By Dr. Mark Wood
Professor of Chemistry
“Service has always been a big part of my life. As I worked toward my goal of becoming a physician, I constantly sought out ways to lend a hand in my community. In my future, I simply want to give back to the communities that helped mold me into the person I am today. Becoming a physician is the best way I know how to serve those around me, and I can’t think of a more rewarding way of life.”
Savannah Davis ’15, medical student at University of Missouri Medical School
Savannah was accepted into the Bryant Medical Scholars program at Missouri University when she was a sophomore at Drury University. Savannah, like most of Drury’s students, is intelligent, organized, highly motivated, hardworking and friendly. She is committed to making the world better, and now she is positioned to make a positive difference for many years to come.
The Drury story is about students. Make no mistake: faculty dance and laugh and sing when our students succeed and we often secretly congratulate ourselves for having had such a significant part in shaping their lives.
The exceptional quality of our students and the reputation Drury enjoys at regional medical schools is exemplified by the five pre-acceptance programs we have with prestigious Missouri schools of medicine. Each pre-acceptance program has its own unique attributes and objectives. For example, the St. Louis University School of Medicine’s pre-acceptance requirements involve ACT scores, GPA, a prescribed set of courses students must complete, and a healthcare shadowing experience. The University of Missouri Bryant Scholars program has similar requirements but also stipulates that students graduate from a rural high school and make a commitment to participate in Missouri University’s rural track program during medical school.
We are proud of our pre-acceptance programs, but we also have an outstanding record at Drury of helping students go on to medical school even if they are not in one of these programs. In fact, last year 14 of 16 students who applied to medical school are now attending medical school, and only seven of these students were part of a pre-acceptance program. When students do not get into medical school on their first try, we continue to advocate for them so that they are often accepted when they reapply the following year.
Drury actualizes the concept of linking academic experiences with engaged learning opportunities that challenge students to translate their intellectual skills into applications that serve others. One of the ways we’ve done this is establishing the Drury Health Service Corps (DHSC), a selective group of high-achieving pre-health students who commit to serve the healthcare needs of the local community. If selected to DHSC, students begin service in their first year and are given red clinical coats to identify them.
An example of Drury’s commitment to the community began two years ago when a group of Drury science faculty began conversations with leaders of the Jordan Valley Community Health Center (JVCHC). These discussions opened opportunities for students to assist JVCHC in providing medical care to the underserved population within the Springfield regional community. The JVCHC-Drury partnership was formed to cultivate in our students the empathy, understanding and skills necessary to assist in the care of the medically underserved so that Drury pre-health students are better prepared to become the patient-centered healthcare providers of the future. Thus far, the program has been a monumental success with over 50 students participating; it has expanded to include summers and winter breaks. And Drury Health Service Corps’ students are making positive differences in the lives of others. Returning JVCHC patients now often ask for the “kids in the red coats” when they arrive for their appointments and JVCHC has asked for more student volunteers in the future.
The Drury Health Service Corps and the partnership with JVCHC was designed to provide our students with the experience and expertise that would set them apart as candidates for competitive careers in healthcare. It is not a coincidence that this summer six DHSC students were pre-accepted to start medical school at St. Louis University in 2017. These six students challenged themselves to combine academic excellence with a personal commitment to serve others that distinguished them among their peers and helped them gain acceptance into an outstanding medical school.
It is a magnificent accomplishment to be selected into medical school, but this is only the beginning. Drury faculty members strive to instill in their students the essential habits of mind for making judiciously thoughtful choices for their careers and lives. Such choices are vital for sustaining a sense of balance through the ups and downs healthcare professionals will encounter during a lifetime of service. Drury continues to evolve and adapt to the needs of our students to give them the experiences and coaching they need to choose wisely.