Summer Programs: CAMP

This is an interview of Ms. Lizzette  Melo-Benitez (University of Chicago Class of 2013). She participated in the CAMP program during Summer 2010. You can contact her via email with any further questions.

What is the name of your summer program?

The program is the Chicago Academic Medicine Program, also known as CAMP. It is a part of the summer pipeline programs offered at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. You must be a rising 1st, 2nd or 3rd year to apply. The website is: http://pritzker.uchicago.edu/about/diversity/pipeline/camp.shtml

Please give a brief summary of the program

The purpose of this program is to expose minority students to the medical field through a series of lectures, labs and doctor shadowing experiences. The participants are informed about pressing medical issues such as the influence of wealth, geography, and culture in health. Students are also given the opportunity to work collaboratively for biweekly presentations about disease affecting the cardiovascular, reproductive and nervous systems. The program aims to establish a network among these students sharing an interest in medicine, as well as give them insight in the medical school application process and what it takes to become a physician.

Please give a brief summary of your experience with the program

As a participant, I heard many lectures about three body systems (2 weeks were dedicated to each) and prepared a PowerPoint presentation with 1-2 fellow CAMPers. Preparation for the presentations required that I spend more time in the library than I would have liked in the summertime, but developing the necessary skills to research articles from medical journals made it worthwhile.

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Each presentation allowed me to practice with public speaking as we had to present in front of CAMPers, medical students, doctors and deans. Presentations were every other Friday. Every Thursday I shadowed a doctor in various fields of medicine, such as OB/Gyn, Anesthesia, Cardiology, Community Health, and Emergency medicine.

Could you talk about the good/great/amazing things about your program?

The best part of the experience was shadowing doctors. Not only do you get an opportunity to observe open heart surgery, but you get to see what being a doctor is like in different settings and different stages of the career. Shadowing a resident was always the best because they like to explain everything that’s going on during your observation.

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Shadowing an attending allows you to ask questions about the choices they made in their career path that may or may not be helpful to you in the future. Another great part of the program was the topic of Health Disparities. Although we didn’t get much in depth discussion from the two books we read throughout the program, I thought it was great to have lectures about how health affects our community as minorities.

What about things in the program that could have been better?

A lot us thought that adding a community service component would definitely improve the program. The lectures about Health Disparities were very interesting, however, just hearing about it isn’t enough. Having a community-based project we could have worked on over the weekends would have sent a stronger message about taking action rather than just sitting through the lecture.

Anything important that you learned during your experience that you want to share?

I would say the most important thing I learned from CAMP is that there really is no "right" way to pursue a career in medicine. It’s easy to forget that sometimes as an undergrad. Well, for me anyway. With the reassurance from all the doctors that shared their experiences to us and my discussion with a Dean of Admissions, I know that I need to make decisions based on what is best for me, not on what everyone else is doing.

Could you explain how you found out about the program, the application process and any tips for students interested in the program?

I found out about the program through a friend. All you have to do is write a short personal statement, send a letter of recommendation and your transcripts.

Tips for Getting into to the Program

  1. The central theme of the program is diversity, so I suggest using the essay portions of the application to express why you feel diversity is important in academic medicine.
  2. Share your own experiences and ideas
  3. Also, if you have demonstrated an interest in serving underprivileged populations in any way during high school and/or your College years, definitely include that in your application

You can contact Lizzette at lmelobenitez@uchicago.edu

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