings, the osteopathic students talk with the freshmen about solutions to personal issues that may be affecting their school work.

“The START program is unlike anything that has been tried before at Eastern High School,” said Pierre Balthazar, a guidance counselor at the high school. “Its phenomenal success can only be credited to the commitment and leadership of the medical students themselves and the leadership at the college.

“The program’s impact at Eastern High School will be felt for years to come.”

As role models, the osteopathic students also shared their own visions of becoming physicians and the attributes and skills to make that success possible. Of the high school students who took part, some had recently immigrated to the Lansing area and did not speak English.

The college is looking to expand the program at Lansing Eastern for next fall, with several of the mentors staying on although they will be entering clinical rotations as third-year students.

Also in fall, with the expansion in Southeast Michigan to sites at the Macomb University Center and Detroit Medical Center over the summer, the college is looking to develop relationships with area high schools so the START program can be implemented in those areas beginning in 2010.

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