Before coming to BCOM, first year student Emily Hanka attended a “DO for a Day” event at A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa, Arizona. She spent a day shadowing a medical student and got her first introduction to Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM). She said the experience not only confirmed her desire to pursue osteopathic medicine, it opened her eyes to what it really takes to get through medical school.

“Everyone at A.T. Still was nice and welcoming. They answered all my questions and, to me, it said a lot about the school and the type of people that go there,” Hanka said. “When I came to BCOM, I could see that our students were the same way and I thought we should do something similar to reach out to people thinking of applying here so they can experience the culture, see the school firsthand, and find out it fits into their goals.”

Hanka, and other members of BCOM’s Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA), decided to launch their own version of the DO for a Day program. The first event, held last December, drew in 13 students with medical school aspirations. The second event in March, was filled to the max capacity of 22 before it was even announced and there is already waitlist for the April event.

Hanka thinks students enrolled in BCOM’s community MCAT Prep Course and university advisors have been spreading the word. “When we did the first course we sent the online sign-up link to all the premed advisors in the region. Everyone’s pretty tech-savy these days and they must have been continuously checking the link for the next scheduled event because we opened it again for sign-ups and had over 25 people before we could even announce it.”

The program is geared toward premed students who are actively trying to get into medical school. Participants must be adults, but that is the only restriction. Each DO for a Day event is different as it depends on what classes are scheduled for that day. Participants arrive at 7:30 am and are matched with a BCOM first year student mentor. After classes, they get to hear from BCOM Admissions, tour the school, see an OMM demonstration, and experience the SIM Lab. There is even a time for the DO for a Day students to talk to the medical students about their med school interviews and listen to their BCOM mentor answer interviewees questions.

For the March event, students were in class from 8 am to 3 pm, learning about reproductive anatomy. The classroom schedule for the date of the April event is only from 8 am to 11 am, but Hanka said that’s all part of the experience. “Some days in medical school are ridiculously long and you want to poke your eyes out by the end of the day, but they need to know that if they want to make it here,” she said.

Brian Rodriguez, a student at UTEP, heard about DO for a Day through his university’s Medical Professions Organization. He said before this experience he didn’t realize that medical schools are either allopathic or osteopathic and that he’s seriously considering pursing osteopathic medicine, perhaps even at BCOM.

“I paid attention during the lectures and learned some neat material, even though the classes were pretty difficult,” Rodriguez added. “My BCOM mentor, Avery Neal, and a few friends were nice enough to share some suggestions on how to make note taking, homework, and the path to medical school easier.”

It’s exactly the experience Hanka hopes all the DO for a Day participants have. She plans to keep the program going and she envisions handing down “this amazing opportunity to gain leadership experience” to the next group of first year students with each incoming class.

“We’re doing this mostly as a service to those who want to be in our shoes, because we’ve all been where they are right now trying to get into medical school,” she said. “And also we want to market BCOM and show it off a little. We want good students to come to BCOM because if we get good students, we get good doctors in our community.”