By Michael Parker
Michael Parker, MD, is Associate Dean for Online Learning, Faculty Director of HMX Fundamentals, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School
Summer vacation may be just a few weeks away, but that doesn’t mean you should put your goals for becoming a doctor on hold. Even the most ambitious students can experience the “Summer Slide”, and finding a productive way to spend your time off will allow you to be better prepared for the next stage of your career.
At Harvard Medical School, we’re passionate about providing aspiring physicians with the knowledge and insight they’ll need to take on evolving health care challenges. Students come to medical school with a broad range of backgrounds, and we recognized the need for a common foundation in topics vital to the future practice of medicine. We also believed that it was important to tie these concepts to clinical applications as early as possible. Over the last three years, we’ve created the HMX Fundamentals online program with these issues in mind – first offering it to incoming Harvard Medical School students, and now opening applications to the public.
HMX Fundamentals is designed to give students a taste of what a top-tier medical education entails, while building crucial expertise in four foundational subject areas: Immunology, Physiology, Biochemistry and Genetics. These highly immersive courses emphasize real-world applications, integrating clinical case studies and offering a first-hand look into Harvard medical facilities – a significant step beyond the traditional, passive learning and slide show presentations that are common in some other online programs. The idea is to provide foundational knowledge in meaningful context, making it as relevant and timely as possible.
Instead of recorded lectures, HMX Fundamentals courses combine narrated videos and interactive animations to create a learning experience that will help students succeed in their training. Students engage with the content by solving patient problems using the basic principles they’ve learned. You can access a preview of the course material on our site. Courses also include numerous assessment questions, notetaking guides and online discussion forums facilitated by expert moderators.
While HMX Fundamentals courses are open to students at virtually any phase of their education or career, a basic understanding of chemistry, biology and physics is necessary. To ensure that participants are prepared to succeed, the program requires a brief application, both to confirm that applicants have completed the recommended prerequisites and to give HMX faculty and staff a sense of what they hope to achieve through the program.
Applications for the summer course period will be accepted through May 30, with courses beginning on June 20. Tuition for HMX Fundamentals courses is tiered, beginning at $800 for a single course or $1000 for a two-course bundle. Partial scholarships are available on a limited basis.
Whether you’re a highly motivated high school student, a college student or a recent college graduate, this summer’s HMX Fundamentals program could be the next step in your path toward a career in medicine.