Summer 2020 Program News
Physically Distant But Socially Connected
Grand Forks, ND--The Indians Into Medicine Program (INMED) at the University of North Dakota (UND) held three successful programs this summer for American Indian students from middle school through medical school matriculants. Despite the challenges of offering educational opportunities during the pandemic, INMED connected with a record number of students across the country.
INMED was in the thick of planning for the annual Summer Institute (SI) when it received news that UND had decided not to allow on-campus programs for the summer. SI is an academic enrichment program for American Indians in grades 7 through 12 who are interested in health careers that has been held on the UND campus since 1973. A team of staff, instructors, medical students, and interns quickly pivoted to turn the six-week residential program into a four-week distance learning opportunity with COVID-19 as the unifying theme for the curriculum. INMED staff felt it was more important than ever to offer the program. More than 30 students watched recorded lessons, engaged in virtual discussions with instructors and peers, shared papers and presentations, met with medical school mentors, and even made their own corona viruses out of art supplies.
SI students build strong relationships, and returning students missed being with their SI family, but they appreciated the opportunity to continue their learning and connect with fellow students. “I learned more about the science that is happening around us and hope to become a doctor,” one student reported. “This program is what I need to boost me towards my goals.”
Aspiring medical students representing communities from Alaska to Oklahoma took part in the six-week Med Prep program, which was held remotely this summer for the first time. Med Prep is a program for American Indian college students and graduates who are preparing to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and apply to medical school. A cohort of 12 students participated in instructor-led group and individual tutoring sessions and completed weekly practice tests, as well as attending presentations and discussions by faculty and medical students on tribal health policy issues, medical school admissions, and one-on-one advising sessions. In addition, four students participated asynchronously for a record total of 16 Med Prep participants. Students were able to form bonds and continued to study together and even visit each other after the program’s end.
The final program of the summer was CLIMB, a prematriculation program which brings together incoming INMED medical students for an intensive experience designed to foster their success in medical school. From the comfort of their homes across the country, the eight students participated in two weeks of faculty-led sessions to prepare them for the rigors of medical school, learn personal wellness strategies, and develop a sense of community. Faculty and staff even took students on a virtual tour of an Indian Health Service facility and an eagle’s nest.
Students missed the opportunity to meet each other and faculty in-person but appreciated the flexibility and additional time at home with friends and family. “I want to say Nia:wen, Ah-ho for everything,” wrote one student. “This program is great in preparing us for PCL and other foundational science topics. I loved getting to know fellow INMED people and building a cohort which will be important as we progress in our program.”