From high school to the hospital: The Penn Medicine Summer Program

An immersive program at the Perelman School of Medicine gives high school students a sneak peek at a potential future in the medical field.

How often do high school students get the chance to peek at a potential future in the medical field? One immersive program at the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) at the University of Pennsylvania does just that.

As a first-year medical student at PSOM, Jonathan Szeto is looking forward to exploring a number of specialties—specifically cardiology, pulmonology, and cardiothoracic surgery. However, unlike many students, Szeto had early exposure to his future career in medicine when he was just 17 years old.

High school students work on intubating a dummy.
Penn Medicine Summer Program participants practice using a medical manikin. (Image: Courtesy of Penn Medicine)

Thanks to his participation in the Penn Medicine Summer Program—a unique, immersive program designed for high school juniors and seniors interested in medical careers—Szeto had the opportunity to take part in basic medical training, simulations, and live demonstrations, an experience that helped influence his choice to become a doctor.

“What we’re hoping to do is expose students who are interested in science and medicine to a variety of experiences, helping foster our next generation of nurses, doctors, dentists, and health care professionals,” says Gregg Lipschik, an associate professor of pulmonary, allergy, and critical care at PSOM.

After high school, Szeto found himself at Penn again as an undergraduate student pursuing a double major in earth science and political science with minors in chemistry and classical studies.

“I was a premed student, but I took kind of a unique route and studied political science as well,” Szeto says. “The Penn Medicine high school program definitely made me very interested in medicine, but I wanted to use college as an opportunity to explore other interests—like policy and government—a bit more.”

Each week of the four-week Penn Medicine Summer Program is designed to represent a year in medical school: The first is focused on basic studies, the second is specialties, the third is surgery and psychiatry, and the fourth allows students to explore a career of their choosing.

“The students who take part in the program actually do things that some of our actual medical students haven’t experienced yet,” says Lipschik. “It’s really remarkable.”

This story is by Nicole Fullerton. Read more at Penn Medicine News.