Hands-on experience is something most students crave but for students pursuing a career in health care, it’s even more valuable. No one understands this more than Dr. Hari Nadiminti, Mohs Micrographic Surgeon at Summit Health and Treasurer of the Board at Summit Health Cares. Dr. Nadiminti created SHC’s Summit Scholars program, a project-based initiative designed to allow college students to take a deep dive into a community health issue, then develop meaningful and obtainable solutions.
“I wanted to get young students involved with an impactful health project and there was no better time than the pandemic,” explained Dr. Nadiminti. “There were so many students who wanted to participate.”
With COVID-19 vaccines becoming available, the first project focused on vaccine hesitancy. Students from Princeton, Rutgers University Honors College and the University of Pennsylvania came together to tackle the project head on. They helped design a study to better understand vaccine hesitancy in the underserved community, then leveraged the results to provide educational information to the community and community leaders, continuing to build trust in the medical community along the way. And they didn’t stop there. Because the survey uncovered that access to the vaccine was a concern, Summit Health Cares provided access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines at local food pantries.
“My participation in the Summit Scholars Program not only gave me the opportunity to apply my skills to a real-world problem, but I also received valuable mentorship and guidance while working on this project,” said David Rubin, program participant and student at Rutgers University Honors College. “Being able to work on a project that directly impacts the local community gave me an amazing experience to interact with others and contribute to the health of local communities.” With the assistance of the Summit Scholars and a partnership with Mathematica, SHC was able to publish a white paper on Vaccine Hesitancy.
Dr. Nadiminti hopes to address one issue each year and is planning to gather students to work on skin cancer next, developing local partnerships and creating unique ideas to raise awareness of skin cancer with the Enright Sun Safety Course™.