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University of California Spotlights JSerra's Medical Magnet Program

The University of California has chosen JSerra's Medical Magnet Program (Project A-Pulse®) to spotlight in their monthly High School Articulation newsletter. Read their interview with Medical Magnet Director Dr. Betty Cappelletti:

This month's spotlight takes us to JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, where Betty Cappelletti directs Project A-Pulse, a comprehensive four-year magnet program in medicine that has served students and the community for eleven years. Please keep reading to learn more about the tremendous impact this program has had on students over the years.

Tell readers about Project A-Pulse. What are the goals and scope of the program? What are its main components?
Project A-Pulse is an innovative, four-year program introducing students to the health sciences and technology. The program's curriculum is rigorous, with enrolled students taking double science and math classes, as compared with other, more typical high school curricula, even those steeped in science. The added science and math courses will emphasize life-science applications specific to various fields of medicine. The curriculum includes: Medical Technology, Medical Terminology, The Ethics of Health Care, Advance Genetics, Pathology, Neuroscience and Research Methods. Students graduating from this rigorous program will have a solid foundation in science and math applicable to future careers in medicine, in addition to learning and practicing ethical principles that will apply to all walks of life in the future.

Additionally, the program has formed joint partnerships between high schools and medical facilities and maintains an environment that promotes improving the health and quality of patient care within an educational setting. Students conduct independent research, serve as in-hospital interns, participate in medical simulations and attend lectures in a clinical setting. Students who complete this rigorous, four-year high school program will establish a solid foundation for future education and careers in medicine.

You said there is a mission and vision that guide the program's design and delivery. Can you share the mission and vision with readers?
The mission statement reads as follows: "Project A-Pulse is a program connecting and cultivating a relationship between medical facilities and the high school campus. Dignity, service, compassion, justice and excellence are the principles undergirding a program that seeks to improve the quality of patient care within an educational setting."

The program's vision is to provide those students who are seriously considering a career in the medical profession a unique opportunity to explore various disciplines in medicine, both in the classroom and within a hospital facility. The vision also aims to:

  • Reinforce the importance of learning and continuing education at the next levels
  • Establish a positive connection between the high school, the medical facility and the community
  • Inspire young, caring and compassionate people to use their talents by helping those who are in need of all types of health care

How would you describe the impact of the program over the years?
The program is in its 11th year. The Project A-Pulse students who continued the course of study from the first high school class are now the first college graduates. All who finished the four-year medical high school program went to four-year universities. 87 percent of Project A-Pulse students continued on the pre-med course of study or majored in biology/chemistry. Graduates of the program have chosen multiple fields: MD, OD, PA, RN, oncology, pediatrics, surgical, emergency, pharmacology, respiratory therapy, imaging and neurology or neuroscience. Students who pursued nursing have graduated from the UCLA School of Nursing, USC and Duke, to name just a few. Finally, eighteen former students have enrolled in medical schools throughout the U.S. and U.K.

Do you have any student success stories you would like to share?
One student, Carlos Solorzano, Jr. ('13), who majored in Human Biology at USC, is now attending the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA this fall as a recipient of the David Geffen Medical Scholarship. This prestigious scholarship covers all expenses associated with obtaining a medical degree, including tuition and cost of living.

Carlos had this to say about his experiences with Project A-Pulse: "I remember going up to Providence every other Wednesday at 4:30 in the morning, together as a class. Dr. Cappelletti wanted to get us exposed to all aspects of medicine -- from research in the micro bio lab to the clinical component to the nurses' and doctors' roles." Speaking to the program's value overall, he explains, "Being allowed to have hands-on experience so early gave me insight into my specific fields of interest. In medical school interviews, I would tell them about the Magnet program and the interviewers were always blown away, as it's not commonly offered."

How can others interested in implementing similar programs get in touch with you?
If you would like more information about the program, please contact Betty Cappelletti at bcappelletti@jserra.org. Dr. Cappelletti is a science teacher and the director of Project A-Pulse at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano.