To ensure the continued growth and success of osteopathic medicine, the profession will need to attract talented, highly qualified future physicians to its schools. Students are our profession’s future; we must seek out well-rounded candidates who are committed to osteopathic principles and practice.
With this objective in mind, last year the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) and the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) collaborated on a new venture to introduce premedical students to osteopathic medicine: National ShaDO Week.
During National ShaDO Week, premeds shadow osteopathic medical students, getting a glimpse into life inside medical school and an opportunity to form relationships within the osteopathic medical profession.
Last November, hundreds of premeds participated in the inaugural event, which was held at 28 osteopathic medical schools. An encore ShaDO Week is slated for April 13-19 to coincide with National Osteopathic Medicine Week.
Getting med schooled
During last year’s event, students sat in on physiology and clinical medicine lectures with their new mentors and joined them in their daily social activities, such as eating lunch and working out. Doing so, undergrads got a clearer idea of what to expect in the next step of their education. They also attended workshops that covered the basics of OPP and how to perfect their med school applications.
“Having a day when applicants can experience medical school is, to them, a day of living their dream,” says Desiree Hykes, OMS I, of the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, N.J., who hosted a premed last year. “The experience can be a powerful motivator to carry premeds through the application process.”
Medical students who host shadows get the satisfaction of sharing their wisdom with their greener peers, notes Matt Flamenbaum, OMS II.
“I really enjoyed having a mentee shadow me because I remember being there myself and being somewhat lost,” says Flamenbaum, who attends RowanSOM. “My mentee got to truly understand how medical school really works and experience some of the challenges ahead.”
ShaDO week is also a great opportunity to expose premeds to OMM, Flamenbaum says. A group of premeds at his school watched an instructor use osteopathic manipulative treatment to resolve a patient’s leg-length discrepancy, Flamenbaum says.
National ShaDO Week began as the brainchild of Devangi Patel, OMS III, SOMA’s junior pre-SOMA director, and grew with the aid of AACOM, admissions directors and osteopathic medical students around the country.
“A lot of premeds I talked to one-on-one were excited at the idea of shadowing students,” says Patel, who attends RowanSOM. “We students remember how rough it was. We can help inspire and motivate premeds, and we can expand osteopathic medicine’s reach.”
Organizers hope National ShaDO Week will coincide annually with National Osteopathic Medicine Week. Organizers hope to also offer premeds the opportunity to shadow physicians. Practicing DOs who want to participate can contact Pre-SOMA at email@example.com. Osteopathic medical students interested in taking part can also email Pre-SOMA or Gina Moses of AACOM at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct Pre-SOMA’s email address.