The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 24, 2012

Memorial seeks applicants for mentoring program

Internship introduces college students to various specialties

— Now in its 10th year, the Mentoring in Medicine program at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center is once again accepting applicants from college students planning on a career as a physician.

“The program is intended to provide an opportunity for premed students to experience what doctors do on a weekly basis among a number of different specialties,” Dr. Richard Schroeder said. Schroeder is an orthopedic surgeon who co-founded the program with his wife, Diana, who serves as program coordinator.

“It’s a 10-week program,” Schroeder said. “It is underwritten by a stipend from the hospital, so premed students do earn an income for the summer. We know that’s important.  

“But it hopefully will allow young people who are strongly considering medicine to confirm that they do want to go into medicine and to begin to sort out what specialties they might be interested in.”

During the 10-week summer program, students shadow physicians at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in departments such as radiology, obstetrics, orthopedics and ER/trauma. Students also have the opportunity to select a department to shadow for two weeks. Pathology, oncology and neurosurgery are some top choices. 

“When I was at Northwestern where I went to medical school in Chicago, the State of Illinois had a program called a MECO Program (Medical Education and Community Orientation). It was very helpful for me,” Schroeder said. “It’s actually where I evolved my interest in orthopedics, away from other forms of surgery that I thought I might be interested in.”

Since its inception, nearly 100 students have participated in the Mentoring in Medicine program; the majority of them (about 75 percent) have gone on to medical school.

The application process to become an intern is rigorous.

There are eight spots open for college and/or medical students.

Each student must be a rising junior or senior in college with a focus in premed, or must be a first-year medical student and have taken four out of the five required courses, which are pre-med, calculus, biology, organic and/or inorganic chemistry and physics.

Another requirement is that the participants be from Cambria or surrounding counties.

To apply for the program students can contact Diana Schroeder via email at  

Applications are due Feb. 15.

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