Published on July 8, 2013  

Samford University’s Howard College of Arts and Sciences hosted 42 high school students at its second annual M.D. Calling summer camp in June.

The rising high school juniors and seniors from throughout the southeast enjoyed sessions with Samford faculty and staff, meetings with healthcare professionals and medical students, teambuilding exercises and medical-themed activities.

Bradley Dennis, M.D., Samford alumnus and Chief Medical Officer at Birmingham’s Brookwood Hospital, gave participants a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of that facility. During the tour Luke Bloodworth of Mountain Brook, Ala., connected with Dennis via a shared interest in military medical service. Bloodworth said he also found the camp’s emphasis on academic preparation very helpful. “This helped me focus,” he said.

Participant Megan Gibert of Wilmer, Ala., was impressed with the access provided the students at Brookwood Hospital, where they were allowed, with the patient’s consent, to watch a CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery procedure. Most of all, though, she was pleased to be around likeminded high school and college students. “They all think the same way I do and they all have the same purpose,” Gibert said.

M.D. Calling organizer and college assistant dean Dana Basinger said that powerful sense of purpose is a unique focus of the camp. “When high school students are asked why they want to pursue medical careers, they often answer, ‘to help people,’” Basinger said. “Because of the interaction with many students and professionals during M.D. Calling, these young men and women have a new appreciation for what that response really means”.

The camp facilitated those personal conversations by staffing the program with Samford pre-med students, who led individual teams. Rising Samford junior and lead counselor Kendall McPheeters said the participants bonded well with their teammates and counselors, and left understanding the difference between an academic or professional decision and something more profound. “A calling is something you’re passionate about,” she said, “something that gets you excited, a way to help people if you want to go into medicine”.