The Scholarly Excellence, Leadership Experiences, Collaborative Training (SELECT) program is a distinguished and unique graduate certificate initiative designed for medical students. A hallmark feature of SELECT lies in its capacity to allow students to enhance their educational journey with the addition of a comprehensive professional development course integrated throughout their medical school training within one of the most progressive and fastest-rising medical schools, the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine (MCOM) in Tampa, while also benefitting from exposure to one of the nation's premier health networks known for its commitment to quality, safety and efficiency in health care, the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Approximately 50 students in each class spend their preclinical years (1 and 2) in Tampa and their clinical years (3 and 4) in Allentown.
Throughout their four years, SELECT students follow the same curriculum as their non-SELECT Core program counterparts, with the addition of collaborative seminars tailored to the SELECT domains of leadership, health systems, and values-based patient-centered care. Each student is assigned peer coaches as well as MCOM and LVHN faculty coaches, ensuring ongoing support and guidance for their personal professional development in alignment with the distinctive SELECT curriculum.
“With the addition of LVHN’s new Center for Healthcare Education and the acquisition of the Venel Institute, a world-class bioskills research and education facility, our students are experiencing a transformative learning environment that is truly unique among medical school programs,” says Dr. Robert Barraco, Sr. Vice President/Chief Medical Officer, LVHN; Associate Dean for Educational Affairs, Vice Chair Department of Medical Education, and Professor of Surgery, USF Health MCOM, Lehigh Valley campus.
Zeegan George, Class of 2024, says that he and his colleagues in the SELECT program learn valuable leadership skills, which prepare them well to become organizational leaders and change agents. Heather Geist, MD ’19, and now a PGY-5 in general surgery at LVHN, first heard about the program when she was a research scholar at LVHN. As someone from the local area, she was excited that USF was partnering to bring a medical school to the area. She stayed for her residency and hopes to return after her fellowship training in minimally invasive foregut surgery.
“Having the opportunity to have faculty coaches assigned from the very beginning of medical school was one of the most impactful aspects of the program,” says Heather.
She keeps in touch with them and sees them as lifelong mentors. Heather is not alone in being from the local area and embracing the SELECT program as an opportunity to serve her home community. Victoria Psomiadis, MD ’17, came from the Lehigh Valley area, and while she did choose to leave the area for her residency at the University of Kansas, she has returned to Lehigh Valley and is now a faculty member in family medicine. She says that having SELECT students is one of the most rewarding things she does.
“The connections I made, the professional development I was provided, and the early experience with patients are all aspects of the SELECT program that I value,” says Victoria.
The program has graduated approximately 400 students since its inception in 2011. They come from all over the United States, are divided almost equally among men and women, are a diverse group with approximately 7-9% from groups that are underrepresented in medicine, and, along with their Core program colleagues at MCOM, are among the best and brightest medical students anywhere!