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Along with outstanding patient care and research, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital focuses on educating and training the next generation of doctors, nurses, researchers and academic leaders. From programs for high school students to the post-doctoral level, the hospital plays a major role in preparing future leaders of science and medicine.
The last thing most high school and college students want to do in the summer is more school work. But instead of texting, lounging by the pool or playing video games, some of the nation’s brightest students spend each summer with some of the world’s hardest working researchers in labs at St. Jude. Students experience mentoring opportunities beyond measure, and the mentors act as advisers and trusted counselors and gain dedicated student scientists in return.
The Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, allows students who are preparing for careers in biomedical sciences, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and related areas a chance to gain biomedical and oncology research experience. The program at St. Jude is the only such program focused on pediatric oncology.
POE students gain real-world experience with St. Jude scientists, physicians and postdoctoral fellows and are matched with faculty mentors who share their research interests. They also participate in their mentors’ ongoing research projects. Experiences such as the POE Program can make a tremendous difference in a student’s long-term career path. Historically, 85 to 90 percent of St. Jude POE students have earned doctoral degrees.
In addition to the POE program, students have gained valuable research experience in programs such as Rhodes College Summer Plus and Summer for Sickle Cell Science. By working in laboratories on real science, students can gain experience that could cultivate continued interest in research. Some research students put in extra time to ensure they get a comprehensive perspective of St. Jude, and others have developed altruistic projects with the goal of giving back to children.
These programs are examples of how St. Jude is dedicated to helping groom some of the next generation of pediatric oncologists, cancer researchers and cancer care providers.