The College of Medicine is making big moves and changes, while welcoming even more talented incoming students than ever before. The 2022–2023 academic year is shaping up to be an especially thrilling time for our college community.
Building for the Future in University City
There’s excitement in the air about the new Health Sciences Building. The state-of-the-art facility, whose construction began in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, is a physical representation of the “One University” manifesto, which aims to promote greater synergy among Drexel’s colleges and schools. Located at 36th and Filbert Streets, the building will eventually house academic and administrative functions for the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies, and the College of Nursing and Health Professions.
Having students from a range of medical professions learning together in one space, and interacting in their downtime, will begin to foster the kinds of interprofessional relationships that help medical teams succeed in the real world. Building this spirit of understanding and cooperation early in our students’ careers will benefit them and their future patients.
The College of Nursing and Health Professions moved into the new building in mid-September. Our College of Medicine community has been preparing for our own move, with MD and graduate students beginning the 2023 academic year in the new space in August.
“It’s a magnificent building,” said Dean Charles B. Cairns, MD, during a recent State of the College Town Hall event. “It’s right in the center of University City. It’s right in the ecosystem around Schuylkill Yards. And most importantly it will bring the health sciences programs in direct connection with all of the other colleges and schools.”
Improving Maternal and Infant Care
The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies recently introduced a new Human Lactation Consultant Certification IBCLC Pathway 2 program. The program prepares undergraduate and graduate students to be eligible to sit for the exam to become an Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC. It is a mix of didactic and experiential learning that equips students to succeed as lactation consultants, helping new parents overcome challenges and obstacles to successful, comfortable breastfeeding.
There is ever-increasing evidence about the many benefits of breastfeeding, on both an individual and population level. In addition to health benefits to the infant, breastfeeding also benefits mothers, and it reduces the incidence of chronic illnesses, decreasing the societal cost of health care and increasing quality of life. Breastfeeding even has global environmental impacts, since other modes of feeding require more natural resources and create more greenhouse gases. All health care providers can benefit from a thorough understanding of breastfeeding. Drexel’s is just one of ten programs worldwide offering this type of training.
The certificate program has existed since 2015 within the Nutrition Sciences Department in the College of Nursing and Health Professions as a standalone certificate and an elective. As Drexel University strives to optimize interdisciplinary health care programming throughout the university, the program was moved to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies, starting in the 2022–2023 academic year.
The program has also undergone meaningful growth recently. Since hands-on training is a core component of the curriculum, practicum sites are of great importance. The program now has more than 25 sites, an eight-fold increase in the past five years. These partnerships are a testament to Drexel’s reputation in the region, as well as to the program’s leadership, which has fostered strong, long-lasting relationships.
“Our role as lBCLCs is to empower: empower our patients to reach their breastfeeding goals, empower health professionals to have the skills and information to support breastfeeding families, and empower our students to become the best IBCLCs they can. Our new home in the College of Medicine allows us to do this, and we are excited about the program’s future,” says Susan Fuchs, MS, IBCLC, the program’s director, who is also a program graduate.
Fresh Faces, New Stories
A new crop of students is always a source of excitement and renewal for our community. This year’s incoming classes were no exception. We welcomed 304 MD students and 283 graduate students. Our admissions teams pride themselves on attracting well-rounded students who will excel in their chosen fields, while also serving their communities and fostering their own well-being.
This year, the MD program admitted a record number of alumni of Drexel pre-medical/pre-health programs, including 44 from the Drexel Pathway to Medical School program. In addition, the incoming first-year classes include an ordained Buddhist monk, a former NASA employee who supported the International Space Station, a former FedEx package handler, a registered nurse, a neuroscience/dance double major and a nationally ranked baton twirler. We have an incoming student from Alaska, and one who invented a fishhook and a hoodie with a built-in face mask.
Community service and engagement were central to many of our incoming students’ experiences prior to enrolling at Drexel. Their volunteer work spanned a range of organizations, including a sexual assault crisis hotline, a middle-school youth camp, an animal rescue organization, a youth basketball program and the local Arthur Ashe tennis program in East Falls. They participated in medical mission trips and internships in Italy, Greece, Uganda and Guatemala.
It isn’t all work for our first-year students, although many take their hobbies very seriously. They have traveled extensively for pleasure in addition to their medical trips; a master’s student recalls a high school motorcycle trip along the entire West Coast as a formative experience. We have a student who grows fruit trees, and one who cares for a range of water-dwelling creatures that includes freshwater fish, aquatic frogs and crayfish. One of our new PhD students had a pet corn snake named Bowie in college.
In speaking about the incoming students during the Town Hall, Dean Cairns said, “They’re a remarkable group, and they reflect the wide reach and impact of this historic college.” While it might be easy to look at nearly 600 new faces and see a forest instead of trees, every new student who joined us this summer has a story worthy of their own Pulse cover. To welcome them during a time when the College is experiencing so much growth and change of its own is especially gratifying.