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Hippocrates Circle students from Serrano Middle School in Highland, California visited Western University of Health Sciences Dec. 5, 2018 to learn about osteopathic medicine and receive encouragement and inspiration to achieve a higher education in medicine.

Kaiser Permanente’s Hippocrates Circle program of San Bernardino County encourages students from underrepresented communities and diverse backgrounds to pursue their goal of becoming a physician.

Serrano students watched a demonstration of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), a set of hands-on techniques used by osteopathic physicians to diagnose, treat and prevent illness or injury. Third-year College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific NMM/OMM Pre-Doctoral Teaching Fellow Dylan Shafer completed a High Velocity Low Amplitude technique on his classmate that resulted in a loud “pop,” causing most of the 34 visiting students to gasp.

“I thought he killed him or knocked him unconscious,” said seventh-grader Geronimo Medina. “It sounded painful. But he said it didn’t hurt.”

Geronimo and his classmates started the Hippocrates Circle program in October, and they will graduate in March 2019.

“I’ve seen a lot of people training to become good doctors,” Geronimo said of his WesternU visit. “I think that’s really important here. Without that, you’re not going to be able to do your job correctly. Here would be a perfect place if you want to train to be an excellent doctor.”

In addition to their WesternU tour, the Hippocrates Circle students will learn about financial aid and meet with doctors and nurses who will visit their school.

“It allows kids the opportunity to know there are options. There is growth,” said Kaiser Permanente Project Manager II Janene Dobler, MBA, who coordinates the Hippocrates Circle program in San Bernardino County. “Just because you live in the inner city doesn’t mean you can’t be somebody. Find someone who will coach you and be your anchor and tell you, ‘You can do it.’ WesternU is that can-do opportunity. WesternU is allowing kids to understand that path to education. It is a wealth of information and possible career options.”

Dobler worked with COMP Director of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships Thomas A. Fox, MSHS, to coordinate the visit. The students visited WesternU’s J and K Virtual Reality Learning Center in the Pumerantz Library, the Patient Simulation Lab and the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) lab.

“We wanted to expose them to osteopathic medicine and plant seeds for possible future physicians,” Fox said. “This is a wonderful partnership. We’re already planning on more opportunities to partner with them.”

WesternU students from the Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity volunteered to help the Serrano students during their visit. First-year COMP student Yeelong Yang, one of the volunteers, grew up in San Bernardino about 10 minutes from Serrano Middle School.

“It’s cool to see WesternU reach into my community and to see students from that area,” he said. “For the majority of these students, this is the first medical school they have visited. We are letting them know there are resources and people willing to lend a hand and answer their questions. It doesn’t matter what your background is. They have a stake and claim in medical school if that’s what they want to achieve. Seeing is believing.”