OsteoCHAMPS is back in person


Saturday kick-off brings students from across the state to learn more about osteopathic medicine

OsteoCHAMPS returns in-person Saturday after COVID forced the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine program to go remote. The eight-day summer program opens doors and provides an opportunity for high schoolers to learn more about osteopathic medicine.

Students attend the residential OsteoCHAMPS where the academic curriculum includes anatomy, biochemistry, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM), a research project, writing, nursing simulation and clinical skills. In addition, they get to have fun – ice skating, participating in a scavenger hunt, visiting the MSU Dairy Store and attending “Dinner with the DOcs.”

Students from 35 Michigan cities will attend this summer’s program - July 9-16 – joining the ranks of the 700-plus students from across the U.S. who successfully completed the program as of 2021: the majority from the state of Michigan.

One of the former OsteoCHAMPS attendees who is serving as a program Tutor Counselor (TC) this year, Lilja Plumert, advises incoming participants to ask questions and make connections with the speakers.

Plumert, a third-year student at MSU studying biology, said she learned so much at OsteoCHAMPS that it helped direct her career planning. Now a student in the Osteopathic Medical Scholars Program (OMSP), which gives MSU undergraduate students opportunities to explore health care, osteopathic medicine and the college, Plumert remembers the first person who spoke at OsteoCHAMPS.

“I was like, I want to do that, too,” Plumert said.

She also met incredible students and built relationships that continue today at the university. “They may become your friends in college,” she said. “Having connections before coming to a large college is helpful.”

Plumert is among a group of former OsteoCHAMPS attendees who are TCs for this year’s program.

For Joshua Bertman, a human biology major at MSU and member of the Osteopathic Medical Scholars Program (OMSP), OsteoCHAMPS gave him an early opportunity to see what was ahead and to determine if osteopathic medicine would interest him. The answer is, yes.

He remembers making ice cream using liquid nitrogen and afterward thinking how fun it was while still learning about the science. “I realized not everything has to be super serious, but there is still intelligence and science that goes into it,” he said. “It opened my eyes.”

Like Bertman, other OsteoCHAMPS attendees are part of OMSP.

“Over half of students who attend OsteoCHAMPS go on to participate in our undergraduate Osteopathic Medical Scholars Program, which continues to foster their interest and skill sets to get them ready for medical school,” said Mollie Mfodwo, M.S., manager of pre-college programs. “Over 90% of those OMSP students go on to matriculate into the College of Osteopathic Medicine.”

Tasnim Ahmed, a MSU junior majoring in human biology and is in OMSP, is also a TC this year because of her positive experience in the program.

“I remembered my TC being friendly and looking up to her,” Ahmed said, explaining the TC guided the students through what was happening and shared her experience in college, and that she wants to do the same for this year’s participants.

“Try to make the best of it. Try to talk to everyone,” she advised, adding even for those who may not be as comfortable speaking to others, to take advantage of connecting with the physicians. “The program helped guide me in how to talk and reach out to these physicians.”

Once she did, she found her passion “I got connected with a child psychologist and I realize I love working with children. I got to shadow him, and I like what he does.”

MSU Junior and biology major Isaac Gollapalli is also a TC and former OsteoCHAMPS attendee, as well as OMSP, 3+4 program. He continues friendships today with those he met in the program and attributes that to the community.

“It’s a family environment,” he said. “My TCs had such an impact on me; they were so kind to me and just so helpful.”

That’s why he wants to do the same for other students today. He also remembers fondly the faculty and how they gave their time and knowledge, which also showed him he could have fun and the faculty are on your team.

“I came in (to OsteoCHAMPS) thinking I had to compete and prove myself, and be best, but it isn’t that way at all,” he said. “You already made it here.”

OsteoCHAMPS is a chance to discover and have fun. Gollapalli’s advice for this year’s OsteoCHAMPS: use your TCs’ email. Ask questions.

Following the eight-day program, students continue to get support from MSUCOM staff who remain in contact and even keep an eye on their progress through college – whether at MSU or another higher education institution.

OsteoCHAMPS is open to high school sophomores and juniors with at least a 3.0 GPA with an interest in health care. Scholarships are available for the $1,500 summer program.

“We work with community partners and donors to fund scholarships for students to ensure the program is truly accessible,” Mfodwo said.