Three Post-baccalaureate Premedical Program trainees — Michael Burling, Eddie Ford and Stephen Hobson — were awarded fellowships during the 2017 OptiMize Spring Showcase, which they will use to bring their public safety initiative, The First Five, to fruition.

The OptiMize Spring Showcase is an annual competition that brings groups of students together to solve problems they see in their lives through social impact projects. This year, 37 student fellows were awarded $200,000 to work on their projects over the course of the summer.

Burling, Ford and Hobson created their project with the goal of increasing individuals’ abilities to respond to an emergency within the first five minutes of an accident, even before more highly-trained responders arrive on the scene.

Ford described how the project came to be, stating his group saw a poster for the social challenge and quickly drew on their shared knowledge of being medical providers. Through their shared experiences, they realized bystanders lack vital knowledge needed to provide aid during an emergency.

“We saw a poster for the OptiMize Social Innovation Challenge and we quickly gravitated to our similar experiences of being medical providers, which allowed us to see a fundamental lack of knowledgeable bystander application of medical skills during an emergency as well as the issue of ‘the bystander effect,’ ” he said. “So we entered the challenge as The First Five with the goal of developing a sustainable organization that provides an adaptable and hands-on curriculum to all ages to teach them how to perform basic medical skills, as well as being able to defeat the bystander effect.”

Furthermore, Ford explained that receiving a fellowship will allow his group to spend the summer building their brand and organizations into reputable entities that spread knowledge about medical health.

“I speak for the entire The First Five when I say we were ecstatic to be selected by the committee to receive funding for our organization along with paid fellowships,” he said. “This fellowship will allow us to work fulltime on The First Five this summer so that we may build it into a brand that is synonymous with providing the general public with basic medical knowledge in order for them to help in a medical emergency because we at The First Five believe anyone can save a life.”

Ford, as well as his group members, participate in the MEDPREP program at the University of Michigan Medical School, which prepares students without a science background for medical school and for a career as a physician.

Students in the program are not only exposed to lectures covering the major topics of physics, chemistry and biology, but also participate in hands-on experiential learning opportunities in the University’s highly-ranked Medical School.

In addition to being exposed to a science-intensive curriculum, students also benefit from tutoring services, review sessions, reserved academic course sections, workshops and even MCAT exam preparation. As one of the many opportunities for career preparation, for instance, students can interact with medical school faculty in a uniquely-designed Foundations for Aspiring Physicians course.

Ford said he graduated from the University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, then decided to take a year off to decide what his next career choice would be. He became a basic Emergency Medical Technician in order to serve others during his time away from academia, but this job made him realize he had a passion for medicine and ultimately wanted to become a physician.

Ford said not having essential prerequisites led him to MEDPREP, a program implemented in 2015 that assists students without science degrees in applying to medical school.

“The major obstacle in my way of becoming a physician was that I had only taken very few science courses during undergrad, so that meant I lacked the pre-reqs to get into medical school,” he said. “A year and a half had passed and I decided it was time to find a program to help me get into medical school. I soon discovered that the University of Michigan had a newly formed MEDPREP program which is designed to take non-science students and assist them in the process of preparing mentally and academically to apply and succeed in medical school.”

In an interview with Michigan Medicine media, program director Matthew Wishart described the ideal candidates for the MEDPREP program.

“This is the ideal program for a motivated non-science graduate who is ready for an intensive program at a high level,” he said. “We are especially interested in those who have already sought experiences to help and serve others, and who are committed to begin formal preparation for a career in medicine.”

Although the program is intense — participants take all medical school perquisites during a 12 month period — Ford said he has had a terrific experience.

“The support and advising I received from the director of the program Dr. Wishart along with the close friendships I formed with many in my cohort really helped me succeed and get through the past 12 months,” he said.

 

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