Giving Pre-Med Students a Clinical Head Start

Giving Pre-Med Students a Clinical Head Start

The Guthrie Scholars program doesn’t just benefit those who participate in it. By supporting promising pre-med students as they develop into the next generation of great doctors, the program also serves as an investment in the long-term health and wellness of the local community.

For pre-med students at Binghamton University and Wilkes University, the Guthrie Scholars Premedical Internship program provides an invaluable learning opportunity. In fact, as former Guthrie Scholar and current Guthrie General Surgery PGY2 resident Luke Dombert, MD, describes it, the program is similar to the experience of a third-year medical school student.

“If you’re a pre-med student trying to gain an understanding of your career options, you might spend weeks or months trying to arrange a single day where you can shadow someone,” says Dr. Dombert. “With the Guthrie Scholars program, you get in-depth exposure to every aspect of the medical profession over the course of an entire semester. Nobody I met at medical school had spent as much time in a clinical setting as I had before getting there.”

As part of the program, students complete:

  • Up to 24 clinical observation rotations in a full range of specialties, with additional time for electives
  • Hands-on skills training in Guthrie’s simulation labs
  • A medical research project, with a formal report and presentation
  • Critical care flight experiences if there are patients in need of air transport
  • A medical terminology course
  • Emergency medical service experiences

Rob Behm, MD (General Surgery Residency, ’12), has been working with the Guthrie Scholars program for several years now, and says he wishes he had the opportunity to participate in such a program before going to medical school.

“Students in the Guthrie Scholars program have a huge competitive advantage when it comes to applying to medical school,” says Dr. Behm. “Almost all of them end up getting into their top choices. They also begin to develop relationships and skills that can help them later in their career, and can start to narrow down their fields of interest sooner.”

Another aspect of the Guthrie Scholars program that gives students a competitive advantage is the research component, where they learn how to use the hospital systems to compile data and then write papers that are often directed toward specific research journals.

“Many of our scholars have had their work published in peer-reviewed journals, which is relatively rare for pre-med students,” says Dr. Behm.

Delivering Better Results for Patients

Ashley Berlot, who was a Guthrie Scholar in 2017 and will soon be heading to medical school, says the personal connections she developed during the program provided invaluable guidance.

“From helping me strengthen my medical school applications and writing recommendations to advising me on my research project, everyone at Guthrie took a personal interest in seeing me succeed,” she says.

The hands-on nature of the program was appealing to Berlot, who enjoyed the opportunity to practice procedures in the simulation lab, and got her first taste of clinical research studying a rare form of colorectal cancer.

With the help of her advisor, General Surgery Residency Program Director Burt Cagir, MD, she wrote a paper with the goal of helping doctors more effectively diagnose and treat the disease, and she had the abstract published in the journal Gastroenterology. Berlot also presented her findings at academic conferences in Boston and Washington, D.C.

“Dr. Cagir didn’t just help me learn how to conduct and present research,” she says. “He also showed me why research is so important, and how research can be used to improve clinical practices and deliver better results for patients.”

By helping us educate future doctors like Berlot, Guthrie donors like you ensure there will be a steady stream of exceptional clinicians delivering excellent results for Guthrie patients far into the future.