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New Internship Helps Pre-Health Students Draw a Roadmap for a Healthcare Career

two student stand in front of the medical center

Omar Ali (left) and Song Yun report for duty at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Photos courtesy of Dr. Gary Warburton.

University of Maryland Program conceived and administered by Dr. Gary Warburton P’26

by Tony Moore

Dickinson graduates already have a big leg up when it comes to applying to medical schools of every stripe: The education they receive here leads to an acceptance rate of 92% for all health professions, versus 43% nationwide (2020-22). And with a new internship at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s world-renowned R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, students have a new way to get firsthand experience and prepare for a life in medicine.

Career exploration

The internship is only open to Dickinson students in the pre-health track and was developed and is administered by Dr. Gary Warburton, whose son, Adam ’26, started at Dickinson in 2022. Continuing the tradition of connecting students with Dickinsonians in the professional world, the internship was supported by Dickinson's Advising, Internships & Career Center and pre-health faculty and staff.

Holding both medical and dental degrees, Warburton is a clinical professor and the chair of the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the chief of maxillofacial trauma at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. He’s also a member of the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, the Maryland Society of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons and the American Society of Temporomandibular Joint Surgeons.

So it’s hard to imagine students in the internship being in better hands. And the first two have now gone through the intensive, far-ranging program, which kicked off in the summer of 2023.

“This internship played a pivotal role in shaping the direction of my academic and career path,” says Omar Ali ’24 (neuroscience), who hails from Cairo, Egypt, and is a squash teammate of Adam Warburton. “It reaffirmed my aspiration to become a dentist and emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in providing comprehensive patient care. It highlighted the unique contributions of dentists in healthcare teams, prompting me to explore opportunities for further education and engagement in the broader medical field.”

An extensive experience

Students accepted into the internship can apply for a $4,000 Dickinson grant to support their Baltimore living expenses across the two-month program. Each student spends one month at the School of Dentistry and one month at the Shock Trauma & Oral Surgery Center. While at the School of Dentistry, students are exposed to all aspects of dentistry, including subspecialties such as oral surgery, pediatrics, orthodontics, prosthodontics and dentistry for special-needs patients.

While at the Medical Center and Shock Trauma Center, the students spend time in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department and observe complex surgeries for trauma victims, oral cancer patients and facial deformities. The students also observed the residents seeing patients in the outpatient clinics and Emergency Room.

“I had a wonderful experience gaining knowledge about the different fields in dentistry,” says Song Yun ’25 (biochemistry & molecular biology). “I was also able to observe complex surgical cases in oral & maxillofacial surgery, such as orthognathic and trauma surgeries, providing me with a deeper insight into this field.”

Professional & social connections

Besides seeing skilled practitioners in action and learning the ropes from the inside, the internship gave students an introduction to varied professional settings: a large dental school, an urban university hospital and a world-class shock trauma center.

Two students and their professor pose for a selfie

From left: Song Yun, Dr. Gary Warburton and Omar Ali. "The students liked the fact that they got exposure to all the different areas of dentistry," says Warburton, "which is going to help them in the future in deciding what they want to do and what they don't want to do."

"The exposure to various aspects of dentistry and healthcare, combined with the opportunity to observe surgeries and engage with professionals, provides a transformative experience,” says Ali. “It offers insights that textbooks cannot convey, helping students make informed decisions about their academic and career pursuits.”

As part of the experience, the Dickinson students interacted with UMMC dental students and residents, both socially and during their daily routines, gleaning valuable information on how to apply to dental school, how to study for the DATs and other details and tips on navigating the process. They also met with a member of the admissions committee and participated in Dentistry Today, a two-day program at the School of Dentistry designed for college students that included lectures and presentations from each department.

Rounding off the experience, students used the Simulation Lab, where they were able to do fillings and hands-on work with specialized mannequins.

Hitting a home run

“In addition to making their application to dental school much stronger, the internship has tremendous value in helping students decide on their future career pathways and what they might choose to do once they finish dental school,” says Warburton, noting that students have a very broad experience. “It was a pleasure to have the two students be part of what we do here at the University of Maryland, and the feedback that I got from them at the end of the two months was that they both thought it is extremely valuable. So I think we hit a home run.”

And Ali agrees: “This internship is an invaluable chance to gain hands-on experience, build a professional network and cultivate a deeper understanding of the dynamic healthcare landscape,” he says. “And for other students considering this internship, I would wholeheartedly recommend it.”

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Published October 26, 2023