While many students in the sciences consider medicine as a future career, it can be difficult to understand in advance just how demanding the experience will be. Since 2017, Knox has offered pre-med students the opportunity to participate in a two-week summer immersive program, hosted by the University of Illinois College of Medicine—Peoria and JUMP Trading Simulation Center, that's designed to introduce them to the realities of medical school and life as healthcare professionals.
The JUMP program teaches students a variety of teamwork, communication, and clinical skills. They learn, for example, how to read electrocardiograms, how to suture wounds, how to communicate with patients, and how to conduct physical examinations.
After learning new material during lecture presentations, students apply what they've learned by dealing with simulated patients who are experiencing different types of medical situations. As part of the training, students also use virtual reality to gain a better understanding of anatomy.
Shortly before this year's two-week program ended, participants were tested on what they learned, and awards were given to the students who performed best. Jordyn Hall '21, a biochemistry major, won the overall award for performance across all domains as tested on the Objective Structured Clinical Examination, which evaluates multiple skills, such as clinical reasoning and reading ECGs. All students received certificates for successfully completing the pre-medical immersion program.
While COVID-19 safety protocols limited how much time participants could spend in actual healthcare facilities at this year’s program, the six students who participated said it was still an incredibly valuable experience.
“My experience at JUMP was amazing,” said biochemistry major Thao Luong '23. “I got to do a lot of hands-on work and learned a lot about specialties I never thought about.”
While Luong is interested in becoming a physician, JUMP participants also explored other types of careers in the healthcare field. They attended informational events where they learned about nursing programs, paramedics, emergency medical services (EMS), firefighting, and other fields that deal very closely with medicine.
“I want to be someone who can help people,” said pre-med student Siang Hnin '22, who wanted to become an emergency doctor before attending JUMP. “I never considered EMS and paramedics before JUMP, and I honestly might be more interested in those areas than becoming an emergency doctor.”
Another participant, neuroscience major Benjamine Mihanda '21, said: “The experience not only reinforced my decision to become a doctor, but also It made me think more about the type of life I want to have during my medical training, which is directly related to the possible specialties within medicine.”
In previous JUMP summer immersion programs, Knox students have shadowed health professionals, but that wasn't possible in 2021 due to restrictions related to the pandemic. Instead, students worked on additional simulations and activities. “I wasn't quite sure of what to expect at the beginning,” Mihanda said. “But the experience was really eye-opening and exciting: it offered a unique sneak peek of what it takes to become a physician.”
“It gave me a lot of information on the process of going to medical school and professions afterward,” Luong added. “It has also opened me up to different specialties in medicine that I never thought was for me before, like emergency medicine and pediatrics. It was a very enriching experience, and I would recommend other students who are interested in the medical field to apply.”
Learn more about pre-health education at Knox.