Southeastern University Set to Start New Program to Prepare Students for Medical Schools
Pending approval, Southeastern University in Lakeland will launch a new medical sciences master’s degree in the fall 2023 to better prepare students for medical school – the only program of its type in Polk County.
The Master of Science in Medical Sciences (MSMS) will “provide a solid foundation for students aiming to begin advanced medical study to become a doctor, dentist, pharmacist or physician assistant,” according to communications coordinator Skylar Worthington.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges still must approve the program. The Fall 2023 semester is the scheduled start of the program.
The school will offer the three-semester program through an accelerated timeline. This is in conjunction with Tiber Health and Ponce Health Sciences University, Worthington said.
Program coordinator Wendy Hudson said, “Our partnerships will allow Polk County undergraduate students a local option to continue to gain graduate level health-care knowledge. This program will increase matriculation rates to professional programs. Additionally, it will retain clinicians to return as health-care professionals as we prepare for further expansion in Polk County.”
The program’s content falls in line with “the first year of medical school to enhance students’ competitiveness for admission to health professional schools,” she said.
Dr. Aimee Franklin, dean of the College of Natural & Health Sciences, said although many students are prepared for medical school, they often are not admitted on the first try. This master’s degree is designed to help with that and ensure they are successful once admitted.
“We recognized the need for students to feel more confident when applying to medical schools. We also saw their need to have the chance to create connections with their peers who are on the same journey.”
Students will earn the degree during their “gap” year, the time after earning their undergraduate degree and before they start medical school. “Succeeding once you get there should be the driving motivation when choosing how to spend gap years,” Franklin said.
Hudson said most students take at least two to three years before entering a health professional school. “While “gap” is the traditional term, we like to use ‘enhancement years.’ This is because these years are not actually pauses or gaps in educations but instead should be used to gain more experience or education to not only help a student gain entry into graduate programs but also succeed once they get there.”
Tiber Health designed the curriculum. While professors at Ponce Health Medical School in St. Louis will teach it through live stream. SEU and Ponce faculty will mentor the small cohort of SEU students who will be learning together.
Students will receive real-time reporting of their progress so they know if they are prepared to take the MCAT – the test to get into medical school – and the coursework in medical school. It is designed for students wanting to become doctors, dentists, pharmacists or physician assistants or even work in medical research.
Hudson said one immediate development goal for the program is to have a fall and spring start “to allow for student convenience and increase access to graduate level health science education.” About 20 to 30 students graduate from these type programs each year.
“We have articulation agreements with several health professional programs — medical schools, dental schools, pharmacy school and occupational therapy schools — that ensure students who meet a set of minimum requirements receive interview invites,” she said.
SEU students will benefit from being able to work with the university’s state-of-the-art Anatomage Table. This is “a virtual dissection instrument where students are able to investigate and dissect 3D renderings of real human cadavers,” Hudson said. Four cadavers that vary greatly have been digitized. “Students can digitally dissect real cadavers and do a virtual anatomy and physiology lab.”