FAU Launches Nation’s First M.D. Pipeline Program

“Signing Day” brought new meaning for four of the nation’s brightest teens as they were officially accepted into an innovative medical school pipeline program on May 19, through Florida Atlantic University’s “FAU High School M.D. Direct” program. The first-of-its-kind pipeline program to be launched in the United States, M.D. Direct places high school students from FAU High School directly in-line for medical school at FAU, jumpstarting their careers as young, aspiring physicians-to-be.

The inaugural group of students were celebrated during a special ceremony at FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.

The M.D. Direct “Signing Day,” complete with FAU mascot “Owlsley” who wore scrubs and a physician’s white coat, mimicked one of the most exciting times in collegiate athletics and provided a platform for parents, as well as University and community leaders to cheer on these stellar students who were garbed in FAU medical school T-shirts and baseball caps.

Among the distinguished guests in attendance were FAU President John Kelly, FAU First Lady Carolyn KellyPhillip Boiselle, M.D., dean of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, and Stuart L. Markowitz, M.D., senior associate dean of student affairs and admissions in FAU’s College of Medicine, who emceed the special ceremony.

To be accepted into the medical school pipeline program was no easy feat for these four national merit scholars who were identified in their junior year at FAU High School. The program requires them to complete their B.S. degree within one year and complete a graduate program at FAU or approved research program prior to entering medical school. To qualify for this program, they have to participate in pre-medical course advising, mentoring, clinical experiences, medical-related service learning, and research. They also must successfully meet certain requirements for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a grueling endeavor for most college students who are typically in their early 20s when they complete this test, and participate in MCAT test preparation.

Among the four students is aspiring neurosurgeon Maximilian Rabil, 18, who recently received his college degree six days prior to receiving his high school diploma, and will conduct neuroscience research before he is eligible to start medical school in fall 2018. Sarah Palumbo, 18, Nadia Sial, 17, and Cara Busheme, 18, will join Rabil to be among the nation’s youngest medical students.

“We have an incredible group of gifted and talented students at FAU High School with an interest in medicine. Impressively, these students have achieved stellar accomplishments during their high school years, including a research publication in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ and earning a college degree during high school, among others,” said Boiselle. “We are delighted for these exceptional students to continue their educational journeys at FAU. On behalf of the entire community of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, I am delighted to welcome Max, Sarah, Nadia and Cara as our inaugural pipeline students from the FAU High School.”

Boiselle together with Markowitz, Gary J. Rose, M.D., associate professor of surgery in FAU’s College of Medicine, and Joel D. Herbst, Ed.D., assistant dean for PK-12 schools and educational programs in FAU’s College of Education, see this pipeline program as an opportunity to work with middle and high school students while they are still forming impressions of what they hope to accomplish after they graduate and to help them understand what a career as a physician entails.

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